After weeks of ambiguity into the status of star linebacker Telvin Smith of the Jaguars, we’ve now have somewhat of an answer on Thursday afternoon.
Smith has obviously been troubled by something in his personal and or professional life and he announced on social media that he will step away from the Jaguars and the NFL this season. The linebacker, who is slated to head into his sixth season, made the announcement Thursday afternoon via Instagram:
Jaguars’ LB Telvin Smith announced he will not play football in 2019. pic.twitter.com/GHCMhXmDQb
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2019
Quoting from Smith:
“At this time I must take time away from this game and get my world in order. I must give this time back to myself, my family, & my health.”
Smith had taken to “Instagram Live” on that same account above with a video earlier this week. In which, he answered a couple of questions and comments on the subject of him being gone by reiterating that he had not been traded and he had no intention of leaving Jacksonville and the Jaguars.
The 2017 Pro Bowler was the Jaguars top tackler a year ago with 134 of them, including 100 solo stops, he also had two interceptions one fumble recovery and one sack on the season. Smith, who is a former 5th round pick out of FSU in 2014, has registered 100 or more tackles in each of his five NFL seasons.
During the Jaguars turn around 2017 playoff season, Smith signed a four-year $45 million dollar contract extension the kept him from becoming a free agent at the end of that year. Smith made $9.75 million a year ago and is slated to make $10 million with a $5.6 million dead cap hit for this season.
At least initially, there was no reaction from the Jaguars as to Smith’s announcement.
At 4pm Eastern on a Jaguars internet show on their website, team reporter J.P. Shadrick told the audience that he had been told that the team had not heard from Smith in advance of his announcement on social media.
The team released a statement shortly after:
Statement regarding LB Telvin Smith. pic.twitter.com/0LzdM4K9NC
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) May 9, 2019
There has been speculation that there was some kind of dispute going on between he and the team, as Smith was staying away from voluntary workouts last month. Coach Doug Marrone told the media in late April that he had not spoken Smith, while he has been away from the team.
There will be further speculation with the announcement today, that Smith has some type of alcohol or drug issue that he will be addressing. However, until either he or the team clears that up, it only remains a speculation as to what’s truly going on?
The Jaguars can obviously petition to have Smith put on something like the “Commissioners Exempt List,” where he would not count against the roster, while all of this is trying to be sorted out.
That would also give the team some salary-cap relief, if it’s granted.
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.