Babin, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end who was acquired by the Jaguars off waivers Wednesday from the Philadelphia Eagles, capped a whirlwind 48 hours by participating in his first practice in Jacksonville early Thursday afternoon.
He wore a long sleeve shirt to the practice . . .
For a while, anyway. A very short while.
“The weather’s definitely what I needed,” Babin said with a laugh Thursday when asked if a change of scenery would do him good.
“I had long sleeves on. I had to take them off when I got out there today.”
Joking and weather aside, make no mistake:
Babin said he is absolutely excited about the change, and said at first glance, not only is he very excited about being in Jacksonville, he is committed to the long-term.
To hear players and coaches tell it, the feeling is mutual.
“He makes us better,” Jaguars defensive line coach Joe Cullen said Thursday, adding that he believes Babin can be the “home-run hitter” that has been missing from the Jaguars’ pass rush.
The Jaguars currently have 13 sacks, which is tied for last in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. Babin, who had 12.5 sacks for Tennessee in 2010 and 18 for Philadelphia last season, has 5.5 sacks this season.
The Jaguars have five players tied for the team lead with two sacks.
“You have to get that home-run hitter if you want to hit home runs,” Cullen said. “On third-and-long, you have to get home.”
Said Babin, “They know how I play, they know I get after the quarterback, and it’s one of those things that’s contagious. One guy starts doing it and then two guys, four guys, then eight guys. I think that’s what they’re hoping for, and that’s what we’re going to give them.”
Mincey said Babin fit in immediately in practice Thursday, and Cullen said it was obvious quickly Babin would fit into the team’s four-lineman based pass rushing scheme.
“He goes one speed, a hundred miles an hour, and that’s really what a rusher has to do,” Cullen said. “We’ve got a lot of high motor guys on this team but he’s really good from a standpoint of a young guy coming into the league – how do you prepare, what do you look for, what do you do, little things like that, that all the real good rushers can pass on to younger guys.
“We have a great group of guys, so it will be a great match for our guys.”
Babin, a 2004-first-round draft selection by Houston, played for four teams in his first six seasons, registering 17.5 sacks in that span. He then joined Tennessee, where he flourished in defensive line coach Jim Washburn’s “nine-wide” defensive front scheme.
He also played under Washburn in the scheme in Philadelphia the last two seasons.
“This scheme, a lot of it is the same,” Cullen said. “They were an over front, we are an over front. Everyone makes a big deal at a wide nine. We call it a crash nine so it’s the same things when it you come down to it.
“Once a quarterback drops back and throws the ball it’s all ‘can you beat the one on one and be disruptive’ and he can do that.”
Cullen said Babin can play either right or left side, though he has played more left in recent seasons, and said he expects Babin to be able to contribute when the Jaguars play the Bills Sunday. Babin, who called himself a high-motor, intense guy, was asked when he expected to be able to contribute.
“The game’s Sunday right? Sunday it is,” he said.
Babin signed a reported five-year deal with Philadelphia before last season, and because he was claimed off waivers, he will play with the Jaguars under that same deal. Under the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, he could become a free agent following the 2013 season, but Babin said as of now he plans to be in Jacksonville long-term.
Also around the Jaguars Thursday:
*Wide receiver Cecil Shorts and wide receiver