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Open Locker Room: Young to start at RT against J.J. Watt


JACKSONVILLE – Sam Young's task Sunday is far from easy.

It's actually about as difficult a proposition as exists in the NFL these days – that task being to line up on many plays across from the game's best defensive player.

The possibility existed since Sunday.

It became official Thursday when Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley announced that Young, a five-year veteran, will start at right tackle Sunday.

"You always prepare like you're going to play, and you're never surprised," Young said Thursday as the Jaguars (2-10) prepared to play the Houston Texans (6-6) at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m. "So, when the opportunity comes around you're ready."

The week began with Young and rookie Josh Wells competing for the starting position at right tackle. Austin Pasztor, the starter at the spot since Week 5, was placed on injured reserve with a ruptured hamstring sustained against the New York Giants Sunday.

Wells, active in recent weeks because of his ability to play both left and right tackle effectively, entered the game in place of Pasztor Sunday. Young has been inactive the last six games, but started at right tackle for Pasztor in Weeks 3 and 4 this season.

"He truly is a right tackle," Bradley said of Young. "I told you before the reason with Wells was he had flexibility to play left and right, but at the right tackle spot as we looked at it … just wanted to confirm it and yesterday we felt pretty good about Sam."

Young's opponent Sunday?

That will vary at times, but it will often be J.J. Watt, the Texans' defensive end who many observers consider the NFL's best, most-disruptive defensive player.

Watt, a fourth-year veteran and a Pro Bowl selection the past two seasons, has 11.5 sacks this season after registering 10.5 last season and 20.5 in 2012. He has five touchdowns this season, including three as a tight end on offense, but it is as a defensive player that he is most dangerous.

Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis said part of what makes Watt dangerous is his ability to line up in different spots along the defense.

"He's so dynamic," Lewis said. "He can play a three-technique. He can play stand-up linebacker. They have him in so many areas. He affects you if you're running toward him and he affects you if you're running away from him because he'll run it down.

"You have to figure out, 'Where's Waldo?' And you have to treat him that way."

As often as not, though, Watt likely will line up at left defensive end. That means lining up across from Young, who will be making his sixth NFL start. Young said while it's good to know he is starting sooner rather than later, his preparation indeed is the same either way.

"My Dad always told me that, even from little league," Young said. "I was a pitcher and he'd say, 'When they put you in, you gotta be ready."

Sunday's task, of course, is a substantial step up from those days.

"A lot different," he said, laughing and adding, "definitely not little league. It will be an all-day battle, so it will be a lot fun."

Also around the Jaguars Thursday:

*Defensive end Andre Branch (groin) missed a second consecutive practice with the groin injury he re-aggravated Sunday against the Giants. He missed the previous four games with the injury, and Bradley said Wednesday the "arrow" for Branch playing Sunday was more down than up. …

*Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds missed a second consecutive practice with a neck injury. He missed the Jaguars' victory over the Giants Sunday with the issue. …

*Middle linebacker Jeremiah George returned to practice on a full-time basis after missing practice Wednesday. He has missed the last three games with a high-ankle sprain. …

*Linebacker Khairi Fortt missed a second consecutive day with a hamstring injury. …

*Defensive end Chris Clemons (knee) missed practice. He typically has missed Thursday practices this season with a veteran day off. …

*Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks missed practice with a toe injury. He had not missed a practice this season. …

*Safety Josh Evans was limited for a second consecutive day with a foot injury. …

*Wide receiver Tommy Streeter was limited with an abdominal strain. …

*Quarterback Blake Bortles (right shoulder/left ankle) practiced full for a second consecutive day, as did running back Toby Gerhart (shoulder). …

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