The Jaguars spent their top two draft picks last season in search of a pass-rusher, but they may have found the player they need on another team's practice squad.
Bryan Smith, cut by the Eagles following the preseason and signed by the Jaguars off the Rams' practice squad in September, will get the starting nod at right defensive end this Sunday when the Jags face the New York Jets at Giants Stadium. Smith was elevated on Wednesday to the top spot at the premier pass-rush position on the Jaguars depth chart, following an impressive, 22-plays performance against the Kansas City Chiefs this past Sunday.
"I think I did well. I had three quarterback hits. I just got after it," Smith said of his performance against the Chiefs, in which he split time with Quentin Groves, the starter at right defensive end as the Jaguars switched back to a 4-3 alignment following a seven-game experiment with the 3-4.
Smith was a star pass-rusher at McNeese State, where he had 31 career sacks. He was selected by the Eagles in the third round of the 2008 draft.
"If they're looking for a hard-worker and a guy who gets after it, that's what I do," said Smith, who was informed of his promotion on Wednesday morning.
"They've been splitting time," Del Rio said of Smith and Groves. "They're both going to play. We'll give (Smith) a little more exposure. We'll see if he can take advantage of the opportunity."
Smith worked out for the Patriots and Falcons prior to the 2008 draft. Both teams were interested in him as a linebacker; at 6-2, 250, Smith was considered to be a "tweener" prospect.
"I can do it all; run, pass, it doesn't matter to me. "When the guy says hut, it's all just football," Smith said.
"He's quick. He's got natural pass-rush ability," Del Rio added. "The thing that's been lagging is our ability to sack the quarterback."
Del Rio previewed the upcoming game against the Jets. Both teams are 4-4.
"I want our guys to understand where we are with our season. I propped it up in front of them. This is a team, like us, that has playoff aspirations. It's that time of the year that these games have added significance," Del Rio said.