Former Jaguars defensive end Chris Smith is playing a key role in the Cincinnati Bengals' pass rushing rotation.
There are several players in the Jaguars' locker room who aren't surprised by Smith's recent success. While he was rarely used during the three seasons he spent in Jacksonville, Smith stood out to his teammates in practice and in the locker room.
"I [saw] it every day in practice last year," defensive tackle Sheldon Day said. "I'm just like 'when he gets an opportunity, he's going to take advantage of it and roll with it.'"
The Jaguars traded Smith to Cincinnati for a seventh-round pick during the offseason.
Smith helped the Bengals clinch their Week 8 win over the Indianapolis Colts. On fourth-and-4 with 1:22 left on the clock, Smith stunted from the three-technique position and pressured Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett into an incompletion. It sealed the game for the Bengals.
Now set to face his old team, Smith's former teammates know exactly what to expect from the fourth-year player.
"His get off [is a strength], he has real good [pass rushing] moves, he can rush inside and outside," defensive tackle Abry Jones said.
Smith was a popular player in the Jaguars' locker room while he was in Jacksonville. Jones and Day still keep in touch with Smith and are happy for him and his new opportunity.
"I think Chris is a guy who has always had the talent," Jones said. "New surroundings just do something for some people and he got up there and got a real legitimate shot and chance to rush the passer. He's cashing in on it."
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Wells wants to build on Week 7 performance
The Jaguars were forced to insert backup offensive tackle Josh Wells into the lineup after starting left tackle Cam Robinson suffered an ankle sprain in the opening minutes of the Jaguars' Week 7 win over the Colts.
Wells was thrust into the most important role on the offensive line, replacing probably the best lineman on the unit. Instead of bending under the immediate pressure, Wells stepped up and stood out in a positive way.
"There's things I can definitely work on," Wells said. "It was nice to get out there and play a little bit and just continue to grow. I think it's definitely always a learning process and you just continue to try and get better."
Wells has yet to start a game in his career but he received a starting workload against the Colts. It was probably the best performance of his four-year career. While he isn't dwelling on that success, he definitely has something to build on moving forward.
Robinson's status is up in the air for Week 9, even after the bye week. If Wells gets called upon to start for the first time, he will be ready.
"I think so," Wells said. "I think the more you can play in a game, the more comfortable you'll get, but I think it just comes down to preparation and trusting the game plan and trusting yourself. I think that could definitely help if that's what happens this weekend."
Mickens on Ross, punt returns
New Jaguars punt returner Jaydon Mickens made his NFL regular season debut during the win over the Colts in Week 7. He fair caught six punts and let another roll out of bounds.
The first-year player spent a year on the Oakland Raiders practice squad before joining the Jaguars' practice roster this season. He was called up to the main roster during Week 7 and played right away.
"It was everything I expected," Micken said about his first game. "I expected a little more like 'it's going to be faster' and when I got out there it was just like how the preseason was but with a little more serious feel."
Mickens was disappointed he couldn't make a return in his debut. However, he wanted to be safe with the ball and get it back to the offense.
"I'm a guy that prides myself on making plays," Mickens said. "When the ball is coming to me, I feel like I need to make a play, so when those dudes were in my face, I just wanted to make sure I fair catch, make the right decision, catch the ball on the 10 [yard line] and make sure they don't get it on the one [yard line]. Just be a pro punt returner."
Mickens played with Bengals first-round pick John Ross at the University of Washington. Mickens served as a mentor to Ross, who then went on to have quite the career with the Huskies.
"We were actually the same position," Mickens said. "We were 'F' receivers in the slot. He was a young guy coming up, trying to [learn] the ropes and I'm not saying I taught a lot of stuff but I gave him everything I had that worked for me. He took that thing and he took it to a whole new level and that's my little brother."
While Ross hasn't played much for the Bengals, Mickens said the rookie can be dangerous if used the right way.
"You can expect a dynamic play-maker," Mickens said of Ross. "He ran a 4.22 [40-yard dash] and some dudes run a 4.22 but when contact happens they run a 4.6. This guy runs a 4.22 all the time, he's not scared to be out there, when he gets the ball, he's trying to score."
Mickens also compared Ross to Kansas City Chiefs' wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
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