After missing the past three games with a knee injury, Jaguars defensive end Lerentee McCray will make his return to the lineup against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday.
The Jaguars' defensive Swiss Army knife was a low-key standout during the team's first two games, producing three tackles and 1.5 sacks.
When the Jaguars signed McCray in March, the team envisioned him as a hybrid defender who could serve in a major role on special teams. In his first two games, he delivered as a special teams player, a defensive end and a linebacker.
Since suffering the knee injury in the Week 2 loss to Tennessee Titans, McCray has been replaced by a combination of players. A pair of rookies, linebacker Blair Brown and defensive end Dawuane Smoot, have split McCray's multiple roles on special teams and defense.
Both have played well, but McCray is the ideal fit for those spots.
The veteran returned to practice last week but was ruled out for the Jaguars' win against Pittsburgh. Despite the reps in practice, McCray felt he couldn't give the Jaguars what they needed against the Steelers.
"Last week, when I went out, I was very optimistic about getting back out there but I didn't want to go out there and go if I was going to hurt the team," McCray said. "I just felt like if I would have went out there, I would have just been going through the motions, not being able to go full speed and not being about to be as effective as I wanted to."
A few days made the difference for McCray as he practiced throughout this week. He was finally ready to prepare for a game.
"It feels very good," McCray said. "My body is made to move so I hate sitting in the training room, sitting on the table, so it feels great to be outside."
McCray will return to the lineup as part of the defensive end rotation and serve as a backup SAM linebacker. He will also take back his role as a core special teams player.
The Jaguars may limit his reps on defense, but expect McCray ease his way back into the lineup during a big matchup against the Rams.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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