Mike Caldwell: It’s ‘definitely important’ to get Dawuane Smoot more snaps

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a former Pro Bowler starting at outside linebacker in Josh Allen and drafted the other starter, Travon Walker, with the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. But nine games into the season, it’s Dawuane Smoot who leads the team in sacks.

Smoot, 27, has been especially effective as of late with 3.5 sacks over the last two games to bring his season total to five.

“[It’s] definitely important to get him on the field,” Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell said of Smoot on Thursday. “There are certain situations where we want to try to get him more reps, and once he’s out there, he’s performing well and doing a great job. He’s really motivating other guys to do the same thing. We’re really excited about it.

“His versatility really speaks for itself; he’s a guy that can play inside, can play outside. He can drop into coverage; he can rush the quarterback. He does so many things for us that we just have to get him on the field and let him go.”

Smoot first joined the Jaguars as a third-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but didn’t record his first sack until the 2019 season. He finished that year with six sacks, then 5.5 in 2020, and six again in 2021. With eight games left on the schedule, Smoot is in line for a career year.

Through the first nine games, his season-high snap count was 31 and he hasn’t yet played more than 50 percent of the defensive snaps in a game.

Perhaps more concerning than Smoot’s lack of snaps is the inability of Allen and Walker to turn more opportunities into production. Allen hasn’t recorded a sack since Week 4, despite playing in at least 72 percent of the snaps of every game this year. Walker’s been on the field for at least 78 percent of the snaps every week and has 2.5 sacks.

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire