With a league-low 13 sacks, the Jacksonville Jaguars were looking for more production from their pass rush.
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Jason Babin could be the solution.
The Jaguars claimed the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end off waivers from Philadelphia on Wednesday. To make room on the roster, Jacksonville placed defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith (concussion/neck) on injured reserve.
The Jaguars (2-9) will pay the remaining $1.69 million of Babin’s 2012 salary, essentially taking a low-risk look at someone who could significantly upgrade one of the league’s worst pass rushes.
”It’s a good pickup,” coach Mike Mularkey said. ”He’s had a lot of success over the last three years and we could use some help in that area. He’ll fit what we’re doing. (Defensive line coach) Joe Cullen and he have a relentless type of mindset. I just think it’s going to be good for us, really good for us.”
Jacksonville’s pass rush, or lack thereof, is the most glaring weakness on a team filled with holes.
The Jaguars gave Jeremy Mincey a four-year contract worth $20 million in March, but he has just two sacks. They also drafted former Clemson standout Andre Branch in the second round, but he has played sparingly the last two months.
Babin, meanwhile, has 5 1/2 sacks after recording 18 last year. He signed a five-year, $28 million deal last summer after going to his first Pro Bowl with Tennessee following the 2010 season.
He will play Sunday at Buffalo, Mularkey said.
”We’ve got five games and we’re trying to win these games,” Mularkey said. ”It’s a sign that we’re trying to show our team that we’re trying to win right now, that this is not `play the young guys and do the evaluating.’ We’re trying to win and we’re doing whatever we can to improve our roster. This is a great move.”
Babin might even start over Austen Lane, who missed practice Wednesday with a foot injury and is expected to sit out again Thursday.
”Let’s start working him in the plan and see what we have to do to get him up to speed as quickly as we can,” Mularkey said. ”Can he play Sunday? Yes. I know he will. We’re anticipating him playing.”
Jaguars general manager Gene Smith and Cullen started looking at video of Babin when the Eagles released him Tuesday. The only team that could have beaten Jacksonville to the claim would have been Kansas City. The Chiefs (1-10) didn’t claim Babin, so he fell to Jacksonville.
Mularkey said the final five games will determine whether Babin becomes a long-term option.
”We think it can help production everywhere, compliment other guys that are up front,” he said. ”I’ve watched enough tape on him to know he’s a very relentless, disruptive player, to the whistle on every play.”