The Jaguars are facing the very real possibility that they will only have two healthy defensive ends available against the Vikings.
Defensive ends Austen Lane and George Selvie have already been ruled out for Sunday’s game as they continue to recover from injuries they suffered in the preseason. Another defensive end, Aaron Morgan, was mysteriously absent from Jaguars practice on Wednesday and it is unknown whether he missed practice due to injury or for another reason.
If Morgan cannot play on Sunday, the Jaguars would be down to having only two healthy defensive ends on their roster, Jeremy Mincey and rookie Andre Branch.
The Jaguars cannot expect both Mincey and Branch to play every defensive snap on Sunday, so head coach Mike Mularkey said that they will utilize their quality depth at the defensive tackle position to fill their need at defensive end.
Defensive tackles D’Anthony Smith and Tyson Alualu are guys who could probably fill in at defensive end if need be, but they are both better suited to rush the passer from the tackle position.
However, using their tackles at end positions should not be a long term solution for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars are also trying to figure out how much cornerback Rashean Mathis and linebacker Daryl Smith can play on Sunday.
Both Mathis and Smith were limited due to injuries in the preseason and the Jaguars coaching staff does not want to rush them back and risk further injury.
Mathis is expected to be limited to nickle packages on Sunday, but may be forced to play more nickle if Smith is not healthy enough to play a large number of snaps.