Jaguars DE Dawuane Smoot’s outing vs Steelers getting him close to form

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Mason Rudolph (2) and Jacksonville Jaguars DE Dawuane Smoot (91). Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Mason Rudolph (2) and Jacksonville Jaguars DE Dawuane Smoot (91). Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Jacksonville Jaguars fell 16-15 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 of the 2022 NFL Preseason. But for the second week in a row, the Jags’ starting defense showed flashes. In particular, defensive end Dawuane Smoot had a very productive outing.

Smoot was all over the field against the Steelers and played a key role in stymieing their running game. Moreover, he registered a forced fumble and a safety. After the game, the veteran defensive end met with the local media and talked about his performance.

“I’m just trying to get better”, Smoot said. “It must sound cliche but I’m just trying to keep my head down to get better. So this game, all I did was just trying to get me closer to season form”. The sixth-year pro goes on to say that his role on the defense is different than it was last year.

"It’s been completely different. I’m playing a position I’ve never played. I’m playing a position 300-pounders play but I’m getting it done, trying to figure it out every day. I’m working with Roy [Robertson-Harris], working with Foley [Fatukasi] every day, trying to get better."

The Jaguars’ defense limited the Steelers to eight rushing yards on six carries in the first half of the game. Along with Smoot, defensive end Arden Key made it very difficult for Pittsburgh to run the ball and was credited with four total pressures (two hurries, a hit, and a sack). Moreover, he posted a Pro Football Focus grade of 85.8. Here’s Smoot’s exchange with the media after the loss.

Jaguars DE Dawuane Smoot is thriving in his new role

A third-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, Smoot is entering the second and last year of the contract extension he signed last offseason. As he noted, he’s being asked to line up inside on a three-point stance after playing in a standup position last year.

So far, Smoot has fared well in his new role. His performance against the Steelers wasn’t an outlier, as he was one of the Jaguars’ more active linemen in training camp.

Last season, Smoot appeared in 16 games with 16 starts and logged 6.0 sacks. He did it even though the Jaguars’ front seven didn’t have as much talent as it currently has. It’s possible that he will post similar numbers in 2022 even if his playing time decreases precisely because Jacksonville’s defensive line rotation will be much better.

The Jaguars have failed to win a preseason game this year but their front seven has shown promise. If their performance carries over into the regular season, opposing teams will have trouble running the ball.

light. Hot. Trevor Lawrence shows meme potential vs. Steelers