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Jaguars' Jason Babin still has bounce in his step

Posted: December 20, 2013 - 2:12am  |  Updated: December 20, 2013 - 6:56pm
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The Jaguars' Jason Babin chases Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel in the first half at EverBank Field last Sunday. Babin, 32, has 5 1/2 sacks this season.  Bruce Lipsky/The Times-Union
Bruce Lipsky/The Times-Union
The Jaguars' Jason Babin chases Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel in the first half at EverBank Field last Sunday. Babin, 32, has 5 1/2 sacks this season.

TITANS AT JAGUARS

When: 1 p.m. Sunday.

Where: EverBank Field.

TV/Radio: CBS/WOKV (690 AM, 104.5 FM).

Records: Titans are 5-9; Jaguars are 4-10.

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In his 10th NFL season, defensive end Jason Babin has lost none of his zest for playing the game.

And he enjoys living it with the Jaguars.

“I love the environment and the culture,” Babin said. “I see the immense potential and my family likes it here.”

But Babin doesn’t know if he will be a part of the team’s future. He could be playing his last home game as a Jaguar on Sunday against Tennessee.

“I think there’ll be some discussion [at the end of the season],” he said.

Babin might not be a good fit for a team that is in rebuilding mode. He has the team’s third-highest base salary for next year at $6 million, behind only middle linebacker Paul Posluszny ($7.45 million) and tight end Marcedes Lewis ($6.7 million).

Posluszny is the heart of the Jaguars’ defense and will be back. Lewis’ future isn’t as clear because he has a big salary for an eight-year veteran who missed most of the first half of the season with a calf injury.

The Jaguars don’t have to worry about cap room because they have such a young team made up mainly of low-paid players. But it’s not good cap management to overpay veterans.

Babin, 32, said he would even be willing to talk about a pay cut to stay.

“I’m not naïve to reality,” he said. “I understand what kind of player I am and what my limitations are, what I’m good at and what I’m not good at. I’m not blind. I’m always open to listen.

Babin had 12.5 sacks in 2010 with Tennessee and 18 the following season with Philadelphia. He has just 5.5 sacks this season and the Jaguars have only 27, second-lowest in the league to Chicago (26).

But both defensive coordinator Bob Babich and coach Bradley give Babin good reviews for his overall play.

“He’s done a really good job in our minds,” Babich said. “He’s had some sacks that he’s missed, but he brings a lot to our defense in terms of effort, mentality and making plays outside of the sacks. He makes some effort plays. We showed them [to the team on Monday], He was making an effort play against the Bills and that’s a great building block for our younger players.”

Asked if Babin’s play has been better than his stats, Babich said, “In my opinion, absolutely.”

Bradley said, “When I watched him on Sunday, he flashed again. I saw him turn and chase and turn and make some chase plays. That part of it jumped out at me.”

He said younger players can learn from Babin on how to go through a long season.

“Babin has a clear understanding of that because you see that burst from him still at this point,” Bradley said.

As for statistics and his drop in sack production, Bradley said, “Sometimes we utilize him in a different way. You see him prowling around, moving around. Sometimes that’s to set up somebody else, so maybe some of his opportunities went away because of that, but it’s with the hopes of getting other guys going. If anything, he’s really shown great unselfishness.”

Still, the odds still might be stacked against Babin’s return. The emergence of Andre Branch and Ryan Davis gives the Jaguars younger alternatives. And they keep adding pass rushers.

Earlier this week, they claimed Gerald Rivers off waivers from St. Louis and signed former Minnesota defensive lineman D’Aundre Reed to the practice squad.

And if they sign a premier pass rusher in free agency and/or draft one in the first or second round, Babin’s fate could be sealed.

Babin is no stranger to moving on. He was drafted by Houston in the first round out of Western Michigan in 2004, traded to Seattle in 2007 and also played for the Kansas City, Philadelphia (twice) and Tennessee before he was cut by the Eagles last November and claimed by the Jaguars.

Babin said he’s happy with the way he played this season and said that physically he’s in good shape.

“I can still run,” he said.

Bradley isn’t tipping his hand on what lies ahead for Babin or other players.

“I try not to think too far ahead,” Bradley said. “When you do that, you lose today and you lose tomorrow. I don’t want to go there right now.”

Vito Stellino: (904) 359-4279

Comments (2)

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augustinegator
219
Points
augustinegator 12/20/13 - 07:22 am
0
0

I hope Babin returns for

I hope Babin returns for another
year with the Jags. He has been
our best pass rusher by far this
year and he has stayed healthy!

Davethecaveman
13628
Points
Davethecaveman 12/20/13 - 07:42 am
0
0

I too hope they keep Babin.

I too hope they keep Babin. When he comes in on passing downs , I usually key on him. He puts pressure on the QB on every passing down that he plays. Believe me ,that QB has one eye on him while looking down field which helps our defense. He has a mean streak which we sorely need on our team.

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