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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey laid another hit on the Jacksonville Jaguars, this time calling out quarterback Blake Bortles for choking in key moments.

“As long as Bortles is back there, if the ballgame is in his hands, he’s going to choke,” Casey told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville on Tuesday.
Casey’s most recent comments come two days after he challenged the Jaguars’ credentials as true contenders following the Titans’ 15-10 win to complete a regular-season sweep of the AFC South champions.

“We didn’t want their offense to score at all,” Casey said. “And it looks like that’s what happened. It looks like that’s what happened. Sorry. At the beginning of the week, I was talking about that.

“King of the South? King of the South? Sounds great, but gotta be able to beat us. Jacksonville didn’t play great today. Appreciate the turnovers. Helped us out a lot.”

Titans tackle Jurrell Casey, right, has no faith that Blake Bortles can lead the Jaguars to postseason success, saying, "if the ballgame is in his hands, he's going to choke."

Titans tackle Jurrell Casey, right, has no faith that Blake Bortles can lead the Jaguars to postseason success, saying, “if the ballgame is in his hands, he’s going to choke.”

Titans safety Kevin Byard intercepted Bortles twice on Sunday.

Casey was also in the center of a postgame scuffle with Jaguars linebackers Blair Brown and Donald Payne. Casey and Brown both threw punches, and the incident could be subject to NFL fines.
Jaguars defensive lineman Marcell Dareus also made waves in this back-and-forth, saying he hoped the Jaguars could play the “sorry ass” Titans again in the playoffs.

Jacksonville won the AFC South by one game over Tennessee, which plays the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round of the playoffs Saturday.

Jacksonville hosts the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

The Titans and Jaguars could only meet in the playoffs if both teams advance to the AFC Championship. However, these past few days have provided enough ammunition to ignite the rivalry when they play next season.

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The reported four-year, $50 million extension for Telvin Smith underlines how valuable the Jaguars feel the linebacker is.

The reported four-year, $50 million extension for Telvin Smith underlines how valuable the Jaguars feel the linebacker is.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A weakside linebacker who isn’t a big-time pass-rusher generally isn’t considered a premium player.

That’s not the case when it comes to Telvin Smith and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The team’s decision to sign him to a four-year contract extension worth $50 million clearly means it views him as an integral part of the franchise’s future. He certainly has played a crucial role in the Jaguars’ turnaround in 2017; they’re one of the NFL season’s biggest surprises at 4-3 and tied for first atop the AFC South.

Smith might be undersized at 215 pounds, but his speed and athleticism help him make up for his lack of bulk. He leads the team with 58 tackles and is responsible for three of the defense’s league-high 16 takeaways. He has two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and a fumble recovery.

Smith had frustrated Jaguars coaches with his freelancing and being out of position early in his career after the team drafted him out of Florida State in the fifth round in 2014, but he became one of the Jaguars’ most reliable players last season. He consistently makes plays against the run despite his size and has been good in coverage against running backs and tight ends.

In less than two seasons, Smith has become one of the league’s better defensive players. He has more tackles, interceptions, fumble recoveries and defensive touchdowns than any other Jaguars player since 2014. He also ranks third in pass breakups.

He’s not a pass-rusher (just 6.5 career sacks), but the Jaguars run a 4-3 defense that doesn’t blitz much and tries to get pressure on the quarterback by rushing just four. Smith has excelled in coverage and has been matched up one-on-one with running backs and tight ends at times.

Another reason the team needed to lock up Smith: He has been the emotional leader of the Jaguars’ defense over the past two seasons.

Remember, Smith called a players-only meeting in April 2016 because he was tired of losing — at that point he had lost 24 with the Jaguars, more than he had lost in his previous six seasons playing football — and wanted to make sure his teammates weren’t getting used to it.

Smith also called the defense together after the Jaguars’ fourth organized team activity this past spring to tell his teammates he felt they should have been more advanced in their development. He wanted to make sure the team’s mind was in the right place.

“With the players that we have, I just think as a team we should be further than we are,” Smith explained at the time. “As players, we’ve got to do our part in the sense of it’s not scheme, none of that. It’s what do we want? What’s our mentality going to be?”

The Jaguars wanted to make sure they kept Smith around for an additional four years, because in their eyes he’s a premium player.