Durant Stepping In and Stepping Up

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Rookie Justin Durant is a quick study. Drafted on the second round out of Hampton last April, Justin arrived at minicamp in May with a lot of bravado. Find out what he thinks of his transition to the NFL, and now his stepping in for Mike Peterson.

"I expected it to be a lot harder. I'm catching on to it pretty quickly. It wasn't too bad for me out there today. I wasn't really expecting it to catch on as quickly as I did," Durant said at the time.

Now that Durant has played in seven games, including starts in the second and third games when Clint Ingram was injured, Durant has a different perspective.

"It's tough (playing in the NFL)," he said. "I was just young (when he made the original comments), just fresh out (of college) and I was kind of talking."

Durant has since learned a lot about what it's like playing in the NFL.

"It's a daily grind. Each week, your body is getting tired and worn out. It's not as easy as I thought it was going to be, I'll say that," he said.

Things are likely to get tougher for Durant Sunday because Mike Peterson is sidelined with a broken hand. The Jaguars are expected to move Daryl Smith to the middle and start Durant outside against the Buffalo Bills.

At least that's what the Bills expect.

"No. 52 (Smith's number)," Buffalo coach Dick Jauron said, when he was asked which player will likely start in the middle for the Jaguars.

But Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio likes to play it close to the vest and won't make it official.

"Why is that important?" he said, when he was asked which linebackers will start.

Del Rio, though, did say he believes he can count on Durant despite his arrest on Nov. 3 that caused him to miss two games.

"I believe that was an isolated incident," Del Rio said.

Durant said, "My teammates are with me and the coaching staff still trusts me to go out there and do what we can do to try to get another victory."

Durant said he learned from the incident and it may have a positive effect on his life.

"It was really a wakeup call for me," he said. "It was a major thing, something that maybe needed to happen in my life so I can become a better person. It's behind me now and I've learned from it and I'm just moving forward. You can get advice from people, but until you really experience something for yourself, it can have a major effect on you."

He added, "I had a lot of time to sit down and really think about what I was doing and how I can hurt and affect everyone besides just myself."

And Durant figures it doesn't matter whether he plays outside or inside.

"Everybody is interchangeable. Everybody learns all three (linebacker) positions," he said.

Durant, though, knows losing Peterson was a major blow.

"It's huge man, he's our leader on defense, a leader of the team. It hurts a lot. We've got to step up," Durant said.

Of losing Peterson, Del Rio said, "We can't stop and say woe is me and look for pity because nobody is going to give it to you."

Durant said he graded in the 80 to 85 range when he filled in for Ingram and he wants to do better than that in the last six games.

The Jaguars need him to do that if they're to overcome the loss of Peterson.

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