Is Landri the Missing Piece?

Derek Landri (Kosovac/JagNation)

The physical identity of a run the ball, stop the run type of team didn't really apply to the Jaguars of 2008. At least that's the perceived notion around the league. Giving up more than 100 yards a game on average, the Jaguars went from a team who used to dominate the line of scrimmage to a team that was dominated.

When Marcus Stroud was in his heyday, the Jaguars were a team which stopped the run routinely. Next to John Henderson, the Jaguars have a bunch of questions at defensive tackle. Rob Meier proved himself not to be a legitimate starter in this league, and he is a third option in a rotation of DT's. So who else do they have to step up? Terrance Knighton could be that player, but he's a rookie. What about Derek Landri?

Landri showed flashes of greatness in the 2007 wild card round of the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Towards the end of the game when the Jags needed someone on defense to step up, Landri provided that spark with an interception, a sack, and a recovered fumble, the defensive lineman "hat trick." Not bad for a rookie in his first playoff game. So why has he not seen the field more? A lot of people think it was his size, as he was small as far as DT standards are concerned. Landri has tried to change that as he put on 15 pounds of muscle this offseason.

"You can't tell for sure in the trenches until you get the pads on, but Derek's done a real nice job of adding some weight, some good weight, and we're going to see how that translates into play," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said.

Del Rio also believes that with the extra bulk Landri may see the field more.

"I think it'll give him an opportunity to be in the mix for more of an every-down role as opposed to kind of a specialist," Del Rio said. "I know that's what he really has in his heart; it's what he would like to see."

Landri has shown flashes of the talent that made him a fifth-round pick, and now he has the size. Landri will have a shot at the envious role of starting next to John Henderson. The question is, will Derek step up and treat every opponent like they wear the black and gold, or will he continue to just another guy in a rotation for a mediocre defense?

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