Durable Daryl Smith hurt at wrong time

Daryl Smith may be best known, by those who actually know him, for being underrated.

He’s had an excellent career as a linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars since he was a second-round pick out of Georgia Tech for the franchise in 2004. Sadly, a key cog in what was supposed to be an elite defense in 2012 hasn’t played a game because of a groin injury. And today the team determined Smith will play in a maximum of three games this season, if at all.

He was placed on IR with a designation to return.

That means he can practice in six weeks and play in eight. The Jaguars play at Miami Dec. 16, against New England Dec. 23 and at Tennessee Dec. 30.

Smith is making $4.7 million this year, the final year of a six-year, $25 million deal.

Had he played this season up to his usual standards, he might have been in line for one more significant contract. The market isn’t big for 30-yard old linebackers, but he could have gotten multiple years, perhaps to stay in Jacksonville depending on if Gene Smith remains in place as GM.

His durability has not been a question over the last eight seasons, as he played in 124 of 128 regular-season games with the Jags.

But coming off a season in which he plays no more than three games, he’ll have far less negotiating power and could be in position to sign a one-year contract that allows him to prove he can still play.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said of the contract situation when he returned to limited practice on Oct. 15. “My whole concentration has been on getting well.”