JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - At some point, the defensive losses might be too much for the Jacksonville Jaguars to overcome.
They don't believe they've reached it yet, even after losing safety Donovin Darius for the season with a broken right leg Monday night against the New York Giants.
"That's a big injury for us," safety Gerald Sensabaugh said Tuesday. "He was our leader on the field and he's a tough guy to replace. But once somebody goes down, we can't stay down about it. We have to fill his shoes and move on. We've already had several guys do that this season. Now it's my turn."
The Jaguars (6-4) have eight defensive players on injured reserve, including their top tackler and best pass rusher, and played five games without three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud. Nonetheless, the Jaguars have two shutouts and have given up 137 points - the third-fewest in the league behind Chicago and New England - even after allowing 36 in a loss at Washington.
Jacksonville has allowed just 63 points in the past six games.
"You rally around the guys you have and you go compete," coach Jack Del Rio said.
The Jaguars have done that better than most, showing more resilience than other injury-riddled defenses such as Atlanta and the Giants.
Jacksonville lost defensive end Reggie Hayward, who led the team with 8 sacks last season, when he ruptured an Achilles' tendon in the opener. Third-year player Bobby McCray replaced him and has seven sacks in nine games, including one on Eli Manning in the 26-10 victory Monday night.
Linebacker Mike Peterson, the team's top tackler and emotional leader the past three seasons, tore a pectoral muscle Oct. 8 against the New York Jets. Daryl Smith moved into his spot and has 67 tackles in the last five games. Peterson's injury also forced rookie Clint Ingram into the lineup, where the third-round pick has 51 tackles as a starter and several big hits.
"We have a lot of confidence we can get the job done no matter who's in there," Sensabaugh said.
Sensabaugh, a fifth-round draft pick from North Carolina in 2005, will move into the starting lineup Sunday at Buffalo. He might have the toughest task, though.
Darius is one of the league's hardest hitters, stopping running backs at the line of scrimmage and deterring receivers from going over the middle. He averaged 80 tackles in his first seven seasons and holds the franchise record with 857 tackles.
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