Arden Key arrives as announced for the Jaguars

Arden Key came to the Jaguars late in free agency with a reputation as a versatile and veteran rusher who could provide even more leadership alongside players such as Josh Allen, Shaq Griffin, Foyesade Oluokun and Dawuane Smoot.

He fits like a glove into defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell’s plan and he’s showing that leadership – like after Sunday’s robust physical training when the defense played well overall, but Key felt the need to remind his teammates that there are always more plays to be made. .

“You have to be more physical and pay more attention to detail,” said Key, who had two sacks in the Jaguars’ 27-11 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders last Thursday in the Hall of Fame game at Canton, Ohio.

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When reminded that this was the most physical workout of training camp, Key still wasn’t happy.

“We had a few spots on us,” he said. “There were some technical issues. It was physical, yes, but we have to be physical and do our job at the same time. And when I see something that I think needs work, I’ll talk about it and talk about it. ‘express. , no matter who likes or dislikes.”

Key was a star at LSU

Key was a two-time All-SEC finisher with LSU and set the school record for single-season sacks with 12 in 2016. Injury limited him to eight games and four sacks in 2017, but he’s still out for the NFL Draft and was grabbed in the third round by the Las Vegas Raiders.

Key had just three sacks in three seasons for the Raiders and was waived on April 15, 2021 — oddly, the same day the Raiders waived current Jaguars quarterback Kyle Sloter.

However, Key found a home with San Francisco last season and more than doubled his career sacks with 6.5. He visited several teams during free agency and signed a one-year contract with the Jags on March 30 for $4 million, according to Spotrac.com, with a signing bonus of $1.5 million. and a $500,000 roster bonus.

Arden Key celebrates a sack for the Jaguars in last week's preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders in Canton, Ohio.

Bags require teamwork

Key’s two sacks were works of art in teamwork and indicated just how disruptive defense coordinator Mike Caldwell can be when the Jaguars are full – especially with outside linebacker Josh Allen back in the game. The mixture.

On Jarrett Stidham’s first sack in the first quarter (and the game after Travon Walker got the first of five sacks the Jaguars would get on the night), Key lined up on the left end inside Walker . K’Lavon Chaisson was left outside linebacker.

With the snap of his fingers, Key engaged Raiders left guard John Simpson, who then committed the fundamental sin of letting one man block another – going after Walker.

Key then beat left tackle Brandon Parker, who had already been the victim of play by Walker, and arrived at Stidham. Chaisson, barely hampered by a chip from tight end Foster Moreau, beat right tackle Alex Leatherwood to clean up after Stidham was first hit by Key.

Arden Key had 6.5 sacks with San Francisco last season, more than double his career tally.

In the second quarter, Key was a standing winger in the Jaguars’ lightning formation, inside Jamir Jones. He and Jones did a stunt, Key sliding to the right. Meanwhile, Chaisson and Dawuane Smoot performed a similar stunt from the left. Tackler Jermain Eluemunor had his hands full with Smoot and Chaisson passed guard Lester Cotton and threw Nick Mullen straight into Key’s arms.

“There’s no guy in the NFL who can get himself fired,” Key said. “It takes the whole rushing group to get one person kicked out. We all have to rush together to get one or two guys kicked out.”

The fact that Key can be effective with his hand on the ground like one of the Jaguars’ “big” defensive ends or rush the passer from a standing position is what will make him a valuable addition to the defense.

“It’s huge that he can play in multiple places on the line,” Caldwell said. “And the leadership part. He’s such a smart player. He does it in a different way than other people. And he’s able to show others how to accomplish something like he would. It’s important for us to have a veteran like that in the room and he does a phenomenal job.

Jags sign Colbun, cut Cottrell

Nathan Cottrell, a third-year running back who scored the Jaguars’ lone touchdown in the preseason game against the Raiders, was waived/injured on Sunday and replaced by former Wake Forest running back Matt Colburn ( 5-11, 200).

Colburn played in the XFL, CFL and in the spring with the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL. He only played four games but rushed for 457 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

Colburn is sixth in Wake Forest history with 2,628 yards.

Cottrell, a Georgia Tech product, caught four passes for 35 yards, the touchdown coming on a 5-yard pass from Kyle Sloter. He also ran three times for 13 yards but was injured late in the game.

He had a 3-yard rush last season and three special teams tackles.

Contact Garry Smits at [email protected]

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