Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Smith Won't Let Injury Bug Bite Him

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Smith Won't Let Injury Bug Bite Him

Article excerpt

Healthy NFL players hate the word injury. Scares them, in fact.

There's something superstitious about it. Don't say it, don't think about it.

So when Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith was asked about being the only player in team history to play in every game, counting preseason, regular season and playoffs, he did what you would expect.

Smith reached into his locker, found a strip of wood, and knocked on it.

"Have to," he said. "Have to make sure it continues."

In a summer that has seen a glut of Jaguars injuries, including many to key players, No. 82 plays on. Hundreds of players have put on the Jaguars uniform in the team's short history, but only one has put it on for every game.

Jimmy Smith isn't just good. He plays.

"I'm not supposed to miss," Smith said.

That we know. But injuries are a way of life in the NFL, so missing time is usually a given. That's what's so amazing about Smith's streak. No time missed.

He says there's a reason: Too much missed time before getting to Jacksonville.

In his first two seasons in the league, Smith missed nine games as a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys, then all 16 games in his second season.

The first year it was because of a broken leg. The second season it was because of an emergency appendectomy that nearly led to his death and led to his being out of the league. After being let go by Dallas, the Philadelphia Eagles released him in 1994 before he signed with the Jaguars.

That was enough sitting.

"When I got here it was my third opportunity to make it with a team," Smith said. "I had been injured in all my years in the league, so I wanted to do what I had to do to stay on the field. I had bumps and bruises in the early part of my career, but I didn't take a lot of beating. I think that has something to do with it."

Heart does, too.

Smith, like fellow receiver Keenan McCardell, loves to play, and his teammates and coaches know it.

"Many times he's played hurt," quarterback Mark Brunell said. …

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