JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Rookie linebacker Chad Muma could make his first start for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
Muma is one of the few active NFL players known to play with type 1 diabetes. Another? Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, who Muma will get a chance to line up against when the Ravens travel to Jacksonville. By the way, November is Diabetes Awareness Month.
“Everything is falling into place this week,” Muma said.
Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell aren’t saying if Muma will indeed replace fellow rookie Devin Lloyd in the starting lineup, so it may not be revealed until Sunday. But Wyoming’s third-round pick is definitely going to get a lot more playing time in the final seven games.
This is partly due to Muma’s improvement over the season, but also because Lloyd, who the Jaguars selected 27e overall, has struggled since its hot start.
“Consistency [in Muma’s play], but I also think it helps sometimes, in Devin’s case, to get out of the game and see it from the side, to have a little bit of a different perspective,” Pederson said. “Allowing Chad to get valuable reps is kind of like Buster [CB Montaric Brown] play and get valuable reps on the corner and see where Chad is with everything.
“Right now he’s been a bit limited to special teams. He’s a good linebacker and we want to get him on the field.
Muma had the longest playing time of his career in the Jaguars’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 13, playing a season-high 25 defensive snaps. He was on the court at the end of the first half and played more in the second and finished with six tackles, including four solo tackles.
Muma had played double-digit defensive snaps in only one other game (11 against the Houston Texans on Oct. 9) this season. Most of his playing time has been on special teams – he’s fourth on the team with seven special teams tackles.
“Thinking back to that first preseason game, the Hall of Fame game, it was really quick compared to the last game against Kansas City,” Muma said. “It really slowed down for me. I was able to see plays quicker, react quicker and so I feel more confident now.
“…I feel a lot more confident in my covering skills, both in the previous game, and also just using my hands. When an offensive lineman comes up to me, I can engage him better and go and make a play.”
Lloyd was September’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month after compiling 24 tackles, intercepting two passes and breaking up four more, but he didn’t build on that. He missed assignments and moved around at times and Pederson admitted they benched him late in the first half of the Chiefs game.
Lloyd played in the second half but finished with 38 defensive snaps (60%) in that game. He had played all the defensive snaps in six of the Jaguars’ previous nine games.
“I started hot, then the last few weeks it wasn’t as good as it started,” Lloyd said. “For me, it’s just getting out there and just performing, making plays that I know I can do and really trusting my abilities.”
Lloyd said he will try to make the most of his reduced playing time and focus on continuing his development over the final seven games.
“I know what Doug had mentioned, [that] sometimes from the sideline you get a little bit different perspective,” he said. “Me personally, I love playing. I love playing the game. Obviously I don’t want to go out but for me it’s just about growing. As perfect as we want it to be, it’s never going to be perfect. So for me it’s just about learning from my mistakes and making sure they don’t happen again. [and] continue to progress every day.