NFL Team Report - Jacksonville Jaguars - INSIDE SLANT

Just when the Jacksonville Jaguars thought they had a defense that could set the tone for the team, they learned they have lost two key members of that unit.

Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the 24-6 victory over Cleveland Sunday and will undergo surgery and be lost for the season. And backup defensive Andre Branch will be out six weeks with a torn groin muscle. Chris Smith, a rookie defensive end, was activated from the practice squad to take the roster spot of Posluszny, who went on injured reserve.

This came when the Jaguars defense, after giving up 15 touchdowns in the first four games, has limited the last three foes to just two touchdowns.

And Posluszny is a particularly big loss because they are thin at middle linebacker and will replace him with the inexperienced J.T. Thomas.

"Well, it's a big loss," head coach Gus Bradley said Monday. "He's really been playing well ever since I've been here but I think he's come into his own, really understands the defense now, and really takes total command of the defense. That'll be a difficult one."

Posluszny is noted mainly for his play against the run. He's the league's leading tackler since 2008 dating back to his days in Buffalo. He sometimes struggles in pass defense, but the Jaguars don't have a better pass coverage linebacker to replace him. And his leadership style will be difficult to replace.

"Everybody has different leadership style. Poz was not really a vocal-type leader. He led by his actions and his demeanor and how he took care of himself. So hopefully the lessons he's taught many of our players, they'll buy into and continue to own it and they'll demonstrate it. I think it'll be a group effort," Bradley said.

Posluszny suffered the injury sacking Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer midway through the fourth quarter. He stayed in the game for a play and then he came out after Hoyer's incomplete pass on third down a play later.

On the sideline, the doctors figured it was a serious injury and the MRI confirmed it.

"I knew something was wrong (when it happened) but not that wrong, you know what I mean. You know how it is. We're winning, we're up, you want to finish the game," he said.

He added, "It's not easy, especially (because) you get the feeling now that we're just starting to pick things up and the team's going to roll a little bit and get on a nice winning streak and play some sound football so you want to be a part of that. It's tough to get hurt now and know that I'm not going to play football for a long time."

Posluszny didn't know what to do with himself Monday. There was no point in looking at the tape of Miami, their next opponent. So he cleaned his locker.

Posluszny is in the fourth season of a six-year $45 million contract he signed in 2011.

He's never played in a playoff game in his career in Buffalo and Jacksonville, but has been a steady player.

The Jaguars' defense may not be the same without him.


NFL Team Report - Jacksonville Jaguars - NOTES, QUOTES

--Denard Robinson wears No. 16, his college number, and is listed as a wide receiver because that's a wide receiver number in the NFL. But he's really a running back for the Jaguars.