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Improved depth led to win over Dolphins

Sample, Thompson filled void in big way for Jaguars

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(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Injuries are a way of life in the NFL. The Jaguars have been dealt their fair share of injuries over the first couple weeks of the season. More than anything, the Jaguars win over the Dolphins paid tribute to the depth that the team has built since last season.

With Johnathan Cyprien missing Sunday's game due to a calf injury, rookie James Sample was thrust into the starting strong safety spot in just his second career game. The Jaguars have played Sample at free safety since he returned from a broken fore-arm. With Cyprien out he had just three days to prepare at a new position.

"For him, you look at the run game and they had 47 yards of rushing I believe and such a big part of that strong safety is he is down in the box," said Jaguars coach Gus Bradley of Sample. "He did some good things but you could tell that he only had limited practices."

Sample had five tackles against the Dolphins and Bradley was proud of the way he got up to speed in just a short amount of time.

"It's an adjustment when you practice. He's been hurt and then when you practice the whole time at free safety and then for three days you move at strong because it's a whole different dynamic. We tried to limit some of the calls that we did. Those calls that he played he did pretty well. We just felt like we needed to become more aggressive in some of the things we did and that's where we went with Josh (Evans)."

Injuries also had a big impact on the cornerbacks. Dwayne Gratz missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury and Davon House had to leave the game early due to a dehydration. One week after being on the practice squad, Peyton Thompson was asked to be the "next man up."

"He was our fourth safety and our backup nickel and then all of the special teams getting called up from the practice squad," said Bradley. "Very smart, very intelligent, we felt like he had a pretty good feel at the nickel spot, the free safety spot he got reps in service team so he had a lot on his plate. I'm not surprised how he took on the responsibility. He had limited reps in practice playing the position, so for him to go out there and plus the critical play he made to get the ball out on that third down. That's his mentality, to be very aggressive, and it showed up. I'm glad it transferred over."

Overall Bradley felt like Sunday's win paid testament to improved depth.

"Yeah I really do. I think it's a compliment to the players. Guys like Peyton, Nick Marshall and those guys to be ready when their number is called and the coaches for getting them ready. We felt like our roster has improved depth-wise and we really needed it yesterday."