Stroud injured his ankle during Sunday's 37-6 win over Carolina when teammate John Henderson fell on him during the first play of the third quarter. Stroud sustained a deep bone bruise, a similar injury that hobbled him late last season and eventually required offseason microfracture surgery.
Stroud acknowledged he took supplements to help recover from the operation and later tested positive for a banned substance. The NFL suspended him for four games. He returned Sunday against the Panthers.
"It's a shame to lose him, but that's the situation," Del Rio said. "Like we've done all year when we lose people, we'll do the best we can to have other people step up, step in and play well, and we expect to continue to play good football."
Jacksonville already is playing without two defensive starters: linebacker Mike Peterson (hand) and defensive end Reggie Hayward (groin). Both have been ruled out of Sunday's game at Pittsburgh.
Without Stroud, backup Rob Meier will move back into the starting lineup alongside Henderson, and veteran Grady Jackson and rookie Derek Landri will get more playing time.
"Nobody stops this time of year to say, 'Oh, gee, you guys are banged up, let me spot you seven (points) here. You start up seven and we'll play from there,' " Del Rio said. "No, not happening. We'll go compete. We'll do the best we can and we'll expect that to be good enough."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press