AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 6

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.
  • No, the Jaguars weren’t doing anything radical on defense on Thursday. Safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Dwayne Gratz did not switch positions, although that’s what it looked like. They just switched jerseys. It was Cyprien’s idea, and it caused a bit of confusion at the beginning of practice for anyone that was watching. "Just to switch it up in practice, I guess, have a little fun," Cyprien said. "It was something that just came to me today. Maybe I did do it one or two times in college." Let’s hope it doesn’t start a trend or the media is going to waste a lot of time asking coach Gus Bradley why defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks is playing tight end.
  • Bradley called a team huddle after a water break late in practice and lit into the players a bit. It’s not that he wasn’t happy with the energy level. He just wanted to make sure the players didn’t start to slip as the first week of camp ended. "We just have to pick up the level of intensity," Bradley said. "It was good, but I just felt like at this point in time in practice and training camp, we haven’t felt a lull. And I didn’t want it to become a lull, so I just readdressed it: ‘OK, you may start to feel this. This is what we’ve been talking about. Let’s fight through this.’ And I thought they did a good job with it." Quarterback Blake Bortles was a little more succinct in describing Bradley’s message: "Let’s go."
  • Rookie linebacker Telvin Smith, who is up to 219 pounds after reporting to rookie minicamp at 218, flashed his speed with an interception return for a touchdown. Defensive tackle Ziggy Hood tipped Chad Henne’s pass at the line of scrimmage and Smith grabbed the deflection and scored. Smith has been getting reps with the first-team defense in the nickel package to take advantage of his speed. "We’ll see how that works out with Geno [Hayes]," Bradley said. "Right now, how we’re doing it is Geno is going with the first and second down, Telvin on third down."
  • Several players went down with injuries on Thursday: receivers Tandon Doss (ankle) and Allen Robinson (hamstring), linebacker John Lotulelei (sprained MCL), and defensive tackle Jordan Miller (knee). It’s another setback for the receivers. Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and Ace Sanders (leave of absence/suspension) are also out so there’s not much experience left. Here’s a recap of the injuries as well as what it means for the receivers.
  • Linebacker Paul Posluszny, tight end Marcedes Lewis and defensive end Chris Clemons were given veteran days off. … One of the highlights of the one-on-one offensive line versus defensive line battles was defensive end Gerald Rivers surprisingly beating left guard Zane Beadles twice.
  • The Jaguars will practice at 9:55 a.m. Friday.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's not as bad as it was in June for the Jacksonville Jaguars receivers, but it's getting close.

Two more went down on Thursday -- Tandon Doss (severely sprained right ankle) and Allen Robinson (right hamstring tightness) -- which leaves the team with only eight healthy receivers. Only three have caught a pass in a game, and one of those has only appeared in two games.

[+] EnlargeAllen Hurns
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackAs injuries have piled up, young wideouts like undrafted rookie Allen Hurns have gotten more opportunities to shine.
That's not exactly the best environment in which to groom your future franchise quarterback, but it is an opportunity for some younger players to make their case for the final roster spots.

That's what happened during the team's nine organized team activities (OTAs) and three-day minicamp. At one point the Jaguars were without seven receivers because of various injuries, which forced the few remaining healthy bodies to increase their workload. Allen Hurns, Chad Bumphis and Kerry Taylor were the three who benefited the most.

Hurns, an undrafted rookie from Miami, wasn't getting many reps until the injuries started to pile up. The more work he got, the more he impressed the coaching staff, and he eventually earned a spot on the training camp roster.

Bumphis spent time on practice squads in Miami and Denver before signing with the Jaguars on Dec. 9. Like Hurns, he wasn't expected to get much work but found himself running with the first team because of the injuries.

Taylor, whom the Jaguars signed off Arizona's practice squad on Nov. 4, caught 19 passes and started four games. By the end of minicamp he was the team's top receiver. He has had a good start to this camp and likely will get most of the first-team reps, along with Mike Brown, because of the injuries.

"I guess if there's any positives in any of [the injuries], I guess maybe that [extra reps for young receivers] is it," said Brown, who is the most experienced healthy receiver (32 catches in 13 games). "But there's kind of a lot of camp left, a lot of opportunities to learn for all of us. We'll get better each and every day. We'll go out there and compete and whichever way the cards fall is the way we'll have to play it."

The Jaguars will most likely lean the most on Marqise Lee, who like Robinson was a second-round draft pick. The former USC standout has earned praise from quarterback Chad Henne for playing with the poise of a veteran when it comes to understanding routes and coverages.

"We just had a lot of help," Lee said. "Mike, Cecil [Shorts], Ace [Sanders], they were on our backs from the get-go as far as just helping us and make sure we know what we have to do as far as play-wise. That's basically what they're doing right now and that's why we're looking a little bit more comfortable than we were in OTAs because we're finally getting it a little bit, thanks to them."

As long as he can stay healthy, that is.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It certainly is encouraging that rookie quarterback Blake Bortles reported to training camp ahead of offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s expectations, but Chad Henne is still not in jeopardy of losing his job as the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"It’s Chad," coach Gus Bradley said emphatically after the team’s first practice last week. "We feel really good about him."

The seventh-year player from Michigan has had a good start to training camp. His comfort level in the second year in the offense is evident in how quickly he’s making his reads and getting rid of the ball. He’s making good decisions and the offense is more productive when he’s on the field. He led the offense to the only two touchdowns it scored in 11-on-11 work on Wednesday morning, hitting rookie receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee for touchdowns.

That’s an overlooked aspect of how solidly Henne has performed. He’s without the Jaguars' most experienced receivers. Cecil Shorts is out with a hamstring strain, and Ace Sanders is taking a leave of absence ahead of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Henne is throwing to 10 receivers who have appeared in a combined 60 games (13 starts) and have 82 receptions. Six of the 10 are rookies or first-year players who have never appeared in a game.

That's not an ideal situation for a rookie quarterback, even one that was taken with the third overall pick.

Bortles is making progress, but he still has a long way to go before he can push Henne out of the starting job.

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 5

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.

  • It wasn’t a good day for the receivers, who dropped four passes during 11-on-11 work – including one in the end zone by Mike Brown. That came on perhaps Blake Bortles’ best throw of camp. He zipped a pass between two defensive backs and hit Brown in the chest, but Brown couldn’t hold on to the ball. Bortles had another good throw down the left sideline that he dropped in over the cornerback that Kerry Taylor dropped. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson also dropped passes, though cornerback Dwayne Gratz was hanging onto Robinson when he dropped the pass. Tight end Marcedes Lewis also had a pass bounce off his hands, but it would have been a fantastic catch had he hauled it in because Bortles’ pass was behind him.
  • Wednesday was the first day in full pads and we finally got to see some good one-on-one battles between the offensive and defensive linemen. Left tackle Luke Joeckel had a pretty good day. Defensive end Chris Clemons beat him with an inside spin move on their first matchup but Joeckel came right back and locked Clemons down in their next matchup. Joeckel also had the most impressive block during the drills, pancaking rookie defensive end Chris Smith. Another rookie, guard Brandon Linder, drew the unfortunate task of taking on defensive end Red Bryant. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound Bryant pushed the 6-5, 311-pound Linder back, but Linder never let Bryant disengage or get by. A couple other matchups of note: defensive tackle Jordan Miller beat center Mike Brewster with an inside move but Brewster held the block on their rematch; defensive tackle Abry Jones beat center/guard Jacques McClendon twice.
  • The Jaguars were the worst team in the NFL in the red zone in 2013, scoring touchdowns only 43.9 percent of their possessions and scoring points on only 75.6 percent of their possessions. They’ve done red zone work in camp but coach Gus Bradley said the Jaguars may do more of it going forward. “I know we got better the last six or seven games of the season in the red zone, but it was an area of emphasis for us [in OTAs, minicamp and training camp],” Bradley said. “So you might see more and more red zone opportunities for us to at least practice and work.” The Jaguars’ first-team offense had some success on Wednesday. Chad Henne hit Robinson in the end zone for a touchdown. Henne also hooked up with rookie Marqise Lee on a short pass near the goal line and Lee fought into the end zone.
  • Linebacker John Lotulelei practiced for the first time on Wednesday after he passed a physical. He had been on the active/non-football injury list after reporting to camp with a hamstring injury. … Tight end D.J. Tialavea (quad) also returned to practice. … Bradley said cornerback Alan Ball, who is on the PUP list with an ankle injury, may return within the next few days. … Attendance was 1,504.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost reserve tight end Clay Harbor for a month, and possibly longer.

Harbor sustained a calf injury during Monday's practice at Bartram Trail High School and had his lower left leg in a protective boot on Wednesday. He and starter Marcedes Lewis are the only tight ends on the roster that have caught a pass in an NFL game. The other three tight ends are either undrafted rookies or first-year players.

Harbor caught 24 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns last season and has 71 catches in his career as a flex tight end. Coach Gus Bradley said he and general manager David Caldwell have not yet discussed trying to find and add a veteran tight end.

Harbor's absence will mean more reps for undrafted rookies D.J. Tialavea, Reggie Jordan and Marcel Jensen, as well as first-year player Brandon Barden, who played in three games for Tennessee in 2012.

"Those guys will get some opportunities," Bradley said. "I think the H-spot is really what we're looking at. That’s where Clay played, so that would be the spot that we need to discuss."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With the Jaguars having an off day for the first time this training camp, it’s time to take stock of their first four practices:
  • One guy quietly having a good camp is tight end Marcedes Lewis. He said during the spring that this has been his best offseason and he feels the best he has in a long time. That has shown up so far in training camp. He’s catching pretty much everything and it looks like the Jaguars are going to keep him involved in the offense the way he was during the last month of the 2013 season, when he caught 16 passes (four TDs) in the final five games. He remains one of the league’s top blocking tight ends.
  • We won’t know for sure until the Jaguars get into full pads on Wednesday and see how things play out in the preseason, but it looks like GM David Caldwell may have pulled off one of the better moves in free agency by signing running back Toby Gerhart. He doesn’t exactly match up when you compare him to Adrian Peterson, whom he backed up the past four years, but he’s got the look of a guy who can be a workhorse back for the Jaguars. He’s a big (6-foot, 231 pounds) and physical runner, but he has surprised some defensive players with his speed and he has very good hands and will be a factor in the passing game. The player he replaces, Maurice Jones-Drew, was one of the best in the league at picking up blitzes and helping in pass protection, but the coaches are saying Gerhart is pretty good in that aspect, too.
  • Another free-agent signing that appears to be working out well is defensive end Red Bryant. The 6-4, 323-pounder is a load and the offensive line has been having a hard time keeping him out of the backfield. Bryant had some issues with the heat during the spring -- not to be unexpected since he came from Seattle -- but seems to have adjusted to the even hotter temperatures during training camp. Bryant is the perfect fit for the end spot opposite the LEO. He’s hard to move, gets consistent penetration and sets the edge.
  • There has been a lot of talk about safety Johnathan Cyprien after linebacker Paul Posluszny said Cyprien could become the best safety in the league. Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley won’t go that far but they have said Cyprien is certainly talented enough to reach that level if he continues to work hard. The Jaguars drafted him to be a box safety but he turned out to be better in coverage than they thought and Bradley said he has improved even more.
  • There have been relatively few injuries during the four practices, but two have been key players: receiver Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and tight end Clay Harbor (calf). Shorts may still be out for another two weeks or more and it’s unsure how long Harbor will be out. The development of rookie receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson has helped ease the loss of Shorts somewhat, but he is by far the Jaguars’ most experienced receiver and not having him during the regular season will impact the offense. Harbor is the Jaguars’ flex tight end and the only other one on the roster besides Lewis who has caught a pass in a game.

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 4

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
ST JOHNS, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp:
  • After an impressive performance by the quarterbacks and receivers on Sunday, the defense rebounded with a strong day in the Jaguars’ practice at Bartram Trail High School. There were two interceptions -- defensive tackle Roy Miller made a diving catch after Chris Clemons deflected Chad Henne's pass and undrafted rookie Rashaad Reynolds snared an errant throw by Stephen Morris and returned it for a TD -- and four pass breakups (including deflections by Clemons and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks) during 11-on-11. “The other day the offense really came off the ball and did a good job at establishing the line of scrimmage,” coach Gus Bradley said. “The defense came back and said, ‘Alright, not tonight, not tonight.’ They attacked it like that. It went back-and-forth overall, but the defense, I thought, came out really spirited.”
  • Second-year cornerback Demetrius McCray continues to impress while working with the first unit in pace of Alan Ball (ankle). He had another pass breakup in one-on-one drills on Monday. He’s an intriguing player because of his size (6-foot, 185 pounds) and length. If he continues to develop, the Jaguars are going to have an interesting situation after the season. Ball, whom Bradley says may return on Wednesday, has played well as the starter opposite Dwayne Gratz but his contract expires after the season. The team drafted Aaron Colvin in the fourth round despite a torn ACL and the expectation is he would be ready to become the starter in 2015. But McCray may be an option. If neither appears to be ready, the Jaguars may opt to re-sign Ball.
  • Backup tight end Clay Harbor suffered a strained calf and will miss at least several days. He’s the primary backup to Marcedes Lewis and the team’s only flex tight end. He caught 24 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns in his first season with the Jaguars. This will mean more opportunities for undrafted rookies Reggie Jordan, Marcel Jensen, and Brandon Barden. D.J. Tialavea, another undrafted rookie, is out with a quad strain.
  • The Jaguars announced an attendance of 3,239 at Bartram Trail High School, the biggest crowd to watch a training camp practice so far. ... The Jaguars are off on Tuesday and will return to the practice field at 9:55 a.m. ET Wednesday. ... One of the highlights of what was a relatively uneventful practice came during a water break, when Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee tried to hit mascot Jaxson de Ville, who was hanging from the crossbar. He took two playful shots at him but missed both times. ... Here are the QB stats from 11-on-11: Henne was 3-for-8 with an interception; Blake Bortles was 3-for-7; Morris was 3-for-7 with an interception, and Ricky Stanzi was 2-for-2.
Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.


If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.


With Ace Sanders taking a leave of absence for personal issues and then facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, it opens an additional spot. Doss, whom the team signed as a free agent in March, looks like the favorite to get the last spot, edging out undrafted rookie Allen Hurns and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore but he led the NFL in punt return average last season and can step right in for Sanders in that role. I have Taylor beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.


Jensen flashed during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He’s a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher.


Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.


This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn’t on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn’t anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.


Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes’ surgically repaired knee doesn’t respond well. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).


The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith’s final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. I thought Sherrod Martin would have an edge over Young and several other players because of his experience (he started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons) but Young has been working with the second unit ahead of Martin. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he’s likely to stick around at least another year.


These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 3

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
Jacksonville, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.
  • The highlight of the day may have been Denard Robinson's diving catch of a pass from Blake Bortles down the right sideline. Robinson’s hands have been criticized heavily since his dismal performance in training camp in 2013, but the team revealed in the spring that Robinson was dealing with nerve damage in his hand relating to an injury he sustained during his final season at Michigan. Robinson dropped only one pass in nine OTAs and a three-day minicamp and there is a lot of optimism that he can finally become the weapon the Jaguars envisioned when they drafted him. Today’s catch shows how much he has improved now that the nerve damage has healed. Robinson did later drop an easy pass from Bortles but stayed after practice and ran the same pattern multiple times and caught each pass from Bortles.
  • Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny talked on Friday about the need for the linebackers to make more big plays. Outside linebacker Geno Hayes delivered one when he picked off a Ricky Stanzi pass and returned it for what would have been a touchdown. Hayes read Stanzi’s eyes and stepped in front of the pass intended for tight end Reggie Jordan.
  • Rookie defensive end Chris Smith continues to impress early in camp. The knock on him coming out of Arkansas was his height (he’s only 6-foot-1) but Smith knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage for the second day in a row. "He’s not as tall but he’s got good length in his arms and that’s what’s showing up," Bradley said. Smith also had a nice showing in one-on-one pass rush drills. He got by rookie offensive tackle Josh Wells with a spin move and then came back on the next snap and beat him with a bull rush.
  • There were no new injuries. Receiver Cecil Shorts (hamstring), tight end D.J. Tialavea (quad), and linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring) did not practice. Defensive tackle Roy Miller was given a veteran day off. ... Kicker Josh Scobee showed off his leg by making consecutive field goals from 50, 56, and 64 yards. Scobee has made 23 field goals of 50 or more yards in his career, including a 59-yarder against Indianapolis in 2010. ... Cornerback Will Blackmon also had an interception during one-on-one drills. He was running stride-for-stride with receiver Damian Copeland and snared Bortles’ slightly-underthrown pass.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Things got a little chippy during the Jacksonville Jaguars’ first practice in pads on Sunday.

There were three separate scuffles, including one involving a pair of newly-acquired players, during the two-plus hour practice, which coach Gus Bradley said was a good indication of the team’s intensity level just three days into training camp.

 "When you love each other, there are going to be some battles, right?" Bradley joked. "I guess that’s the way to look at it. But that’s good. There’s intensity. You see Zane Beadles got a little fired up and Red [Bryant] got a little fired up. We’ve got intensity and those guys bring even more to it so that’s good.

"We don’t want to get anybody getting hurt. Control it and keep our poise. It’s a physical game, and there are going to be times where those things will occur."

The scuffle between Beadles and Bryant, both of whom signed as free agents in March, was the second of the day. It came during one-on-one pass block/pass rush drills and ended with Bryant’s helmet ripped off and the two on the ground.

"Ain’t no big deal about that," defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks said. "They know you don’t piss big Red off. You make big Red mad, that’s what happens. That’s exactly what happened out there today. They made him mad."

Tight end Clay Harbor got his helmet ripped off by defensive end Tyson Alualu during a scuffle in 11-on-11. It started after Harbor caught a short pass from Blake Bortles. There is no tackling, but defensive players try to rip the ball out at the end of each play and Harbor took exception to the way Alualu tried to do that. The two were eventually separated by Bradley and tight ends coach Ron Middleton.

"Just part of football when you go out there and compete," Alualu said. "Everything stays on the field. It’s no big deal. Nothing personal."

The third altercation was nothing more than a pushing match between defensive tackle DeAndre Coleman and center Patrick Lewis.

Alualu and Marks said the scuffles were a byproduct of the players being in shoulder pads for the first time since camp began on Friday. The players won’t be in full pads until Wednesday.

"That’s definitely part of it," Alualu said. "Excited to put the pads on [and get] back to playing physical football. When you’re doing that type of thing sometimes those things [scuffles] happen."

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 2

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.

  • After having an inconsistent first day, rookie quarterback Blake Bortles rebounded with a good practice. His throws were more crisp and on target during drills, but he was really impressive during the two-minute drill. He led the Jaguars to a touchdown in just three plays, completing passes to Kerry Taylor, Clay Harbor, and Damian Copeland. The pass to Taylor went for a big gain down the left sideline. Bortles completed all six of his passes during the 11-on-11 work. “I thought he had a nice day today, especially in that two-minute situation,” coach Gus Bradley said.
  • In fact, all the quarterbacks had a pretty good day. Chad Henne completed 7 of 10 passes during 11-on-11 work. Ricky Stanzi went 8-for-10 and Stephen Morris went 5-for-6. None of the QBs threw an interception. One lowlight: Morris’ only incompletion was on a horrendous pass to the left sideline. The ball wobbled and fluttered and landed about 5 yards out of bounds. It was the worst pass of the first two days of camp but he rebounded with a nice throw on his next pass.
  • The competition at safety will be fun to watch over the next month. Strong safety Johnathan Cyprien and free safety Winston Guy were the starters and it was interesting to see Joe Young working with the second unit at strong safety. The fourth-year player from Rutgers played in 36 games (five starts) with Indianapolis.
  • Injury report: In addition to the news that receiver Cecil Shorts has a grade two hamstring strain and will be out at least two weeks, linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring) and tight end D.J. Tialavea (quad) also left practice. Thomas left the field on a cart.
  • Cornerback Demetrius McCray, who is filling in for Alan Ball (ankle) on the first team defense, had a nice pass breakup of Henne’s deep sideline pass to Allen Robinson. … Rookie defensive end Chris Smith was responsible for one of the six incomplete passes in 11-on-11 situations. He knocked down Stanzi’s pass at the line of scrimmage. … There were 2,133 fans in attendance.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If there’s a snake bit position group on the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster, it has to be the wide receivers.

Seven sat out all or significant parts of OTAs and minicamp with injuries. Ace Sanders has taken a leave of absence to deal with personal issues and also is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Justin Blackmon, who is still serving an indefinite suspension, was arrested last week in Oklahoma.

And now Cecil Shorts -- the only proven receiver on the roster -- is going to be out for at least two weeks with a grade two right hamstring strain. It’s the latest in a string of injuries that have cost the fourth-year player 11 games in his first three seasons.

If I were the Jaguars, I’d encase second-round picks Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in bubble wrap. Immediately.

The development of those two rookies, who were among the players that missed time in the spring with injuries, has now become one of the most important issues of the early part of training camp. Any setback, particularly an injury, will certainly impact the passing game and as a byproduct affect the development of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.

Shorts has 123 career catches. The remaining receivers on the roster have a combined 80, so there’s not a lot of experience available. That means Lee and Robinson -- whom general manager David Caldwell said Friday were drafted to complement, not replace, Shorts – are under more pressure to learn the offense and adjust to the speed of the game so they can be significant contributors.

Based on Shorts’ injury history, they both may need to be in the starting lineup Week 1.

Robinson was already working with the first unit on Friday at the X receiver spot. Lee worked in the slot but he also will spend time at the X and Z spots. And while the Jaguars do feel much better about their depth at receiver than they did last season, Lee and Robinson are the players the offense needs to step up.

Mike Brown, Tandon Doss and Kerry Taylor are solid but Lee and Robinson bring the game-breaking ability the offense lacks. Lee caught 248 passes for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns in his career at Southern California, including 118 for 1,721 yards and 14 TDs in 2012. He’s a speedster who has the ability to stretch the defense and can take a short pass and turn it into a long gain.

Robinson caught 177 passes for 2,474 yards and 17 touchdowns at Penn State. He’s a bigger target (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), which is something the Jaguars haven’t had at receiver since Matt Jones.

"They're coming along well," Shorts said. "I know it was tough for them sitting out a month, being high draft picks and wanting to play, wanting to contribute. They did a good job of getting back healthy, and they looked good on the first day.

"They understand the game and understand how to study, and a lot of guys from college don't understand that."

They're going to have to progress quickly. The passing game may depend on it.
Jacksonville, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.
  • Blake Bortles had a typical rookie practice: a few good throws, a few decent throws, and a few bad ones. But he ended on a good note, hooking up with Damian Copeland on a touchdown pass on a back-shoulder throw. What impressed coach Gus Bradley, though, was the way Bortles responded to the interception. “[Bortles] threw a seam route with two guys on him and he put it right between them,” Bradley said. “He made a great throw. That tells me something right there: He has no fear of failure and that’s a really cool sign for a quarterback.” Bortles’ biggest problem at this point, other than some fundamentals issues, is consistency, but that’s something all rookie QBs battle. Seeing if he can develop some will be something to monitor throughout camp
  • The day didn’t get off to a great start. When the team arrived at the facility they found it without water because of a broken water main near the stadium. Jacksonville Electric Authority crews worked on the problem and had it repaired within several hours.
  • Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny talked on Thursday about the need for the linebackers to make more plays and make an impact on the defense, and one of them delivered. Nate Stupar picked off Bortles and returned the ball up the sideline. That was one of three interceptions thrown by Bortles, Ricky Stanzi, and Stephen Morris.
  • Receiver Cecil Shorts was pulled from practice because of tightness in his hamstring, but the Jaguars made it through the first practice without any other injuries. ... Denard Robinson made a nice run off the right side and put on a quick burst into the secondary for what would have been a long gain. The play earned Robinson a pat on the rear from coach Gus Bradley. ... Winston Guy was at free safety and Demetrius McCray at one corner with the first-team defense. It’s not surprising to see Guy out there because he manned the spot throughout OTAs and minicamp with Josh Evans (bone spur in his foot) out. It was a bit of a surprise to see McCray out there in place of Alan Ball (ankle) instead of Will Blackmon. The Jaguars have been working Blackmon in the slot, though, so that may have played into the decision. ... Jacques McClendon was at right guard with the first-team offense and third-round pick Brandon Linder was working with the second unit. ... A crowd of 1,652 attended practice.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars' streak of having a full complement of healthy receivers didn't even last two hours.

Cecil Shorts left the team's first training camp practice with a tight hamstring. The injury isn't expected to be serious and coach Gus Bradley said the Jaguars pulled Shorts as a precautionary measure.

Shorts said he expects to be back on the field this weekend.

"Things are going to pop up," he said. "It's football. Things happen. I'll continue to take care of my body. If I'm able to practice [on Saturday], I'm practicing."

Shorts missed most of OTAs and minicamp with tightness in his calf. He was one of seven receivers who were sidelined in the spring with injuries. All but Ace Sanders, who took a leave of absence in the wake of a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, reported to camp completely healthy.

This is a critical season for Shorts, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. His agent has had preliminary talks with Jaguars GM David Caldwell but there's no timetable to get a deal done.

Caldwell said Shorts is in the team's long-term plans and that his injury history won't play a role in the negotiations, but it's something that the team has noted. Shorts has missed 11 games in his three seasons for various injuries and finished last season on IR with a sports hernia.

"Cecil plays so hard that maybe sometimes he gets hurt because he plays so hard and tries so hard and works so hard," Caldwell said. "We don't want him to lose that. That's not a thing that we're concerned about."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Justin Blackmon's latest arrest has done nothing to change the Jacksonville Jaguars' plans regarding the former first-round pick’s status with the team: They aren’t going to cut him.

Owner Shad Khan, speaking after the team’s Back to Football charity luncheon on Thursday afternoon, said he was disappointed to hear the news of Blackmon’s third arrest but said he plans on keeping the troubled Blackmon on the team’s reserve/suspended list.

"I think we want to keep him as a player," Khan said. "He’s not part of the team, obviously, but I think it’s very important for him to get the help. I think that’s the most important thing.

"I think it’s good for him to be [under contract with the team] and frankly it’s good for us. We want him to get the help and really beat this."

[+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesJustin Blackmon had 29 receptions in the four games in which he was available last season.
It appears, however, that Blackmon doesn’t, and that’s why the team should cut the former Oklahoma State standout.

General manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley have repeatedly said they care about Blackmon and want him to receive help to get his life in order. There are numerous resources available for Blackmon to get help through the NFL and the NFL Players Association, whether it’s counseling or help finding a treatment center. In order to get better, Blackmon first has to admit that he has a problem and wants to get better, and it's clear he isn't willing to do that.

Players in the NFL's substance-abuse program are subject to additional random drug testing. Testing positive will result in additional penalties, possibly even a lifetime ban. Blackmon knows that, yet he still made the decision to smoke marijuana while driving, which eventually resulted in his arrest in Edmond, Oklahoma, on Wednesday evening.

Either Blackmon has a more serious problem with substance abuse than many believed or he just doesn’t care. It appears to be more the latter based on the fact Blackmon maintained minimal contact with the team after being suspended indefinitely on Nov. 1. NFL rules prohibit teams from contacting suspended players, but players can contact the team, and the Jaguars had hoped Blackmon would keep them informed of his progress and whereabouts.

He did neither, aside from an occasional text to Bradley. It was disappointing because the Jaguars believed Blackmon had made progress during his four-game suspension to start the 2013 season. A new NFL rule allowed Blackmon to be with the team during his suspension for meetings (no practice or games), and Bradley and Blackmon met almost daily. Bradley said he was encouraged by their deeper relationship and said he believed Blackmon was heading in the right direction.

That is obviously not the case based on what happened Wednesday in Oklahoma.

The Jaguars have perfectly logical reasons for not cutting Blackmon. He is serving an indefinite suspension for his third violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse program, which means he isn’t being paid and doesn’t count against the salary cap or roster limit. His career essentially is paused, meaning he still owes the team 2 years of service if he ever were to return. Plus, if the Jaguars do cut him they will be unable to recover any bonus money they have already paid.

However, those are football reasons and this is no longer an on-field issue. It’s about making a stand that the kind of behavior in which Blackmon is engaging is unacceptable. The Jaguars stood by and supported him through his May 2012 arrest, his four-game suspension and the current indefinite suspension. That is enough chances, more than many of us would receive if we found ourselves in the same situation.

Blackmon has become an embarrassment to a franchise that is riding a huge swell of momentum and positive energy thanks to the EverBank Field renovations and the enthusiasm surrounding draft picks Blake Bortles, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. Forget the money and the slim chance that he will turn things around and become the player he was projected to be. The best thing for the franchise at this point is to cut Blackmon loose.