Jacksonville receiver Justin Blackmon faces a four-game suspension to begin the 2013 season.
New general manager Dave Caldwell and new coach Gus Bradley might have inherited Blackmon from the previous regime, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like him.
Blackmon was widely regarded as the best receiver in the draft last year, and Jaguars GM Gene Smith traded up to draft him fifth overall. It was a bold move that addressed a very weak roster spot.
Blackmon might have issues, but he’s also got something the Jaguars need a lot more of: talent.
He came on in the latter part of his rookie season and appears to be on his way to be a solid pro, provided, of course, he can get his issues in order and be available on Sundays.
ESPN Stats & Information said among rookie receivers in 2012, Blackmon ranked first with 128 targets, tied for first with 64 receptions, first with 865 yards and tied for second with five touchdowns.
The drinking and driving on his résumé and a four-game suspension for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy isn't enough to prompt this team -- and I doubt any team -- to give up on that talent in just his second season.
Statement from Blackmon: "I’ve made a mistake and I have no excuse. I am truly sorry and disappointed in myself for putting the Jaguars in this situation, and I look forward to putting this behind me and maturing and growing as a person. I will have a productive training camp and preseason with my team, and during the suspension I will work hard to stay in top football shape and be ready to help the Jaguars when I return. I have chosen to be accountable for my poor decision, and I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the front office and Jaguars fans for the impact of my mistake on the team."
Statement from Caldwell: “Coach Bradley and I have spoken with Justin, and he is well aware of our disappointment. I don’t think there is any question that Justin is embarrassed and remorseful, and Coach Bradley and I are both confident he understands the obligations ahead of him, to himself, the franchise and the fans. We will support him throughout the process and continue to work to educate him and all of our players on making the right decisions. The Jaguars have made a lot of progress over the past three months, and we will not allow this news to slow us down.”