AFC South: Stephen Burton

Free-agency series: Wide receivers

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
Here is the third of a 10-part series breaking down the Jaguars’ free-agency needs, position by position:

Wide receivers

Who’s on the roster: Justin Blackmon, Mike Brown, Chad Bumphis, Jeremy Ebert, Stephen Burton, Taylor Price, Denard Robinson, Jabin Sambrano, Ace Sanders, Cecil Shorts, Kerry Taylor, Lamaar Thomas and Stephen Williams.

Analysis: This position group is solid provided Blackmon is on the field. However, nobody knows when, or if, he’ll get back on the field. He is eligible to apply for reinstatement from his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy just before the 2014 season begins. Even if he’s reinstated, there’s no guarantee he’ll avoid another suspension. He is clearly the Jaguars’ best receiver, catching 29 passes for 415 yards in the four games in which he played in 2013. Shorts has played well the past two seasons (121 catches for 1,756 yards), though he has missed five games because of injuries and missed the final three games of this past season and went on IR with a sports hernia. He’s not a No. 1 receiver, though, and had some trouble when he was thrust into that role when Blackmon was suspended. Taylor came on at the end of the season and is intriguing as a No. 4/5 receiver. Brown and Sanders, who caught 51 passes last season as a rookie, are dependable slot receivers. In addition to Shorts, Burton, Ebert, Price and Williams finished the season on injured reserve. Bumphis and Sambrano are on the practice squad. Price’s contract expires next month and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

NFL free agents of interest: Hakeem Nicks, Eric Decker, Riley Cooper, Brandon Tate and Golden Tate.

Need meter: 5. The Jaguars could get by without adding a receiver in free agency, because it’s likely they’ll draft at least one. The position group needs an upgrade at the top end, but to get a big-time player the Jaguars will have to spend big-time money, and it doesn’t seem likely they’ll do that on a receiver. Regardless of whether it’s a free agent or a draft pick, it’s likely to be a bigger, more physical receiver, because that’s one thing the Jaguars lack. Burton (6-foot-1, 224 pounds) fits the description, but has just 15 catches in three seasons and battled a concussion much of last season.
With the NFL combine starting Wednesday, here's a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars' positions of need on offense and which prospects the team might be looking to take a closer look at in Indianapolis. Positions of need are listed in order of importance. A look at the defense comes Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill on the roster and the next part in the process comes this week when general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley evaluate, watch and interview prospects at the NFL combine.

Here's a breakdown of what the Jaguars need, in order, on offense and some potential targets:

Quarterback: There's no question this is the Jaguars' top need, although pass-rusher is only slightly behind. Caldwell wants to re-sign Chad Henne before free agency begins next month, but Henne is a bridge player or someone who can mentor a young quarterback and begin the season as the starter if the rookie isn't ready. The Jaguars haven't completely given up on Blaine Gabbert, either, but he's entering the final year of his contract and it would be surprising if he were re-signed after 2014.

Potential targets: Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Aaron Murray.

Interior offensive line: The Jaguars have to find a center to replace the retired Brad Meester and a left guard to upgrade from Will Rackley. The Jaguars will address this area in free agency as well but the team also wants to add some young talent. The Jaguars appear set at both tackles (Luke Joeckel and Austin Pasztor) and right guard Uche Nwaneri has two more years remaining on his contract. He's scheduled to make $4.775 million in each year, though, and could be a cap casualty after 2014. Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon can play guard and center but neither appears, now anyway, to be the long-term answer. It wouldn't be surprising if the team took an interior offensive lineman in the third round, especially if the Jaguars took a quarterback earlier.

Potential targets: G Gabe Jackson, G David Yankey, G Brandon Thomas, C Marcus Martin, C Weston Richburg, C Russell Bodine.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Stephen Morton/AP PhotoThe Jaguars need to find a feature back in the event they do not re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew.
Running back: The Jaguars are more than likely going to lose Maurice Jones-Drew in free agency, which leaves them with Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Delone Carter, and Justin Forsett on the roster. Forsett is likely going to be cut, but even if he's retained none of those players is a feature back. The Jaguars don't need to invest a high pick at this spot because good backs can be found in the later middle rounds.

Potential targets: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Jerick McKinnon, Tre Mason, Lache Seastrunk, Dri Archer, Andre Williams.

Receiver: The Jaguars aren't planning on getting anything from Justin Blackmon in 2014 because they don't yet know his status, which is the correct way to approach his situation. Cecil Shorts is entering a contract year but has yet to stay healthy for a full season. Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Lamar Thomas, and Stephen Burton are complementary players. The Jaguars need to find a bigger, physical receiver. If they do that in free agency, this area drops to the bottom of the offensive needs list.

Potential targets: Josh Huff, Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams.

Tight end: Marcedes Lewis came on strong at the end of the season and he should be a 50-catch player in Jedd Fisch's offense if he stays healthy. After Lewis, though, there isn't much. Clay Harbor is a flex tight end but he's a free agent and the Jaguars will have to decide if they want to re-sign him. Danny Noble is raw and needs more work. The Jaguars want a bigger tight end who can line up next to Lewis in two-tight-end formations.

Potential targets: Marcel Jensen, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Crockett Gilmore, Jake Murphy.
Each day for the next two weeks we’ll review how each position group performed in 2013, and take an early look at 2014. Today we’ll examine the wide receivers. We did quarterbacks on Monday, running backs on Tuesday, tight ends on Wednesday, and we will do the offensive line on Friday.

Wide receivers

Breakdown of starts: Cecil Shorts (13), Mike Brown (6), Justin Blackmon (4), Ace Sanders (4), Kerry Taylor (4), Stephen Burton (2).

Recap: For four games -- the only four in which Blackmon played -- the Jaguars were in pretty good shape. It was a little rougher in the other 12, however, especially after Shorts went on IR with a groin injury. By the end of the season, though, there were a few pleasant surprises.

Shorts still led the team with 66 catches for 777 yards and three touchdowns despite battling shoulder and groin injuries throughout the season. He struggled in the role as the team’s No. 1 receiver when Blackmon was suspended for the first four games but handled it much better during Blackmon’s second suspension.

He was the only other proven receiver on the roster when the season began but fourth-round draft pick Ace Sanders and first-year player Mike Brown developed into solid complementary receivers. Sanders, drafted mainly to be the team’s punt returner, got more work early because of Blackmon’s suspension and a back injury that kept Brown off the field for four of the first five weeks. His 51 catches were the third-highest among rookie receivers this season.

Brown (32 catches, 446 yards, 2 touchdowns) had the best per-catch average (13.9 yards) among the Jaguars’ wide receivers. He was impressive in his return to the lineup after a four-week absence due to a broken vertebra, catching five passes for 120 yards in his second game back, making him the only receiver beside Blackmon to have a 100-yard receiving game.

Taylor was perhaps the most pleasant surprise. He was signed Nov. 4 and caught 16 passes for 162 yards in the last three games.

Looking ahead to 2014

Players under contract: Blackmon, Shorts, Burton, Sanders, Brown, Taylor, Stephen Williams, Jeremy Ebert, Lamaar Thomas, Chad Bumphis, Jabin Sambrano.

The skinny: Shorts will be in the final year of his contract so he’ll have that as some added motivation to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Sanders, Brown and Taylor will go into camp as the Nos. 2-4 receivers and should be improved in their second season in the offense.

The wildcard is Blackmon. He can apply for reinstatement before the season begins. If he is reinstated, the Jaguars have to decide whether to cut or keep him, knowing that if they do keep him they run the risk of him failing another drug test and being suspended again.

It’s likely the Jaguars also will draft a receiver or try to add one in free agency. It’s also likely that whoever they add will be a bigger, physical receiver, which is something they do not have on the roster. They need a receiver that can go up and win the 50-50 battles for balls, especially in the red zone. Right now tight end Marcedes Lewis is the only player on the roster who has proven he can do that.

Jags put two on IR, sign a RB

December, 9, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars put receiver Stephen Burton and running back Justin Forsett on Injured Reserve and signed running back Delone Carter on Monday.

Forsett (broken foot) has six carries for 81 yards, and 15 catches for 82 yards in nine games. He was hurt in the Jaguars' victory against Houston on Nov 24.

Forsett signed a two-year contract with the Jaguars in March, but he suffered a sprained toe on his right foot on Aug. 1 in the first live practice period of training camp and missed the rest of camp and all of the preseason. Meanwhile, first-year running back Jordan Todman led the team in rushing in the preseason (223 yards) and earned a bigger role on offense (18 carries for 53 yards in nine games).

Burton has played in just four games this season because of multiple concussions, and has eight receptions for 76 yards

Carter was a fourth-round pick by Indianapolis in 2011 and rushed for 499 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons with the Colts. Indianapolis traded him to Baltimore on Aug. 1, and he hasn't been with a team since the Ravens cut him Aug. 30.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars had 18 players on Wednesday's injury report but only three, all of whom are receivers, are in jeopardy of not being available for Sunday's game at the Houston Texans.

Starter Mike Brown (shoulder) and Stephen Burton (concussion) were among eight players who did not practice on Wednesday. Brown was hurt during the Jaguars' 27-14 loss to Arizona last Sunday. He is averaging a team-high 17.0 yards per catch (17 catches for 289 yards).

Linebacker Geno Hayes (knee) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (back) also missed practice because of injuries. Defensive end Jason Babin, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, center Brad Meester, and defensive tackle Roy Miller were given a veteran's day off.

Cornerback Will Blackmon (shoulder), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (hip), safety Winston Guy (hamstring), tight end Danny Noble (hamstring), linebacker Paul Posluszny (concussion), guard Will Rackley (concussion), receiver Cecil Shorts (groin), receiver Stephen Williams (Achilles) and receiver Kerry Taylor (toe) were limited.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars' offense hasn't had any trouble starting fast the last two weeks.

It's the rest of the game that has been the problem.

It happened in a 29-27 victory over Tennessee on Nov. 10 but the Jaguars were able to hang on and get their first victory over the season. They couldn't overcome it against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at EverBank Field, however, and lost 27-14.

[+] EnlargeDespite a strong first quarter, Chad Henne and the Jacksonville offense could not score for the rest of the game.
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesChad Henne
The Jaguars scored two touchdowns -- their first at EverBank this season -- and racked up 111 yards in the first quarter. But penalties, an injury to an already-depleted receiving corps, and the lack of a running game crushed the early momentum. The result was the ninth loss of the season and sixth consecutive loss at EverBank Field.

"After those scores we struggled," head coach Gus Bradley said. "We had quite a few three-and-outs. I know we had some second-and-longs, some penalties that showed up in the second half, a couple interceptions. We've got to overcome that. We've really got to continue to challenge our guys to step up and make plays."

The Jaguars (1-9) managed just two first downs in the second quarter and two more in the third. They managed just 163 yards in the final three quarters and 58 came after the Cardinals took a 24-14 lead. Why such a poor performance?

Penalties hurt. A false start on third-and-8 by receiver Ace Sanders in the second quarter. Early in the fourth, center Brad Meester and guard Uche Nwaneri had false starts on the same drive. A holding penalty on tackle Cameron Bradfield wiped out a 21-yard reception by Maurice Jones-Drew.

The running game was non-existent, too. That's not surprising considering the Cardinals entered the day with the NFL's third-ranked rush defense, but Jones-Drew and the offensive line really struggled. The Jaguars ran for just 32 yards on 16 carries and Jones-Drew ran 14 times for 23 yards, which is the second-lowest total of his career in games in which he's had double-digit carries.

The Jaguars were already short at receiver with the suspension of Justin Blackmon and Stephen Burton missing the game with a concussion, but Mike Brown left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury. That meant the Jaguars had to use Kerry Taylor, whom the team claimed off waivers from Arizona on Nov. 4, in a bigger role.

Sanders, Brown, Taylor and tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Clay Harbor were pretty much quarterback Chad Henne's only options because No. 1 receiver Cecil Shorts was being shadowed by Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson. Until the final four minutes of the game, Henne targeted Shorts just once. In those final four minutes, Henne threw to Shorts four times.

Shorts was clearly frustrated.

"There was opportunities throughout the game I should have been involved in," Shorts said. "But, you know, it is what it is. I can't control what the … We can do better as an offense."

Henne wasn't particularly effective, either. Though he completed 27 of 42 passes for 255 yards and one touchdown, he threw two interceptions and didn't challenge the Arizona secondary. As noted, he didn't look for Shorts until the game was well in hand and there were instances where he was open against Peterson.

He settled for shorter passes too often, too, especially on several third downs. It seemed as if he was overly concerned with Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu.

"It was tough," Henne said. "Patrick Peterson's a great corner and we knew we were going to have some problems with him. But Cecil, I thought, in some of his one-on-one routes did some really good things with it. They were playing a high safety. Their guys up front are good pass rushers, so we wanted to get the ball out quick, get it out on time, and I think we definitely accomplished some of that."

It was a typical Henne game. Several good throws, several bad, and a mixture of safe stuff. But he couldn't lead the offense to any points despite starting possessions at his own 40, the Arizona 42, midfield, and his own 42. Punt, punt, punt, interception.

"Field position was outstanding," Bradley said. "We had a couple times we started on the 50 and there in. Those we have to come away with some points. We have to. Even if it's a field goal, to get it down there inside the 35. We took a sack on one. We were on the 36 yard line, the 38-yard line, trying to get it to the 35, we take a sack. Throw it away and give it a chance. We'll continue to grow on those decisions."

It's not all on Henne, Shorts said.

"I felt like we had a lot of momentum at the beginning of the game," said Shorts, who caught just two passes for 22 yards. "We had penalties. When we're in their territory we need to at least get three points. We're on their side of the 50, we can't have a penalty, first-and-15, and we get a positive play, then another penalty, first-and-20. We can't have stuff like that. We need to at least get three every time we're in their territory. We've just got to do better. We need to execute."

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

November, 14, 2013

Paul Posluszny's status uncertain

November, 11, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars won their first game on Sunday but they have lost their best player for a while, too.

Head coach Gus Bradley said middle linebacker Paul Posluszny suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars’ 29-27 victory over Tennessee. Bradley says he’s uncertain whether Posluszny will be able to play in the Jaguars’ home game against Arizona on Sunday.

"I don’t know [if Posluszny will miss a game]," Bradley said. "I’ve seen it around the league where it hasn’t been that way. Everybody’s different. We’ll wait and see what they say."

Not having Posluszny on the field would be a huge blow for a Jaguars defense that is coming off its best game of the season. He's the team's leading tackler (88) and has also forced one fumble and intercepted two passes, including one which he returned 59 yards for a touchdown. If Posluszny cannot play, Bradley said Russell Allen would take his spot.

In addition to Posluszny, guard Will Rackley and receiver Stephen Burton also are in the concussion program. Rackley suffered his concussion against San Francisco and did not play against Tennessee. Mike Brewster started in Rackley’s place against the Titans.

Burton was hurt early in the fourth quarter against the Titans on a play in which he caught an 11-yard pass. It is his second concussion of the season. He missed the previous five games while recovering from his first concussion.

Bradley said he will hopefully know more about the three players' chance of playing on Wednesday.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Observed in the locker room after the Jacksonville Jaguars' 29-27 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Laughter: That hasn't been heard in the Jaguars locker room all season, which isn't a surprise considering the team had lost its first eight games by double digits. But there was plenty of it on Sunday. There was some good-natured ribbing, too. Cornerback Will Blackmon was talking about the defense forcing four turnovers and said it was good to see "some people holding onto interceptions." The player who did was cornerback Dwayne Gratz, who was sitting in the locker to Blackmon's right. The player who dropped an interception was cornerback Alan Ball, who was sitting in the locker to Blackmon's left.

Stepping up: The numbers weren't eye-popping, but Mike Brown, Clay Harbor and Stephen Burton did a solid job helping to replace the production lost from the suspension of Justin Blackmon. The three combined to catch four passes for 64 yards.

Injury report: Burton and linebacker Paul Posluszny each suffered a head injury, though Posluszny seemed fine in the locker room after the game. Burton was hurt when he got hit after making a 15-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He had missed the previous five games with a concussion.

Big game for Hayes: Linebacker Geno Hayes had his most productive game of the season, leading the team with 11 tackles, knocking down one pass and forcing a fumble. The pass breakup was a leaping, one-hander that he also nearly intercepted.

Sluggish O: The Jaguars gained 93 yards in the first quarter but had just 121 yards in the final three. The 218 total yards was the third-fewest of the season, behind the 178 against Kansas City in the season opener and the 205 against Indianapolis.
Here are five things to watch in Sunday’s Jacksonville Jaguars-Tennessee Titans game at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

Tackling: The Jaguars have missed a lot of tackles this season, including 12 in their previous game against San Francisco. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich said they worked on it two days this week, so let’s see if it’s any better. It has been especially poor in the secondary. It’s vital that it’s better Sunday, because Chris Johnson needs only a small advantage to bust a big run. He has six TD runs of 80 or more yards in his career. Miss a tackle and give him a chance to accelerate, and you’re done.

Replacing Blackmon: Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said Mike Brown, Ace Sanders and Stephen Burton will get more opportunities with Justin Blackmon suspended for the season. But he doesn’t want them to try and replace Blackmon. He just wants them to do what they’re supposed to do on each play. “If you start trying to be somebody else or try to step in somebody else’s shoes, all you’re going to do is add pressure and stress to yourself that’s unnecessary,” Fisch said. “That’s the same for everyone on the team.” Brown (13 catches for 226 yards), Sanders (26 catches for 182 yards) and Burton (seven catches for 65 yards) need to play well in order to take some of the load off Cecil Shorts (team-high 46 catches), who has to step back into the No. 1 spot.

Brewster’s time: Starting left guard Will Rackley (concussion) will be a game-time decision. If he can’t go then Mike Brewster will make his first start of the season. He started seven games at left guard as a rookie last season, and Gus Bradley said he considered inserting Brewster into the lineup early this season when the interior of the offense line was struggling. Brewster has played mainly on special teams. After playing 25 snaps on offense in the opener he didn’t play another until he got in for one snap against San Diego. He came in for Rackley against San Francisco.

Back end help: Rookie free safety Josh Evans has struggled the past few games with missed tackles and blown coverages. In an effort to get more consistency at the position, Bradley said Winston Guy will get snaps against Tennessee. Guy has played just four snaps on defense since the team claimed him off waivers from Seattle on Sept. 1. From what Bradley said in announcing the move, Evans has lost focus, and sitting down for some snaps could help him in the long run.

Kickoff returner: Jordan Todman bobbled several kickoffs against San Francisco, but will be back as the kickoff returner against the Titans. Bradley said the team looked at Burton as a possible replacement, but he has decided to keep Todman as the primary returner. He said Burton still could get a chance on Sunday. Todman averages 24.5 yards per kickoff return on 12 returns. Burton averages 24.8 yards on four returns.

Jaguars players support Blackmon

November, 4, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Justin Blackmon’s indefinite suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy leaves a void in the Jaguars’ passing offense.

However, none of Blackmon’s teammates care about that. They’re more concerned with making sure the second-year receiver from Oklahoma State receives the help he needs to overcome whatever problem he has.

"It’s not about us, you know what I mean?" Shorts said. "It’s not about the football, the NFL, Jacksonville. It’s about him and him getting better, and that’s all that I care about. Football is going to be here forever, but it’s life after that.

"He needs to really take care of himself and get better and I think he’s doing the right thing right now."

Monday was the first day the Jaguars have been together since the league announced Blackmon’s suspension on Friday afternoon. There was a sense of disappointment and frustration in the locker room, but also concern for Blackmon, who by all accounts is well-liked and a good teammate.

"You hate to see that happen," center Brad Meester said. "We’re standing behind him and hoping that he can get some help because obviously it’s about more than football so we’re hoping that he can get the help and get his life straight.

"Nobody’s mad at him. That’s not what this is about. This is about him getting help and getting his life right. That’s the most important thing."

Quarterback Chad Henne said he believed Blackmon, who missed the first four games of the season because of a second violation of the substance abuse policy and has two alcohol-related arrests in his past, was a changed person. Henne said Blackmon was in the facility early putting in extra work and seemed to be doing everything the coaching staff asked of him.

That’s why Friday’s announcement took him a little by surprise.

"I think it was frustration, but a little bit of disappointment because he has come a long way," Henne said. "It’s just a shame. We can only support him from here on out."

Receiver Stephen Burton, who will be one of the players who must fill in for Blackmon, said he wasn’t angry at Blackmon for letting the team down, but he did say the decision that Blackmon made that resulted in his suspension was a little selfish -- but he added that no one generally thinks about how their decisions will impact their team.

"It’s a team thing and it was kind of selfish, but we all have our own choices and make our own decisions," Burton said. "I’m pretty sure when he made the decision he wasn’t so much thinking about the team, but that happens. You don’t always go out and do what you do thinking about the best interest [of the team]. Sometimes it just happens. Sometimes you’re wrong place, wrong time. Some things are out of your control. It wasn’t a letdown. It was just really shocking."

Coach Gus Bradley has met with Blackmon several times each week since training camp started and said Blackmon has made significant strides in attitude, work ethic, and the way he conducts himself. Bradley said he trusted Blackmon but doesn’t feel betrayed by his latest suspension.

"I wish I could explain everything to you, what took place," Bradley said. "Obviously I am disappointed. I am disappointed in what took place, but I think if I can say this: There’s something bigger out there that we’re working on with him."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Just when the Jaguars offense had started to get on a roll, it’s dealt another setback.

The indefinite suspension of receiver Justin Blackmon takes away the offense’s best weapon, which means quarterback Chad Henne and the passing game are going to have to rely on a group of young, inexperienced receivers to fill the void for the rest of the season.

It also means Cecil Shorts, who leads the Jaguars with 46 catches for 565 yards and one touchdown, will have to shoulder the load as the team’s No. 1 receiver and deal with the resulting attention from opposing defenses.

"Justin’s a very good football player," general manager Dave Caldwell said. "So when you lose a player of his magnitude somebody else is going to have to step up. This is a great opportunity for some of our guys to step up and fill that void.

"We’re just going to have to find a way to get on track here. It’s only a distraction if we allow it to be and Coach [Gus] Bradley is not going to allow it be a distraction."

Shorts was the Jaguars’ top target in the first four games while Blackmon was serving his first suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, catching 26 passes for 337 yards. He was pretty much a one-man show because the other receivers were rookie Ace Sanders, first-year players Mike Brown (a converted quarterback) and Jeremy Ebert, waiver-wire claim Stephen Burton and undrafted rookie free agent Tobais Palmer (who has since been cut).

Blackmon’s return had an immediate impact on the offense. In the first four games of the season the Jaguars averaged 224 yards of total offense and 7.8 points. In the first two games with Blackmon in the lineup the Jaguars averaged 362.5 yards of total offense and 19.5 points. He caught 29 passes for 415 yards and one touchdown in the four games in which he played after catching 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie in 2012.

Now the Jaguars will have to find a way to replace that production. Shorts has proven to be a solid receiver, catching 103 passes for 1,574 yards and nine touchdowns in 32 career games with the Jaguars. The rest of the receivers -- Brown, Sanders, Burton, Ebert (who’s on the practice squad), rookie Denard Robinson and waiver-wire claim Stephen Williams -- have combined for 54 receptions and two touchdowns in their careers.

That’s not exactly proven help.

There is some growing confidence in Brown, who spent most of last season on the practice squad as he made the transition from college quarterback. He made his first career catch in the 2013 season opener against Kansas City before injuring his back and sitting out the next four weeks. Since his return he has caught 12 passes for 212 yards (17.7 yards per catch) and one touchdown.

Sanders has at least played a significant number of snaps (304) and has 16 catches for 182 yards this season. The only other receivers who have caught passes this season are Ebert (two for 10 yards) and Burton (one for 7).

"We look at it as a great opportunity to overcome a situation that's been presented to us," Caldwell said. "And when we look back on situations like this in the future, we're going to remember how tough it was and how rewarding it's going to be when we get to where we want to be."

Lewis on track to play Sunday

October, 16, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It appears that Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis will be back in the lineup on Sunday.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said Lewis was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice but will play against the Chargers if he continues to improve. Lewis has only been on the field for two snaps this season because of a calf injury.

"He did good," Bradley said. "We really tried to keep him at two out of four reps and really watched him gain confidence in it [his calf]."

The 6-foot-6, 272-pound Lewis has been battling a calf injury, which he originally suffered during warm-ups prior to the second preseason game. He aggravated the injury before the season opener and missed the first three games of the season. He returned to the lineup against Indianapolis on Sept. 29 but lasted just two plays.

Lewis has caught 272 passes for 3,224 yards and 21 touchdowns in the first six years of his career but his work as a blocker, however, is just as significant. He is regarded as one of the league’s best blocking tight ends and was an integral part of the success that Maurice Jones-Drew had in 2011, when he led the league with 1,606 yards rushing.

The Jaguars have struggled to run the ball this season, ranking last in yards per game (60.5) and last in yards per attempt (2.6). Jones-Drew has gained only 279 yards and is averaging 2.9 yards per carry.

Bradley said receiver Cecil Shorts (sprained SC joint), the team’s leading receiver with 31 catches for 411 yards, did not practice and his status for Sunday is still uncertain.

"Cecil showed signs of improvement," Bradley said. "He did not go through practice but his range of motion and comfort level is better. The swelling’s gone down. That was a good sign."

Bradley also said receiver Justin Blackmon (hamstring/groin) was held out of practice Wednesday but will practice on a limited basis on Thursday and he is on pace to play.

Receiver Ace Sanders (concussion), defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee), defensive end Jeremy Mincey (concussion), receiver Stephen Burton (concussion), and safety Johnathan Cyprien (calf) also missed practice with injuries. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew, center Brad Meester, and defensive end Jason Babin were given the day off.

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert (hamstring), running back Jordan Todman (thigh), linebacker Russell Allen (ribs), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle) and defensive end Andre Branch (knee) were limited.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tight end Marcedes Lewis will miss Sunday’s game against St. Louis with the calf injury that has only allowed him to get on the field for two plays this season.

Receiver Cecil Shorts, who has a team-high 26 catches, is listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report but is expected to play. Shorts did not practice on Friday because of a groin injury he suffered earlier in the week.

Cornerback Alan Ball (groin), linebacker Geno Hayes (hip flexor), defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder), and receiver Denard Robinson (hamstring) are listed as probable.

As expected, receiver Mike Brown (back), receiver Stephen Burton (concussion), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle), safety Dwight Lowery (concussion) and defensive end Jeremy Mincey (concussion) were declared out. None of them practiced at all this week.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cecil Shorts was limited in practice on Thursday with a groin injury, but the Jacksonville Jaguars' leading receiver should play against St. Louis on Sunday. It doesn't look like tight end Marcedes Lewis will join him.

Lewis (calf) was one of eight players who did not practice on Thursday. Receiver Mike Brown (back), receiver Stephen Burton (concussion), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle), linebacker Geno Hayes (hip flexor), safety Dwight Lowery (concussion) and defensive end Jeremy Mincey (concussion) sat out because of injuries. Cornerback Mike Harris was excused from practice for personal reasons.

In addition to Shorts, receiver Denard Robinson (hamstring) and defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder) were limited.

Lewis has been on the field for just two plays this season. He missed the first three games with the calf injury, and aggravated it early in the Jaguars' loss to Indianapolis last Sunday. He said earlier this week he's continuing to rehab his calf, but it's likely to be a couple weeks before he can play.

Burton, Lowery and Mincey are still in the NFL's concussion program.