Friday, September 27, 2013
Jags have shortage of healthy WRs
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars practice squad quarterback Matt Scott has been busy this week.
So have several various ball boys and equipment assistants.
But instead of doing their normal jobs, they’ve had to substitute as wide receivers with the scout team. Injuries have made the Jaguars thin at the position, and the team heads into Sunday’s game against Indianapolis with only four healthy receivers -- two of which are on the practice squad.
Both of those players -- Jeremy Ebert and Tobais Palmer -- likely will end up on the active roster, provided they clear waivers, and on the field on Sunday.
Cecil Shorts leads the Jaguars in catches and yards this season.
"Those guys become very realistic guys that could be active so [general manager] Dave [Caldwell] and I will have to talk about that," coach Gus Bradley said after Thursday’s practice. "That would require some changes and things like that so we’ll discuss what we need to do, but those guys got a lot of reps today. That’s what you have a practice squad for, so you can develop guys through it for opportunities like this."
The Jaguars are in this situation because of Justin Blackmon's suspension and injuries to Mike Brown (lumbar transverse process) and Stephen Burton (concussion-like symptoms). Blackmon will serve the final game a four-game suspension this week and Brown has already been ruled out. Burton is in the NFL’s concussion program and has yet to practice this week so it’s unlikely he’ll play against the Colts.
That leaves Cecil Shorts and rookie Ace Sanders the only healthy receivers currently on the active roster. Shorts is the Jaguars’ leading receiver (19 catches for 276 yards) while Sanders has 10 catches for 103 yards. Ebert was a seventh-round draft pick by New England last season but has been with the Jaguars since May 22. He has been active for the past two games and has caught one pass for 5 yards. Palmer is an undrafted rookie out of NC State who has yet to be active.
"It’s just part of the game," Shorts said of being short-handed at receiver. "Being a professional, being in the NFL, you get hurt, things happen. You’ve got to be able to bounce back from it and those are the guys that have to be able to step up and play. We’re definitely confident in Ebert and Tobias. They’ve been with us since April so they definitely know the system. I’m excited for them to go out there and get an opportunity
"It’s something you have to embrace and when the opportunity comes make the most of it."
That’s what Ebert, whose lone catch came against Oakland, is hoping to do -- even if it doesn’t pay off in Jacksonville.
"It’s a huge opportunity for me," he said. "I‘ve just got to prepare myself for this game on Sunday and go out there and perform and put it on tape and wish for the best."
That’s what the Jaguars are hoping for this Sunday, too.