NFL Nation: Stephen Burton

Jaguars finally add big receiver

March, 18, 2014
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The signing of free agent Tandon Doss gives the Jacksonville Jaguars one thing they’ve been missing for several years: A big, physical receiver that has actually been productive on the field.

Doss
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Doss caught 26 passes the past two seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens took him in the fourth round in 2011 after he had a standout career at Indiana. He caught 154 passes for 1,854 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career and set a single-season school record for kickoff return yardage as a senior in 2010. He led the Big Ten and was fourth nationally with 175.8 all-purpose yards that season.

Doss had 19 catches for 305 yards for the Ravens last season, and averaged 16.5 yards per catch in his two seasons in Baltimore.

The Jaguars do have two big receivers on the roster, but neither has done much on the field. Stephen Burton (6-1, 224) played in four games for the Jaguars in 2013 and has 15 catches in three seasons with the Jaguars and Minnesota. Stephen Williams (6-5, 207) appeared in just two games for the Jaguars last season and has just nine catches in four seasons with Arizona, Seattle and Jacksonville.

The NFL trending toward bigger cornerbacks makes finding bigger receivers a priority. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said last week that the team would try to add one in free agency and also might draft one.

This is a deep draft for receivers, and the Jaguars did work with Alabama’s Kevin Norwood (6-2, 208) at the Senior Bowl.

Free-agency series: Wide receivers

February, 26, 2014
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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.

Blackmon
Blackmon
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.

Greg Jennings learns the art of blocking

December, 19, 2013
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Greg Jennings' transition from the Green Bay Packers to the Minnesota Vikings was always going to have some fits and starts, well beyond the border-hopping rivalry stuff that fans soak up (and Jennings fed with several rounds of well-publicized comments earlier this year). He went from playing with two quarterbacks -- Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers -- for all but one game of his time with the Packers, to having three in his first six games with the Vikings. On top of that, Jennings had to learn how to exist in an offensive system that revolved not around an MVP quarterback, but an MVP running back.

That meant fewer opportunities as the Vikings went through their quarterback changes. And it meant Jennings taking a more serious approach to the art of downfield blocking.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson and Greg Jennings
Tom Dahlin/Getty ImagesMoving from a team where the quarterback was the star to one where the running back is meant that Greg Jennings (15) had to work on his blocking.
"I kind of saw that the role, my mindset had to change, making sure that I was doing my job and not becoming a distraction at all," Jennings said. "Embracing the run game even more, making sure that I did my part from that aspect of what we were trying to on the offensive side of the ball. ... It didn’t get to me. I just had to shift my mindset to more of a run-blocker because that’s where we were having success at. That’s what was going to get our offense rolling."

For much of Jennings' time in Green Bay, the Packers were either so committed to the pass or so inept at the run that he wasn't asked to do much other than get open and catch passes. The most Jennings had to run-block was in his first season with Rodgers -- in 2008, when he was blocking on 33.8 percent of his offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. His run-blocking dropped in each of the next three seasons (32.3 percent in 2009, 30.9 percent in 2010, 26.7 percent in 2011) before jumping back up to 29.1 percent in 2012. But this season, Jennings is back to blocking almost as frequently as he's ever done.

The Vikings have asked him to do it on 33.4 percent of his snaps this season, and in wide-receivers coach George Stewart, Jennings has a former offensive-line coach who stresses proper blocking technique. During his disappointing 2012 season, wide receiver Jerome Simpson won praise from the coaching staff for the way he worked to improve as a blocker, and that might have helped him earn a new contract from the Vikings this season. It also might have helped converted quarterback Joe Webb make the team out of training camp; Webb has blocked on 42.1 percent of his offensive snaps, filling the role Stephen Burton had occupied for the Vikings last season.

Jennings' productivity has increased since Matt Cassel took over as quarterback, and the Vikings are paying him primarily to do what he always did in Green Bay. But run-blocking is always going to be a reality in an offense with Adrian Peterson, and it's been one of several adjustments for Jennings in his first year in Minnesota.

He had a career-high 11 catches last week in a win over the Eagles, and has 59 catches for 733 yards this season. But Jennings will need a big finish to the season to avoid his lowest full-season yardage total since his rookie year, and his four touchdowns also match his fewest since his rookie year.

"It’s a challenge," he said of working with so many quarterbacks. "That’s why you get a lot of receivers, and a lot of people tag us as divas. Because a lot of times the work that we put in, not to get a result, it can be frustrating for anyone. For a team that’s lost as many games as we’ve lost, we put in a lot of work in practice not to get the production and have the success that we feel we deserve or that we’re putting in on Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays, it can be frustrating. But you have to keep rolling with the punches, and right now we’re having some success and that’s where we are."

Jags put two on IR, sign a RB

December, 9, 2013
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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
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' 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."
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.

Hayes
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.

Shorts
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
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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.

Blackmon
Blackmon
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."
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.

Shorts
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.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts missed Wednesday's practice with a groin injury that he suffered during the team's morning walk-through.

Shorts
Coach Gus Bradley said the injury doesn't appear to be serious. Bradley said Shorts, who is 10th in the NFL with 26 catches, felt his groin tighten up during the walk-through, and the team held him out of the afternoon practice as a precautionary measure.

Six other players missed practice on Wednesday because of injuries: receiver Mike Brown (back), receiver Stephen Burton (concussion), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle), tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf), safety Dwight Lowery (concussion) and defensive end Jeremy Mincey (concussion).

Defensive end Jason Babin, center Brad Meester, and defensive tackle Roy Miller were given the day off.

Cornerback Alan Ball (groin), linebacker Geno Hayes (hip flexor) and receiver Denard Robinson (hamstring) were limited.
Cecil ShortsAP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackThe Jaguars need Cecil Shorts to bounce back from a rough day against the Colts.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was a rough day for Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts on Sunday, and that’s something the Jaguars can’t afford.

Shorts is the Jaguars’ only playmaker in the passing game, so when he struggles it virtually dooms their chances of having any kind of success. Shorts led the Jaguars with seven catches for 61 yards but he also had three drops, including one in which the ball bounced off his hands and was intercepted.

"It’s frustrating," said Shorts, who was targeted 12 times in the Jaguars’ 37-3 loss to Indianapolis. "I didn’t have the day I wanted today, but bad days happen and that’s just part of the game. So I’m going to come back with my head high and ready to go this week and get ready to go to St. Louis Sunday."

The Jaguars were hurting at receiver on Sunday because of injuries to Mike Brown (back) and Stephen Burton (concussion-like symptoms) and the suspension of Justin Blackmon. That left the Jaguars with just two healthy receivers: Shorts and rookie Ace Sanders. The team signed Jeremy Ebert and Tobais Palmer from the practice squad on Saturday and used fifth-round pick Denard Robinson at receiver as well.

Sanders, Ebert, Palmer and Robinson entered the game with a combined 11 career receptions. Other than Sanders (10 catches), the only other player with a catch was Ebert. Palmer was making his NFL debut.

Shorts had to carry the load, and he pretty much had to be perfect, too. That’s a lot of pressure for a third-year player who had only started nine games entering the 2013 season, and it’s a role he has been forced into maybe before he was ready because of the Blackmon suspension.

"He’s competing and going out there and made some plays," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "I think that he’s going to feel like teams know who I am and they’re going to say, ‘One thing we know is we need to know where Cecil Shorts is,’ but he’s up for that.

"I think he has to understand when you do well in games in the NFL that’s going to come, and it can’t slow you down. That’s the challenge for him and to be consistently playing high at that level."

Shorts wasn’t sure if he was trying to do too much, but he admits that he knows how much pressure he was under to perform because of the limitations at receiver.

"That’s a good question," he said. "That’s something I have to sit back and think about. Not sure. I need to watch the film.

"I don’t necessarily feel like I’m pressing, but I could be. I could be."

That’s something the Jaguars offense can’t afford, even when Blackmon returns next week.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are now down two starters in the secondary after safety Dwight Lowery was ruled out of Sunday’s game with Indianapolis because of a concussion.

Lowery suffered the injury early in the Jaguars’ 45-17 loss to Seattle last Sunday. He was replaced by rookie Josh Evans, the team’s sixth-round draft pick, and Evans will start in Lowery’s place. The Jaguars are already without starting cornerback Dwayne Gratz because of a high ankle sprain.

There is some good news for the struggling offense because tight end Marcedes Lewis is set to make his season debut on Sunday. He’s a reliable, familiar target for quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who was announced as the starter on Monday after he missed the past two games because of a cut on his right hand.

Lewis will need to have an impact in the passing game because the Jaguars (0-3) will be without receivers Stephen Burton (concussion-like symptoms) and Mike Brown (back). Justin Blackmon is also serving the final game of his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse program.

The Colts (2-1) will be without running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois (groin) and safety LaRon Landry (ankle).

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