JACKSONVILLE – Here’s this week’s Wednesday wrap up.
On Wednesday mornings during the 2013 regular season, jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser sets the stage for the Jaguars’ Wednesday media access by previewing major topics facing the team. Each Wednesday afternoon/evening, he breaks down what was learned from Jaguars players and coaches that day.
Here’s the wrap up of Wednesday’s five topics as the Jaguars prepare to play the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday…
1. No. 1 again. Cecil Shorts III began the season as the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver, and though he’s back in that role in the wake of last week’s indefinite suspension of Justin Blackmon, Shorts said he’s trying not to overemphasize the change. “I’ll take the same approach,” Shorts said. “Nothing changes.” Shorts said his on-field role stays the same, and he’ll run the same routes in the same plays as before. He said if he’s focused on anything it’s trying not to press too much because he’s the “go-to receiver,” something he said he perhaps did the first four games of the season. “I’m not going to press,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, I was pressing a little bit. I have a certain routine in the week, preparing. I’m going to keep it that way.” Shorts had 26 receptions for 337 yards in the first four games without Blackmon, but also had four dropped passes. He has 46 receptions for 565 yards and a touchdown this season.
2. Is Robinson ready? Denard Robinson said his mindset won’t change this week. Yes, he will be the No. 2 running back – just as he was against San Francisco two weeks ago. And yes, because he is well-known, it’s a topic this week. But Robinson said he has been working with the running backs throughout the season, so his preparation doesn’t change. “It’s good, but wherever they put me, I’m good,” Robinson said. “I’m focused on doing the things the coaches are asking me to do.” The Jaguars early in the season and in preseason tried Robinson at kickoff returns, Wildcat quarterback and wide receiver, looking for a way to best utilize his speed. He rushed for 15 yards on four carries against San Francisco, and had some of his most productive runs of the season. “That always gives you confidence, the chance to make a couple of plays against a great defense like that,” he said, and when asked if he can be a feature back, he said with a smile, “Sure, why not? If they ask me to do it, yeah. If you’re a playmaker, you make plays.”
3. Committee time again. Blackmon’s suspension not only returns Shorts to the No. 1 receiver role, it moves first-year veteran Mike Brown into the starter’s role. “The more you play and the more reps you get, the more confidence you get,” Brown said. It also could mean more opportunity for slot receiver Ace Sanders, as well as Stephen Williams and Stephen Burton. Brown has 13 receptions for 226 yards and a touchdown this season, while Sanders has 16 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown. Burton caught seven passes for 65 yards in three games. “When your number’s called, you step up and make a play,” Brown said. “It’s not about, ‘I have to replace this person.’ …Even before everything happened (with Blackmon), just looking at our situation, we had a talk. We said, ‘We have to step it up. Whatever we did the first eight weeks wasn’t good enough.’ We have to raise our level of play.”
4. Wrapping up. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley when speaking with media has emphasized a need for better tackling, saying that missed tackles have led to explosive plays by the opposition. The Jaguars are ranked 32nd in run defense, allowing 158 and 221 yards to San Diego and San Francisco just before the bye. “I would agree,” middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said, adding that tackling and a return to fundamentals in that area has been an emphasis this week.
5. Breakthrough time. The Jaguars are 0-8 at the season’s midway point, but despite double digit losses in each of the first eight games, morale was high on Wednesday. Talk emphasized the bye as a fresh start, and while the big-picture emphasis for the season remains improvement, players did discuss the need for a victory. “The guys are still hungry,” quarterback Chad Henne said. “We have eight games left. You can go 8-8 or you can go the other way… If you do go 8-8, there is that possibility you can sneak into the playoffs. I’m not saying we’re looking that far ahead, but – one game at a time. If we can take care of what we need to take care of, who knows what can happen?”