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Shorts, Blackmon to play Sunday

Posted Nov 30, 2012

Mularkey: Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon will play against the Buffalo Bills Sunday

The Jaguars apparently will have their young wide receiver duo Sunday.

Wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III each appeared unexpectedly on the team’s Thursday practice report, but each practiced Friday and Head Coach Mike Mularkey said he expects the duo to play against the Bills Sunday.

The receivers echoed that sentiment.

“Absolutely,” Shorts said, adding that when he saw fans on social media worrying about the status of the receivers on Thursday, “I was like, ‘Relax.’ I couldn’t say anything, though.”

Blackmon said the same was true of him.

“I’ll be ready,” Blackmon said with a smile.

Blackmon and Shorts each practiced Wednesday before missing practice Thursday – Shorts with a groin injury and Blackmon with a hamstring injury.

Each worked with the team during the portion of practice open to the media Friday, then were listed on the injury report as probable, meaning there is a 75 percent chance they will play when the Jaguars visit the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday at 1 p.m.

The duo in the last two weeks has helped the Jaguars’ offense improve significantly.

Shorts, a second-year veteran who moved into the starting lineup October 21 at Oakland, has caught 13 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns in the last three games, and has a reception over 50 yards in each of those games. He has 36 receptions for 747 yards and six touchdowns this season, and has set a franchise record with four receptions of more than 50 yards this season.

Blackmon, the No. 5 selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, caught seven passes for 236 yards and a touchdown in a 43-37 overtime loss to Houston two weeks ago, and has 12 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games.

Blackmon has 38 receptions for 548 yards this season to lead all rookies in receiving yards.

“You’re talking about basically two first-year starting wide receivers who are coming along,” Mularkey said. “We needed guys to come along at that position. That was one of the areas we felt like could improve. To watch how they work out there (in practice) and then in games start to show up, I’m proud of that.”

Mularkey said the duo’s development extends beyond the field.

“The most impressive thing was (Thursday) when they were not working, they were literally standing behind brand new wide receivers, coaching them up,” Mularkey said. “They were very involved with teaching these guys how things were done. That was very impressive.

“I wasn’t going to get involved. I just let them keep doing it. I knew in the end it was good for them what they were doing. Even though they can’t run this route, they’re talking to a guy about how to run it, where to run it, so it was good.

“I just think they’re working at it.”

In other Jaguars news Friday, cornerback Derek Cox (hamstring), running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) and defensive end Austen Lane (foot) were ruled out after missing practice a third consecutive day.

Jason Babin, a two-time Pro Bowl selection acquired off waivers Wednesday from Philadelphia, could play in place of Lane, but Mularkey said as of early Friday afternoon he hasn’t decided who will start.

 “We have to make sure he’s on board with all the calls, but I don’t have a concern about that,” Mularkey said.

Mularkey also said he believes the offensive line this week cleaned up the issues that caused problems last week against Tennessee. Quarterback Chad Henne was sacked seven times in that game, and Mularkey said early in the week the issue was a combination of many things going wrong.

“They understand we can’t do that,” Mularkey said. “That’s going to put us out of field-goal range like it did, or possibly out of scoring. It can’t happen. It’s hard to win games like that. We have to block people better. I’m confident (they’ll bounce back). It’s a prideful group.”

Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (calf), fullback Greg Jones (thigh), cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin) and center Brad Meester also were listed as probable Friday.

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