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First off the Field: Injuries force adjustment at WR, CB


JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley's more than used to this.

That goes for pretty much everyone around the Jaguars' offense in a season in which the status of the Jaguars' wide receivers seemingly changes by the week.

The Jaguars on Wednesday got second-year wide receiver Ace Sanders back, and it appears likely he will play a significant role against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday. But that came the same day the team officially ruled out rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring) for Sunday.

With wide receiver Cecil Shorts also week-to-week with a hamstring injury, the Jaguars again will be short on numbers – and experience – at receiver. Rookie Allen Hurns is the only one of the Jaguars' top five receivers who hasn't missed a preseason or regular-season game.

"I think they've handled it well," Bradley said Wednesday as the Jaguars (0-4) prepared to play the Steelers (2-2) at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m. "I think their central focus has just been on getting themselves right.

"Regardless of what's going on around them, I think their attention has been on doing their job and doing it well. I think they've been able to ignore (the injuries) and it hasn't been much at all of a distraction."

Bradley on Wednesday also said he didn't expect cornerback Dwayne Gratz to play Sunday. He left a loss to the San Diego Chargers this past Sunday with a concussion.

Second-year veteran Demetrius McCray likely will start for Gratz.

Sanders, the Jaguars' second-year wide receiver, returned to practice Wednesday after serving a season-opening four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

"It was good to get Ace back there," Bradley said. "He was back there (fielding) some punts and at the wide receiver spot. We'll continue to evaluate him and see how he's doing through Friday."

Bradley said he expects Sanders to play Sunday.

"I'm expecting him to be up and ready to go," Bradley said. "He has stayed on top of it and been involved with the offense, the route combinations."

Bradley said Sanders' stamina will be the primary issue as Sunday approaches.

"It looked pretty good (Wednesday)," Bradley said.

Bradley on Wednesday also addressed the Monday release of safety Winston Guy, Jr., a third-year veteran who struggled in pass coverage in recent weeks. Guy, a starter in the first three games of the season, played one play as a reserve in a 33-14 loss to San Diego Sunday, allowing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Chargers wide receiver Eddie Royal.

"We don't like to do that," Bradley said. "We're at the point now where we're building trust and that means consistent level of play. If it's not consistent, then I think they're on alert."

Also around the Jaguars Wednesday:

*Shorts III's disappointment was two-fold Wednesday. First, he sustained another hamstring injury Sunday that has made his status uncertain. Shorts said this is similar to past hamstring issues that caused him to miss two preseason games, then two regular-season games. But Shorts also said he regretted not leaving the game following the injury. Shorts sustained the injury early in the third quarter, and then played one more play not knowing the severity of the situation. Quarterback Blake Bortles threw to Shorts, and when Shorts couldn't come back to the ball, cornerback Brandon Flowers cut in front for an interception. "I probably shouldn't have done that," Shorts said. "That probably was selfish on my part. I tried to play through it. I'm thinking, 'Let's see how it feels.' I'm jumping around on it a little bit. I go in motion and I come off the ball and pull up. I couldn't come back to the ball, so I left my team out to dry. I was trying to help the team, but at the same time, I have to be realistic with myself. When you're hurt, you have to get out of there. That hurts me, because I let the team down and gave them three points." …

*Bortles early in the day discussed comparisons to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, to whom observers often compare Bortles because of size and ability to extend plays. Bortles said while he began hearing the comparisons "a while ago" it's too early to draw parallels. "He's won two Super Bowls and been to all kinds of Pro Bowls and I've played one game," Bortles said. "There's a big difference there. He's been somebody that has been fun to watch and we have the same agent. We've been in contact. We've thrown together. He's been somebody that's been a lot of fun to watch and talk to. I've heard that for a while."

*Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch echoed Bortles' thoughts regarding the Roethlisberger comparison. "Here's what I know about Ben Roethlisberger," Fisch said. "Ben has won two Super Bowls, he's been to the Pro Bowl numerous times. He has led his team to unbelievable success. Would it be great if one day we can make that comparison? Maybe, sure. At this moment right now, Blake Bortles just has to focus on being Blake Bortles, the best he can be. Let's just let those Ben Roethlisberger comparisons be for other people to make. Right now, he has a great skill set, has a ton to develop, a ton to learn. He is a blast to coach and that's all I have on that one." …

*Lee, Gratz, Shorts and tight end Mickey Shuler (illness) were the only players not working in Wednesday's full-padded practice.

*Defensive tackle Roy Miller (ankle), defensive end Ryan Davis (shoulder) and fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou (ankle) were limited in practice. …

*Starting right tackle Austin Pasztor (hand) practiced full Wednesday and Bradley said he has most of the cast off the hand that has kept him out since Preseason Week 2. "It will be interesting to see how he did, to see it on tape and see how he felt with it," Bradley said. …

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