JACKSONVILLE – On a difficult day at wide receiver, Gus Bradley still saw good signs.
With rookie Marqise Lee ruled out of Sunday's regular-season home opener with a hamstring injury early Thursday, the Jaguars' second-year head coach said the wide receiver group responded that afternoon with one of its better practices in recent weeks.
Cecil Shorts III practiced for a second consecutive day, and though he was listed as limited on the injury report, Bradley said the fourth-veteran wide receiver looked good.
Bradley said Shorts' presence helped the entire group.
"He raised the level of play for everybody and expectations," Bradley said Thursday as the Jaguars (0-2) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (0-2) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m. "That was good."
Lee, a rookie second-round selection, started the first two games of the season with eight receptions for 73 yards. He played last Sunday despite being limited in practice last week with a hamstring injury.
Lee experienced tightness in the hamstring Wednesday and the Jaguars ruled him out early Thursday.
"He needs reps and he needs to get out there," Bradley said of Lee. "It's disappointing. He's frustrated with it. But it's Next Man Up mentality. I think we're fortunate that Cecil has responded."
Shorts, who missed the first two regular-season games with a hamstring injury, practiced Wednesday and said he felt better after that practice than he had since tweaking the hamstring on the Wednesday before the regular-season opener.
Shorts said early Thursday that Thursday's practice was important to be ready for Sunday.
"He felt really good today," Bradley said, adding that if Shorts continues to practice this week as he has he will start against Indianapolis.
That likely would mean Shorts starting opposite either rookie Allen Robinson or rookie Allen Hurns. A rookie free agent from Miami, Hurns started the first two games of the season but did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of an ankle sprain.
Hurns playing Sunday remains possible, with Bradley saying he will need to show progress Friday for that to happen.
"We'd like to see progress from him tomorrow," Bradley said.
The Jaguars also have second-year veteran Mike Brown and Tavarres King on the 53-man roster. Bradley on Thursday said King likely wouldn't be active Sunday, having been signed off Carolina's practice squad on Tuesday.
The Jaguars also have Tony Washington and Kerry Taylor on the practice squad, with Taylor catching 19 passes for 189 yards in 10 games for the Jaguars last season.
Also around the Jaguars:
*The slew of moves and new faces on the Jaguars' offense hasn't leaked over to the defense. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich said this week the unit planned no personnel changes, and also said he was not sure if linebacker Dekoda Watson would get more repetitions than last week. Watson, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Tampa Bay in the offseason to play the team's newly-developed Otto linebacker position, played no defensive snaps in the regular season opener, and then got 20 in relief of starter and second-year veteran LaRoy Reynolds this past week. The Otto position sometimes takes fewer reps than other positions because it leaves first in passing situations. "Last week, we got him rolled in and gave LaRoy little break," defensive coordinator Bob Babich said. "He (Reynolds) and Dekoda were splitting the reps. We're working on getting him in a position where he can be successful in games. He's been great being patient and getting better every day, so there are different things that we can utilize. I'm not sure right now if he'll play more than he did last week." …
*While starting right tackle Austin Pasztor (hand) practiced full for a second consecutive day Thursday, Bradley said if Pasztor plays Sunday it will be as a backup. Sam Young will start at right tackle Sunday. Pasztor is working with a club to protect the hand he fractured in Week 2 of the preseason. "I think his conditioning has been pretty good, but it's nothing like when you play and the tempo," Bradley said. …
*Tight end Clay Harbor (calf) worked on a limited basis Thursday, marking his first practice since being injured the first Monday of training camp in the team's practice at Bartram Trail High School. Bradley said Harbor remains unlikely to play Sunday. "I'd say he's a long shot," Bradley said. …
*Cornerback Alan Ball (abdomen), middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (knee), safety Johnathan Cyprien (concussion), defensive end Chris Clemons (illness) worked full Thursday. …
*Running back Toby Gerhart (foot) worked limited on Thursday after not practicing Wednesday. …
*Running back Storm Johnson (ankle) worked limited Thursday after being full Wednesday and tight end Mickey Shuler (heel) also worked limited Thursday. Safety Winston Guy missed practice Thursday with an illness. …
*Defensive tackle Roy Miller and linebacker Geno Hayes missed practice Thursday with veteran days off.
The Jaguars make their final preparations in advance of their home opener against the Indianapolis Colts.