BRITTON LIMITED, BRADFIELD WORKS FULL
The pads came on, and to Eben Britton that's a good thing.
"It's a great feeling," Britton said Wednesday.
It's a good feeling for the Jaguars, too, because not only did Britton – the team's starting left guard – return to practice Wednesday, starting right tackle Cameron Bradfield, backup running back Rashad Jennings and veteran defensive end Austen Lane did, too.
"Hopefully, we'll have a great week and be able to get out there on Sunday," Britton said as the Jaguars (1-2) prepared to play the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at EverBank Field Sunday at 4:05 p.m.
Britton and Bradfield had been out the last two weeks with ankle injuries, with Herb Taylor and Mike Brewster each starting a game at guard and Guy Whimper starting for Bradfield at right tackle.
Britton was listed as limited on the team's injury report Wednesday, while Bradfield, Lane and Jennings worked full.
"It helps," Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert said. "The guys that filled in the last two weeks have done a great job. They really elevated their level of play to the other starters, but having the ability to get Cam and Eben back out there repping stuff in practice is just going to help our team."
Fullback Montell Owens and cornerback Kevin Rutland each practiced full after passing concussion tests early in the week, while wide receiver Laurent Robinson was listed as not practicing after passing a concussion test. Defensive end George Selvie (knee) and linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) missed practice, and center Brad Meester and defensive tackle Tyson Alualu missed for non-injury reasons.
Justin Blackmon says patience is no problem.
Blackmon, the Jaguars' rookie first-round wide receiver, said while his production early this season has become a pressing issue among observers this week, he isn't worried – and he said he won't alter his approach, either.
"Right now, I'm just doing what I do," Blackmon said Wednesday. "I've got nothing to be concerned about."
Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection in the NFL Draft, caught 10 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown in three preseason games, and has caught four passes for 31 yards in three regular-season games.
"I just told him to be patient, it's coming, we will get you the ball and there's going to be a time that you'll understand what we're doing," Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said. "I think he's handled it very well. He's doing everything we're asking him to do. You've just got to be patient and it will come in due time when everything else kind of falls into place."
Blackmon said he believes he is improving his route running, and that he's confident more production will come.
"When it happens, it will happen," he said. "I can't control it. All I can do is go out and play."
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew cautioned against judging Blackmon three games into his career.
"He's doing a great job," Jones-Drew said. "The season is so long. There are 16 regular season games, we're going into our fourth game. There's a lot of time, things for us to get better, we all have to get better. Like I said, we're such a young team, the season's so young, we just have to keep working and things will kind of play out."
"I wouldn't argue (that running back Jones-Drew is back to 100 percent after a preseason holdout). I asked him on the sideline a number of times, 'Do you need a blow? Do you have juice? Do you need anything?' He just said, 'Put me in coach, I'm ready to play.' Problem solved."
"I'm comfortable. The more games you get, the more preseason games we had, now these three regular season, you're going to feel better about it. You're also going to have new wrinkles, week in and week out depending on the defense you play. That's something that everybody has to do in the NFL. You just learn, study, rep them in practice and go out there and execute them in the game."
"We're in the first year of this new system, and I think we're doing a great job as an offense. We have some young receivers that are coming along, and we just have to continue to work. At the end of the day, we just have to work to get our chemistry down in the passing game."
The team missed Britton when he's not on the field, but the media misses him more than a bit in the locker room, too. Britton returned to practice Wednesday, and before he did, he spoke with the media about not only his return, but the beard of Jones-Drew. He joked about the beard – at least, he was joking a little, calling it "pretty bad," and was asked if he had any advice for the three-time Pro Bowl running back. "I just told him to stick with it," Britton said, laughing. "You have to get through some tough times."
The Jaguars will work Thursday and Friday without full pads in preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.
- Marcedes Lewis could be more involved in the passing offense this week. Lewis, one of the NFL's top blocking tight ends, caught five passes for 52 yards in the opener at Minnesota, but has been called upon to stay in and help with protection the last two games with Britton and Bradfield out. He has one reception for eight yards in the last two games. "He's a matchup nightmare for linebackers," Gabbert said. "If they want to go to a set defense and have a corner come in and play the slot over him it always benefits us."
- Jones-Drew said while the Jaguars' previous offense had a similar number of plays to this season's, and while this year's scheme has more motion and shifts, the biggest difference is Gabbert's grasp of the offense this season. "That's the best part of it, Blaine understands the offense," Jones-Drew said. "Where last year, coming in without OTAs and coming from the scheme he came from in Missouri, he has a better grasp of the offense and it's better for the team."
- Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox likely will start at corner for a second consecutive week, Mularkey said. Cox played about 40 plays in his first game back from a hamstring injury last week, and Mathis started for the first time since ACL surgery last season, playing every play.
- While Kyle Bosworth is expected to start at outside linebacker for a fourth consecutive game in place of Daryl Smith, Mularkey said rookie Julian Stanford likely will play more at the spot.
- Mularkey said he continues to be impressed with the play of rookie Mike Brewster. An All-America center at Ohio State, he went undrafted and signed with the Jaguars as a free agent. He started in place of Britton Sunday, and Mularkey said if Britton is unavailable Sunday Brewster likely would start again. "I don't know how he came to us as a free agent," Mularkey said. "Linemen are hard to find these days, especially guys that have that many starts under their belt. We're very fortunate we have him. He's played well. He's been playing right into the situations. He just goes out there and does his job. He doesn't say a word just plays hard."