JACKSONVILLE – Jedd Fisch liked what he saw this week in practice.
That was true of several things about the Jaguars' offense, and he said it was particularly true of Luke Joeckel Wednesday.
Fisch, the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, said while the offense struggled the first four games of the season, there are signs that point to eventual improvement – more signs than simply the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft moving to his natural position of left tackle.
But he said Joeckel did seem comfortable with the move.
"You could see it was a natural position for him," Fisch said Thursday as the Jaguars (0-4) prepared to play the St. Louis Rams (1-3) at the Edward Jones Dome in St .Louis, Mo., Sunday at 1 p.m.
"You could just see his flat back showed up in his stance, some things that we really saw on tape showed up. Now, does that mean he's going to come out there and not have any issues the first day? I don't know."
Through four games the Jaguars rank 32nd in the NFL in total offense.
Fisch during his weekly meeting with the media Thursday said the return of wide receiver Justin Blackmon to the lineup after a four-game suspension Sunday could help the offense, as well as quarterback Blaine Gabbert having played last week after two games out of the lineup with a laceration on the top of his right hand.
"We will continue to try to find different ways to get the ball moving," Fisch said. "We have to execute better, we have to be able to have opportunities to make plays, we have to make the play. . . . We're still kind of going through the shuffle of who's in and who's out and continuing to build through it and self-evaluating and looking at what Blaine can do and what our players can do and then see if we can consistently work with the same players each week."
Fisch said Blackmon's return should help not only Cecil Shorts III, but rookie Ace Sanders, who will move to the slot after starting outside the first four games.
"Now you have Ace in a more natural position for him, you have Justin in a more natural position for him and Cecil in a more natural position," Fisch said. "I think you really helped two guys out and you've helped our punt return out because now you're not asking Ace to take every rep as a wide receiver, now you're also asking him to get back into the role of being our returner."
Also on Thursday:
*Fisch said of rookie Denard Robinson, "We continue to go through the "Denard-Robinson-figuring-out process," adding, "We put him back there at kick return to see how he handled the kickoffs and see if he could hit it. We tried to put him in wildcat and he struggled with that a little bit on that one that we fumbled the exchange. Then we also had this week we threw him a screen and it didn't end up well, so we're going to continue to see what Denard can do, but right now I think he's a rookie who played quarterback." Robinson has played 14 snaps for the Jaguars this season. He played two this past week and dropped a short pass against Indianapolis. "We've got to figure out what Denard can do best," Fisch said.
*Defensive end Jason Babin on Thursday said he's not overly concerned about penalties of aggression such as borderline late-hit penalties or jumping offsides. But he said he is concerned about penalties such as one committed Sunday, when he was offsides in an alignment situation. "Letting the center get the best of me, that's not me," he said. "That's something that's going to be a focus probably the rest of the season. I was aware of it going into the game, so I've got to be on it." Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley agreed, saying there will be times a defensive end tries to jump the snap or draws a late hit, but "to line up offsides or to do things like that, we're better than that."
*Bradley said defensive end Tyson Alualu played well Sunday against the Colts, and "things are headed in the right direction" for Alualu after switching from tackle to end in the offseason.
*The Jaguars signed wide receiver Jeremy Ebert from the practice squad and signed first-year offensive tackle DeMarcus Love to the practice squad. Ebert has been active each of the last three games after signing from the practice squad late in the week.
*Wide receiver Mike Brown (back) missed practice for a second consecutive day, as did wide receiver Stephen Burton (concussion), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle), tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf), safety Dwight Lowery (concussion) and defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey (concussion). . . .
*Linebacker Geno Hayes missed practice with a hip flexor injury, but Bradley said he improved Thursday, and cornerback Mike Harris missed practice for a personal reason. . . .
*Defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder), wide receiver Denard Robinson (hamstring), wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (groin) were limited and cornerback Alan Ball (groin) worked full. . . .
*Bradley said he expects Miller, Robinson, Shorts and Hayes to play Sunday. . . .
*Bradley said if Mincey can't play Sunday, rookie Abry Jones and veteran Brandon Deaderick could play a larger role. Jones has yet to be active in four games this season.