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Inside the Jaguars: Shorts, Blackmon miss practice


JACKSONVILLE – One of the Jaguars' strongest areas isn't exactly its healthiest.

It sure wasn't on Wednesday.

With Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon each missing practice, the Jaguars were down to two healthy active wide receivers on Wednesday as they prepared to play the San Diego Chargers.

Wide receivers Ace Sanders and Stephen Burton missed practice with concussions.

Shorts missed practice with a sprained SC joint (shoulder) sustained Sunday at Denver, and Blackmon missed with the groin/hamstring injury he played through while catching 14 passes for 190 yards Sunday.

Bradley said Blackmon should practice on a limited basis Thursday.

"We have our fingers crossed with him," Bradley said as the Jaguars (0-6) prepared to play the Chargers (3-3) at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.

"It's not bad. It's just one we don't want to get worse."

Of playing through the injury, Bradley said, "His competitive spirit is unbelievable."

Bradley said Shorts had improved since Monday.

"He's getting better," Bradley said. "He's showing signs of improving. Just his range of motion and comfort level is better, so that's a good sign for us."

Shorts agreed with Bradley that his mobility has improved since Monday, and that while he is still in pain, he participated in walkthrough Wednesday morning. He said his primary issue Sunday will be pain tolerance.

"I want to get on the same field as Blackmon and (tight end) Marcedes (Lewis), and some of the other guys," Shorts said. "I want to play. I just want to play with those guys. I feel bad I wasn't able to come back last week. It was frustrating. …

"I'm trying to do whatever I can to get on the field this week. It might not be the best thing, but I want to do what I can to help the team."

Mike Brown, Stephen Williams, Jeremy Ebert and Lamaar Thomas practiced at receiver Wednesday, and Bradley said Brown and Williams worked as the starters. Ebert and Thomas are on the practice squad. Practice-squad quarterback Matt Scott also worked at receiver.

"What an opportunity for a guy like Stephen Williams," Bradley said. "The good in it is, 'What better ways to build your depth, to get guys ready?' They're getting a lot of reps."

Defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder), defensive end Jeremy Mincey, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, safety Johnathan Cyprien (calf), center Brad Meester and defensive end Jason Babin also did not practice. Jones-Drew, Meester and Babin missed with veterans' days off.

Mincey, like Burton, remained in the concussion program, while Bradley said Cyprien's absence was precautionary.

Also on Wednesday:

*Cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle), defensive end Andre Branch (knee), linebacker Russell Allen (ribs), running back Jordan Todman (thigh), Lewis and quarterback Blaine Gabbert (hamstring) were limited in practice….

*Lewis said early Wednesday he expects to play Sunday. Bradley said later in the afternoon he also expects the 2010 Pro Bowl selection to be available….

*Lewis said this is the best he has felt since injuring the calf in August. He aggravated the injury in practice in Week One and again against the Colts on September 29. "When I came out and tried to play against the Colts, I would grimace when I would run," he said. "I'm at the point now where I'm running and not grimacing. It's not 100 percent, but I feel better than I have in the whole process."…

*Bradley said Gratz and veteran Will Blackmon, who has started the last five games in Gratz's place, rotated repetitions in practice. "We'll see how he progresses through the week," Bradley said of Gratz, who said he believes there's a chance he will play Sunday. "It's the first time in a long time I've been hurt, so you're always going to be frustrated," Gratz said. "It's a learning experience, and I'm just taking it like that."…

*Bradley said Burton and Mincey haven't been ruled out for Sunday. Burton has been in the concussion program three weeks and Mincey has been in it for two. Each was scheduled to be retested on Wednesday night. "We'll know more after the testing," Bradley said….

*Bradley also said overall the offensive line has played better in the last two weeks. The team has been without injured rookie left tackle Luke Joeckel since the first quarter of a loss to the St. Louis Rams two weeks ago. Since then, second-year veteran Austin Pasztor and third-year veteran Cameron Bradfield have played right and left tackle, respectively. "That's a credit to (offensive line coach) George (Yarno) for getting them going," Bradley said. "We're not getting 150 yards rushing, so we're not there yet, but it's much improved from where it was before."

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