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Inside the Jaguars: Wide receivers improving


JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars' wide receivers got a touch healthier Thursday

Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III, the Jaguars' two top receivers, returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, leaving the Jaguars in a slightly better situation at the position than they had been the day before.

Each missed practice Wednesday, a day when Shorts, Blackmon and wide receivers Ace Sanders and Stephen Burton all missed practice.

Bradley said Blackmon, who caught 14 passes for 190 yards against Denver last week, practiced well Thursday after missing Wednesday with a groin/hamstring issue. Blackmon could be held out of practice Friday, but Bradley said Blackmon appeared likely to play Sunday.

"He (Blackmon) practiced today – and he was smart," Bradley said as the Jaguars (0-6) prepared to play the San Diego Chargers (3-3) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

Bradley called Shorts' status for Sunday a "wait-and-see situation."

Shorts sustained a sprained SC (shoulder) joint Sunday against Denver, leaving the game after two plays. The swelling has subsided, and Bradley said Shorts' progress this week has been better than the team anticipated.

Bradley said Shorts likely will miss practice Friday and be evaluated in pregame workouts Sunday. The team hasn't wanted Shorts to try to extend his arms and catch the ball above his head in practice this week, but Bradley said he will do more of that Friday.

"He's getting more and more range of motion and feeling better with it," Bradley said.

Shorts said in the locker room around noon he felt better than he did Wednesday and remained hopeful he could play Sunday.

"I'm excited about it," Shorts said of his progress.

Sanders sustained a concussion Sunday and has yet to be cleared. Burton has missed the last three games with a concussion, and though he has reached the point in the program where he can run on the side he has yet to be cleared.

Defensive end Jeremy Mincey also remains in the concussion program.

Safety Johnathan Cyprien remained out with a calf injury for a second consecutive day, but Bradley said his absence remained precautionary and that the rookie should play Sunday.

"He feels better today," Bradley said. "We made the decision to hold him out, but all expectations are he should be ready to play on Sunday."

Also on Thursday:

*Linebacker Russell Allen (ribs), quarterback Blaine Gabbert (hamstring), tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle) and defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder) all worked limited Thursday for a second consecutive day, with defensive end Andre Branch (knee) and running back Jordan Todman (thigh) working full after being limited Wednesday….

*Bradley said while Gabbert is improving he likely won't be ready to play even in the event of an injury to starter Chad Henne. That means Ricky Stanzi will the No. 2 quarterback Sunday, Bradley said. "He did move around better," Bradley said…

*Bradley said Lewis – who has missed five of six games this season – has continued to gain confidence in the calf this week, and said Gratz also continued to gain confidence. "He's at the point now where he said, 'You know what…now it's just in my mind and I've got to go,'" Bradley said of Gratz. "And he's right. That's why fortunately we've had him for practice now. He made a nice play today, yesterday he made a nice play in practice, so I think those things where he's gaining confidence through those reps." Gratz has been out since Week One with a high-ankle sprain.

*Bradley said of veteran defensive end Jason Babin, "The big thing with him was we're asking him for consistency. He had a more consistent game against Denver. He's been really solid. I think the rush that he's getting on third down that's where we're feeling him more than on first and second down, but some of it is type of scheme that we had in place the last couple of weeks."

*Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch on Blackmon: "You're certainly always looking for matchups when you're game-planning, then you're looking for playmakers and he's certainly has stood out as one in the two weeks that he has played. It's really hard in the NFL to win without winning those one-on-one battles. I saw a couple of weeks ago Detroit lost 22-6, and then on the bottom-line ticker, 'But Calvin Johnson didn't play.' Well, the first four weeks we didn't have the ticker say, 'But Justin Blackmon didn't play.' You can see the difference when you do get more players out there and you get healthier." Fisch said with the return of tight end Marcedes Lewis this week the Jaguars "should be able to have more guys who cause challenges, which then would help us."

*Rookie left tackle Luke Joeckel returned to the Jaguars' locker room. He underwent surgery to repair a fractured right ankle last week after sustaining the injury against St. Louis October 6. The Jaguars placed him on injured reserve two days later. Joeckel said he expects to get the stitches from his surgery out next week, at which time he can begin upper body workouts. "It will be good to start doing that," he said. "I feel worthless, just sitting around all day."

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