Lee: Down, but not forgotten

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JACKSONVILLE – Marqise Lee won't go completely away.

And his presence will still be felt.

Rookie wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. made the second part clear early Monday afternoon shortly after news that Lee will miss the 2018 regular season with a knee injury.

"I know he's going to be there watching," Chark said as the Jaguars (2-1 in the preseason) prepared to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) in the 2018 preseason finale at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said Monday Lee will do more than watch as he rehabilitates following a surgery that Marrone said he expects to take place soon. Marrone said it's his hope Lee will remains around the team and in meetings as a leader for a young wide receiver corps.

Lee, a second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft and the most-tenured member of the Jaguars' receiving corps, sustained an injury to his left knee when he was hit by Atlanta Falcons safety Damontae Kazee in the Jaguars' 17-6 Preseason Week 3 victory at TIAA Bank Field Saturday.

Marrone said Lee will be placed on injured reserve Monday afternoon.

"Once he starts his recovery, we want him around the team," Marrone said. "I think he can help us."

Veterans on Monday talked of Lee as a player who will be missed on the field and whose leadership will still be felt off it.

"He's the ultimate competitor," Campbell said of Lee. "Marqise is a huge loss. He's a guy you know you could depend on. He always holds other people accountable and he leads by example. He's a guy we'll definitely miss. 

"This is a game of football – and it happens too often – but it's part of the game. So, it's an opportunity for the next man to step up. We do have a lot of guys who have a lot of potential, so they're going to have to grow fast and we have to be able to depend on them."

The Jaguars in Lee's absence have six receivers with NFL experience – fifth-year veteran Donte Moncrief, second-year veterans Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole, third-year veteran Shane Wynn, fourth-year veteran Rashad Greene Sr., second-year veteran Jaydon Mickens – as well as Chark. 

"We build off each other in that room," said Moncrief, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Indianapolis in March. "The young guys, they look at me as an older guy. But like I just told them, 'Anybody can be great.' It just takes the time and passion to go out there and want to be great. …

"We got Cole, we got Dede, we got Rashad, we got a lot of those guys. Everybody in that room can play. There's a lot of young guys who are fast and want to make plays. It's just about stepping up when you're ready to go."

Lee, who has 171 receptions for 2,166 yards and eight touchdowns in four NFL seasons, re-signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in March. After entering the NFL the same season as former Jaguars receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, Lee entering this season was the only member of that trio still with the team – and he talked during training camp about savoring his new role as a leader.

"We know if he was on the field he would make sure he held us accountable," Chark said. "We have to hold ourselves accountable now."

Moncrief said on Monday getting used to Lee's absence is "going to take a while" and described Lee as "always happy, always got the energy, kept the room going. He was the vocal leader in the room."

"Just not having him in that room any more … you could feel it this morning," Moncrief said. "It felt weird, but at the same time we said we're just praying for him. We go by and talk to him, make sure he's all right or needs anything. We've got to keep pushing to make plays for him."

Chark said he spent time with Lee Sunday. He said he was in good spirits, and that his message was simple: "That it's time to do what I was brought here to do."

"He always knew I could do it," Chark said "That's one thing I like about Marqise. He's always going to be positive. He's always been in my corner and always supported me. He's definitely been influential in my growth here, in my ups and downs in the past two or three months since I've been here. Even when he's struggling, he's always there to be positive and help us out. Not having him in the room is huge. …

"I told him I'm going to be at his house a lot as he gets through it. I know anytime I have any questions I can bounce off of him he'll be there to help me out."

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