The Jaguars' misery worsened today, when coach Tom Coughlin announced this afternoon that veteran wide receiver Keenan McCardell underwent hernia surgery Thursday afternoon.
"Keenan had surgery, hernia surgery, yesterday. These things normally take 3-4 weeks. According to the individual, it could be longer or it could be less," Coughlin told reporters at Friday's press conference.
McCardell was sidelined by what was believed to be a groin strain he suffered in the morning session of the combined practices against the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 3. He attempted to practice this week, but each attempt met with discomfort.
"It was determined he had a small hernia, and it should be taken care of immediately," Coughlin said. "He only had seven snaps in one practice and he had a problem. There was reason to be concerned."
The Jaguars are clearly now in a depressed state at wide receiver, where Jimmy Smith is attempting to recover from last spring's triple abdominal surgery. Smith was hoping to be able to play in the regular-season opener against the Steelers on Sept. 9, and he still may, but the Jaguars were counting on McCardell to carry the load at wide receiver until Smith was back to full strength.
Sean Dawkins, who was signed last spring to help ease the Jaguars through Smith's recovery, is currently the only proven and healthy veteran among the Jaguars wide receivers. Alvis Whitted turned in a weak performance in Thursday night's loss to the Giants, clouding his future with the team, and 2000 first-round draft choice R. Jay Soward has yet to establish his presence. Of course, Soward will be absent for the first four games of the regular season due to his suspension for violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Compounding the Jaguars problems is a salary cap that does not permit them to sign any veteran of consequence. Help may not be on the way.
McCardell's situation made Coughlin's Thursday a total wash. His team capped the day with a 27-5 loss to the Giants that may as well have been a baseball score. Yes, it was that bad.
"I'm not overreacting to a preseason game, but I'm very much aware that this group is not advancing as fast you'd want them to," Coughlin said.
Asked if his team lacks "fire," Coughlin said: "I don't think that's the case. I don't think that's it. We need to settle in. People have to say this is the group right here and we've got to move forward and play.
"They gain fire by making plays and exciting people," Coughlin added.
There were no such plays against the Giants.
Next up is a game Thursday night against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. The following Tuesday, Aug. 28, NFL teams must cut their rosters to 65 players, plus NFL Europe exemptions. That will make the Chiefs game the most important of personnel measuring sticks, and a few veterans' careers with the Jaguars will probably be on the line.
"The lack of consistency in his play becomes very prominent in evaluating his role," Coughlin said of Whitted, who continues to drop passes and run wrong routes. Thursday night, he added a lost-fumble to his repertoire.
"We're looking for someone to step up in that role," Coughlin said with wide receiver in mind.
Rookie free-agent wide receiver Randal Williams, who was the star of the first week of training camp, has started to fade, and he sprained an ankle against the Giants.
There is speculation veteran safety Carnell Lake is in danger of being cut, and now we have to wonder about quarterback Jonathan Quinn, who did not play against the Giants.
The Jaguars would save Lake's $500,000 salary against this season's cap, but his release could result in as much as a $2.275 million cap savings in 2002. Quinn is due to earn $418,000 this season, which means the Jaguars could save $209,000 against their salary cap by cutting Quinn and replacing him with a minimum-wage rookie.
They are potential roster moves that must be discussed, especially considering the Jaguars' need at wide receiver.
"I'm not comfortable with anything at wide receiver right now," Coughlin said.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.