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Notes and observations: "Extremely impressive"


JACKSONVILLE – He's talented, quick and confident.

Dede Westbrook is all of those things, but most significant this week for the Jaguars is the rookie wide receiver is eligible to perhaps make his NFL regular-season debut Sunday.

What could Westbrook bring to the passing offense?

Plenty, according to quarterback Blake Bortles.

"The speed and what he can do with the ball in his hands after the catch is extremely impressive," Bortles said Wednesday as the Jaguars (4-3) prepared to play the Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

Westbrook, a fourth-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2017 NFL Draft and the Biletnikoff winner for college football's best receiver a year ago, showed his speed and playmaking ability during the preseason with a team-high 13 receptions for a league-leading 288 yards and two touchdowns.

The Jaguars placed him on injured reserve the week of the regular-season opener. He underwent core muscle surgery the following week, and has been out since. He returned to practice Monday, and can be removed from injured reserve this week if the team believes he is ready to play Sunday.

Westbrook said while his Sunday status will be determined by doctors and coaches, he believes he will be ready.

"Everything's straight," he said.

And he's absolutely confident he can contribute if cleared to play.

"Confidence is no problem," Westbrook said. "My confidence is huge. I'm ready to get out there, and I'm ready to compete. I'm been playing this game since I was a kid, growing up. It takes everything out of me to watch a game from the press box and see my teammates out there competing.

"I haven't played a game in nine weeks, so I'm ready to get out there and play."

The Jaguars, playing without wide receiver Allen Robinson since Week 1, rank 28th in the NFL in passing offense. Wide receivers have accounted for 852 yards this season – 61 percent of the passing offense and 37 percent of the offense overall.

The Jaguars completed three passes of more than 45 yards in a 27-0 victory over Indianapolis in the game before this past Sunday's bye. Their longest pass this season before that was 35 yards.

Notes and observations from Wednesday around the Jaguars:

*Running back Leonard Fournette (ankle) and center Brandon Linder (illness) practiced full Wednesday, and left tackle Cam Robinson (ankle) worked on a limited basis. Fournette missed the Indianapolis game before the bye and Linder missed the last three games before the bye. Robinson left the Colts game early and Head Coach Doug Marrone said Monday he likely wouldn't have played had the Jaguars played this past Sunday. Wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee) was the only player not practicing Wednesday, and Bortles practiced full with a right wrist injury. …

*Safety Calvin Pryor began practicing for the Jaguars Wednesday, Marrone said. Pryor, who remains on injured reserve, won't be eligible to play Sunday or against San Diego next week, but he is eligible to practice and could return the following week against Cleveland. Because he and Westbrook both have been "designated to return" from injured reserve by the Jaguars, no other player on injured reserve will be able to return this season. …

*Defensive end Calais Campbell on two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, a 2014 All-Pro selection who was acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills last Friday: "Our rotation will be even deeper. I expect us to be even better against the run. That was going to happen because of the way we worked and fixing the small things, but we got a player in who's dominated in this league consistently. That's really going to help our ball club." The Jaguars rank 32nd in the NFL in rushing defense through seven games. …

*Bortles has drawn praise from Marrone in recent weeks for his improved decision-making, and for his ability to get the offense into good situations at the line of scrimmage. He has thrown just five interceptions in seven games, and the Jaguars have not committed a red-zone turnover this season. Bortles on Wednesday credited the Jaguars' improved running game with helping him at the line of scrimmage. "Even if I get us in a bad play, Leonard and [running back] Chris [Ivory] do a good job of not making it look too bad," Bortles said. "That's a big part of playing quarterback and a big part of my role. When you become a 21 team [two backs, one tight end], and you're a running football team, as a quarterback you have to help out and protect from bad plays. I take pride in trying to get us in the best run possible and giving those guys a chance to succeed.'' …

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