JACKSONVILLE – Marqise Lee's smile couldn't have been wider.
That's because his outlook couldn't be better – and it's certainly better than it was six days ago for the Jaguars' fourth-year receiver.
Lee, who sustained a frightening ankle injury in practice last Sunday, was walking without a walking boot – or a limp – Saturday. He missed Thursday's preseason loss to Tampa Bay, but said Saturday he expects to play against Houston in Week 1 of the 2017 regular season.
"I'm pretty confident I'll be fine," he said. "I can't make a move without the trainers and the coaches, but I'm going to jump ahead: I think I'll be fine game one. I'm doing everything possible to be ready for game one. That's all I really can control."
Lee said he didn't know exactly how the injury occurred. He appeared to sustain the injury in a non-contact situation when he stopped hard while running a route.
"I have no clue," he said. "It happened so fast."
Lee said it's hardly his first ankle issue, adding, "I've been a basketball player before, so I've got a good idea how those work. I've sprained my ankle a couple of times playing basketball. They're pretty nagging. You really don't want them, but there are ways you can handle them and keep them under wraps. I know those types of ways I can handle this, so I'm going to make sure I'll be fine and ready to go for the season."
Lee said his next step is to begin running.
"No more boot, no more crutches – I'm good," he said
Notes and observations from Saturday:
*Lee wasn't alone Saturday in being asked about the team's quarterback situation, and he wasn't alone in supporting both Blake Bortles and Chad Henne. Head Coach Doug Marrone Thursday night following the loss to Tampa Bay called the quarterback positon "up for grabs" and said he wanted to find the quarterback who could lead the offense most effectively. "That's not my job," Lee said. "That's a situation where coach felt like he needed to do something, and it's a situation the quarterbacks have to handle. At the end of the day, I believe all three quarterbacks [Bortles, Henne and Brandon Allen] have the possibility of doing the things we need to do to get the Jaguars going.'' Said guard A.J. Cann, "I don't think we pay any mind who's under center. As long as we get to play and make sure we're on the same page, we'll be fine. … We'll be ready to go. We'll see who the starting quarterback is Week 1." …
*The Jaguars have left no doubt they want to be a run-oriented offense. That made Thursday's performance against the Buccaneers notable because they rushed for 57 yards on 20 carries; Allen accounted for 27 yards on three carries, meaning Jaguars running backs rushed for 30 yards on 17 carries. "There's no doubt in my mind we'll be able to run the ball," Cann said.
*Rookie running back Leonard Fournette, who missed Thursday with a foot issue, talked about being confident he will play Week 1 here – and he also said he wouldn't be effected by quarterback uncertainty. "It happens," Fournette said. "Blake is a great quarterback. All of our quarterbacks are great. Everybody has bad days. Even as running backs, we might read the wrong holes or we might miss blocks. It's part of the game." …
*Undrafted rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole continues to stand out. He had a 97-yard touchdown reception from Henne in Preseason Week 1 and followed that with a 31-yard punt return against Tampa Bay. "The main thing I tell Cole is just, 'Continue to keep it going,''' Lee said. "A lot of people wanted to shoot him down as far as who he's been going with – the threes at first. Now, he was with the ones [against Tampa Bay] and he did good. My thing is, 'Stay focused; continue to want to learn. Don't get complacent.' That's how we were coming in – me, A-Rob [wide receiver Allen Robinson] and Allen Hurns … I just want to make sure I teach him what we learned.'''
*Cole said he has been struck by the Jaguars' older receivers' willingness to help. He said he has leaned heavily on Hurns, who also entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent, but said, "I talk to all of them. They all have different points of views. You get scary stories before you come in, that they're not going to listen to you – it's a job – but they all help you through everything. As much as they can at least."
*While Cole has been impressive, he hasn't been perfect. He followed his 31-yard punt return Thursday by dropping a pass from Henne in the end zone for what would have been a 23-yard touchdown. "As soon as film was up, I was watching it," Cole said of the drop. "I was really confused, but you have to let it go and get the next one. I'm very upset I didn't make that play, but you put it behind you and get the next one. That's a play I make nine out of ten times." …