HOUSTON, Texas – He didn't want this, but he's ready.
That's Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee's approach in the wake of a serious knee injury sustained by wide receiver Allen Robinson Sunday in the 2017 regular-season opener.
Robinson, the Jaguars' leading receiver the last three seasons, sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury on the first series of the Jaguars' 29-7 victory over the Houston Texans Sunday.
The team has yet to officially announce the extent of the injury.
"Sickening," Lee said of Robinson's injury. "He works hard to get to where he is. That's the nature of the game."
An extended absence for Robinson would mean increased focus on Lee, who emerged as the starter opposite Robinson last season. Lee likely would receive more game-planning attention from defenses, and more safeties shading toward his side of the field.
"He's ready for it," veteran wide receiver Arrelious Benn said. "I call Marqise the White Tiger. When he's not out there, you know he's not out there. When he's out there, you know he's out there. It's like when you see that White Tiger at the zoo. I know he's ready for it."
Lee, a second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, did not catch a pass Sunday with quarterback Blake Bortles throwing just 21 times. Lee caught 63 passes for 851 yards and a touchdown last season.
"Of course, I'll be ready for the challenge," Lee said. "This is what we play football for, to come in and do what we have to do. … I'm preparing the same way I've been preparing. Nothing for me in my mind has escalated. I'll probably get a little more attention on the outside. I'm not worried. It is what it is."
With rookie Dede Westbrook on injured reserve, Lee, veteran wide receiver Allen Hurns, rookie Keelan Cole and Benn are the team's four healthy active receivers.
"We always prepare for this in the sense of if somebody goes down, somebody has to step up," Lee said. "You have to step and handle business. It's sickening that one five [Robinson] went down, but me and Hurns have a lot of work to do – along with getting the young one [Cole] up to part with everything and getting his mind right."
Notes and observations from the Jaguars Monday:
*Robinson's injury was a primary topic among players who spoke to the media Monday. Benn, whose NFL career has been marked by a series of season-ending and career-altering injuries, offered a potential positive for Robinson. "I have to commend him for walking off," Benn said. "When I tore my ACL, I couldn't walk at all. It goes to show you how strong he is – not just him, mentally, but his body. … This is going to make him a stronger player. He's going to go through this adversity. Sometimes it's good to sit back and take a deep breath. Coming from college, you never have a chance to take a breath and sit back and analyze things. I think that's going to be a really good thing even though he doesn't want it. There's a positive in every negative. You just have to figure it out."
*The Jaguars remained in Houston Sunday night because of the effects of Hurricane Irma, and players' mind remained on Jacksonville. The Jaguars are expected to return to Jacksonville Tuesday, with players expected to begin practicing and preparing Wednesday for Sunday's regular-season home opener against Tennessee. "I don't think it [returning to a normal routine] is going to be hard at all," linebacker Telvin Smith said in the team's hotel in Houston. "Where we're trying to go, the expectations we have and the performances we've had against this team … we know we've got to go out and perform. We'll be ready to lock back in and go.'' Said middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, "We'll be able to handle any situation that comes forward. It's a veteran group of guys, guys who love football and guys who want to do what's best for the team. Any time you have that situation we know we can handle it." …