JACKSONVILLE – Julius Thomas is improving, and he's excited about that.
As for exactly when he will return, and if that return will come Sunday in Tampa, the Jaguars' tight end said he's still not sure.
"I don't really know how it feels yet," Thomas said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-3) prepared to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I know it's going to be a good day to go out and there and try to do a little more than I've been doing and see if I can get a good feel for it."
Thomas, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in the offseason, sustained a hand injury on the second play of the team's preseason opener August 14. He has been out since, but has practiced limited in recent weeks.
He is expected to practice without a cast Wednesday, although he said he likely will work with some sort of protection. He also said he has yet to be cleared to play.
Thomas was asked if he expected to play Sunday.
"I don't know," he said. "I'm still limited. I'm definitely not going to be able to do all the things I probably want to do. I don't know if that's going to be an option yet."
Thomas said part of the process now with the injury is trying to adjust to some of the things he may have to wear and do to protect himself on the field.
"The cast is done," he said. "So, I'm definitely excited about that. It's definitely more than just a pain thing, but I'll try to do all of the adjusting I can do."
Thomas was able to run routes without contact in a team situation last week.
"That was exciting, to get out there with the guys a little bit," Thomas said. "I'll try to do a little more this week. I enjoy the process of it, going out there and preparing and working on the things I can. It's fun to be back with the team. When you're off on a side field, you can be running all the routes you want, but you don't get that same feeling as getting to participate with the guys."
When Thomas returns, it will give the Jaguars their highest-profile offseason free-agent acquisition – and a player who scored 12 touchdown passes in each of the past two seasons with the Denver Broncos. He is considered a premier receiving tight end, and is particularly strong in the red zone.
The Jaguars this season have struggled to finish drives, ranking 18th in the NFL in total yardage but scoring just 15.6 points per game.
"Point-blank, we need everybody to be healthy," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "We need everybody in this locker room. He's definitely a huge part of this offense and he's going to change a lot of things in how teams defend us. He's going to help everybody out: not just the pass game, but the run game."
Thomas somewhat downplayed his immediate impact on red-zone efficiency.
"I don't want to set myself for any high standards or anything like that," Thomas said. "I just want to do what I've been able to do in this league and that's try to find different ways to put pressure on the defense. We have to do a better job in the red area and when I get back I'll definitely do all I can to help us have a little more success down there."
Also on Wednesday, Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said he hopes to play against the Buccaneers. Posluszny sustained a high-ankle sprain against the Colts on Sunday. While a high sprain often forces a player out multiple weeks, Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Monday it wasn't a "traditional" sprain and didn't rule out Posluszny playing Sunday.
"I don't want to miss any more time, so we'll see how it goes," Posluszny said.
Posluszny said he is able to walk around and do "everyday" stuff without issue, and while he won't practice Wednesday, he hopes to work Thursday.
"They're saying they're going to take it day by day," Posluszny said. "We'll see how it feels in the morning and go from there."