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Open Locker Room: Wells moves into lineup


JACKSONVILLE – Josh Wells is a starter now.

He knows the Jaguars need him – and expect him – to play like it.

Wells on Monday moved into the biggest role of his NFL career, with the fourth-year veteran becoming the Jaguars' starting left tackle following what reportedly was a season-ending knee injury to second-year veteran Cam Robinson.

"It's a shame what happened to Cam, and I'm praying for him – I really am," Wells said Monday, a day after the AFC South-leading Jaguars' 31-20 victory over the New England Patriots at TIAA Bank Field.

"But it is an opportunity now, and it's an expectation level between the group – and a trust between the group. I need to be someone who can be counted upon and play to the best of my ability."

Robinson, a second-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft who has started 17 of his first 18 NFL regular-season games, sustained what has been reported as a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter Sunday. Wells played the rest of the game in his place.

Wells, who played collegiately at James Madison, signed with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft. He has played in 32 career games, including a career-high 15 last season when he made all four of his career starts.

"It's part of the game and you never want to see a guy's season end like that – especially a guy who was playing at a high level," Jaguars center Brandon Linder said. "So, you hate to see that. But that's part of the game and now it's Wells' turn to step up. He did that [Sunday] night.

"He was able to come in and fit right in. That says a lot about us as a group, the cohesion and the depth of that group. I know Wells is going to come in and dominate."

Wells is one of several Jaguars reserve linemen who have been with the team multiple seasons. Interior linemen Tyler Shatley, like Wells, joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2014.

"That definitely gives them more understanding of the offense, and they're able to play more free," Linder said.

The Jaguars did not allow a sack Sunday, rushing for 104 yards on 24 carries as a team and producing 481 total yards offense.

"I feel like it felt pretty good," Wells said. "We had a good game plan going in, and the trust with the guys beside us was good. Once you get in, after the first play, everything kind of slows down….

"They tell us to prepare like you're going to play, and it was good to get out there and play a little bit Sunday. We'll watch film and correct some things moving forward."

Wells said he has spoken to Robinson and "told him I'm praying for him."

"It's a terrible situation," Wells said. "I hope I can do him justice out there for him. … I try to prepare each week like I'm going to play, like I'm going to get an opportunity. It's a one-week-at-a-time thing and a day-at-a-time thing.

"I'll just try to get better every day and take it one week at a time and prepare for that game and just go from there."

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