JACKSONVILLE – This wasn’t the news Doug Marrone wanted.
Left tackle Cam Robinson and wide receiver Marqise Lee may not be ready for the start of the regular season as both Jaguars players continue to recover from serious knee injuries.
“I don’t know if they’re going to be ready for the season,” Marrone, the Jaguars’ third-year head coach, said Saturday.
Robinson, expected to start at left tackle, missed the last 14 games last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Lee, a veteran leader who the team hopes will be key in the receiving rotation, missed the entire 2018 regular season with a knee injury that included a torn ACL. Both players have been on the physically unable to perform list since Jaguars 2019 Training Camp began in late July.
The news regarding Lee and Robinson highlighted Marrone’s Saturday media availability, during which he expressed disappointment at the continued injuries sustained by the Jaguars despite efforts entering camp to avoid them.
“You’ve got to make changes; I’ve made a ton of them,” Marrone said shortly before Day 12 practice of ’19 camp inside the Dream Finders Homes Flex Field adjacent to TIAA Bank Field. “It seems like it’s not working so far. Hopefully, we’ll be able to gain that traction in the end.”
Marrone he considered Saturday a “benchmark” for Lee and Robinson to return.
The players have been working on the side of practice during camp, and Marrone had expressed optimism last week about the pair’s return.
“They’re working hard,” Marrone said. “The trainers are working hard. Everybody’s been working hard, but we just can’t get them over the hump. We have to go and start preparing to play within them unfortunately. It could change, but it will be tough.”
Marrone said he had hoped the pair could return this week – the third full week of training camp.
“You’d like to work them back during the week and kind of make a decision whether they would play or not [in the team’s Preseason Week 2 home game against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday],” Marrone said.
Marrone said it remains to be seen who may start at left tackle in Week 1. Veterans Cedric Ogbuehi, Josh Wells and Leonard Wester have worked at the position in camp.
“We’ll put some guys out there,” Marrone said. “We’ve got some guys we feel like can play. We’ve got some guys who have played NFL games. Someone will be out there; I can tell you that. We’re not going to leave that spot open.”
Marrone also said linebacker Jake Ryan, who has been on the reserve/non-football injury list after suffering an offseason setback while returning from a torn ACL, appears unlikely to return soon.
“Everyone’s working hard,” Marrone said. “It’s not that they’re not working hard. It’s not that they’re not tough. It’s not any of that. It is what it is. I’m doing everything I can to make sure we don’t get into that same problem.”
Marrone has structured the ’19 training camp schedule to allow for more recovery and down time for players with the idea of reducing injuries. He also held 30 players out of Thursday’s 29-0 preseason-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens in part to help reduce injuries entering the regular season.
Of the 30 players held out Thursday, 14 – including Ryan, Lee and Robinson – were held out for injury reasons. This came after a slew of injuries kept prominent starters out for large parts of a disappointing 5-11 2018 regular season.
“We’re working hard – bad luck, I guess,” Marrone said. “I’m doing everything I can to make sure our players are healthy entering the regular season. It’s a day-by-day thing. The next thing would to not even go out, to walk through.
“I’ve made a ton of changes. It’s still the same issue.”