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View from the O-Zone: Allen Hurns … good story, better player


JACKSONVILLE – You want to know what's easy? Writing about Allen Hurns …

That's easy.

Something else: it's fun, too.

Yes, just as cheering for Hurns is easy for Jaguars fans, writing about the second-year wide receiver is easy in the same vein – and, yeah, actually fun. It always has been, and it has become more so this year. Because it seems every time the guy plays, he does something else that makes you realize he just may be something special.

Really good feel-good stories develop that way. Star players develop that way.

Hurns always has been the first. He's fast becoming the second.

And just to get this part of out of the way quickly:

Yes, Hurns' story is going to continue this week. Hurns says he's absolutely playing Thursday, which isn't exactly news considering he always plays, but was news this week because he visited a specialist in Philadelphia Monday.

So, yes, Hurns says he's is playing. Because he always does.

"As long as there's nothing major that requires immediate surgery, I feel like I'll be fine," Hurns said this week as the Jaguars prepared to play the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field Thursday.

"There's nothing I can't overcome. I can deal with pain."

See? That quote about pain? Even that's kind of fun. And that's as good a place as any to start when discussing Hurns – with the whole toughness angle.

Yes, he has a core/thigh injury. That was what caused the visit to the specialist Monday, a visit that was newsy early in the week only to become less newsy when people realized Hurns had been playing through the issue much of the season.

He also played through an ankle injury this season, and this past Sunday he played through a foot injury that kept him out of practice pretty much all last week.

"Overall, when you define who he is, toughness would have to be a big part of it," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Monday.

Ya think? Hurns' teammate, second-year receiver Allen Robinson, was asked early this week what it would take for Hurns to not play. Amputation? Robinson smiled.

"He's as tough as they come," Robinson said, adding, "He's done this before. He's going to play. I'm pretty confident in that."

So, that's the toughness stuff, and while that's fun stuff, Hurns is a lot more than a fun story. He's a flat-out remarkable one, and one that is growing more remarkable before our eyes.

Think of it:

Hurns went undrafted from the University of Miami last offseason. It's not completely unusual that he made an NFL roster, or that he became a good player. But to become this pivotal, this good, this quickly?

When the Jaguars play the Titans Thursday in a gold-dipped prime-time game at the 'Bank, one of the biggest pre-game storylines will be whether Hurns – undrafted, unheralded, underappreciated Allen Hurns – can extend his franchise-record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception.

I was asked in an email this week if it was really right to keep calling Robinson the No. 1 receiver on this team considering Hurns' progress and production. My instinct was to say that yes, absolutely Robinson was the No. 1 go-to guy.

And then I thought about it, and while Robinson's size and production probably does still merit that …

Well, let's just say it's not an easy choice, not with Hurns' seven touchdowns, his 697 yards receiving and his 17.0 yards-per-reception average – not to mention a knack for big, first-down converting plays that matches Robinson's.

All of that makes Hurns easy to write about, and easy to root for, but here's the biggest reason:

All of the stuff we've mentioned? The yards? The streak? The starting position? The increasing notoriety? Hurns has earned it all, absolutely and clearly.

He not only made the roster as an undrafted free agent last season, and he not only led the team with six touchdown receptions, he never stopped working in the offseason. He worked with Blake Bortles off site at Bishop Kenny High School, and when Bortles wasn't around, he ran routes at Bishop Kenny. Alone.

Notable, too, are Hurns' hands this season. Remember? Last season? This preseason?

Even early this season?

Hurns dropped enough passes that it was a topic at times when he spoke to the media. He dropped enough passes that emailers to this website called for him to be released.

Well, the Jaguars didn't release Hurns – never considered it, of course – and because they didn't, they have more than a good writing subject, and more than an easy guy to root for. They have an ascending player who is key to the offense, and who may be among key players around which this offense will be built.

Does that sound like we're calling Hurns a Pro Bowl player? Maybe we are, and if you extend his numbers out over the course of a season, they indeed look very Pro Bowl-ish.

What a next step in Hurns' story that would be – both fitting and deserved.

And as always is the case with Hurns, really fun to see.

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