Wednesday update: Shenault loves versatile role

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Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) scores a touchdown in front of Indianapolis Colts free safety Malik Hooker (29) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

JACKSONVILLE – Let there be no mistake:

When it comes to having multiple offensive roles, and when it comes to lining up wherever he is asked, Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. welcomes it.

"I'm comfortable," Shenault said.

He's more than that, actually.

"I love it," he said with a laugh Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-0) prepared to play the Tennessee Titans (1-0) in an AFC South game at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday at 1 p.m. 

That much is evident. 

Shenault not only caught three passes for 37 yards and a 15-yard second-quarter touchdown in a 27-20 Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Jacksonville this past Sunday, he also rushed twice for 10 yards. The Jaguars also lined him up at quarterback in the Wildcat formation.

"I thought he played well," Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said Wednesday. "The first game out, you're never sure how the rookies are going to be, especially with some of the things we're trying to do with them. But from a mental standpoint, he did everything right. He did a good job.

"From a physical standpoint, he's what we thought he was. He's a physical guy in the running game. He had some good blocks. He had to dig out some safeties in the running game, which nobody sees. But when he had the ball in his hands, you could see how explosive he could be. I was impressed with Laviska."

Shenault's role wasn't entirely unexpected. Nor was his impact.

A second-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft, Shenault was considered a first-round selection before a core injury limited him as a junior last season. A major reason for that status: not only his reputation as one of college football's most difficult-to-tackle receivers but as one of the most versatile.

"This is stuff we were able to see him do in college," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said. "He's done this before, and he's done it at a high level in college. We wanted to see what he can handle and what he could do for us. It's a strength of his. He can run the ball. He can throw the ball. He can catch the ball. He can catch it after the run. There's a lot of things he can do.

"We feel that's going to help us [and] that's what we're going to do. It's not like we learned this during training camp, we had a good feeling about this when he was coming in because of what he did at college."

Shenault (6-feet-1, 227 pounds) caught 149 passes for 1,943 yards and 10 touchdowns in three seasons at the University of Colorado, including 86 for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore. He also rushed 42 times for 280 yards and seven touchdowns, including five touchdowns as a sophomore.

"When you scout a guy and you watch him on tape in college, you try to figure out what they're good at," Gruden said, adding of Shenaut's early role with the Jaguars: 

"These are some of the things he was able to do [at Colorado]. When you're a quarterback or a running back or a receiver – and he's really all three – it puts a lot of stress on a defense, even that week having to prepare for that look or those plays. It's tough on a defense and they forget about the basic plays sometimes. 

"Being able to move Laviska around and give him the ball in unique ways is going to be important. You saw how physical he runs between the tackles and how explosive he can be outside the tackles. 

"It's our job to get him some touches. We have to do a good job using him different ways."

As for what that will entail, that remains to be seen. Shenault on Wednesday said he had little idea of how he would be used against the Colts until game-planning began last week.

"None of that stuff got put in until the week of," he said. "I think they're just going day by day, and they're throwing opportunities at me to see how I respond to it."

Shenault was asked if he was therefore surprised to be asked to be so versatile so soon.

"Nope," he said, smiling. "I was not. I'm ready. I'm always ready. I'm telling you: I love to do that type of stuff. Anytime my name gets called to do something like that, I'm on board with it. I love having the pressure on me. I have no choice but to take advantage of my opportunities. I like the pressure. I like everything they're doing with me and I'm just going to keep taking advantage of it."

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