JACKSONVILLE – Josh Oliver is developing.
The Jaguars like that, and Head Coach Doug Marrone said he wants the rookie tight end to continue that trend.
"Obviously, we like the way Josh is progressing," Marrone said Wednesday as the Jaguars (4-5) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (5-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
But Marrone also emphasized that the Jaguars won't push the offense in Oliver's direction simply because Nick Foles has returned at quarterback.
"Nick's going to throw to the guy who's open – whoever can get themselves open," Marrone said.
Foles, out since Week 1 with a broken clavicle, will start Sunday. He signed with the Jaguars in March as an unrestricted free agent from Philadelphia, where his reputation was that he used the tight end extensively in the offense.
Marrone on Wednesday noted that one reason Foles leaned on the tight end with the Eagles was the presence of Zach Ertz, one of the NFL's top tight ends.
"It's a matter of the quarterback taking advantage of the people who are the playmakers rather than saying, 'What's the comfort level for a quarterback?''' Marrone said. "A lot of times when people talk about Nick they'll talk about, 'Hey, listen: You need a great tight end or you need a tight end with him to do that.' …
"We want to see more and more from [Oliver] each week and he has been doing a very good job. I think that can help us because it will give us another guy that we believe can make plays. Is anything going to be forced to anyone? No. That's not how Nick operates and that's not how we want to operate – where we say, 'We're forcing the ball to his guy.'"
Oliver, a rookie third-round selection from San Jose State, has two receptions for 10 yards after missing the first six games of the regular season with a hamstring injury. Jaguars tight ends have caught nine passes for 83 yards since a Week 5 knee injury ended tight end James O'Shaughnessy's season.
"Josh is a great player," Foles said. "Unfortunately, he was injured early in the season so he wasn't able to get those reps during training camp and at the start of the year, but he's a guy who continues to develop. The sky is the ceiling for him.
"I would love to get our tight ends more involved. A lot of times it's just seeing what the defense plays then playing the play. You always want to get tight ends involved because it makes it more difficult to defend."
Also around the Jaguars Wednesday:
*A benefit to Foles' return could be improved efficiency in the red zone. The Jaguars hope that happens, with the team ranking 30th in terms of scoring touchdowns on possessions inside the 20 through the first nine games. "Obviously, we're banking on that," Marrone said. "His experience down there and the things he can do hopefully will give us a bump there, but I don't think it's going to be just one player. Obviously, the quarterback's going to play a part of it, but I think everyone else has to increase their play down in there also." …
*Marrone on the offensive line: "It's always a work in progress. Each week gives you different challenges. We've done a good job protection-wise for the most part; we've gotten better, even though the numbers might not show that. Run-game wise, I think when you look at where we are rushing and rushing average … all of that stuff looks good on paper, but I think we can get more. I think we can do a much better job, especially on first down and second down – and get some more manageable situations on third down for ourselves. I don't think we're doing a very good job there."
*The Jaguars as expected were close to fully healthy Wednesday, with all active players practicing. Four players – wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck/shoulder), cornerback D.J. Hayden (neck/shoulder), linebacker Leon Jacobs (hamstring) and linebacker Quincy Williams (hamstring) – were listed on the injury report as practicing full. All four players missed the Jaguars' loss to the Texans in London a week before this past Sunday's bye week. Center Brandon Linder (shoulder), left tackle Cam Robinson (knee) and defensive end Calais Campbell (back) practiced limited Wednesday. Linebacker Jake Ryan remains on the Jaguars' reserve/non-football injury list; he is practicing but not listed on the injury report. …