JACKSONVILLE – Here’s this week’s Wednesday primer.
Each Wednesday morning during the 2013 regular season, jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser will set the stage for the Jaguars’ Wednesday media access by previewing major topics facing the team. Each Wednesday afternoon/evening, he will break down what was learned from Jaguars players and coaches that day.
Here’s a look at five key Wednesday topics as the Jaguars prepare for the Tennessee Titans . . .
1. No. 1 again. Cecil Shorts III began the season as the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver. That was because Justin Blackmon was suspended for the first four games of the season. That was temporary, but with Blackmon suspended indefinitely, Shorts’ status as the go-to receiver is permanent – at least for the remainder of the regular season. Shorts had 26 receptions for 337 yards in the first four games without Blackmon, but also had four dropped passes and quarterbacks had trouble getting him involved enough early. How ready is Shorts to reassume the primary role? That’s a big issue for the offense moving forward.
2. Is Robinson ready? The Jaguars moved rookie Denard Robinson into the No. 2 running back role against the San Francisco 49ers just before the bye, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said that remains Robinson’s status. The team has been trying to best take advantage of Robinson’s speed and breakaway ability, having tried him at kickoff returns and wide receiver in the preseason, as well as Wildcat quarterback early in the season. He rushed for 15 yards on four carries against San Francisco, and it appears running back is where the Jaguars feel he can be most effective. How ready is he for this role? That will be a major topic as the Jaguars meet the media Wednesday.
3. Committee time again. Blackmon’s suspension has ramifications throughout the offense. That’s particularly true at receiver, where not only does Shorts move into the No. 1 role, but first-year veteran Mike Brown moves into a starting role opposite Shorts. It also will mean more repetitions for third-year veteran Stephen Burton and a larger role in the slot for rookie Ace Sanders. The offense struggled with Blackmon out early. The Jaguars need a receiver or two other than Shorts to be able to handle a bigger role than they did early in the season.
4. Wrapping up. Bradley has talked a lot about missed tackles leading to big plays, something that was particularly noticeable the last two games before the bye. With Titans running back Chris Johnson being one of the most dangerous breakaway runners in the NFL, tackling – and the need to be better and more consistent – is going to be a key topic Wednesday.
5. Breakthrough time. The Jaguars are 0-8 at the bye and have lost by double digits in each of the first eight games. Bradley has been adept at keeping the focus within the team on improving by the week. That has been the overriding goal and will remain that way. But with Tampa Bay the only other winless team in the NFL at the season’s midway point, the focus on the team’s record will get stronger until the Jaguars get a victory.