JACKSONVILLE – Cecil Shorts III came back full.
The other news around the Jaguars Tuesday was that Blaine Gabbert dressed in full pads, but didn’t practice extensively. That meant – as expected – Chad Henne worked at quarterback with the starters as the team began preparing for its third game of the 2013 preseason.
Gabbert, on Monday named the starter for the regular-season opener September 8 against Kansas City, dressed in pads, but did little work because of a hairline fracture in his right throwing thumb.
Henne, who had competed with Gabbert for the starting quarterback position throughout training camp and took nearly an equal number of reps, took repetitions with the starters Tuesday.
He is expected to start against Philadelphia on Saturday.
“We’re in a situation where Chad needs to step up, but he has had plenty of reps,” Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Tuesday following a two-hour, 10-minute practice at the Florida Blue practice fields outside EverBank Field.
“He’ll continue to get a lot the next two weeks.”
Shorts, who stood out in practice early in training camp before sustaining a calf injury, returned to practice Tuesday after missing the first two preseason games, and linebacker Russell Allen (ankle) returned after missing Saturday’s loss to the Jets.
“He looked good,” Bradley said of Shorts. “We’re keeping a close eye on him. He wants to go and go and go, so we have a close eye on him.”
Running back Jordan Todman (hamstring) also practiced, as did cornerback Kevin Rutland. Each had been expected to be limited Tuesday. Bradley said the two were limited in repetitions.
Bradley also said he watched right tackle Luke Joeckel closely Tuesday. Joeckel missed Saturday’s game against the Jets with a hip flexor, but Bradley said he “is right on course.”
“We want to make sure when he comes back he’s 100 percent,” Bradley said.
Offensive guard Will Rackley left at the end of practice, and was attended by trainers because of an asthma issue, Bradley said.
“This was a taxing, taxing practice today, but it was good,” Bradley said. “We need to have that type of practice, but we’ll be smart as we lead up.”
Defensive end Jason Babin had a veterans day off Tuesday,
The Jaguars are expected to have a walkthrough practice Tuesday evening, with a practice scheduled for the Florida Blue practice fields Wednesday morning.
Offensive tackle Mark Asper left practice with patellar tendinitis and will be day-to-day, Bradley said. Defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick (groin) remained out of practice, as did cornerback Jeremy Harris (back), running back Justin Forsett (toe) and tight end Isaiah Stanback (groin).
PLAY OF THE DAY
Second-year safety Antwon Blake turned in perhaps the biggest play of practice Tuesday.
On the play, veteran Mike Kafka threw to his left to wide receiver Mike Brown, who had the ball go off of his hands and into the air. Blake intercepted and returned for what would have been a touchdown.
1.Rackley took snaps at reserve center on Wednesday, a role previously played mostly by second-year veteran Mike Brewster during camp. “We’re trying him out at center,” Bradley said. “Any time an offensive lineman can be versatile, it helps us.”
2.Rookie Matt Scott had two long accurate throws dropped by wide receiver Toney Clemons, and Scott continued to look good while working mostly with the second team.
3.Shorts caught a long pass for a touchdown from Henne late in 11-on-11 drills.
1.Bradley: “We have to make some tough decisions after this game. That’s when you’re seeing a lot of guys still in the competition mode.”
2.Bradley: “The juggling act for us is making sure we’re prepared for Philly, that we still have competition and then with the (first) game (of the regular season) looming a couple of weeks away, to make sure we’re healthy. We have to juggle those things together.”
LOOKING ON . . .
*LaRoy Reynolds continues to be a standout player early. The rookie linebacker worked with the starters on Saturday against the Jets at strong-side linebacker, then moved inside to get repetitions at middle linebacker with the backups. He had two hits that separated Jets players from their helmets. That alone won’t get Reynolds on the roster, but his consistent standout play in practice well. Strongside linebacker Allen returned to practice Tuesday, and Allen remains the starter, but Reynolds is playing well enough and shown enough potential he seems likely to push Allen for that job.
*Shorts returned to practice Tuesday, and that’s a good thing for the Jaguars. Justin Blackmon played well in his preseason debut Saturday, but it remains Shorts who has looked the best among the receivers at practice. Blackmon and Shorts seem likely to continue the ascension they began last season. More in doubt is what’s after the players on the depth chart, with Ace Sanders and Mike Brown likely to make the team then a more muddled situation at receiver after that.