JACKSONVILLE – Here’s this week’s Wednesday wrap up.
Each Wednesday morning during the 2013 season, jaguars.com senior John Oehser will set the stage for the Jaguars’ Wednesday media access by previewing major topics facing the team that day. Each Wednesday afternoon/evening, he will break down what was learned from Jaguars players and coaches that day.
Here’s the wrap up of Wednesday’s five topics as the Jaguars prepare for the St. Louis Rams . . .
1. Is this a new Justin Blackmon? Blackmon, the Jaguars’ second-year wide receiver, practiced Wednesday for the first time since before the final preseason game. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, who said earlier in the week he was impressed with Blackmon’s approach during his four-game suspension to start the season, said he practiced well on Wednesday. Blackmon was reserved during his meeting with the media, and didn’t elaborate much on his return, but said he felt he was in good shape and that he tried to do whatever possible to be ready for his return. “I’m just ready to get back out there and play again,” he said. “It’s tough to watch, period, especially seeing them struggle. It is very hard to watch.” Bradley said Blackmon improved his body fat during the month away and added eight quality pounds. Asked if his teammates were excited to have him back, Blackmon replied, “I’m probably more excited than anybody. I’m just ready to get it going.”
2. Luke Joeckel changing sides. The Jaguars have traded Eugene Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens, a trade that Bradley said is pending and could be finalized Thursday. The significance for the Jaguars now is rookie Luke Joeckel – the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft – will move from right tackle to left tackle, where he started three seasons at Texas A&M. “I’ve always been a left tackle my entire football career,” Joeckel said. “I’ve always been on the left side. That’s just what I’m comfortable with. I tried to get adjusted to the right side, but it’s going to be nice going over to the left side. It’s going to be more comfortable.
3. How do the Jaguars react? The Jaguars have struggled this season, losing their first four games by double digits and losing to the Colts, 37-3 this past Sunday. Bradley has stressed remaining positive, and players remain focused on Bradley’s message of improving every day. And while there is talk outside the team and locker room about losing streaks and the need to win a game soon, veteran Uche Nwaneri said players don’t view the situation that way. “I don’t pay attention to it,” he said. “It has no effect on me. For all of us in the locker room, we prepare every week to win a game.”
4. Will Gabbert respond? Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert has struggled statistically this season, throwing for 300 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions in two games. Bradley not only supported Gabbert after throwing three interceptions Sunday against the Colts, he supported him stronger the following day. Gabbert missed Weeks Two and Three of the regular season after missing the final two games of the preseason. Of his confidence and comfort level, Gabbert said, “It’s going to rise, and this will be the second game back after me being out and I haven’t had that since the second week of the preseason. So having a little consistency back there, going out at practice and taking the full workload again, it’s going to help me and help this football team just to get the timing back and rhythm with the guys.”
5. Will Dwight Lowery play? Lowery, the Jaguars’ starting safety in the first three regular-season games, remained out on Wednesday with a concussion, and wide receiver Stephen Burton also missed Wednesday with a concussion after missing Sunday’s loss to the Colts. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey missed practiced while being tested for a concussion, and seven other players missed practice: cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle), defensive end Jason Babin, center Brad Meester, wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (groin), wide receiver Mike Brown (back), defensive tackle Roy Miller and tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf). Babin, Meester and Miller each had a veteran day off, while Gratz is expected to miss a fourth consecutive game. Brown and Lewis also sound questionable, while Bradley said Shorts was precautionary with tightness in his groin.