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 that day. 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 San Diego Chargers...
1. Can Henne win the job? This is a growing theme among fans and observers. Chad Henne threw for 303 yards against the Broncos last week in his third start of the season, while Blaine Gabbert – the starting quarterback in Weeks One, Four and Five who has been ruled out for Sunday with a hamstring injury – has one touchdown pass and seven interceptions this season. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Henne will start against San Diego, but beyond Sunday, he didn’t commit to a quarterback either way. Until he does, this will be an issue.
2. Can the Jaguars run? Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has rushed for more than 70 yards in each of his last two games, his best two games of the season. That’s an improvement from the first four games of the season, but it’s still a struggle to find holes and the Jaguars’ offense is still facing too many second- and third-and-long situations. The offensive line has played better than many expected without tackles Eugene Monroe and Luke Joeckel in the last two games, but the run offense remains an issue.
3. The beast within. Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon has done more than return to the lineup the last few weeks, he has returned looking like an elite receiver. He has caught 19 passes for 326 yards and a touchdown in two games, and his 14-reception, 190-yard performance on Sunday is the stuff that breakout games are made of. What’s the difference? What’s the reason for the improvement? The typically reserved Blackmon won’t likely say much, but he’ll be asked Wednesday.
4. Will Cecil Shorts III play? Shorts, who has 31 receptions for 411 yards in five games this season, sustained a sprained SC joint on the third play against the Broncos. He did not return to that game, but as of Monday, he had not been ruled out for Sunday. Blackmon could be held out of practice Wednesday with a groin/hamstring issue, but is expected to play Sunday, while cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf) will be retested this week. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey and wide receiver Stephen Burton remain in the concussion program and will be retested Wednesday.
5. Eliminating mistakes. This has been a theme of Bradley’s all week. While he was pleased with the progress made in Denver, he was far more focused on the frustration of early mistakes and missed opportunities not giving the Jaguars a better chance to win. The Jaguars have been hurt at times this season by avoidable errors and missed chances, and that’s a reason the games haven’t been more competitive. With Bradley’s emphasis on this area, it will be a topic Wednesday.