Jacksonville At Tennessee: 5 Things We Need To Know
If there was ever optimism that the Jacksonville Jaguars could finally win their first game of the season on Sunday, it may have come in the form of news about the team’s wide receivers.
According to a report from Jaguars.com, Cecil Shorts III, a veteran wide receiver who has missed three of five games this season with hamstring issues, returned to practice on a full-participation basis.
That meant all of the Jaguars’ active wide receivers practiced full Thursday.
It also means the team could be a little more active in the passing game against the Tennessee Titans on the road.
“I think we need just to see him stack it up now,” Bradley said of Shorts.
If the Jaguars continue to show life in the offense and some continued success on the defensive side of the ball, with a unit that has 19 sacks in five games, the team could cause nightmares for whoever is behind center for Tennessee. Starter Jake Locker has a hand injury and it is not known whether he will play or will Charlie Whitehurst get the call. That could prove to be even better for Jacksonville on Sunday.
Here are four other things to know about this matchup.
GRATZ CLEARED TO PLAY
After suffering a concussion in the loss to San Diego two weeks ago, defensive back Dwayne Gratz was cleared to practice and play on Sunday. Gratz had a good practice on his second day back working after missing Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh with a concussion, Bradley said. Demetrius McCray, who started in place of Gratz Sunday, has worked with the first team in practice each of the last two days and is expected to start against Tennessee Sunday. “I thought Gratz really stood out today,” Bradley said. “He made a couple of plays that really stood out. That was good to see.
GERHART MISSED AGAIN
Running back Toby Gerhart, who has dealt with a foot/ankle injury since Week 1, missed practice with a foot injury after practicing full Wednesday. Gerhart has started each of the first five games this season, rushing for 123 yards on 48 carries. The Jaguars split running back repetitions between Gerhart, Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson against Pittsburgh last week.
BORTLES CONTINUES TO GAIN CONFIDENCE
Until he threw the interception for a touchdown last week that sealed the loss by the Jaguars, there was a feeling the rookie could win the game with his arm, ending the four-game losing streak. That did not happen.
Bortles is gaining more praise for his ability in the chance to win. One reason is that Bortles checked to about seven pass plays from run plays in the loss to Pittsburgh Sunday and another is that Bortles has thrown six interceptions in 10 quarters as a starter. While Bradley talked on Monday about having some run-only plays called and possibly discouraging Bortles from calling an audible in those situations, the overriding feeling is there’s no need or inclination to curtail the rookie quarterback. “He will be the first to admit that (he) has to make good decisions,” Bradley said. “We love his mentality and that’s not a concern of ours that you’ve got to handle with kid gloves.”
It is a strong possibility that the Titans have a better roster of players, but there is something to be said for confidence and growth and the ability to finally get it right. The Titans are 1-4, the Jaguars 0-5. But when you look at everything, you get the idea the Jaguars are about to finally get one in the win column.
JACKSONVILLE 17 TENNESSEE 14