Jaguars’ receiver depth being tested … again

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (11) leaps over Los Angeles Chargers safety Jahleel Addae (37) after catching a pass Sunday. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Allen Hurns needed crutches to leave the locker room after the Jaguars’ 20-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday because of a right ankle injury.

 

Arrelious Benn didn’t make it through the first quarter of the Chargers game because of knee and hamstring issues.

Marqise Lee hasn’t gone through a full practice since Oct. 13 and his during-the-week activity is being managed.

Translation: The Jaguars’ receiver depth is being tested.

Again.

Coach Doug Marrone said Monday he doesn’t anticipate Hurns being available for Sunday’s game Cleveland.

Thin at receiver since Allen Robinson tore his left ACL on third play of the Week 1 game at Houston, the Jaguars will be relying on Lee and a bunch of young players against the Browns.

Marrone said rookie Dede Westbrook being activated to the roster to make his NFL debut is likely.

“Dede is ready to come back,” Marrone said. “Hopefully he has a good week and he’s ready to go.”

Lee leads the Jaguars with 38 catches for 493 yards and two touchdowns. Keelan Cole has 14 catches for 219 yards. The other three healthy receivers are Westbrook (hasn’t played), Jaelen Strong (hasn’t played) and Jaydon Mickens (13 snaps, one catch).

Attrition is part of an NFL season and the Jaguars are no different than other teams who have been hit with injuries at a specific position. But with opponents putting an extra defender near the line of scrimmage to contain Leonard Fournette and Co., there are big plays to be made by the Jaguars’ receivers, particularly on the perimeter. It will be up to these players to take advantage of man coverage.

A look at the receivers behind Lee on the depth chart:

Cole: The most pleasant surprise of training camp, Cole’s play dipped once he made the team — he had only six catches through six games.

But starting with a 52-yard reception against Indianapolis in Week 7, Cole has become a bigger part of the passing game and appears more comfortable running his routes and able to beat man coverage.

In the past three games, Cole has eight catches for 172 yards, an eye-popping 21.8-yard average.

Westbrook: He underwent abdominal surgery Sept. 12 and was placed on injured reserve.

When the Jaguars returned from their bye week on Oct. 30, they designated Westbrook for return, giving them a three-week window to activate him to the roster or keep him on injured reserve.

Expectations should be realistic for Westbrook. Yes, he’s fast.

Yes, he led the NFL in preseason receiving yards (288). But he hasn’t played in a game since Aug. 31 at Atlanta.

Marrone said Westbrook has been receiving snaps in practice as if he is a part of the game plan.

“We’ve been having him work like he’s playing each week,” Marrone said.

Mickens: Like Cole, Mickens has been a positive development. Waived by Oakland after being injured in the preseason, Mickens spent two weeks out of the NFL before being signed to the Jaguars’ practice squad on Sept. 19. A month later, he was promoted to the roster to replace Max McCaffrey.

Mickens has been a sure catcher and good decision-maker on punt returns in three games, including a 63-yard touchdown against Cincinnati. Against the Chargers, he played 10 snaps of offense and made his first regular- season catch (11 yards on the overtime-forcing scoring drive).

Mickens’ play has allowed the Jaguars to delay activating Westbrook, but even when Westbrook begins playing, Mickens has done enough to play.

Strong: Acquired on waivers by the Jaguars on Sept. 19, Strong sustained a hamstring injury in his first practice with the team and was shut down.

Strong has been a full practice participant since the start of Week 6, but a healthy scratch for four consecutive games. He could remain the odd man out when Westbrook is placed on the roster.

WR DEPTH TESTED

Injuries to Allen Hurns and Arrelious Benn on Sunday have further tested the Jaguars’ depth at receiver entering Sunday’s game at Cleveland:

Player Snaps Rec.-Yards-TD

Marqise Lee 490 39-493-2

Keelan Cole 373 14-219-0

Jaydon Mickens 13 1-11-0

Jaelen Strong 0 None*

Dede Westbrook 0 None**

*Has not played a game for the Jaguars.

**Been on injured reserve since Week 1.

Jaguars at Browns

When: 1 p.m., Sunday

Where: Browns Stadium, Cleveland

TV: CBS

Line: Jaguars by 7 1/2

 

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