The way Cecil Shorts sat in front of his locker, staring mostly at the floor, answering questions with short answers in a soft voice said it all.
Shorts learned that he would be sidelined for two weeks, which would take him out of the first preseason game and quite possibly the second.
The Jaguars labeled the injury tightness in his hamstring and Shorts is hoping that is the full extent of it. Needless to say, it wasn't the start to what Shorts is anticipating to be a breakout season.
The fourth-year wide receiver will finish out his rookie contract that he signed with the Jaguars who selected him in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. Shorts played in 10 games as a rookie, but has elevated himself into the team's No. 1 receiver role now that Justin Blackmon is no longer on the active roster. Shorts was second in receptions to Blackmon the following year, then led the Jaguars in catches (66) and yards (777) a year ago. With Blackmon not in the picture, this had the makings of a banner year for Shorts.
When the announcement came last weekend that Shorts would be out for two weeks, "here we go again" was a common refrain from Jaguars fans. Injuries have been a part of Shorts' short history in the NFL. He closed out the last two seasons on injured reserve due to a concussion (2012) and a groin injury (2013).
He missed five games the past two seasons because of those injuries and played in just 22 games.
"I can't catch a break right now," Shorts said. "We just sat down and got a plan about how we're going to attack it. We're not going to rush it. It's going to take some time to heal. I was surprised when they said two weeks. I wasn't expecting to hear that."
The receiver spot was already a concern for the Jaguars, even with a healthy Shorts.
Blackmon's arrest a week ago for marijuana sealed his fate for the 2014 season and likely professional career.
Jacksonville's second-leading receiver a year ago was rookie Ace Sanders with 51 catches for 484 yards. But Sanders is out for the first four games following his suspension for violation of the substance abuse policy.
With Sanders not practicing with the team (his choice) and Shorts out, it leaves the Jaguars with a starting combo coming from Mike Brown (32 for 446 last year), Kerry Taylor (19 for 189) and a pair of second-round draft picks from May's draft in Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. That's hardly a group to make an opposing secondary quiver.
--Roy Miller is feeling good, better than he has felt for nearly a year. A year ago the defensive tackle signed a free agent contract with Jacksonville who envisioned the 310-pounder to help with the Jaguars woeful defense against the run.
But Miller, a six-year veteran at age 27 who was drafted by Tampa Bay in the third round in 2009, first endured a battle with tendinitis in his knee, and then he tore his labrum in the fourth game of the season.
He hung in for 10 more games, playing virtually with one are the rest of the season. Finally with two weeks left in the season and the Jaguars realizing that it wasn't getting any better, Miller was placed on the injured reserve list.
In January he underwent surgery to repair the labrum. That forced him to miss offseason drills. And even now, the Jaguars are bringing him along slowly, giving him occasional days off so as not to bring about any re-occurrence with the shoulder area. Being the competitor that he is, Miller wasn't thrilled to be taking even more time off.
"I trust what our staff has planned for me. If it was up to me, I'd probably burn myself to the ground," he said. "I've got to try to not hurry back and take it slow and work myself back in."
This is an important year for Miller. He completes the two-year deal he signed with the Jaguars in 2012. He wants to be fully healthy this year and turn in a solid season for leverage when he meets with the Jaguars or other teams if he opts to go free agency again. He says he'd like to remain in Jacksonville and finish his career here. He likes playing here and would like to avoid hitting the free agency market for the second time in three years.
--Consider the experiment of moving one of their practices to the high school in an adjacent county as a success for the Jaguars. Monday the team packed its gear and loaded players on several buses and journeyed to Bartram Trail High School in near-by St. Johns County. Fans in that area rushed for the opportunity to come watch. There was no admission charge but fans had to register on-line and show the registration at the gate in order to get in.
Jaguars' officials closed registration early when over 2,500 fans quickly signed up to attend the early evening practice. Final count that night was 3,329, more than 1,000 over any of the crowds for the team's first three training camp practices at the Jaguars regular practice facility.
Bartram Trail has had experience hosting an NFL team. In 2005 when Jacksonville was awarded Super Bowl XXXIX, the school was chosen by the NFL to be New England's practice site in the days leading up to the game. The NFL spent $250,000 to install new grass and put in a new drainage system.
"That field is as good as it was they left here," said longtime Bartram Trail athletic director Barry Craig. "Having the Patriots here was great, but to have a team here that we're all fans of was special. The Jaguars have been great to work with."
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley stamped his approval of the facility and vowed that the team would return in future years.
"We're going to do this again, I can tell you that much," Bradley said after the team's spirited two-hour workout. "We had fun with it. The guys came here and embraced it."
--When the new scoreboard and other upgraded amenities within EverBank Field were revealed last week, one of the highlights was scenes from the two pools in the north end zone and the eight surrounding cabanas. The pools promise to be an area that will be prominently showcased during Jaguars games and when networks show highlights of games from Jacksonville.
But don't look for any action from within the pools or cabanas for the Oct. 26 game with the Miami Dolphins.
That game will be played six days before the annual Florida-Georgia game at EverBank Field on Nov. 1. The pools and eight cabanas will be closed for the Jaguars-Dolphins game in order to give workers enough time to install nearly 7,000 temporary seats in that area. Officials at the two schools were offered the option of keeping the pools open for their game but they declined because it would cut down on the seating capacity of nearly 84,000 for the game.
Jaguars president Mark Lamping said the team did not want to impact the Florida-Georgia game in any manner.
"It's not in our best interest. We think it's a bigger-picture item," Lamping said.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Jacques McClendon vs. Brandon Linder at RG. Unless one of these two pulls away during the preseason games, this could be decided on a coin flip prior to the regular-season opener in Philadelphia. The popular consensus is that Linder will win out. The Jaguars not picked Linder in the third round of the draft, they were willing to part ways with a 4th and 6th round pick to move up to get the former University of Miami standout. Linder is three inches taller, McClendon is 15 pounds heavier. Linder is more athletic than McClendon and moves better. But for now, the two are alternating days in running with the No. 1 offensive unit and until one has successive breakout practices, it's likely to stay this way.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I wouldn't be where I am today without the University of Utah." - Offensive lineman Zane Beadles as to why he donated $750,000 to his alma mater.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--LB Geno Hayes practiced two days in a row, a good development for the Jaguars who had feared they would only see their projected starting linebacker on an every-other-day basis through the first couple weeks of training camp.
--The Jaguars second significant injury (first was Cecil Shorts) of training camp came Monday when backup tight end Clay Harbor was sidelined with a strained calf muscle. It's a position that the team is relatively thin at behind starter Mercedes Lewis. Harbor and Brandon Barden were the only players with NFL experience as the other three at that position were undrafted rookies.
--OG Zane Beadles gave his alma mater the University of Utah a gift of $750,000. The school said the gift was the largest a former football player has ever given to the school. Beadles signed a six-year $30 million deal with $12.5 million guaranteed as a free agent during the off-season.
--GM Dave Caldwell is not happy with NFL schedule-makers who had the Jaguars playing four of their first six games on the road for the second consecutive season. Caldwell put a call into league headquarters to voice his displeasure with the schedule.
--DE Red Bryant is learning to adapt to the Jacksonville heat and humidity after playing the previous six seasons in Seattle. Bryant stayed in Jacksonville during the summer break to become even more familiar with the triple-digit heat index numbers. "I feel good," he said. "I felt a lot better these first couple of days than then I first got here during OTAs. I'm excited about the regimen that coach Bradley came up with. It allows me to maximize every rep."
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Justin Blackmon
- Cecil Shorts