The Jacksonville Jaguars may have lost Marqise Lee for the season with a knee injury, but they should keep their roster the way it is and not pursue another wide receiver – for now.
As soon as Marqise Lee was hit on the knee on Saturday night in the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-6 victory over Atlanta, there was an audible gasp from the press box. Hits like that are hard to watch. Immediately, there was talk of who would replace the team’s top wide receiver.
Someone mentioned Dez Bryant. Someone said they should see if Terrell Owens would want to come to play here since he thinks he still has the chutzpah to keep up with opposing cornerbacks. Chad Johnson took to Twitter to tell the Jaguars he was only two hours away.
Maybe the Jaguars best move is to stay put and keep the core of wide receivers intact. That’s one of the things head coach Doug Marrone mentioned in his press conference on Monday at TIAA Bank Field.
"“I think we feel comfortable with what we have now,” Marrone explained. “If we feel at any position that we can get ourselves better, we’re always going to look at that. That’s kind of business as usual for us.”"
The loss of Lee, who was a solid blocker in space and provided leadership in the huddle and in the locker room will be felt immediately. Whoever assumes the role of leader of the pack will have tough shoes to fill. But as a unit, the Jaguars wide receivers might be one of the more underrated groups in the league.
Now is the chance for other wide receivers in the film room to come together and step up. Players like Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief, and Dede Westbrook all have an opportunity here – much like they did when Allen Robinson went down in Week 1 for the season with an ACL injury last year.
"“Donte Moncrief had a bunch of blocks downfield, which is encouraging. Dede blocks,” Marrone said.“They block. We work on it. It’s hard when you work on that stuff. In training camp with full pads, we do defensive back-wide receiver blocking drills. Those guys do get a lot of work on it.”"
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Westbrook told me last week in the Jaguars locker room he was looking forward to this season, being able to play all 16 games and becoming a better pass catcher. He has been solid in training camp and could use his speed on the outside and in the slot to become a deep-ball threat.
There is still work to be done, but added a body to this roster and changing the dynamic of the locker room may not be what is best for this franchise. Bryant, Owens, and Johnson are past their prime. They had their moments. Bryant can still help a franchise this season, but the Jaguars aren’t the best fit. His demeanor may affect the locker room negatively.
For the moment, Marrone and the wide receivers are preparing for the game at Tampa Bay this week. Lee’s injury is still fresh in everyone’s mind. The depth chart changed a bit in one play. Cole is now the first name you read. This is a time for everyone to show they can help this team win.
It happened last year. It can happen this year. And adding a player (or two) may make things worse than make it better. Continuity is important to a young winning football team. Adding a questionable veteran could destroy that.