Who Will Step Up for Jacksonville Jaguars with Justin Blackmon Out for Four Games?

By Christopher Gamble

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon will miss the first four games of the 2013 season after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. That leaves the Jaguars thin at wide receiver with Cecil Shorts III, who led the Jaguars in receiving yards last season, Mohamed Massaquoi, Jordan Shipley and recent fourth round pick Ace Sanders to pick up the slack.

Shorts is a solid receiver and proved he was capable of big things last year. However, his production really took off once Blackmon started to produce on the opposite side. Perhaps Shorts is poised for a breakout year this season but he will need help to take some of the focus off of him.

Massaquoi was brought in from the Cleveland Browns as a free agent but he appeared in only nine games last year due to injuries and ended the year with only 17 catches for 254 yards. He will be the first option to fill in for Blackmon but he has some big questions marks over him ranging from health to production. He never did have that breakout year that many expected of him recently in Cleveland.

Shipley was a very productive receiver in college but has not produced in the NFL over the last three years. In 2012 with the Jaguars he had 23 catches for 244 yards and one touchdown. Shipley will be asked to step up especially after spending a year in the Jaguars offense last year.

It is unlikely that Sanders will be asked to do too much since he will need time to learn the offense. Sanders will also be fighting an uphill battle as he will be trying to learn the Jaguars offense and will be battling against defensive backs who almost always will have an edge over the 5’8” Sanders. Asking him to fill Blackmon’s void would be unfair.

It will be up to Massaquoi and Shipley to get open for Blaine Gabbert in the passing game and fill the void left by Blackmon’s poor decision. Whether either one can is the big question.

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