When the Jacksonville Jaguars opened up their preseason against the Miami Dolphins on Friday, they were without two projected starters. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon and safety Jonathan Cyprien sat out, but as of Monday they have been cleared to practice.
On Monday, Blackmon and Cyprien were run through physicals in which they both passed, and Blackmon, specifically, is excited they are both back in camp. Blackmon tweeted a picture of Cyprien on the practice field monday, welcoming his teammate back.
Entering his second year, Blackmon is looking to build upon a rookie campaign in which he caught 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns. Blackmon had somewhat of an up-and-down rookie season and in nine games he finished with under 50 yards receiving, seven of those never surpassing 32 yards.
When starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert went down, Blackmon seemed to develop a quick chemistry with backup Chad Henne and began to put up some significant numbers in the receiving game. November 18th against the Houston Texans, he busted out with 236 yards and a touchdown, including a huge 81-yard explosion.
In 2013, Gabbert is playing for his job, and likely his career as an NFL starter. If he wants to continue to start for the Jaguars, he will have to figure out how to utilize a talent like Blackmon. For the first four games, however, he will have to perform without Blackmon.
The second-year wideout has been suspended for the first four weeks due to breaking the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Entering week five, Blackmon should be as hungry as ever and could really give Jacksonville a big lift especially in respect to Gabbert’s slow development.
If Blackmon can stay healthy and jump onto the scene quickly in week five, he could wind up with an even better season than last year. He just needs consistency both from him and the quarterback position. He and Cecil Shorts could be an exciting, underrated duo if they want to be. It’s all on Blackmon’s shoulders now, though, as he is healthy and prepares for his sophomore campaign.