The Jacksonville Jaguars got good news on Tuesday when third-year wide receiver Cecil Shorts returned to practice for the first time in over two weeks after suffering a strained calf in training camp.
While most people think running back Maurice Jones-Drew is the most important piece to the Jaguars offense, I make the argument that Shorts is the player that they could least afford to lose. In 2012, Shorts showed tremendous ability for making big plays in a passing attack that finished towards the bottom of the league. Without Shorts, the Jaguars passing offense would be severely handicapped.
With Shorts emergence in 2012, Jaguars fans have rightfully been excited to see what he can do in 2013 as there is legitimate hope that they have finally found a replacement for Jimmy Smith, who departed all the way back in 2005. By all accounts, Shorts was virtually uncoverable in training camp before his injury and looks to have improved his route running and technique.
The most impressive thing about Shorts is that he did not take this offseason off after racking up 979 yards on 55 catches last season. Shorts came into camp after adding some more bulk to his frame that should allow him to be more physical. He also spent time this summer working with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, which is a sign that he wants to become a master craftsman at the position much like Fitzgerald.
The sky is truly the limit for Shorts entering the 2013 season and I believe that he will emerge as the next elite NFL wide receiver.
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