JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Being mentioned in the same sentence as Anquan Boldin is all very flattering to rookie wide receiver Allen Hurns.
As much of an immediate impact Hurns made in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, the player who went undrafted four months ago out of the University of Miami couldn’t stop bringing up the opportunities that got away from him.
Not since Boldin with the Arizona Cardinals in 2003 had a wideout accounted for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut. Hurns reached those marks in the first quarter alone, with his scoring receptions of 34 and 21 yards from Chad Henne handing the Jaguars a 14-0 lead.
While he finished with four catches for 110 yards, all of his production took place in the first half. Of the Jags’ six dropped passes, two were throws that Hurns said he should have had.
"There were a lot of good things we did," Hurns said on Monday, a day after the 34-17 loss to the Eagles. "But at the end of the day, we didn’t finish. It was one player on each play. I had two drops."
Hurns was an afterthought when training camp began, especially after the Jaguars used their two second-round draft picks on wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson.
Still, Hurns opened more than a few eyes. He got to start against the Eagles in place of the injured Cecil Shorts III after leading all receivers in the preseason with 14 receptions for 232 yards and establishing a rapport with both Henne and first-round selection Blake Bortles.
Three plays after Philadelphia’s opening possession ended with a fumble off a sack, Henne found Hurns deep down the left side. The Jaguars, who failed to score a first-quarter touchdown last season until Week 5, found themselves up 7-0 six minutes into the game.
Barely more than two minutes later after the defense recorded another takeaway on a sack of quarterback Nick Foles, Hurns caught a simple slant-in pass and stretched over the goal line for his second score. Shorts, who was watching the game back in Jacksonville, didn’t let an injured hamstring prevent him from expressing joy over his teammate’s accomplishments.
"Oh, I was jumping around," Shorts said. "I was saying we were going to the Super Bowl. I was excited."
Not Hurns. His personality is much more on the low-key side, and he said he went into the game with the same sense of calmness he did when the Jaguars began their preseason.
Hurns’ 100-yard game was the first by a member of the Jaguars since the now-suspended Justin Blackmon recorded 14 catches for 190 yards last October at Denver. Entering Monday night, Hurns was also the only rookie among the seven players in the league to top that mark.
"It’ll give me a lot of confidence," Hurns said. "I know what to expect now. Each day out there, I work on getting better or focusing on one technique I feel I need to improve on."
Lee finished with six receptions, although half of those came on the final drive of the game with the outcome no longer in doubt. Robinson, who missed the entire preseason because of a hamstring injury, took part in 20 plays but had just one catch for no yards.
"They work hard in practice," Shorts said. "And they just carry what they do in practice and what they’ve learned from practice into the game. You’ve been seeing that from Hurns and Marqise all of preseason. The lights weren’t too bright for them."
One area the unit needs to improve upon is third-down situations. Not until a 13-yard completion from Henne to Lee late in the third quarter did the Jaguars convert one. They were 0 for 9 up to that point and finished 2 of 14 in a category where they struggled the majority of last season.
"Everybody’s got to maximize their opportunities because the play-calling is there," said Hurns, whose first two years at Miami came when current Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch served in the same capacity for the Hurricanes. "It’s just that we had drops here or the O-linemen didn’t pick up their person or things like that. If everybody’s on the same page, we’ll be fine."
Added Bradley: "We’ve got to make sure that the ones thrown to us, we catch. It’s that simple."