JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Chad Bumphis was walking through the locker room Monday when he stepped on a piece of cardboard and nearly slipped to the ground.
Bumphis reacted by saying, ”Whoa, that was close.”
Given what’s happened in Jacksonville recently, no one would have been surprised to see Bumphis end up on the sideline with so many of his teammates.
The Jaguars are down seven receivers during organized team activities, playing without both starters, two second-round draft picks and a few others. The injuries forced Jacksonville to sign two receivers off the street in recent days just to have enough bodies to get through practice.
”It’s tough,” coach Gus Bradley said. ”It’s a challenge because you’ve got the whole team to worry about. You’re concerned with making sure you get reps and everybody gets a chance to progress. You don’t want to tailor practice so far back that you affect 83 other guys. It’s a challenge.”
The rash of injuries started late last month when rookies Marqise Lee (right ankle) and Allen Robinson (right hamstring) went down with injuries. Since then, Cecil Shorts III (calf), Ace Sanders (thigh), Tandon Doss (calf), Mike Brown (groin) and Lamaar Thomas (knee) have joined them on the sideline.
Jacksonville was down to four healthy receivers late last week, with Bumphis, Kerry Taylor, Allen Hurns and Damian Copeland getting all the repetitions. Of course, having just four at the position makes five-receiver sets tough, up-tempo offense nearly impossible and wears those guys out by the end of practice. It surely doesn’t help that Bumphis, Taylor, Hurns and Copeland have 22 career receptions between them — all by Taylor.
The Jaguars responded by claiming rookie Kevin Smith off waivers from Arizona and signing rookie Brandon Wimberly off the street. Wimberly was with the team for a rookie camp last month, participating on a tryout basis.
So Jacksonville was up to six receivers Monday.
”I think we went through everything except three plays at the very end,” Bradley said. ”We haven’t been able to do that so much. We took our time and we taught in specific periods, so those guys helped us out.”
Although the Jaguars hope to get some of the injured receivers back later this week, they don’t plan on rushing Shorts, Allen and Robinson back. All three are likely to miss next week’s mandatory, three-day minicamp.
It does create opportunity for guys who otherwise might not get much of a look on a team that has the veteran Shorts and three receivers drafted over the last two years.
”All you can ask for is an opportunity,” Bumphis said. ”Guys are down, and you hate to see that. You can sit around and worry about what they’re doing or you can take it as a chance to get better and show the coaches what you can do. At this level, you don’t get many opportunities, so when you do you’ve got to make the most of it.”
And staying on the field helps.
”Consistency is the key,” Bumphis said. ”You wouldn’t be here if they didn’t think you could play. So now that you’re here, you’ve got to show them on a consistent basis. You’ve got to step your game up to another level. If you’re going to be with the 1s, you’ve got to play like that. I think that’s what we’re trying to do for the most part.”