JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts III was back on the field but out of form Sunday.
Shorts returned to practice for the first time since July 25 and could play in Friday’s preseason game at Detroit.
Shorts worked with the first-team offense Sunday, a little more than three weeks after straining his right hamstring in the team’s opening training camp practice. He even caught a pass on the first play of 11-on-11 drills.
"It felt good," he said. "After that, it was just downhill. Rusty, rusty, rusty. But I’ll be fine. … I’m definitely rusty, so I’ve got to come out here, continue to work, not get frustrated and understand this is really my first practice since April or something like that."
He made it through the session without any setbacks, a positive sign for a receiver who hasn’t been able to stay on the field in 2014.
He missed most of organized team activities with a calf injury and hasn’t made it through a full season since college. He missed six games with a hamstring injury in 2011, missed two games because of a concussion in 2012 and sat out the final three games in 2013 with a groin injury that slowed him all season.
"You can’t think about getting injured when you’re playing ball," Shorts said. "You’ve just got to go out there and just play. I did my best to get back as fast as I could. I’m learning to how to take care of my body; I know how to take care of my body. I have to continue to do that process, add a few new things in there and you can’t worry about getting hurt. Just play ball."
Coach Gus Bradley said Shorts will get some repetitions against the Lions, but "we’ll make sure that it’s not extended play."
The goal, Shorts said, is to be healthy and in shape for the Sept. 7 season opener at Philadelphia.
"I’ve got some work to do," Shorts said. "It’s different in pads, in a helmet, running around against a defense. But as time goes on and I get more reps and more reps, I should be fine. The goal is to be able to be 100 percent — everything’s fine — by Week 1."
Issues at receiver have been a recurring theme for the Jaguars in camp. Second-round draft pick Allen Robinson (hamstring), Tandon Doss (ankle) and Ace Sanders (leave of absence) remain sidelined, and the team has been down as many as seven at the positon. Robinson and Doss are close to returning to practice, and Bradley said Sunday that Sanders might play in the preseason finale against Atlanta.
Jacksonville’s defense is getting closer to full strength, too. Linebacker Paul Posluszny returned to practice Sunday after missing Thursday’s preseason game at Chicago with a bruised biceps, and fellow linebacker Dekoda Watson was activated from the physically unable to perform list.
Watson practiced for the first time since groin surgery this summer.
"It’s a beautiful thing," Watson said. "I’ve been out for about six months and just ready to be back and just contribute to the team and just looking towards a great year. Just taking it step by step, day by day, waiting to see the outcome of it."
Much like Shorts, the Jaguars eased Watson into practice. And much like Shorts, the team plans to get Watson a few repetitions against Detroit.
"I would love to (play)," Watson said. "I would love to. But at the same time, just be smart about it. If I’m able to play, I’ll play. If not, there’s plenty of football left. Just being patient."