Jaguars TE Lewis making case to return in 2014

Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis is making a strong

case to stick around in 2014.

Lewis has 13 receptions for 172 yards and four touchdowns over

the last four weeks. Eleven of those catches resulted in first

downs. He also tied a franchise record Sunday with a TD catch in

his fourth consecutive game, emerging as the team’s top scoring

threat.

His recent success has a lot to do with his health – he missed

six games with a torn calf muscle – and a little to do with the

loss of receivers Cecil Shorts III (groin) and Justin Blackmon

(suspension).

Now that Lewis is fully healthy, the Jaguars are drawing up

plays to get him more involved. Jacksonville plays at Indianapolis

on Sunday.

”I think we’re finding out more his hands and his ability to

make plays,” coach Gus Bradley said Monday, a day after a 20-16

loss to Tennessee. ”But I think he’s in a zone where he feels real

confident in his abilities. He’s stepping out of the normal box he

felt he was in and that’s really cool to see with him. He’s playing

with a lot of confidence right now.”

No one seems overly confident about Lewis’ future with the

franchise, though.

A first-round draft pick in 2006, Lewis signed a five-year, $34

million contract in 2011. The deal came after Lewis caught 58

passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns, and made the Pro Bowl in

2010.

The coaching staff would like to have Lewis back, but his salary

jumps from $4.2 million to $6.7 million next season, which would

make him the team’s second-highest paid player.

”It’s inevitable not to think about the future,” Lewis said

Monday. ”But at the same time, I’m focused on what I can do right

not to secure my future. That’s what you have to do every year,

because at the end of the day, nobody cares about what you did the

year before.

”I can’t control the external factors. I just try to do the

best I can, and if it’s good enough, I’ll live the results because

I know my best is pretty good.”

Lewis has 294 catches for 3,513 yards and 25 touchdowns in eight

seasons. Until this year, he played his entire career without any

significant injuries, and he’s still known as one of the best

in-line blocking tight ends in the league.

”Marcedes continues to show us stuff on tape,” Bradley said.

”He had a good game. He did some really good things in the past

game and continues to do really well at the point of attack.”

His pass-catching abilities are drawing praise, too.

Lewis has scored on a pair of jump balls, a screen play and a

trick play in the last four games. He’s also had catches of 25, 30

and 45 yards, big gains that have led to touchdowns.

The screen pass to retiring center Brad Meester against the

Titans on Sunday was a play designed for Lewis that offensive

coordinator Jedd Fisch tweaked to give Meester a chance to score in

his home finale.

”I honestly think that this year’s different because Jedd is

just creative,” said Lewis, who never felt comfortable with his

role under the previous regime. ”He’s going to look for ways to

get us the rock. I wasn’t in the offense at the beginning of the

year, so I couldn’t really grow with it.

”Now he’s seeing what I can do every week and we’re getting

more and more comfortable. It’s awesome.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org