WATFORD, ENGLAND — Allen Hurns isn’t going away.
That’s excellent news for the Jaguars.
The undrafted rookie receiver continues to become one of the biggest gems in franchise history. Hurns caught seven passes (on nine targets) for 112 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 33-23 loss at Cincinnati.
However, those stats don’t tell the full story of Hurns’ impact. On three of his catches, including both scores, Hurns had to make an impressive adjustment on the ball to out-fight Bengals defenders for the reception.
Every player took notice, even on the defense.
“He’s been making plays all year, but to see him fight like that gives the defense energy,” defensive tackle Roy Miller said. “To see a young guy play like that is exciting. He’s a fighter. He’s going to be a great player in this league. He already has some of that grit a receiver needs to be a great player.”
Miller wasn’t the only lineman impressed. Right tackle Austin Pasztor praised Hurns’ physical play as well. He had a unique vantage point on the deep throws.
“It’s always weird,” Pasztor said. “You’re blocking and then your man lets up because he sees the ball thrown. We’re all just watching the ball for the last few seconds. You see the ball in the air and you’re like ‘Oh, is he going to catch that one?’ Then, Hurns makes incredible plays. Both touchdown catches he had were awesome.”
Hurns enters Sunday’s game against Dallas (6-3) at Wembley Stadium with 29 catches for 466 yards and five touchdowns this season. As a team, the Jaguars (1-8) have 16 touchdowns.
Hurns spent part of Tuesday participating with other teammates in an NFL Play 60 event with roughly 100 children at a local field. The former Miami standout was all smiles, but certainly didn’t leave any Cincinnati defenders grinning.
“The main thing the receivers were told all last week was fight for the ball,” Hurns said. “If the ball is in the air, we’ve got to come down with it. We can’t let defenders pick the ball off. So, we wanted to be really aggressive on those plays.”
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Hurns is now making an aggressive push to eclipse all of Justin Blackmon’s team records for a rookie receiver.
If Hurns catches 36 passes for 400 yards and one touchdown over the final seven games, he’ll have bested Blackmon in every category.
Blackmon also owns the franchise’s rookie record for yards per catch at 13.5 with a minimum of 20 receptions. Hurns is currently averaging 16.1. Not only does that far out-distance Blackmon’s mark, but the total is 4.8 yards more than any Jaguars player this season with at least 10 catches.
Hurns already has nine catches that have gained at least 20 yards, four more than any other player. The Jaguars have 26 completions of 20-plus yards this season.
“His will to want to get the ball is really strong,” Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts said. “The coaches want us to go up and get the ball and he did a good job of that on Sunday.”
Hurns snapped a five-game scoring drought against Cincinnati. His receivers coach, Jerry Sullivan, showed his approval.
“He said it was a long-time coming since I was in the end zone,” Hurns said. “He was very pleased that I got back in the end zone and back in my groove.”
Now, we’ll see whether a trip to London or the Cowboys can disrupt Hurns.
“I was able to sleep most of the time I was on the plane,” Hurns said. “The time change hasn’t settled in yet, but I’m getting acclimated well. It’s a great feeling to be over here and it’s something I’ve never experienced.”
Dallas ranks 15th in pass defense and has given up a middle-of-the-pack 14 touchdown passes this season. Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles will likely try to find Hurns deep again against Dallas after seeing him win three 50-50 balls against the Bengals.
“I have a lot of chemistry with Blake,” Hurns said. “He has that trust in me that I’m going to make those plays and I trust that he’s going to get me the ball. So when the ball was in the air, I knew I had to make those plays for him.”