Allen Hurns Having To Step Up

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's not as bad as it was in June for the Jacksonville Jaguars receivers, but it's getting close.

Two more went down on Thursday -- Tandon Doss (severely sprained right ankle) and Allen Robinson (right hamstring tightness) -- which leaves the team with only eight healthy receivers. Only three have caught a pass in a game, and one of those has only appeared in two games.

That's not exactly the best environment in which to groom your future franchise quarterback, but it is an opportunity for some younger players to make their case for the final roster spots.

That's what happened during the team's nine organized team activities (OTAs) and three-day minicamp. At one point the Jaguars were without seven receivers because of various injuries, which forced the few remaining healthy bodies to increase their workload. Allen Hurns, Chad Bumphis and Kerry Taylor were the three who benefited the most.

Hurns, an undrafted rookie from Miami, wasn't getting many reps until the injuries started to pile up. The more work he got, the more he impressed the coaching staff, and he eventually earned a spot on the training camp roster.

Bumphis spent time on practice squads in Miami and Denver before signing with the Jaguars on Dec. 9. Like Hurns, he wasn't expected to get much work but found himself running with the first team because of the injuries.

Taylor, whom the Jaguars signed off Arizona's practice squad on Nov. 4, caught 19 passes and started four games. By the end of minicamp he was the team's top receiver. He has had a good start to this camp and likely will get most of the first-team reps, along with Mike Brown, because of the injuries.

"I guess if there's any positives in any of [the injuries], I guess maybe that [extra reps for young receivers] is it," said Brown, who is the most experienced healthy receiver (32 catches in 13 games). "But there's kind of a lot of camp left, a lot of opportunities to learn for all of us. We'll get better each and every day. We'll go out there and compete and whichever way the cards fall is the way we'll have to play it."

The Jaguars will most likely lean the most on Marqise Lee, who like Robinson was a second-round draft pick. The former USC standout has earned praise from quarterback Chad Henne for playing with the poise of a veteran when it comes to understanding routes and coverages.

"We just had a lot of help," Lee said. "Mike, Cecil [Shorts], Ace [Sanders], they were on our backs from the get-go as far as just helping us and make sure we know what we have to do as far as play-wise. That's basically what they're doing right now and that's why we're looking a little bit more comfortable than we were in OTAs because we're finally getting it a little bit, thanks to them."

As long as he can stay healthy, that is.

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