Justin Blackmon off to a slow start
The rookie WR has just 4 catches in his first 3 games
Justin Blackmon would catch four passes in a single series at Oklahoma State.
So having four receptions through three games with the Jacksonville Jaguars must make the rookie feel like more of a well-paid decoy than a go-to guy.
"It's not that bad," Blackmon said Wednesday. "When it happens, it'll happen. I don't control it. All I can do is get out there and play."
Blackmon has 31 yards receiving heading into Sunday's game against Cincinnati. It's hardly the production the Jaguars (1-2) expected when they traded up to select him with the fifth overall pick in April's draft.
Coach Mike Mularkey believes Blackmon is pressing to make plays. Blackmon, meanwhile, has no idea what all the fuss is about.
"I guess they're all concerned," he said. "I have nothing to be concerned about."
Blackmon has been targeted 15 times by quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Most of the missed connections have been off-target throws, including what should have been an easy touchdown in the season opener at Minnesota, but Blackmon did drop a perfectly placed short pass Sunday at Indianapolis.
"I just told him to be patient, 'It's coming. We'll get you the ball. There's going to be a time that you'll understand what we're doing,'" Mularkey said. "I think he's handling it very well. He's doing everything we ask him to do. This would be a nice game to be a breakout game for him. But he's just got to be patient. It will come in due time when everything else starts to fall in place."
The Jaguars have been forced to tweak things the last two weeks because of injuries. Guard Eben Britton (ankle) and right tackle Cam Bradfield (ankle) were hurt in the season opener and missed the last two games.
Those injuries forced rookie guard Mike Brewster and backup offensive tackle Guy Whimper onto the field - with mixed results. Jacksonville was so concerned about how the line, especially Whimper, would hold up against Robert Mathis and the Colts that offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski's game plan centered around running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jones-Drew ran 28 times for 177 yards and a touchdown as the Jaguars often used fullback Greg Jones and tight end Marcedes Lewis as extra blockers.
The scheme also meant fewer opportunities for Blackmon, who caught one pass for 7 yards.
Blackmon insisted he hasn't received any extra attention from opposing defenses. But teammates said otherwise.
"He's doing a great job," Gabbert said. "Things just haven't really gone our way. They're rolling coverage in, they're double covering him, so we have to work to beat that. We will. Just got to keep going."
Jones-Drew said teams have put their best defensive back on Blackmon.
"That's kind of tough as a rookie to come in and go against some of the top corners in the league," Jones-Drew said. "I think he's done a great job. ... Obviously he wants to get the ball more; we all want to touch the ball. He'll be perfectly fine though. I don't have any worries about him."
General manager Gene Smith had no concerns when he traded up to draft Blackmon.
But the receiver's first few months have been far from smooth.
He pleaded guilty to drunken driving in Stillwater, Okla., in July and avoided jail time. Then he missed the first 12 days of training camp while his agent and the Jaguars worked out contract details.
The preseason alleviated most second guesses, as Blackmon caught 10 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown in three exhibition games.
But Blackmon's slow start has some - not him - wondering how his rookie season will unfold.
"It's not tough," he said. "I'm a patient person. Like I said, if the ball comes, it comes. If it doesn't, I'm happy. I can't control that. I want to be able to help the team out. Right now, I'm just doing what I can to do that."
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