Thomas returns to practice without cast

TE has yet to be cleared for game action


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With four games in the books the Jaguars are 1-3 and 31st in scoring, averaging just 15.5 points per game. Blake Bortles needs all the weapons he can get and tight end Julius Thomas took a major step towards making his season debut.

Thomas, who's yet to play a snap this season, practiced on Wednesday without a cast for the first time since breaking a bone in his right hand during the preseason opener.

Thomas hasn't been cleared to play but this is still a step in the right direction.

It's going to be a continuous process working with the doctors," said Thomas who was the Jaguars biggest off-season signing. "It's not going to be just you cross one hurdle off and go play with the rest of the kids."

The Jaguars offense has had success moving the ball down the field, but seems to hit a road block once they get inside the 30-yard line. While in Denver, Thomas showed the ability to dominate the middle of the field and Bortles is hoping he can help make things easier on the rest of the offense.

"I mean, everybody knows what kind of player he is and the ability he has," said Bortles. "He'll only help that – especially in the red zone."

Often times when a player comes back from injury the hardest thing to recover from is the fall off in conditioning. Thomas has said on more than one occasion that he feels that he'll still be able to run crisp routes because his injury was to his hand and not his lower body. Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson liked what he saw out of Thomas on Wednesday.

"To me, he looked the same as he did last week," said Olson. "We had him in the red jersey last week. He ran around again today. He's an impressive player when he's running and it's been a hand injury. He looked fantastic in his route running and what he's doing out there."