Jaguars' receiving unit gets overhaul

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 7, 2012 - 6:39 AM

Through free agency and the draft, Jacksonville significantly upgraded at a position that was in shambles last season.

While Patriots receiver Wes Welker was catching 122 passes for 1,569 yards a year ago, every single receiver employed by the Jacksonville Jaguars was catching a combined 118 passes for 1,320 yards.

"Everybody knew we needed a receiver," said new Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey, whose revamped receiving corps gets its first regular-season test against the Vikings on Sunday at Mall of America Field.

When Mularkey was hired Jan. 11, one of his priority staff hires was receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, a veteran coach of 40 seasons, including 19 in the NFL. Sullivan was out of the league last year but spent time in the Twin Cities working with Cardinals All-Pro receiver and Minneapolis native Larry Fitzgerald Jr. and Packers tight end Jermichael Finley.

Two months later, as NFL free agency opened, Mularkey and General Manager Gene Smith made their first move to upgrade a league-worst passing attack that averaged just 136.2 yards per game. It took $32 million over five years, but they landed their No. 1 priority in 27-year-old receiver Laurent Robinson, whose breakout 2011 season included 11 touchdowns for the Cowboys.

"He's the blazer," Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "They put him out at the 'X' and he's a deep-route-runner."

Robinson averaged 15.9 yards per catch on 54 receptions a year ago. Meanwhile, the Jaguars' leading receiver, Mike Thomas, averaged just 9.4 yards on 10 fewer receptions.

A month after Robinson was signed, Mularkey and Smith nabbed the focal point of their new receiving corps for, they hope, years to come. All it took was a draft-day trade and faith that the Vikings weren't really interested in selecting Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon to upgrade their own considerable shortcomings at receiver.

Mularkey paused and laughed when asked if he believed Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman's campaign to convince everyone that the Vikings were torn between Blackmon, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and USC left tackle Matt Kalil, whom the team ultimately selected fourth overall after trading down a spot with Cleveland.

"It's such a chess match on draft day," Mularkey said. "You really can't go by everything that anybody says. It was a wait and see. We had a Plan B and a Plan C if it didn't work out."

But it did. The Jaguars traded the seventh overall pick and a fourth-rounder to move up two spots to select Blackmon on the heels of Kalil. The Jaguars had addressed their long-term left tackle situation in 2009 when they selected Eugene Monroe eighth overall.

"With our left tackle position being what it was coming out of the season, we had targeted that area," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We wanted to solidify that position, knowing how important it is for our team, for every team, but in particular when you have a young quarterback like we have."

Blackmon had a rough offseason off the field. He pled guilty to an aggravated drunken driving charge that included no jail time after a June arrest in which his blood alcohol level (.24) was three times the legal limit in Oklahoma. It came two years after a drunken driving charge was reduced to underage alcohol possession.

On the field, however, Blackmon has continued to look like the 6-1, 210-pound superstar that scored 40 touchdowns and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver in the final two years of his three-year stay at Oklahoma State. He caught 10 passes for 136 yards in three preseason games.

His speed, route running, ball skills in tight coverage and ability to run after the catch have been widely praised. Mularkey took it a step further, comparing Blackmon to future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez when it comes to catching the ball.

"He's a difference-maker ballplayer," Williams said.

The Jaguars filled out their six-man receiving corps by keeping undrafted rookie Kevin Elliott, a 6-3 215-pounder from Florida A&M; and 2011 holdovers Thomas, Cecil Shorts and Brian Robiskie. Elliott had two preseason touchdowns, including a 77-yarder. Thomas has led the team in receptions the past two years. Shorts caught two passes as a rookie after making last year's team out of Division III Mount Union. Robiskie was placed on injured reserve late last season, shortly after being claimed off waivers from Cleveland.

This is the crew the Jaguars hope will give them some offensive balance this year. Or at least generate better balance than last year, when running back Maurice Jones-Drew accounted for a league-high 47.7 percent of the total offensive yards. That's an amazing percentage considering the next highest was 38.2 by Ravens running back Ray Rice.

  • VIKINGS WEEK 1

    Noon Sunday vs. Jacksonville

    Mall of America Field • TV: Ch. 4

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati 0 Delayed
Baltimore 0
Boston 2 Top 2nd Inning
NY Yankees 0
Detroit 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Cleveland 2
NY Mets 4 Top 2nd Inning
Miami 0
Philadelphia 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Atlanta 0
Toronto 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
LA Angels - C. Wilson 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. Milone
Texas - D. Holland 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Pittsburgh - J. Locke 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Seattle - J. Paxton 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Washington - D. Fister 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Arizona - W. Miley 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
NY Giants 9/8/14 6:10 PM
Detroit
San Diego 9/8/14 9:20 PM
Arizona
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
(25) Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(19) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(18) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(23) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Washington
(14) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(13) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(15) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(7) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(17) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(21) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(12) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(16) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(9) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(21) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(8) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Vikings win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close