NFL

Jaguars don't believe WR Blackmon will be available in 2014

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The Canadian Press
5/2/2014 2:51:45 PM
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars expect to be without suspended receiver Justin Blackmon all season, maybe even longer.

General manager Dave Caldwell said Friday it would be "relatively surprising" to have Blackmon back on the field this fall.

"It's not something that we're counting on," Caldwell said at the team's annual predraft luncheon. "It would be something that would be relatively surprising. Haven't gotten a whole lot of updates from the league where he's at or from Justin, to be honest with you."

Blackmon is suspended indefinitely without pay for repeated violations of the league's substance abuse policy.

He was previously suspended the first four games of last year for violating the policy. He played four games before getting suspended again -- at least for a year.

But the Jaguars aren't counting on Blackmon to return after eight games in 2014.

NFL rules prohibit the team from having any contact with Blackmon -- aside from texts -- during his suspension.

"Without having contact, we just have to protect the team now," coach Gus Bradley said. "We've got to do what's right for the organization so we have to continue to move forward and project that. We've got to get some guys in here at that spot and that's why you've heard Dave talk about wide receiver is a need because of that. Now, if everything works out to get him back, that's OK. We always will love to get very talented players in here. But it's hard. But we just have to keep going forward."

With Blackmon's future uncertain, the Jaguars are considering selecting Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins with the third overall pick in next week's draft. If they don't take Watkins in the first round, they expect to use at least one of their other 10 picks on a receiver. The wideout class is considered one of the deepest in the draft.

Blackmon has been involved in three substance-related incidents in three years. He was arrested on a misdemeanour DUI charge in Texas in 2010 after officers caught him speeding on a suburban Dallas highway. The charge was later reduced to an underage alcohol possession charge. A little more than a month after the Jaguars drafted him, he was arrested during a traffic stop in Stillwater, Oklahoma, after a breath test allegedly showed his blood alcohol content to be three times the legal limit.

A subsequent violation landed him the four-game suspension. Another one got him the indefinite suspension.

Blackmon caught 29 passes for 415 yards and a touchdown in the four games he played last season. He was the team's leading receiver during that stretch.

While Blackmon sat out the first four games, the Jaguars averaged 224 yards of total offence. In the four games he played, Jacksonville hiked its offensive output to just over 350 yards per game.

He has 93 catches for 1,280 yards and six scores in 20 games -- all since Jacksonville traded up to select the former Oklahoma State star with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft.

Without him, the Jaguars relied on Cecil Shorts III, Ace Sanders and Mike Brown last season.

Justin Blackmon (Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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