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Optimist or Pessimist? Jaguars Wide Receiver Corps Offers Promise, Concern

Ryan Hoag makes a catch

The opening weekend of training camp has been rough on the Jaguars wide receivers.

Free agent signee Jerry Porter is out of action, recovering from surgery to aid the healing of a troubling hamstring. Reggie Williams, who led the Jaguars with 10 touchdown catches last year, didn’t make it through a full day of practice before his knee acted up, requiring a scope this week. Mike Walker, who has flashed star potential, is practicing on a limited basis. Matt Jones hasn’t missed a practice, but his legal travails hover over him.

Last year, despite David Garrard team record setting 102.2 quarterback rating, no Jaguars receiver caught as many as 50 passes or gained as much as 700 yards. And in the Jaguars’ playoff loss in New England, Dennis Northcutt dropped two key passes, including one at the goal line that would have tied up the game in the second half.

Room for improvement? You bet.

One of the questions that will be answered this pre-season is whether the optimistic view of the Jaguars receivers is correct: will Porter return to form? Will Williams continue to show some of the promise that made him a top 10 pick once? Will former Viking Troy Williamson do the same? Can Walker’s knee hold up long enough to give the Jaguars the impact receiver they haven’t had since Jimmy Smith’s retirement three years ago? Can Matt Jones overcome his pending legal issues and live up to his potential?

If the Jaguars receivers are an improved bunch over last year, this could be the year that Jacksonville knocks the Colts off the AFC South throne, and in the process, becomes a Super Bowl contender.

But what if the wide receivers don’t improve. What if Porter doesn’t come back from the surgery, if Williams stagnates, Walker struggles with his knee and Matt Jones is a non factor (for one reason or another)? If that happens, the Jaguars can hope for little better than a wild card chase, another road trip in the playoffs and another year waiting for the Colts to fall.

The first public test for the receivers–at least those who are healthy–is Friday night at the team’s annual scrimmage at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.

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