The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without Justin Blackmon through the first four games of the season due to a suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, which have led many to have concerns about the team's passing offense and how they'll manage without their best wide receiver.
The problem with that concern however, is the Jaguars wil still have their best wide receiver available for Week 1 of the season, barring injury, in Cecil Shorts III.
Shorts finished the 2012 season with 55 receptions for 979 yards and seven touchdowns on just 664 offensive snaps, over 300 less snaps than Blackmon, to lead the offense in receiving yards and touchdowns. Shorts was also the most consistent player on the offense and established himself as both the team's No. 1 wide receiver and their big play guy.
His season was cut short due to concussions, but entering the OTA practices for the Jaguars by all accounts he looks like the best offensive weapon the team has currently. According to the media in attendance he's routinely open in practice, continues to make big plays down the field and circus catches on the sideline.
Shorts has come into the 2013 season bigger than last season, adding bulk to his frame, without and speed or quickness lost. He's working in the offseason at Larry Fitzgerald's camp again, as he did last offseason.
"I wanted to get stronger to be able to get off the press and be more powerful," Shorts told CBS's Pete Prisco on Thursday. "When I watch film, guys like A.J. Green, Michael Crabtree, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, they all explode off the ball. Getting of the jam and being able to shed is important. You have to be strong to hold your own. I feel stronger. I feel more explosive."
After looking completely lost in the NFL as a rookie in 2011, Shorts has seem to have found himself. He's dedicated to his craft and he knows that's how he can get the best out of his ability and make the biggest impact for the Jaguars.
"I want to be one of the elite receivers in this game," Shorts told Prisco. "It's going to take a lot of work to get there. I know that."
Shorts is putting in the work.
So far, it's paying off.