Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III came up just short of being the first Jaguars receiver to hit the 1,000 yard mark since Jimmy Smith back in 2005, but concussions cut his season short and left him 21 yards shy of the mark.
"It bothers me," Shorts told John Oehser of Jaguars.com. "It doesn't sit well."
Shorts had a breakout season in 2012 after catching just two passes for 30 yards his rookie year, finally translating what he had been showing in practice to game day. Despite not starting or playing a ton of snaps the first few weeks of the season, Shorts led the Jaguars in yards and touchdowns, having a knack for the big play.
The pressure of production weighed on Shorts his first two seasons in the NFL, but he says heading into his third year he can just go out there and have fun and play football now.
"The first two years, I was more stressed out trying to prove myself than having fun with the game I love. Last year, it was more worry," Shorts told Oehser. "Now, I can just play, and when you're playing ball, that's when you make plays and things happen."
Shorts expressed he wants to be an elite receiver in the NFL, to be considered a No. 1 guy for the Jaguars.
The 21 yards still haunt him, though.
"It's just more motivation for this year, but more than anything what motivates me is I want to see how I turn out," Shorts told Oehser. "That's the driving force that makes me work even harder."
As mentioned before, despite lack of playing time Shorts was still the Jaguars top receiver early in the year and once he became an every day starter, he continued that production. Shorts averaged 1.47 yards per snap, according to Pro Football Focus, which was a higher average than some elite receivers in the NFL, such as A.J. Green and Julio Jones. He also ranked eighth in the NFL with 2.31 Yards Per Route Run.
The word out of OTAs so far is that Shorts looks every bit the Jaguars No. 1 receiver, so hopefully he can continue to ascend as he did in the 2012 season.