While most of the focus on the Jacksonville Jaguars preseason has been on quarterback Blake Bortles and the offensive line, one of the biggest stars and best stories so far has been with undrafted wide receiver Allen Hurns. Hurns was picked up after the draft and thrust into the lineup because of injuries at the position and has made the most of his chances.
Through three games in the preseason Allen Hurns has been targeted 18 times, catching the ball 13 times for 250 yards and a touchdown. He's been the Jaguars most consistent performer at the position in the preseason, but it hasn't really been anything flashy. It's just been good routes and making tough catches. According to Pro Football Focus, he has just a single drop out of 14 catchable passes.
"He’s an unbelievable player. He shows up day in and day out in practice," Blake Bortles said of Hurns on Friday evening after the Jaguars game against the Lions. "He’s a smart kid, works hard, does a good job with everything that we ask of him. He’s definitely a reliable target and I think with the rest of our receivers that he did a great job tonight and they’re all good targets."
On Hurn's touchdown reception against the Lions on Friday, rookie quarterback Blake Bortles recognized man coverage on the outside against Hurns with a single deep safety. Bortles checked the play at the line and was confident Hurns could beat the coverage and make a play on the ball, which he did for a touchdown.
As mentioned, the Jaguars have dealt with issues at the receiver position. Second round pick Allen Robinson has been out all of training camp and the preseason so far. Ace Sanders has been absent from training camp and the preseason dealing with issues off the field related to his four-game suspension. Cecil Shorts III has been out with a calf injury. That means the reps have been limited in practice and Hurns has stepped up to the plate and cemented himself a roster spot.
"He’s consistent, he works his butt off in practice, he’s very hungry and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He knows where to be and he’s always there," Jaguars veteran wide receiver Cecil Shorts III said of Hurns. "The quarterbacks trust him, as you can see from Week 1. He’s where he needs to be in practice and it carries over into the game. He prepares and he’s playing the lights out and I’m very excited for him."
While it's not uncommon for receivers to blow up in the NFL's preseason and then disappear in the regular season, Hurns has been consistent throughout the three games. He's also done it against starters and against backups. Anytime he's been put in the lineup he's performed. Hopefully for both Hurns and the Jaguars, it will carry over into the regular season.
Hurns has certainly earned playing time in the regular season.