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Can Marcedes Lewis step up in Julius Thomas' absence?

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Marcedes Lewis, now in his 10th season, has naturally absorbed a back-up role behind free-agent addition Julius Thomas. now, with Thomas injured and out for the remainder of the preseason, can Lewis elevate himself back into the spotlight?

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

On the very day that he received the Jaguars' offensive coordinator job in January, Greg Olson texted Marcedes Lewis about scheme and plans for the future.

It's clear, up to this point, that Marcedes has been very much in sync with the new Jaguars offense.

Perhaps having his best offseason since his explosive 2010 season, Marcedes Lewis actually finds himself placed beneath a starting tight end on the depth chart. It's a foreign territory for Lewis, who has been a go-to option since being drafted 10 years ago.

It's also, I think, the perfect situation for a player like Marcedes Lewis. Not burdened with carrying the entire load of a pass-catching TE, Lewis is now free to uncover situational success as a run blocking piece and in 2TE sets. It's a role that Lewis has not been gifted with up until this season, and one that should suit him very well.

Meanwhile, Julius Thomas can absorb the spotlight as the high-profile pass-catching tight-end that he is. Thomas has been steady all offseason, proving himself as a worthwhile investment to a young Jaguars offense. There's not doubt that this investment should pay dividends this season, but there will be no immediate return in the preseason.

Julius Thomas injured his hand on his first catch of the preseason, and is designated to sit out for the remaining three preseason games.

Many people will argue that we shouldn't have expected to see much of Julius in the preseason anyway, and I don't necessarily disagree. The most highlighted takeaway from Thomas' preseason injury is a fresh opportunity for Lewis to undertake a bigger portion of Olson's offense.

Marcedes is not a move tight-end like Julius, but is a sizable part of the Jaguars offense in other capacities. The addition of Julius Thomas was labeled as a field-spreading tactic, and, thus far, it has played out as such.

Most of Lewis' looks are expected to come underneath in situations such as this one in the first preseason game:

Now, we'll get the opportunity to see if Marcedes can increase his workload a little bit. Other Jaguars' TE Clay Harbor will likely receive some more playing time, as he shares a closer build and role to the injured Julius Thomas. Marcedes, however, has been a talking point all offseason long and now we'll get a chance to see if this hype is justified.

It's still only preseason, and roles within the new offense will settle into place with more playing time and full-speed regular season situations.

With injury comes opportunity, though, and Marcedes has a very real opportunity to make an impression in in the last three preseason games, starting with the game against the Giants on Saturday night.