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What can we expect from Dede Westbrook?

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to welcome back rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook when they return to practice next week. The capacity at which Westbrook returns, as in being active against the Cincinnati Bengals, remains to be seen. Either way, his return could potentially add a dimension the Jaguars offense has been missing.

The fourth-round pick was a star for the Jaguars in preseason, but had an injury that required surgery and got him put on injured reserve, but with designation to return after eight weeks.

“I think we’d like to get him back, but I’m going to wait until Monday until they prove that they are out there and nothing crazy happens,” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said when asked about Westbrook on Monday. “ I don’t want to give you guys bad information. I’d like to get all those guys out there. We’ll see where Cam is at, but again Monday can come, and we’re going be like, ‘Well, they need to rest’ and then I’m sitting in here and it’s like wait a minute, you said this.”

Westbrook has been tweeting out hints about him running and on track to return to practice, but even if he’s full go next week, he’s going to need to be worked into the Jaguars offense. The Jaguars have been lacking the ability to go deep through the first seven games and most of their chunk passing plays has been on yards after the catch. Keelan Cole really has had the only deep reception so far this year, but someone like Westbrook can come in and add the ability to take the top off, which is what people expected Marqise Lee to do.

Lee has been solid this season, but I think it’s clear he’s not that type of guy that the offense is missing. Westbrook is likely to take on that role when he comes into the lineup and will eat away at Cole’s snaps, as it should be. I’d guess that Westbrook will be used in similar fashion to how he was in the preseason, returning punts and lining up on the outside threatening deep.

I’m not confident the Jaguars will consistently be able to hit teams deep down the field with the state of their passing game, but the addition of Westbrook and even attempting those shots will back some teams off, as well as open up play-action shots.