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Rashad Greene faces uphill climb to make roster

Jacksonville Jaguars v New York Jets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a very good problem on their hands — too many quality receivers.

Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, and Dede Westbrook and the top four options who will receive the bulk of the snaps this year if all stay healthy.

And then there are one, maybe two spots that Keelan Cole, Shane Wynn, Arrelious Benn, Amba Etta-Tawo, Larry Pinkard, and Jamal Robinson are all vying for.

Oh... and Rashad Greene too.

Greene is at something of a crossroads this offseason. In his first two seasons, he’s never really looked very comfortable as the No. 4 receiver and he’s missed 15 of 36 games due to injury. Hence why the team used a fourth round pick on a first round talent in Westbrook.

But the defense of Greene has always started and ended at his ability as a returner — and with good reason. In his rookie year, he averaged 16.7 yards on punt returns and had a touchdown as well. This last year? A totally different story: 6.2 yards per punt return, zero scores, and four fumbles.

Which begs the question: Has done Greene done enough to warrant new head coach Doug Marrone giving him a roster spot on return ability alone?

Marrone’s comments on Monday after practice actually suggest he’s not looking at giving a roster spot solely on a player’s return ability, but rather their ability overall. He wants to build a team and then figure out who will return from there.

When asked if he’s narrowed his search for a returner, Marrone said:

“I think we’ve got some good options there. We really do. At the end of the day, it will probably come down to who is going to make the team, first, and then I think what it’s going to come down to is how are we going to dress on game day? I think we have some good options, meaning that if someone were so much better, he might be the return guy and he’s dressing, but I think we have some guys that can contribute on the offensive side of the ball that potentially could be dressing that are very good returners. I still think some of the younger guys that we haven’t seen as much of, we still want to take a good look at.”

Let’s look at who has contributed on the offensive side of the ball through the first two preseason games.

Keelan Cole: 4 receptions on 6 targets for 148 yards and one touchdown

Shane Wynn: 3 receptions on 5 targets for 28 yards

Larry Pinkard: 1 reception on 1 target for 19 yards

Rashad Greene: 2 receptions on 5 targets for 16 yards and one drop

But punt returns, right? All three of Cole, Westbrook, and Greene have one return each. Greene leads the pack with a 41-yard return, Cole had a 31-yard return, and Westbrook managed a 7-yard return.

And after a long return in the opening game, Marrone opted to start giving rookies Cole and Westbrook the chance to show what they have. And quite frankly, Cole has done immensely better as a receiver and showed he can break a lucky return just as well as Greene.

Put simply, Greene is getting every chance to squeeze out a place on this roster as the No. 5 or No. 6 receiver, but he’s doing very little to make the most out of it in the passing game — which I believe Marrone to be weighing more heavily than the return game. And that could mean Greene could be a surprise cut if they want to see what an undrafted gem like Cole can do over the course of an entire 16-game season.