Derailed at first by core-muscle surgery and then by the team’s desire to make sure he had properly re-acclimated himself to the offense, Jaguars rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook has been waiting 10 weeks to make his NFL debut.
After all that time, Westbrook intends to make not only memorable debut, but an historic one as well.
Exuding some of the confidence that helped attract him to the Jaguars, the team’s fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft said during a Jacksonville radio interview on Wednesday that he intends to come out of the gate with a performance the likes of which the NFL has rarely seen.
“My expectations are high,” Westbrook told the “Teal & Black Blitz’’ on SportsRadio 930. “I always set the standard high for myself, and this has nothing to do with the Cleveland Browns, but my expectation is (to have) a 200-yard receiving game.’’
That would indeed be historic. The best debut by a rookie wide receiver in NFL history was the 10-catch, 217-yard, two-touchdown debut that then Arizona Cardinals wideout Anquan Boldin made against the Lions back on Sept. 7, 2003.
Westbrook has had a couple of days like that before, though. The Oklahoma product had a 232-yard receiving day against Texas last Oct. 8 and a 202-yard receiving day against Texas Tech last Oct. 22. He also led all NFL receivers with 288 receiving yards during the preseason.
Now, he didn’t get them all in one game, but he did make a lot of those yards while nursing that core muscle injury that wound up landing him on IR for the first eight weeks of the season. It’s clear, though, that Westbrook is feeling better and confident he’s ready to make an impact.
“I know that’s (only) going to (happen) if me and Blake (Bortles) are on the same page,’’ Westbrook said of breaking the 200-yard barrier. “But at the end of the day, that’s the expectations that I have for myself for this weekend. I think it’s possible because I know myself and my capabilities.’’