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Is he biggest key to Jaguars young receiving corp?

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the Jaguars receiving corp is young.

And while players like returning speedster Marqise Lee, new free agent acquisition from the Colts, Donte Moncrief and this year’s second round draft pick DJ Chark are going to be counted on to make plays, the biggest key may be the guy teaching and mentoring them.

Keenan McCardell enters his second season coaching the Jaguars wide receivers in Nathaniel Hackett’s offense. And, time and again, everyone involved continues to comment on how important his coaching is.

The latest example came post practice Friday from Jags receiver Keelan Cole:

As we have written previously, McCardell is an icon for the Jaguars original teams of the 1990s and one of the top receivers still in franchise history.

McCardell teamed with Jimmy Smith in the mid-90’s to establish Jacksonville as an AFC contender. His best season in Black and Teal was his first in 1996 where he caught 85 passes for 1,129 yards and three TD’s making the Pro Bowl for the first time. Jacksonville reached the AFC Title game that year. He caught a career high 94 passes in 2000 for the Jags.

So, his former coach then, Tom Coughlin, quickly brought him in, when he returned to Jacksonville as vice president of football operations.

The Jags gave up receiving experience when they did not re-sign veterans Allen Robinson or Allen Hurns. Clearly, that’s a bit of a risk, particularly because Robinson was one of QB Blake Bortles’ favorite reliable targets.

Now, the Jags are paying Moncrief an expensive price tag to come in for one season.

However, the belief in Lee, Cole, Chark and also second-year receiver DD Westbrook is strong. Still, the last three names on that list have very little NFL experience. And, that’s where McCardell’s tutelage will be important, not just in training camp, but moving forward in this season.

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