On the eve of their third preseason game, Thursday against Carolina, the Jacksonville Jaguars are feeling pretty good about rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook. They have good reason to.
The Jaguars have always thought they pulled off a bit of heist by getting the 2016 Biletnikoff Award winner in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and his preseason stats suggest they were right.
Westbrook, who was brought in to add some speed to the Jaguars attack, will go into Thursday’s game against the Panthers with seven receptions for a league-leading 173 yards and a touchdown.
He’s averaging an incredible as well as an understandably unsustainable 24.7 yards per carry and what may be most impressive of all is that each of his seven receptions so far has earned the Jaguars a first down.
The fact he’s done all this for the lowly Jaguars and amid a quarterback controversy even earned Westbrook a nod as the preseason’s most underappreciated storyline on the NFL Network this week.
The folks in Jacksonville and at Good Morning Football as well might want to pump the brakes a bit on the praise, though, because a deeper look at Westbrook’s production takes some of the glam off of it.
For starters, six of Westbrook’s seven receptions came in the Jaguars 12-8 loss to the Buccaneers last week and they all came in the fourth quarter of that game while he was playing against mostly third-teamers.
That’s not meant as a knock, but several of those receptions came while Westbrook was matched up against undrafted Bucs rookie cornerback Maurice Flemming, who played most of that quarter on one leg.
It was revealed on the third episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday, that Flemming blew out his knee early on in the last drive of that game.
Despite the injury, which resulted in Flemming being waived-injured the next day, Flemming stayed in the game but was largely ineffective, including on the last throw to Westbrook.
That was a throw into the end zone from third-string quarterback Brandon Allen and while it’s clear that Westbrook had Flemming beat on the play, he failed to hold on to the ball as he fell to the ground.
Look, there’s no doubt that Westbrook is off to a good start. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone seems very happy with what he’s seen of the rookie so far, especially in terms of how he’s played between the numbers.
One good game, though, doesn’t turn a rookie into a star, especially when the bulk of what he did so well in that game was done against an undrafted fellow rookie who was playing hurt and is no longer in the league.
Concern continues for former Jaguars DB Donovin Darius
Former Jaguars first-round pick and star defensive back of the late 90s- early 2000s, Donovan Darius, remains under a mental health watch after being arrested for DUI in North Florida Sunday and, further, concerns that he was suicidal.
ESPN Jaguars reporter Mike Dirocco had more details on the Sunday arrest and later hospitalization of Darius who was a first-round pick of the Jaguars in the 1998:
Former Jacksonville Jaguars safety Donovin Darius ingested numerous pills after being arrested and charged for driving under the influence on Sunday afternoon, per a law enforcement source. Darius was taken to a Jacksonville hospital for a mental health… https://t.co/Sqc3rSzwy7
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) January 27, 2020
According to a police Source, DiRocco reported that Darius had crashed his vehicle around 10 a.m. Sunday and told paramedics that he had ingested 20 – 30 pills trying to kill himself.
Police did find empty pill bottles in Darius’ car and could not follow through with a field sobriety test, as apparently Darius could not stand on his own and was incoherent. Darius was transported to a nearby hospital and is currently being held on Florida’s 72-hour “Baker Act,” which allows authorities out of concern for a person’s well-being or that he’s a danger to others, to hold and evaluate them.
Darius was also charged with misdemeanor DUI, although he didn’t appear in the Duval County Jail.
Darius started 117 games in his nine-year Jaguar career. His biggest season was 2004, where he had 89 tackles recorded five interceptions and recovered four fumbles. Dariuss played in four playoff games all coming in his first two seasons. That included an interception against the New York Jets in Jacksonville’s AFC Divisional round playoff loss 34 – 24.
Darius’ last season with Jacksonville was 2006, where he played in 10 games. Darius played in three games in the 2007 season for the Dolphins before being released and retired after that.
The 44 year old Darius has remained involved in the Jacksonville Community including being part of a sports camp for youth last November:
CALLING ALL BOYS AGES 9-18 | I’m challenging you in a race at my (FREE)30th D.A.R.E to DREAM SPORTS LIFE CAMP that will take place at on Sat. November 16th – 10am -2pm at University of North Florida. JOIN ME for… https://t.co/oqSY3JZMsn
— Donovin Darius (@DonovinDarius) October 31, 2019
Darius was recognized on the field at halftime of the Gator Bowl game at TIAA Bank Field (photo above) back on January 2nd between Tennessee and Indiana.
Duval County records do not yet have a court date yet for Darius, and it will be up to mental health officials to evaluate whether he can safely be released later this week.
Jaguars rookie DE Josh Allen on display in Pro Bowl
This afternoon in Orlando Jacksonville Jaguars rookie first-round pick Josh Allen will get to show NFL fans why he’s one of the best kept secrets on the defensive side of the ball in the league.
Allen will be participating, as a reserve for the AFC Squad in the annual Pro Bowl All-Star Game.
This, as he was a replacement for Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Frank Clark, because the Chiefs will be participating in Super Bowl 54 this week. The rookie 7th overall pick out of Kentucky has had a deserving season with 10.5 sacks, which was the most among rookies in the AFC in 2019 and is also a Jaguars single-season rookie record.
Allen also had 22 QB hits and another 11 tackles for loss even during a trying Jacksonville season.
Further, Allen was drafted a year ago by the Jaguars front office of Tom Coughlin and GM Dave Caldwell to be a potential replacement at defensive end for a couple of Jaguars, who may not be around much longer. One of those is their top pass-rusher of the last three seasons Yannick Ngakoue, who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent coming up in March.
Of course Jacksonville could still find a way to re-sign Ngakoue, or even place the “Franchise Tag” on him, if they so desired. That would be a somewhere around an $18-19 million for 2020.
Then, you have fellow veteran pro bowler Calais Campbell who has earned the Pro Bowl honor for the third consecutive year and is arguably the Jaguars best free agent acquisition in team history. Campbell made this year’s AFC Pro Bowl Squad with 6.5 sacks and has the longest current streak of 11 seasons with at least five of them.
However, he is slated to make $14.5 million this season and at his advanced age (he’ll be 34 this fall) may not be worth that salary to Caldwell and the organization.
Jacksonville could elect to restructure Campbell’s contract especially because he is a liter not only are the defense but in their locker room back to Alan he’s certainly has tremendous potential but if the combo oven gokwe and or Campbell aren’t there it would make much more difficulty for him to have a success that he had in 2019.
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