JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Lewis setting example on and off the field:
The Jacksonville Jaguars wrapped up their ninth organized team activity of the offseason Thursday at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. Afterwards in talking to the media, head coach Gus Bradley singled out one player who was going above and beyond both on and off the field.
That player was veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis, who has not missed any of the voluntary team practices throughout OTAs despite having a busy schedule off the field. Last Saturday Lewis held his first free football camp in Jacksonville. He practiced with the team during both of the Jaguars’ OTA practices Monday and Tuesday before flying home to California Tuesday night for his sister’s graduation, where he got to surprise her by presenting her with her diploma. Lewis then caught a red eye flight back to Jacksonville Wednesday night in time to be at practice Thursday morning.
To top everything off, Lewis plans on flying back to California after Friday’s last OTA so he can host his sixth annual Marcedes Lewis Free Football Camp in Long Beach on Saturday. For Lewis, even though OTAs are voluntary, missing practice was never an option.
“Honestly it wasn’t even a thought of mine not to come back to practice,” Lewis said. “Once my mom gave me the date for when my sister was graduating I was happy that it was on a Wednesday that we didn’t have practice… You know this is important to me. It’s always been important to me. It’s a big deal that they allowed me to go out and they respect me enough and trusted me enough to be able to go out there, handle my business and come back whether it’s mandatory or not.”
Despite the busy schedule and cross-country flights, Lewis has been one of the standout players throughout Jaguars OTAs the past couple of weeks. Bradley has singled Lewis out on more then one occasion as a guy who is playing with a lot of confidence and at a high level.
Bradley is excited about Lewis and his actions, hoping that the younger players on the team will mimic Lewis’s dedication and work ethic. Lewis, who has the second longest tenure with the team after kicker Josh Scobee, is going to be looked at to be a leader for what is still a very young team, especially on offense.
“I will say this, one thing that I’m really fired up about is Marcedes Lewis,” Bradley said. “Unbelievable. These guys are amazing and there are many stories like that. We pointed them out today in the meeting and some guys that have really come a long way and really stepped up like Mike Brewster, Demetrius (McCray), (Chad) Bumphis and many of the guys that I’ve mentioned to you so it’s really cool how it’s coming together.”
Sanders and Brown back in action: The wide receivers got a little help Thursday, welcoming back both Ace Sanders and Mike Brown who had missed multiple practices due to injuries. Sanders was out with a thigh injury while Brown was resting a groin. Both saw limited action Thursday so to not rush them in and reaggravated their injuries. The Jags are still without Cecil Shorts III, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, Tandon Doss and Lamaar Thomas. Still, quarterback Chad Henne said it was nice to have a few more weapons out on the field.
“Yeah, it was nice,” Henne said. “I’m sure the other guys were happy too, to get a little break out there. Overall, we aren’t pushing them too much. I thought they did a good job when they were in there and knew what they were doing.”
No Hard Knocks for Jaguars: The Jaguars had been named as one of the finalist to be featured on HBO’s hit series Hard Knocks, which follows an NFL team throughout training camp and the preseason, giving fans an inside look at how an NFL team is run. However Jaguars fans will have to wait for another year as HBO announced Thursday that the Atlanta Falcons will be featured for what will be the ninth season of the show’s existence. Being featured has it’s ups and it’s downs according to NFL insiders. Some teams love the idea. Other teams not so much. Bradley didn’t seem to upset about not getting bid.
“That’s great for Atlanta,” Bradley said with a smirk on his face. “I’m excited for them. That’s great. I know fans enjoy watching that to get an inside look so I appreciate that.”
Now the Jags fans will still see their favorite team featured on Hard Knocks at least once this season. The Jaguars play host to the Atlanta Falcons August 28th, for the team’s final preseason game before final cuts and the regular season.
Star of the Day: Second-year cornerback Dwayne Gratz had a good day on the practice field. He had at least two deflected passes, one of which came against Lewis who has a nice seven-inch height advantage over the young cornerback. Gratz is expected to be the team’s number one cornerback heading into training camp and the regular season.
Play of the Day: Wide receiver Ace Sanders got back in the mix quickly, testing his injured thigh right away as he caught a bubble screen then raced down the sideline, beating safety Johnathan Cyprien to the front corner of the endzone for a touchdown during team drills.
What’s next? The Jaguars will have their last of ten organized team activities Friday, then will have the weekend off before the start of the three-day mandatory team minicamp, June 17-19.