by Cole Pepper
The Jaguars quarterbacks, Denard Robinson and Maurice Jones-Drew may be getting the most attention at training camp, but through three days, one player has emerged as the most dominant on the field: third year wide receiver Cecil Shorts.
Shorts enjoyed a breakout season last year, when he caught 55 passes for 979 yards. He would certainly reach 1,000 yards if it were not for two games missed due to concussions. This year, Shorts is bigger and better than ever.
“I hop on the scale and it just says solid. No weight, just solid,” jokes Shorts who says he’s put on seven or eight pounds of muscle and says he feels faster than ever.
In camp so far, he has been tough to handle for any defensive back, but Shorts isn’t too impressed yet.
“I got a long way to go,” Shorts said. “When the ball comes my way, I have to keep making plays.”
This is a different kind of pre-season for Shorts. As a rookie from Mt. Union, little was expected of Shorts. Despite a strong training camp, he caught just two passes as a rookie. Some prematurely labeled him as a bust. Last year, he wasn’t expected to start, but his performance coupled with nagging injuries for Laurent Robinson and a delayed start to camp for Justin Blackmon gave shorts the opportunity to shine. He took full advantage.
Now, even though he’s just in his third season and is only 25 years old, some rookies have begun looking to him for advice.
“I get a lot of questions. Ace (Sander) is hungry. He wants to be good. He’s playing very well right now. Tobais (Palmer). They all ask a lot of questions,” said Shorts. “I try to lead by example. I’m not a hoorah-guy or a Ray Lewis-type of vocal guy. I just come out and work my hardest.”
Several times this week, Gus Bradley has marveled at Shorts’ approach, noting his competitiveness. That’s a trait that Bradley, a former defensive coordinator, values, but is not always easy to see in wide receivers.
Where does Shorts go from here? He continues to work with wide receiver Jerry Sullivan on refining his craft.
“Coach is big on ‘how you do small things is how you do all things.’ Little stuff like coming off the line, being careful where I push off, that sort of thing.”