Expect Keelan Cole to open the season as the Jaguars' primary slot receiver. That's not a bad role for Cole, who finished second on the team with 83 targets last year but caught only 50.6 percent of them. There was a glimmer of hope late last season when in Weeks 15 and 16 he caught 13 of 22 passes for a ridiculous 294 yards and a touchdown, but he struggled to pick up a lot of work after that and finished on a sour note. Figure he averages about three grabs per game with a decent receiving average and occasional touchdowns - the Jaguars aren't expected to be a prolific passing team after all. He's worth a late-round pick.
Cole could head into training camp as the Jaguars' top option at slot receiver, Mike Kaye of FirstCoastNews.com reports. Cole finished the 2017 season as the team's leader in receiving yards (748 on 42 receptions) and tallied three touchdowns. The departures of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns seemed to open the door for Cole to retain a key role on the outside during the upcoming season until the team signed free agent Donte Moncrief and drafted D.J. Chark in the second round of April's draft. Cole exhibited strong chemistry with quarterback Blake Bortles last season and again at OTAs, according to Kaye, which should give Cole an edge heading into training camp. Marqise Lee and Moncrief are the logical options to start on the outside for Jacksonville, but the enhanced pool of receiving talent -- which also includes 2017 fourth-round pick Dede Westbrook -- could result in somewhat flexible depth chart for the Jaguars in 2018.
Cole will be part of a Jacksonville receiving corps that includes Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief and fellow second-year player Dede Westbrook, but not Allen Robinson or Allen Hurns, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Cole was a pleasant surprise as an undrafted rookie last season, catching 42 of 81 targets for 748 yards (9.2 YPT) and three scores in 16 games. His rapid, unexpected emergence softens the blow of losing Robinson and Hurns, though the addition of Moncrief on a surprisingly lucrative one-year contract suggests that Cole and fellow 2017 rookie Dede Westbrook (a fourth-round pick) may be left to compete for the No. 3 receiver job. The situation bears watching throughout the offseason and into training camp, considering Cole was far more productive than Moncrief (391 yards, two TDs) last year.
Cole (quadriceps) was a limited participant at Thursday's practice. Cole has been limited in both of the Jaguars' practice sessions to open the week, but it's believed he'll be ready to suit up Sunday against the Titans. The wideout, who has turned in back-to-back 100-yard outings, would clear up any concern about his status for the weekend by practicing fully Friday.
Cole is questionable to return to Sunday's game at San Francisco due to an ankle injury. According to Mike Kaye of FirstCoastNews.com, Cole was "twisted up on a block" during a fourth-quarter drive, which concluded with a T.J. Yeldon TD run to bring the Jags within 37-27 just before the two-minute warning. If Cole fails to return in the waning minutes, he'll finish the contest with six catches (on 12 targets) for 108 yards, marking his second outing in a row hitting the century mark.
Cole caught seven of nine targets for 186 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's 45-7 win over the Texans. Cole led the team in targets, catches and yardage in this one, finding the end zone from nine yards out just before halftime. He comfortably notched a new career high in receiving yards, thanks in large part to a 73-yard gain to set up a score. Marqise Lee (ankle) left the game in the first quarter, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN, which opened the door for Cole to play an expanded role. He's now scored in three straight weeks, however, and should continue operating as the team's top deep threat next week against the 49ers, regardless of Lee's availability.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/09||@New York Giants||25||20.75|
|2||09/16||New England Patriots||27||22.58|
|4||09/30||New York Jets||19||20.00|
|5||10/07||@Kansas City Chiefs||30||23.35|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||82||42||748||3||32||17.81||90|