The Jacksonville Jaguars first-team offense has been a pleasant surprise this preseason, as they've been able to move the ball fluidly.
Many believe that their red zone woes will be cured when pricey free agent tight end Julius Thomas returns from injury, but it appears that Jaguars fans will have to wait a little bit longer.
Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell explained what is going on with Thomas' hand.
“It’s really just kind of a clean-up aspect to it," Caldwell said. "The bone, as is, some of the capsules surrounding it, not to get into too much detail. So, it’s just more or less just cleaning it up and tightening it up. This will assure that the bone will heal completely by the time he is ready to go. If he had to play in the opener, it wasn’t going to be completely healed. The risk would’ve been less, but there still would’ve been risk there. I think the fact that doing the surgery, tightening up the actual joint, cleaning it up, he should be ready to go."
How will this affect the actual roster? Caldwell explained.
"With Marcedes [Lewis], Clay [Harbor], and Nic [Jacobs], I think we should be good there," the third-year GM said. "We’ll know more tomorrow, but initial results are this isn’t something that’s going to be a lot more extended than what we originally thought. We thought that it’d be touch-and-go from the opener, hopefully that he’d be ready, but if not, worst-case scenario around Week 3, and really worst-case scenario it could be Week 4 as we go into Indianapolis if he has to have the surgery.”
The Jaguars will likely be using more "11" personnel with Thomas down, and you could see some early production from wide receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Marcedes Lewis, who has been having a fantastic training camp and preseason.
This will certainly affect the Jaguars in the red zone, as Thomas is virtually unstoppable. With that said, this will give the team a chance to lean more on the running game and it appears that they have capable backs in rookie T.J. Yeldon and Denard Robinson.
Ultimately, Thomas' injury shouldn't be a huge deal in terms of where this team will go this season. If he misses four games, it's not a killer, and the Jaguars had to expect this at least somewhat, as Thomas has never completed a full 16-game season.