Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis has all the athletic abilities and physical talent to be among the best at his position in the entire NFL. Lewis' overall play on the field far outweighs his career statistics of 50 career receptions and just three touchdowns.
When asked if he thought he would be a little more involved in the Jaguars offense this year-
"I think so. I think I feel more comfortable (in Dirk Koetter's offense) and I understand more of what's going on. I think part of the plan is to get the tight end the ball."
Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Pashos spoke highly of Marcedes abilities in a Sirius NFL Radio interview yesterday.
"We'll look to use Marcedes a little more," said Pashos. "He has the ability to crush people and go out in routes. A lot of times a tight end is labeled as either a receiving tight end or a blocking tight end. That guy has both of those abilities. We use him in multiple positions, in the backfield, in tight, out wide in the slot. Those guys (Lewis, Wrighster, and Estandia) all have the ability to help our program to come out and do the play-action as well as the running game."
When the Jaguars starting tight end was informed about his linemate's comments, Marcedes was a little taken back. "First of all, Tony Pashos is a great guy. We get along real well, we do work together out there, and I appreciate Tony speaking that highly of me."
Anyone who watches Lewis in warm-ups can tell that the 6'8", chiseled tight end has soft hands and can run fast enough to be a deep seam threat in anyone's offense. That was what was advertised when he won the Mackey Award for the nation's best tight end coming out of UCLA.
What wasn't advertised and has been a nice surprise for the Jaguars has been Lewis' blocking ability. Lewis has turned himself into one of the league's best blockers from the tight end position, and that advancement of his game allowed the team to not re-sign Kyle Brady a year ago.
"My blocking is something that I take very serious," said Lewis. "Towards the end of my career in college and in the NFL I was trying to prove first and foremost that I could block. That was one of the questions about me. Catching the ball, running after the catch, everybody didn't really focus on my blocking as much. My main thing was to come in and be the best player I can be. I want to be able to block as well as I can run and catch the ball. I want to be able to do that so I'm accountable to my teammates. I want to be the guy where everybody's like ‘okay, we need two yards, we're going to run behind Marcedes side, we know he's going to get it done.' Just as well as, it's 3rd and 10, we're going to Marcedes because we know he's going to beat the linebacker. I want to have the same accountability in the run game as well as in the passing game. It's a constant grind everyday, knowing I'll go out there and try to get better."
Lewis appears to be primed for a big season, assuming the Jaguars utilize his significant talents. The team didn't draft Lewis in the first round to be primarily a blocker, and we began to see that last season. When asked if he felt pressure living up to his number one draft pick status-
"Pressure? I don't think I would call it pressure," exclaimed the tight end. "We're put here for a reason, I was picked for a reason, and everything I've done to the point where I was picked I feel I've earned. I just want to go out there and work hard and have fun and play football, everything else will pan out. I can't control anything else but going out there and giving it all I have."
Marcedes Lewis is one of the most important players the Jaguars have on the roster, being that the depth behind him is talented, but questionable. George Wrighster hasn't been able to stay healthy for much of his career, and Greg Estandia and Richard Angulo have proven very little at the NFL level. Still, right tackle Tony Pashos believes in all of the tight ends—
"The entire tight end position on our team I think is all amazing. They're tall, physical guys. In the running game, they're beating people down you should pull up some film. Marcedes, Estandia, Wrighster are pushing around NFL defensive ends and it really didn't matter who was in there."
Still, Lewis can be the X-factor in the Jaguars offense, as he has as much physical ability as anyone on the roster. Lewis doesn't exude cockiness, but seems focused and confident.
"As far as rating myself up there in the league, all I want to do is go out there and do my best," said Lewis. "I just work hard, and wherever I am at the end of the day (that's where I rate). I think that I'm getting better and better every year and that's the most important thing- to improve. And I think I'm doing that."
After being asked about improvements in his game, he gave a modest answer—
"First of all, you can improve on everything. There's always something that you can get better at."
The Jaguars need to get better at getting Lewis the football in the passing game, as they have a somewhat untapped resource at tight end. Marcedes showed flashes of what 2008 could be like for the Jaguars when he caught four passes for 74 yards against the eventual AFC Champion New England Patriots. If the Jaguars make it a point to get Lewis more involved in the passing game, he could propel them to one of the best passing games in the league.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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