Blossoming Shorts stumbles Thursday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Reporters who have been at Jacksonville Jaguars training camp from the start say Cecil Shorts has been as good as any player here.

Thursday morning he had a couple dud plays in a bad practice.

One pass up the left side from Chad Henne bounced off Shorts’ hands and right to Alan Ball. The cornerback returned it for a touchdown of more than 50 yards.

Later, while finding yards after the catch in the middle of the field, Shorts fumbled and backup safety Chris Prosinski scooped it and ran it back for a long score as well.

I missed Shorts in the locker room, but did talk to coach Gus Bradley about him.

“No matter how good you are, you can have a day like this," Bradley said. "He’s a prideful man, so I’m not too concerned about this. I know he’ll get those things right, and it was probably a great teaching moment for me, because a lot of receivers said, 'Oh, that happened to Cecil, it can happen to any of us.'”

Even with a quarterback who is not going to always make the right throws to him, Cecil is poised for a giant breakout.

I remember early in his rookie season in 2011 feeling like he almost had Sunday stage fright. He failed to do in his big chances what he might have been able to do in practice.

He plays with some swagger now, after a season when a terrible team failed to start him until its sixth game. He wound up with 55 catches for 979 yards and seven touchdowns.

Expectations are high, though the team’s established star on offense said he doesn’t want to pin goals on Shorts.

“He’s become a player we do want to get the ball to,” running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. “He’s worked his butt off. I mean, I wasn’t here last year in training camp, obviously. But seeing his growth from when he got here til now? Totally different player.

“I can’t wait til Justin (Blackmon) gets back (from injury now, and then from a four-game suspension at the start of the regular season). When we have both those guys there we won’t be so much on Cecil to make plays, and we’ll have kind of a complete offense.”