JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee didn't have a catch against the Buffalo Bills this past Sunday, but coach Doug Marrone was pleased with the way Lee ran and moved in his return from a sprained ankle.
That said, the Jaguars are going to need more from their leading pass-catcher in this Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game in Pittsburgh.
"I think when someone is off for a while -- my experience, and I’m talking about from everywhere I have been -- I think it’s hard to just go out there and play," Marrone said. "I think the more you can practice and the more you can get in the groove and all that stuff, the better you’re going to be. Not to say you can’t play or can’t perform well. I’m not saying that. I think you have a better chance to do it the more you are out there."
Lee played 35 of the Jaguars' 59 offensive snaps against the Bills and was targeted once, an extremely low throw on a crossing route that he couldn't grab inches off the ground. Lee did carry the ball once on a jet sweep for 5 yards. He seemed a bit off, which is natural considering he hadn't practiced at full speed or played a game since injuring his right ankle early in the Jaguars' victory over Houston on Dec. 17.
In fact, going into the Bills game, Lee had practiced just once since the injury, and that was on a limited basis during the team's lighter workout last Friday. Lee said after Friday's practice that he expected to deal with some pain and limitations because of the ankle. It's clear he wasn't 100 percent against Buffalo, but it's surprising he was able to get on the field at all since he was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain -- an injury that usually keeps players out at least four weeks (Allen Hurns missed six games before returning in the regular-season finale).
Despite missing the final two games of the regular season, Lee still led the team in catches with 56 and had 702 yards and three touchdowns receiving. He is the team's best receiver with Allen Robinson out for the season with a torn left ACL, and the Jaguars are going to need more success in the passing game this week to keep up with a Steelers team that averaged an NFL-high 31.3 points per game over the final seven weeks of the regular season.
The Jaguars' defense will mitigate some of that, but scoring only 10 points -- as Jacksonville did last week against the Bills -- isn't going to be enough to beat the Steelers.