Jags shorthanded in veteran pass catchers

Marcedes Lewis being ruled out for Sunday’s season opener means the Jacksonville Jaguars’ top tight end will be a player who has just two career receptions.

Allen Reisner spent the past two seasons waffling between Minnesota’s practice squad and active roster, appearing in 10 games before getting waived and claimed by the Jaguars the day before Christmas. Now the former Iowa standout is starting against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"I’m excited any chance I get the opportunity to step on the field on Sunday," Reisner said. "Definitely a blessing to have this opportunity and I can’t wait to get going on Sunday."

His excitement aside, losing Lewis is a huge blow for the Jaguars. He is coming off the second 50-catch season of his career (52 for 540 yards) and is one of the two pass catchers on the roster that quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne trust. With receiver Justin Blackmon serving a four-game suspension, the Jaguars’ starting receivers and tight end have a combined 66 career catches -- and that includes 57 by third-year receiver Cecil Shorts.

Reisner has two and receiver Stephen Burton, whom the Jaguars claimed off waivers on Sunday, has seven catches in two seasons with Minnesota. Receiver Ace Sanders is a rookie. So is Denard Robinson. First-year receiver Mike Brown is a converted quarterback who was on the Jaguars’ practice squad for all but the final two games of last season. He doesn’t have a reception, either.

Other than Shorts, the most experienced pass catcher the Jaguars have is backup tight end Clay Harbor, who caught 47 passes over the past three seasons with Philadelphia. However, he was released by the Eagles and the Jaguars claimed him off waivers on Sunday, and he’s still learning the offense.

So Reisner could end up being featured heavily in the offense. He caught seven passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason, with both TD catches coming after Lewis first hurt his calf during pre-game warm-ups of the Aug. 17 game against the New York Jets.

"I’ve got to believe in myself," Reisner said. "I’ve got to believe that I can be at this level. I guess I didn’t really surprise myself because I knew I could do it. I just had to go out there and prove to everyone else that I can play at this level."

Lewis’ injury is giving him a chance to do that. The Jaguars certainly need him.