Six months ago, people wanted him traded or cut.
Lee is second on the team in receiving yards, total offense, and kickoff returns, and it’s eye-opening to consider how much worse things would be offensively without the former USC standout.
"Marqise Lee has been very impressive to us as a staff: His overall play -- not only as a wide receiver but a kick returner," coach Gus Bradley said. "I think he is in a good world. Everything seems to be coming together and everything he touches he does pretty well."
Lee has 34 catches (three shy of his career high) for 442 yards. He’s also fifth in the NFL in kickoff return average (25.1 yards per return) and gained 11 yards on his only carry (a jet sweep that was long overdue to be called). He also has returned three punts, though he did fumble one against Tennessee that led to a field goal.
It was one negative in an otherwise very good first half -- and all because he’s finally healthy.
"It feels good, honestly," Lee said. "It's been a while since I've been healthy. Just to be out there and producing a little bit and getting that [production for] my team as much as I can is legit."
What Lee is doing this season is what the Jaguars had hoped to see back in 2014, when they took him with seventh pick of the second round. Injuries prevented that from happening during his first two seasons. Lee fought a hamstring injury during the first half of his rookie season, and missed three games before finishing with 37 catches for 422 yards and one touchdown. After missing most of training camp, all of the preseason and six of the first eight games because of a hamstring injury, Lee finally got healthy and stayed on the field for the Jaguars' final eight games in 2015 -- but he caught just 15 passes.
However, Lee was healthy this past spring and participated in every organized team activity and the team’s three-day minicamp. He entered camp competing with Rashad Greene to be the team’s No. 3 receiver. He’s arguably moved past Allen Hurns as the No. 2.
Lee always envisioned himself making this kind of impact, but he doesn’t want to throw out a, "See? I told you so" now that he is healthy.
"It’s part of the game," Lee said. "A lot of people you could put in A-Rob’s [Allen Robinson] situation right now, Blake’s [Bortles] situation, and feel like, 'Oh, they’re not doing up to their part,' but once they start booming it’s going to come right back up and everybody’s going to start loving you, you know what I’m saying?
"I don’t ever look at it like that. As far as me staying positive within myself, that’s the main focus, not what everybody else thinks. I know how great I know I can be, so therefore I’m going to continue to do what I’ve got to do."
Expect Lee to be even more involved against Houston on Sunday, because Hurns might be limited because of the concussion he suffered against Kansas City last Sunday. As of Thursday morning he had not yet been cleared from the concussion protocol, but even if he were to be later in the day or before kickoff, he might play fewer snaps because he hasn’t worked as much in practice.
New offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett wants to use Lee as much as possible. Hackett finally called the jet sweep against Kansas City. The Jaguars ran that play a lot during training camp, but not during the first seven games.
"Marqise has that X button that allows him to take off down the field," Hackett said. "He’s got a lot of juice, does a lot of different things compared to the other guys.
"When he gets the ball in his hands ... He runs angry and he runs fast, which is awesome."
The next step for Lee this season will be finding the end zone. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 16 last season, and has just two touchdown catches in his career. He nearly broke a kickoff return for a touchdown, and he caught a long pass down the sideline to the 3-yard line against the Chiefs, though.
"Catching the ball is the first thing I think about it, but hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to get in there [the end zone]," Lee said. "I got close so I’ll get in there eventually."