Jaguars returner Rashad Greene goes from big-play potential to bench

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- By the end of his rookie season, it seemed Jacksonville Jaguars fans were on the edge of their seat whenever Rashad Greene fielded a punt because there was a sense that he was going to break a big return.

They're still on the edge of their seats this year, too, only now they're wondering if Greene is going to be able to catch the punt.

Greene has muffed three punts this season -- including two in last Sunday's loss at Buffalo -- so in a matter of 11 games he went from one of the Jaguars' top playmakers to a guy who may not get off the bench for the rest of the season.

"Mentally, I'm doing pretty good," Greene said. "Just got to pretty much take it for what it is and continue to get over the hump and fight through everything that's going on. But other than that I feel like I'm still in it mentally. Things happen and it's just part of my long journey that I seek for myself.

"Everything is not going to always be smooth sailing and I understand that and it's a process. At the end of the day I know I'm going to come out stronger and better after this situation."

That just may not be in Jacksonville. The Jaguars drafted Greene in the fifth round in 2015 and immediately made him their punt returner. He missed seven games with a hand injury but averaged 16.7 yards on 18 returns and took one back for a touchdown. Had Greene had enough returns to qualify to appear in the NFL rankings, he would have led the league by more than four yards per return.

He also turned two games around for the Jaguars with big punt returns. His 63-yarder in the fourth quarter set up the Jaguars' go-ahead touchdown one play later in the Jaguars' 19-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans in November. Three weeks later, Greene returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown to break open a close game against the Indianapolis Colts.

This season, however, Greene is averaging just 6.3 yards per punt return. He lost the punt he muffed against the Oakland Raiders but managed to recover the two he muffed against the Buffalo Bills. He was benched for Bryan Walters after the second muff.

"I am sure he is frustrated over the fact that he knows he is very capable of doing it and he had a couple like that take place," coach Gus Bradley said. "I am sure he is not pleased about it. I know he has some injuries he is dealing with, too."

Greene has been bothered by an Achilles injury this season but he said that didn't cause him problems catching punts against the Bills. He did aggravate the injury against the Bills and he did not practice Wednesday, but it's unlikely that he'd be returning punts against Denver or the rest of the season anyway.

He's not made much of an impact as a receiver, either. Greene entered the offseason in a competition with Marqise Lee to be the Jaguars' third receiver behind Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, but Lee ran away with the job. Greene caught 19 passes last season but has just five catches for 32 yards this season.

"I definitely have been pushing through, staying positive, staying connected to this football family and just moving forward," Greene said. "I make sure my spirit is always good, which it will be, and I got to live another day, got another opportunity to be a part of this team, so that's how I have to look at it. Can't look at stuff that's already happened, that's gone out of my control at this point. It's just about getting better."