JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dede Westbrook expects to make a pretty big splash in his first NFL game, which is expected to be on Sunday when the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
A really, really big splash.
“My expectations are high,” Westbrook said Wednesday during an interview on the "Teal & Black Blitz" on SportsRadio 930. “I always set the standard high for myself. For me, and this has nothing to do with the Cleveland Browns at all, but my expectation is a 200-yard receiving game.
“Of course that’s going to come with me and Blake [Bortles] being on the same page most of the game, but at the end of the day, that’s the expectations that I have for myself this weekend.”
Just for reference, the greatest debut by a rookie receiver was 217 yards (on 10 catches) and two touchdowns by Arizona’s Anquan Boldin against Detroit on Sept. 7, 2003. So Westbrook is talking about matching one of the best receivers in NFL history.
“I think it’s possible,” he said. “I know myself and I know my capabilities.”
Well, the Jaguars certainly would take it, considering the state of their receiving corps. Allen Robinson is gone for the year with a torn ACL, Allen Hurns is out for at least this week with a right ankle injury and Marqise Lee has been battling a knee injury the past month (but has played well).
It’s fine for Westbrook to be ultraconfident, but everyone else should temper their expectations for what kind of impact he’ll make on the offense, especially considering the weather forecast for Cleveland on Sunday is for temperatures in the 30s, a 90 percent chance of snow and winds of 25-35 mph. It likely won't be ideal conditions in which to throw the football.
“I don’t think you can say this is what we expect out of him, this is how many catches we expect and yards,” Bortles said. “I think it’s an opportunity for him to go out there and show what he can do. I think he got the chance to do it a little bit in the preseason before he got banged up and I know everybody around here has a lot of confidence in his ability of what he can do, so I’m excited to see that.”
Westbrook was pretty good in the preseason. A fourth-round pick and 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist, he led all NFL receivers with 288 yards, despite playing with a core muscle injury during the preseason finale against Atlanta on Aug. 31. The team placed him on IR on Sept. 8 and he had surgery Sept. 12. He’s been practicing for the past two weeks and the Jaguars have to promote him to the active roster by 4 p.m. ET Saturday or he cannot play against the Browns.
Westbrook said the rehab process and not being able to play each of the past two weeks has not been frustrating, but the wait to finally make his debut has not been easy.
“I feel as if those guys and the training staff know exactly what’s up and whenever they feel as if I’m ready and I’m able to get out there and compete and perform at the ability that I’m capable of, then they’ll put me out there,” Westbrook said. “It’s been hard because I want to be out there and football is something, of course, I love to do and I want to play.”