Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars' Lewis Looking to Make an Impact on Offense; Pro Bowl TE Knows Success of Passing Game Depends on Him

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars' Lewis Looking to Make an Impact on Offense; Pro Bowl TE Knows Success of Passing Game Depends on Him

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino

If the Jaguars are to get their passing game on track, they know where they have to start.

They need to get the ball to tight end Marcedes Lewis.

He made the Pro Bowl last year for the first time, catching 58 passes. He signed a five-year $34 million contract after the lockout with $17 million guaranteed.

In his prime at age 27, Lewis had established himself as one of the best tight ends in the league and was poised to become a regular at the Pro Bowl.

"I don't want to miss that again," Lewis said in August.

But the first six games have been a portrait in frustration for the former UCLA standout, who missed one game with a calf injury and has just 10 catches in the other five with no touchdowns. Last year, he caught a team-record 10 touchdown passes.

With the group of wide receivers in such a state of flux that they brought back Mike Sims-Walker, the Jaguars need Lewis to be a major factor in the passing offense.

"Marcedes is a really good football player and he is a big target. The tight end position can be a quarterback's best friend," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "[Saints] quarterback [Drew Brees] is a prime example of using the tight end. No. 80 [Jimmy Graham] is streaking down the seam quite a bit for the Saints and is heavily involved in their offense. We would like to get our guy involved as well, and certainly he's one of our better players."

Three games and three more losses later, Del Rio is still talking about getting Lewis involved.

"We're looking to him. He had, I think, eight or nine targeted plays [against Pittsburgh] where we tried to go to him and we only connected on two of them. So we've got to become more efficient in utilizing him. It's good for us, it's good for him, it's good for the quarterback. We've made our efforts to try to get him involved and we just haven't connected nearly often enough. That's something we'll continue to work on," Del Rio said.

While not catching as many passes as last season, Lewis has still found a way to contibute. …

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