Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blackmon Getting Ready to Sit; Receiver Will Play Thursday Night, Then Begin His Four-Game Suspension

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blackmon Getting Ready to Sit; Receiver Will Play Thursday Night, Then Begin His Four-Game Suspension

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon has had several months to process the four-game suspension he will serve to begin the regular season, a result of violating the NFL's Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

But the reality of his ban, which was handed down on April 30, has crystalized this week.

Blackmon participated in his last practice Tuesday until Sept. 30, and when he plays Thursday at Atlanta, it will be his last game until Oct. 6 at St. Louis.

Instead of starting opposite Cecil Shorts at receiver, Blackmon will be a spectator.

"I try not to think about it at all because I know it's going to be tough to sit here and watch the team," he said inside the Jaguars' locker room. "But all I can do is encourage them and try to help out in any way."

And the Jaguars want to reciprocate and have a support system, led by coach Gus Bradley and director of player development Marcus Pollard, in place to help Blackmon.

All involved know it's ultimately up to Blackmon to be scared straight after his third substance-related incident in as many years. One more hiccup, and he will be suspended for a year.

When asked if Blackmon will handle the suspension correctly, one Jaguars veteran player shrugged his shoulders and said: "We'll see. ... We're here for him."

Per league rules, Blackmon will be with the team for meetings, and he can use the stadium's workout facilities. But he can't attend games or practices.

"It makes it a lot better that I can be here," he said. "I'll get to see the game plan and everything that's going on. I'll be doing everything but going out there and doing the physical part."

Said Bradley: "It's a great move by the NFL to allow that to happen. To keep him around this environment is a good thing."

The Jaguars are awaiting word from the league office to determine if Blackmon can accompany them to the West Coast next month when they are headquartered in San Jose, Calif., between games at Oakland and Seattle.

Blackmon and the Jaguars have discussed a plan to have him work with a quarterback away from EverBank Field.

"I'm sure I'll be doing some form of working out and try to keep my conditioning up so when I do come back, I'll be ready," he said. …

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