Just because the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Dede Westbrook in the fourth round of last week’s NFL Draft, does not mean the team has given up on Rashad Greene.
But the third-year wide receiver has to know he is on the hot seat going into OTAs and training camp. The fifth-round draft pick in 2015 has been a solid return specialist for the Jaguars and a dependable fourth receiver – when he is healthy. After a record-setting career at FSU, the two-time All-ACC performer has not been able to kick the injury bug, which could put his playing days in Jacksonville in jeopardy.
A lot must happen over the next few months regarding Westbrook and the wide receiver unit. The Jaguars took a chance on Westbrook with their fourth-round selection. However, the Oklahoma star has to prove he can play football and put his past behind him. This is a dynamic to watch from rookie minicamp until the end of the preseason.
Per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com, though both are slot receivers and punt returners, General Manager Dave Caldwell said that doesn’t mean both can’t make the roster and contribute on offense and special teams in 2017. Should that happen, a passing offense capable of being as successful as it was in 2017 could once again take shape.
“I still have high hopes for [Greene],” Caldwell said. “They will play a similar type of positions, but we have room to keep both of those guys.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars took a chance on Westbrook, the player. Westbrook has some off-field concerns. There are two arrests for domestic violence (charges were dropped both times, though the second because the victim was unable to be located) and an arrest for trespassing last May. DiRocco said the Jaguars have told him he has no margin for error in terms of off-field behavior. If he avoids issues there, the Jaguars envision using him as a slot receiver and as a punt returner — basically the role Rashad Greene was supposed to fill after a solid rookie season.
If Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone wanted competition, it sure has it in this battle. The onus is on Greene to stay healthy to remain a vital part of this organization.
He missed seven games with a hand injury. Still, he averaged 16.7 yards on 18 returns and took one back for a touchdown. Rashad Greene did not enough returns to qualify for the NFL rankings. If so, he would have led the league by more than 4 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 their 19-13 victory over Tennessee in November. Three weeks later, Greene returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown to break open a close game against Indianapolis.
Even when he was healthy, things did not go entirely his way. He competed with Marqise Lee for the third spot in the rotation at wide receiver last season in training camp. Lee finally shrugged off injuries himself to emerge as a top target on the field. Now, with Westbrook coming in, special teams and becoming a dependable intermediate target must be Greene’s calling card.
The Jacksonville Jaguars go into camp this offseason with Allen Robinson, Lee, and Allen Hurns are their top three receivers. Arrelious Benn, Bryan Walters, Rashad Green and now Dede Westbrook are all in the mix as well.