JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The Jacksonville Jaguars have taken another step toward parting ways with suspended receiver Justin Blackmon.
The Jaguars removed Blackmon’s name plate from atop his locker, the latest indication that the former first-round draft pick has no future with the franchise. The team placed rookie quarterback Stephen Morris from Miami in the stall.
Blackmon is suspended without pay indefinitely for repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy, and general manager Dave Caldwell indicated last week that he would consider cutting Blackmon when and if he gets reinstated.
Owner Shad Khan weighed in after the team’s state-of-the-franchise presentation Tuesday.
“I think it’s an absolute tragedy,” he said. “I have a hard time expressing. I’m a parent myself. I met with his parents. I think he’s such a talented guy, the best years ahead of him. But after a while, it’s out of your control.”
The Jaguars have expressed disappointment with not being in contact with Blackmon, and NFL rules limit contact coaches and front-office personnel can have with suspended players.
“The league has rules. We have to follow them. And it’s simple as that,” Khan said. “The league, the players association, there’s a huge amount of resources. The only thing I can (say) is please take advantage of it. If you’re a player, it’s like all of this stuff is being offered to you. Take advantage of it. I think NFL players are so lucky from the viewpoint all these resources that are available to him.”
Blackmon was suspended the first four games of last year for violating the substance-abuse policy. He played four games before getting suspended again - at least for a year.
The Jaguars had been hoping Blackmon would be eligible to return after eight games in 2014. But after losing contact with him, coach Gus Bradley said last week that “it doesn’t sound like it’s going in the right direction. … We can’t count on him.”
Jacksonville drafted two receivers in the second round Friday to fill the void, selecting USC’s Marqise Lee with the 39th overall pick and then adding Penn State’s Allen Robinson at No. 61.
“Having those guys in that room will definitely help us get better on the field,” fellow receiver Cecil Shorts III said.
Blackmon has 93 catches for 1,280 yards and six scores in 20 games - all since Jacksonville traded up to select the former Oklahoma State star with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft.
His problems have been off the field.
Blackmon was involved in three substance-related incidents in three years. He was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge in Texas in 2010 after officers caught him speeding on a suburban Dallas highway. The charge was later reduced to an underage alcohol possession charge. A little more than a month after the Jaguars drafted him, he was arrested during a traffic stop in Stillwater, Oklahoma, after a breath test allegedly showed his blood alcohol content to be three times the legal limit.
A subsequent violation landed him the four-game suspension. Another one got him the indefinite suspension.