Updates from Sunday, Aug. 24
Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports that Sanders has joined the team in training camp:
The Jaguars are back at back at work this morning for a 10:30 practice and they have receiver Ace Sanders with them for the first time this preseason.
Sanders returned to EverBank Field today after a month-long absence to deal with a personal issue.
O'Halloran and the Jaguars had more from Sanders as well:
Ace says he'll be more focused once back on field "and not take plays off from practice and things like that."— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) August 24, 2014
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Ace Sanders has been dealing with personal issues and confessed Tuesday that he's facing a four-game suspension.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network had the details, including comments from Sanders on the matter:
#Jaguars WR Ace Sanders says he won’t be doing majority of training camp as he deals with personal issues. “It’s been a tough road for me”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 22, 2014
#Jaguars WR Ace Sanders said he’s likely facing a 4-game suspension. “I am taking full responsibility for all my actions. I am sorry.”— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 22, 2014
Ace Sanders said he’s going to counseling, “anyone who can give me insight into personal issues. Some ground I can start from.” Very mature.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 22, 2014
Ace Sanders isn’t appealing his 4-game suspension. Said he talked with Bradley & Caldwell, they were supportive of him seeking help.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 22, 2014
Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union reports that Sanders will indeed be suspended for four games without pay for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. O'Halloran also added insight into why Sanders conducted Tuesday's conference call:
Major compliments to Ace Sanders for doing conference call on impending suspension -- he reached out to team to do it. #Jaguars— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) July 22, 2014
CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco praised Sanders for seeking help for whatever he is battling away from the gridiron:
Ace Sanders is a nice kid. Sorry to hear about his personal issues and looming four-game suspension. Might not have made the team anyway.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) July 22, 2014
Sanders is a diminutive but electric playmaker who caught 51 passes for 484 yards and a touchdown as a rookie in 2013. The fourth-round draft choice also threw a 21-yard touchdown pass and served as a return specialist, making his overall value and versatility apparent even on a 4-12 team.
It is encouraging that Sanders is receiving support from both head coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell. Such circumstances increase the odds even more that Sanders will be embraced by the organization upon his return.
This is yet another blow to the Jags' receiving corps, though, which is already without indefinitely suspended 2012 first-round pick Justin Blackmon.
Who will emerge as the Jaguars' No. 2 receiver behind Cecil Shorts in 2014?
Should Lee and Robinson contribute right away as they're now expected to even more with Sanders' absence, it could be difficult for Sanders to be targeted often when he comes back. The first contest Sanders will be eligible for after his four-game suspension is against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 5.
It's a test that will already be tough enough for a Jaguars team likely still a year or two from AFC playoff contention, so Sanders must prove his worth quickly. Between the two rookies, Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown, there could be as many as four capable wideouts who establish themselves before Sanders plays a snap in 2014.