Wide receiver Justin Blackmon has been activated on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster and may be on the field Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Because of NFL rules, Jacksonville had to shuffle out a player to make room for Blackmon on their roster. The man who got the axe is guard Jacques McClendon. Blackmon, who was the 5th overall pick for Jacksonville in 2012, is returning from a four game suspension for his second violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He has not been allowed to practice with the team and may have some catching up to do.
Considering the Jaguars’ 0-4 record, however, he may be just what Jacksonville needs to get their game on and start winning. As it stands, the Jags are one of only four teams who have not managed to win a single contest so far this season.
Apparently, Blackmon is no stranger to substance abuse or a police record. In 2010 he was arrested on misdemeanor DUI charges after police pulled him over for speeding in a Dallas suburb. That charge was later reduced to underage alcohol possession. This is another example of an athlete behaving badly and getting off light.
About a month after he was picked by Jacksonville, Blackmon was again arrested at a traffic stop in Stillwater, OK after he tested three times over the legal limit for alcohol. This was technically his first violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, as he was not yet a member of the league during his 2010 arrest. There is no information on what triggered the second violation (his third substance-related incident in three years) and the subsequent suspension, but speculation is that he may have failed a drug test. As stated, no details on the nature of the second violation are available at this time.
This second violation and suspension activated a clause in Blackmon’s contract that freed Jacksonville from obligation to pay his full salary. The Jags are allowed to trade or cut Blackmon without consequence, unlike the mess over Tampa Bay’s 2009 pick Josh Freeman. This means that Blackmon is on borrowed time and he knows it. If he performs well and stays clean, Jacksonville may keep him and continue to nurture his ability. No one will argue that the Jaguars need all the help they can get this season.
Blackmon’s skills on the field have not been called into question. In his rookie year, last season, he showed the league what he was made of. His record boasts 64 receptions for 865 yards and five touchdowns. He tied the franchise rookie record for touchdowns and was ranked second among all NFL rookies. Blackmon averaged 13.5 yards per carry and started 15 of 16 games. He ended the season with at least five catches in the last six out of seven games of the season.
Despite his obvious talent, Blackmon’s habit of getting arrested proves to be problematic for Jacksonville. Rebuilding the team may require exercising that clause in his contract and cutting him. With the questions regarding his past behavior, the truth is that no one may want to take the risk of having him on the payroll. Blackmon’s return to the game will be carefully watched by those in search of a wide receiver and a dependable teamplayer. He must play as well as he ever has and steer clear of any further issues that could see him removed from any NFL roster for good.
Written by: Brandi Tasby