JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee practiced for the first time in nearly a year on Saturday, and he plans on being in the lineup for the Sept. 8 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
That would complete his comeback from a severe left knee injury that wiped out his entire 2018 season.
“My goal is honestly to be ready,” Lee said. “As far as the doctors, I can’t speak for the doctors and the coaches as far as what they plan for me to be. As far as me, I’m going to continue to take it day by day, try to improve, try to pick up my volume as far as the workload and hopefully be out there by the time it’s time to go.”
Lee, who had been doing rehab work off to the side during OTAs and training camp, stepped into a huddle Saturday for his first play since Aug. 25, 2018.
He was injured during the first quarter of the Jaguars’ third preseason game last year when Atlanta Falcons safety Damontae Kazee drove his helmet into Lee’s left knee, which resulted in torn anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.
Lee, who has missed 27 games with various injuries since the Jaguars drafted him in the second round in 2014, said being back on the field was a special moment.
“I’ve been unable to be out there and work with them and sweat with them [and] it’s been quite difficult for me,” Lee said. “Now I’ve got the opportunity to be back and sweat with them and grind with them. I don’t [have] no worries no more.”
Lee does have a lot of work ahead of him if he is going to play in the opener against the Chiefs. While he has a good understanding of coordinator John DeFilippo’s new offense on paper, it’s another thing to run it on the field. Plus, he said he still has to build a rapport with quarterback Nick Foles.
Lee is unlikely to play in the two remaining preseason games against the Miami Dolphins (Thursday) and Falcons (Aug. 29), so it may take a while for him to make an impact even though he’s the Jaguars’ most experienced receiver (171 catches for 2,166 yards, 8 TDs).
“It’s all mental at this point,” Lee said. “I feel like, the physical aspect of it, I did all the rehab and things I need to do, so now I just got to make sure I stay calm and take it slow. It’s no worries. I think I’m going to be fine as long as I just manage and take care of myself.”