The Jacksonville Jaguars got a partial boost to it receiving corps on Sunday when Ace Sanders returned to the team after a four-week absence from the club for what he called “personal” reasons. Sanders, a second-year receiver out of South Carolina faces a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, will not play in the first four games of the regular season.
The second-year player from South Carolina was scheduled to do some conditioning work on the side but not participate in practice, per ESPN.com. It’s unclear if he’ll be able to play in Thursday’s preseason finale against Atlanta, although Coach Gus Bradley said last week there was a chance Sanders would return to the team in enough time to get on the practice field and prepare for the Falcons game.
Sanders had a better than expected rookie season last year, catching 51 passes on the season. He was a fourth round draft pick and was expected to help the team with its return game.
Sanders announced July 22 that he was taking the leave of absence and also admitted he is facing a four-game suspension for what was later confirmed to be a second violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
The Jaguars looked to improve its receiving corps in the offseason by drafting Marquis Lee of USC and Allen Robinson of Penn State in the second round. The team also signed Allen Hurns to a free agent contract. All three are expected to become a huge part of the team’s offensive game plan in 2014 with Cecil Shorts, who led the team in receiving in both 2012 and 2013.
Sanders has a chance to become the fifth or sixth receiver in the rotation. The Jaguars also signed Tandon Doss in the offseason. Doss is a tall, lanky receiver who led the league in punt returns last season.
NFL rules allow Sanders to participate in training camp and the preseason, but he said he at the time he felt it was better for him to deal with his issues. He also is allowed to participate in team meetings during his suspension, but he cannot practice.