The Jacksonville Jaguars might have lost their No. 1 receiver for the season.
Marqise Lee, who led the team in receptions in 2017, injured his left knee in a 17-6 victory against Atlanta in the preseason Saturday night and could be out for the year.
Lee was carted off the field in the first quarter after Falcons cornerback Damontae Kazee went helmet-first into his knee and then twisted his leg. Lee fumbled on the play, but it was overturned because Kazee was flagged for leading with his helmet.
Coach Doug Marrone said “obviously it looked bad,” adding that Lee will have tests Sunday to determine the extent of the injury. Teammates sounded resigned to Lee being sidelined an extended period, maybe even the entire season.
“That’s tough,” Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said. “You hate to see anytime, especially in the preseason, and to a guy like that who’s been through what he’s been through and plays with the passion that he does, and everything that he’s put into this team and getting ready for this season. … It’s tough to see.”
Lee was clearly in pain as he got helped onto the cart. Teammates and coaches walked across the field to offer well-wishes as he left the field.
It was the kind of preseason injury that leaves everyone on both sidelines shaking their heads.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to come together as a team, as a unit and pick up where he left off,” fellow receiver Dede Westbrook said.
“Everybody’s got to step up,” Jaguars receiver Donte Moncrief added. “Everybody in the room’s got to be ready to go, from the young guys to me. He was one of the big roles in the offense.”
Lee had 56 catches for 702 yards and three touchdowns last season. He signed a four-year, $34 million contract in March that included $16.5 million guaranteed.
A second-round draft pick from USC in 2014, Lee has 171 catches for 2,166 yards and eight touchdowns. He missed games because of various injuries in three of his four seasons.
If Lee misses time this fall, the Jaguars would rely on second-year pros Keelan Cole and Westbrook, one-year rental Moncrief and rookie DJ Chark.
Atlanta managed 96 yards in the first half and 261 for the game. The Falcons have lost all three preseason games.
Matt Ryan completed 5 of 12 passes for 57 yards. Tevin Coleman ran seven times for 38 yards, with 22 of those coming on one scamper.
“When you’re going against a good defense, that’s how the game is going to shake out,” Ryan said. “You’re going to have your opportunities at times to make plays. I don’t think we came away with all of them, but we certainly made some good ones as well.”
The bright spots for Atlanta were two interceptions against Blake Bortles, who played into the third quarter and finished 17 of 23 for 204 yards. Bortles was picked once on a tipped ball and another on a pass that sailed wide of a receiver.
Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Pro Bowl linebacker Telvin Smith remained in the locker room during the national anthem. Smith has skipped the anthem in each of the team’s three preseason games. Ramsey was suspended for last week’s exhibition at Minnesota, not for anything related to the anthem.
Falcons placekicker Matt Bryant made his preseason debut after sitting out the first two games with an undisclosed injury. The 43-year-old Bryant drilled a 47-yard field goal to cap the opening drive and later added a 33-yarder.
The Jaguars had two players make their preseason debut. 2017 All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell (calf) and defensive lineman Taven Bryan (abdomen), a first-round pick from Florida, missed the first two exhibitions. Bryan’s best play was batting down a pass in the closing minutes.
Receiver Marvin Hall, guard Ben Garland, cornerback Desmond Trufant, safety Ricardo Allen and linebacker Deion Jones sat out for Atlanta with minor injuries.
The Jaguars were without six players: cornerback A.J. Bouye (illness), center Brandon Linder (knee), safety Ronnie Harrison (hamstring), linebacker Donald Payne (hip), defensive tackle Eli Ankou (knee) and defensive end Dawuane Smoot (foot).
Atlanta hosts Miami to end the preseason Thursday.
Jacksonville plays at Tampa Bay on Thursday.
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