When the Wednesday injury report came out, it was not good news for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark. Chark got in limited practice sessions on Monday and Tuesday while dealing with a chest injury, but on Wednesday, the team downgraded him and he did not practice at all. Typically, a late-week backwards step is not a good sign for a player’s potential availability for a particular game.
Despite Thursday morning seemingly bringing some good news for Chark and the Jaguars with a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that he was “trending upward” and would be a game-time decision, the Jaguars soon ruled Chark out for Thursday night’s game, citing chest and back ailments.
Chark broke out last season as then-rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew’s No. 1 target. After catching only 14 passes for 174 yards as a rookie, Chark hauled in 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight scores in his sophomore season. He entered 2020 looking like Minshew’s clear go-to guy.
Chark’s off to a somewhat slow start to this season, though, with only seven catches (albeit on seven targets) in two games for 107 yards and a touchdown. He sits behind Keelan Cole, Chris Conley, and Laviska Shenault in targets, where he’s tied for fourth on the team with Tyler Eifert. That may be the result of a small sample size, or it may even be the result of this chest injury he’s dealing with.
Either way, Minshew appears more comfortable throwing to other targets than he did a year ago, which is at least welcome news now that the Jags have to play this game against the Dolphins without the services of Chark. They would obviously rather have him on the field, though, given his rapport with Minshew and his explosiveness on the outside, which has opened things up for guys like Cole and Shenault in the slot and on underneath routes.