Tagged in: Season Opener

C.J. Henderson rejoins Jacksonville Jaguars after missing Sunday scrimmage

Jaguars cornerback C.J. Henderson returned to practice Tuesday after being excused from Sunday’s scrimmage for personal reasons, and the team is positive that the second-year player can make up for all the time he has missed in training camp before the Sept. 12 season opener.

Henderson was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list July 23. He was activated Friday but has participated in only two of the team’s 11 practices.

“He can make us a lot better football team,” assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Charlie Strong said Tuesday. “Just to see him get around us and get out on the field and go to work was really exciting.

“I think we’ve still got enough time here [to get him ready]. We’re what, a month still out from playing our first game, and then we have these preseason games and they will be good to get him back so he can get out there and run around.

But just knowing that he can get back and we can just teach him the defense and he can learn it, because we’re doing a lot on defense and it would be good for him to get back and just go through the whole learning process. Even if he can’t come after practice, just being in the classroom really helps.”

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Strong said he and coach Urban Meyer are committed to helping Henderson, the No. 9 overall pick in 2020, recover from a hard rookie season that included a shoulder and groin injury that eventually landed him on injured reserve in November and that the two recently visited Henderson at his home.

“Any time you have a great young man like that, you want to make sure that you do everything possible to help him and to help him get back on track,” Strong said.

“I was telling Coach, I said, ‘We’re out of the process of just trying to just get guys and just push them aside.’ Our whole thing is just creating value for him.

“… He wants to play. And that’s the thing. He’s going to do everything he can to get back, and we’re going to do everything we can to help him get back.”

Henderson’s NFL debut in 2020 was impressive, with five tackles, an interception and three pass breakups, including one on fourth down to seal the Jaguars’ triumph over the Indianapolis Colts.

Henderson injured his shoulder three weeks later but played through it, which contributed to his inconsistency.

A groin injury suffered versus the Green Bay Packers ended his season after eight games.

Henderson, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery, was expected to be the Jaguars’ top cornerback in 2021, but Sidney Jones worked in his spot with the first-team defense during Henderson’s time on the reserve list. Henderson worked with the second-team defense at times Tuesday.

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76ers top Celtics in 1st battle of East Favorites

Joel Embiid was popped in the mouth by an elbow that drew blood, rattled teeth, and stunned the Sixers’ big man.

Embiid shook off the knock after a short stint on the bench, then Philadelphia took off and secured the first round in a bruising matchup between two teams expected to fight for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid had 15 points and 13 rebounds, Ben Simmons scored 24 points and the 76ers beat the Boston Celtics 107-93 on Wednesday night.

The season opener had a May feel from the opening tip.

Boston and Philly roughed up each other, combining for more than 60 fouls. They each showed off their prized free agent assets.

But it was the Sixers who turned in a leading fourth quarter.

”It felt like a playoff atmosphere, already,” Philadelphia guard Josh Richardson said. ”It was ready to pop from the jump.”

Philly’s superstars can only do so much, and the other Sixers were clutch in the fourth when they needed them. Furkan Korkmaz and Tobias Harris buried consecutive 3-pointers – after the Sixers had missed 21 of 24 through three quarters – to stretch the lead to 10.

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Even without that scrutinized jumper in play, Simmons was smooth and sensational as he attacked the hoop for easy baskets. He used a nifty spin move in the paint to hit Kyle O’Quinn for a basket that made it 90-74. The packed house went wild as the backups, a weak spot in the postseason, put the Sixers on the decisive run. Simmons also had nine assists and eight rebounds, though he played his 161st career game without a 3.

”I’m skilled, I’m gifted, I’m pretty good at what I do,” Simmons said.

Gordon Hayward guided the Celtics with 25 points. Jayson Tatum had 21.

Kemba Walker scored 12 points on 4-of-18 shooting in his Boston debut, and Al Horford had 16 points in his first game with the 76ers. Horford spent the last three seasons with the Celtics and was one of the few defenders that gave Embiid fits. Horford signed a four-year deal to come to Philly and quickly became a popular teammate. Walker was signed to a four-year, $141 million deal, the most Boston could offer, but $80 million less than the Charlotte Hornets could have paid him over five seasons.

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