JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Receiver Jerry Porter would welcome a bigger role in Jacksonville's offense. Any role would be a step forward.
Porter, who signed a six-year, $30 million contract in February that included $10 million guaranteed, has been on the field about as much as the guy who runs and grabs the tee following kickoffs. Porter missed all of training camp and the preseason following surgery to repair a torn hamstring and then sat out the first three games of the regular season.
He caught one pass for 6 yards in his debut against Houston last month, but didn't have a reception in either of the last two games. Coach Jack Del Rio even said last week that Porter was ``just not a major part of our plans right now.''
The Oakland Raiders castoff might have to be a larger part now. With Matt Jones facing a league suspension for a felony drug charge and Mike Walker still recovering from a knee injury, the Jaguars (3-3) are expected to turn to Porter to fill the void.
se,'' Porter said Wednesday. ``I welcome that. I don't want to talk about anybody else's situations, but as far as my role goes, if it gets increased, I welcome it.''
Porter had surgery in mid-July, just days before the start of camp, and hoped to be back for the season opener. But his recovery was slower than expected, especially since Del Rio chose to ease the franchise's top offseason acquisition back into the mix.
``I'm starting my season weeks behind everybody else,'' Porter said. ``It's like I'm pulling out the gates last and trying to catch up to everybody else.''
He has made up ground and should be much more of a factor in the coming weeks, especially if the Jaguars are without Jones and Walker.
Jones, the team's leading receiver, is appealing a three-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, Del Rio said.
Del Rio declined comment on Jones' situation Wednesday, only saying that he expects the former first-round draft pick to play Sunday against Cleveland. But he told Sirius Satellite radio that Jones planned to appeal the suspension in hopes of getting it reduced.
ge to play in this league and to coach in this league. I was hoping it wouldn't be quite what it's turned out to be, but it's my understanding that Matt wants to appeal that.''
The Jaguars should know early next week whether Jones will be suspended and for how long.
Walker, meanwhile, still hasn't returned to practice since injuring his right knee Oct. 5 against Pittsburgh. He sprained the medial collateral ligament and spent four nights in a local hospital after an infection developed in the surrounding joint.
Walker received antibiotic treatments in hopes of eliminating the infection and was released from the hospital last week. Del Rio said Walker could be back soon.
``He's close to being able to rejoin his teammates, get back here,'' Del Rio said. ``The infection, they think they have a good handle on it, that it's under control. He was encouraged by that and optimistic about being back in the next week or so.''
Nonetheless, Walker already has been ruled out against the Browns and might not be able to go the following week against Cincinnati. His injury, along with the likelihood of Jones getting suspended, creates a chance for Porter to get on the field more.
``I definitely see Jerry getting better and better each week,'' quarterback David Garrard said. ``He's coming off a pretty bad surgery, and it's something he's had to deal with. He's had to deal with all the criticism and all the media hype and letdowns and everything.
``He's dealing with a lot, but he's working his tail off on the practice field and he's trying his hardest to get back out there and be the productive receiver everybody knows he can be.''

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