WR Ace Sanders, Free agent
HT: 5-7, WT: 178, Born: 11-11-1991, College: South Carolina, Drafted: Round 4
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Ace Sanders is a play maker that comes with some extreme quickness. Sanders small frame of 5'7", 178 lbs, limits where the Jaguars can use him on the field. He is a very natural pass catcher and entering into his second season in the league can look to solidify himself in the slot receiver role. In his rookie season he had 51 catches for 484 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for Sanders he is now suspended for the first 4 games of the season and has took a leave of absence from the Jaguars.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Sanders' first reception was a quick bubble screen that was quickly snuffed out by Brandon Flowers. Sanders' second reception was a carbon copy of his first. Sanders dropped a wide open post route on the Jaguars' third drive. On third and long, Sanders ran a slant route for an 18 yard gain that was short of the first down marker. Sanders next target came on a play when he was locked down at the line of scrimmage and never entered his route. Gabbert followed that up by throwing a jump ball to Sanders against a much taller receiver. Sanders had a big gain down the sideline that was negated because of offensive pass interference.
Week 2 - Sanders' first target came on the Raiders' second drive, as Henne hit him on a crossing route underneath on third and long. Sanders caught the ball, but he was immediately tackled so he had no chance to make get yards after the catch. Sanders saw another target underneath on third and long, but he dropped the ball as he tried to make a falling reception. In the second half, Sanders caught a curl underneath on third and 13. The rookie receiver was finally targeted down the field on third down. He ran a comeback route that didn't gain much separation, but appeared to make a good reception as he dived out of bounds. The ball came free as he landed however to result in an incomplete pass. Late in the fourth quarter, Henne and Sanders finally connected for a first down. Sanders ran down the seam and made an impressive reception between multiple defenders. Sanders and Henne connected again for a 20+ yard gain as he ran a deep out route. Sanders caught Henne's final pass of the game, a six yard gain for a first down.
Week 3 - Sanders caught Henne's first pass of the game, but it was a short curl route against off coverage on third and long. Henne tried to find Sanders underneath again on third and 21, but he was hit as he threw so the ball never went near Sanders. Sanders' first reception for a first down came in the fourth quarter. He reacted to a perfectly thrown pass from Henne that he initially appeared to miss in flight. Sanders ran down the sideine, but accidentally stepped out of bounds to limit his game.
Week 4 - Sanders didn't see a target until the fourth quarter. Most of his receptions this season have come underneath when the Jaguars needed to go deeper, but he finally found a big play after an underneath pass in this game. Sanders caught the ball in space underneath, before turning and running to the other sideline away from the linebacker trying to cover him. That reception set up the Jaguars at the goalline. After a few failed pass attempts to other receivers, Blaine Gabbert tried to find Sanders running a shallow out route. The ball arrived before Sanders turned around to find it, but even if he had caught it he would have been short of the goalline. To start the next drive, Gabbert found Sanders over the middle of the field as he settled down in his route for a first down reception. Gabbert tried to fit the ball into Sanders on the next play, but it went straight to a Colts defender. With the game decided, Sanders caught a curl route against off coverage. Sanders caught the same pass a few plays later, but this time he turned away from the defender to add a yard or two to the play. Even though Sanders got into space, he didn't show any real speed to get down the field.
Week 5 - Sanders saw Gabbert's first target of the day. He ran a curl route from the slot but was well covered throughout and the defender punched the ball away when it came. Sanders didn't factor in the passing game again.
Week 6 - Sanders caught a five yard slant early on the Jaguars' second drive. He didn't benefit from Cecil Shorts' absence however as that was his only reception.
Week 8 - Sanders didn't see the ball until the fourth quarter after Cecil Shorts went to the sideline holding his shoulder. He caught a quick pass underneath before turning upfield for a first down.
Week 11 - Sanders caught a quick pass in the flat for two yards early in the first quarter. Sanders caught a bubble screen before making a defender miss and running down the sideline for a first down. Late in the second quarter, Sanders caught a screen that was stopped behind the line of scrimmage. Sanders made his most impressive play of the season on 3rd-and-Short when he adjusted to an underthrown pass down the sideline and worked back ahead of the defensive back for the big reception. In the fourth quarter, Sanders evaded a tackler to turn a screen pass into a first down. Sanders caught another bubble screen for two yards. Sanders caught a one yard crossing route late in the fourth quarter. Sanders caught a quick pass in the flat for one yard.
Week 12 - Sanders caught a first down pass on third and 2 when the Jaguars rolled the pocket to his side of the field. He was fortunate to get the conversion however as he fell down when the ball arrived. A few plays later, Sanders came wide open on a slant route for a huge gain. On third and four, Sanders caught a pass in the flat but was hit immediately by Johnathan Joseph. Sanders caught a six yard bubble screen to end the first half.
Week 13 - Sanders' first involvement in the game saw him take a pitch from the backfield for a seven yard gain and a first down. Immediately after that, Sanders caught a pass by the sideline for eight yards. Sanders caught another first down pass when the Jaguars used motion and play-action to get him the ball in space. He caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage and beat the incoming defender to the first down marker with his speed. The Jaguars were doing a much better job of helping Sanders get open. They lined him up behind Marcedes Lewis on third and 10 in the second quarter to give him a free release for a conversion over the middle of the field. Sanders caught a curl route soon after for three yards and a first down. Sanders made his most impressive catch in the fourth quarter, as he extended to catch a high pass for a first down. After motioning before the snap, Henne found Sanders in the flat for a short gain. Sanders caught a perfect pass from Henne down the sideline on second and five for another first down. A few plays later, he caught a quick pass in the flat for one yard.
Week 14 - On the Jaguars' first third down, a third and two, Sanders caught a pass in the flat before running into wide open space for the first down. Sanders caught a pass underneath on third and 20 late in the second quarter. Sanders' next involvement in the game saw him throw the ball on a trick play. Henne lateralled the ball to him wide left, before Sanders threw the ball across the field to Jordan Todman for the touchdown. On third and nine in the fourth quarter, Sanders caught an eight yard pass over the middle of the field.
Week 15 - Sanders has been moving around the field a lot in recent weeks, so it was no surprise when his first reception came in the flat after he motioned into the backfield. Fittingly, Sanders' second reception came when he was lined up a a running back from the snap. He caught the ball in the flat before beating a defender in space and using his blocking to get into the end zone.
Week 16 - Sanders has excelled in the role Jedd Fisch designed for him in recent weeks. Motion before the snap and lining him up behind receivers or the offensive line has allowed him to consistently come free. However, when Sanders first lined up in the backfield against the Titans, he drew two defenders. Henne looked for him anyway, but his pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Sanders eventually got his first reception as he caught a bubble screen behind two receivers for six yards. Sanders was injured on the play as he took a hit on his knee while going out of bounds. Sanders did return. He caught a pass on third and 13 in the third quarter, but he couldn't turn the bubble screen into a first down. That play didn't fail because of Sanders, but late in the fourth quarter, Sanders did cost his team a first down on third down when he looked to bounce the ball outside instead of fighting for the first down yardage. It proved to be a crucial play because Maurice Jones-Drew couldn't convert the fourth and one play and the Jaguars were losing at the time. Sanders is unlikely to ever be a big play, down the field receiver, his niche will be as a chain mover. He needs to consistently make this play if he is to stay on the field for the long-term.
Week 17 - Defenses may have caught up to Jedd Fisch's plan for Ace Sanders. When he was first targeted out of the backfield, the pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage because Bjoern Werner appeared to be expecting the pass to the receiver in the flat. On the very next play a Colts defensive back easily read Sanders' cut when he released from a bunch to knock the ball away. His first reception came in the second quarter, when he caught a short screen pass on third and 20. In the third quarter, the Jaguars tried to find Sanders with a motion play that hides him behind the line of scrimmage before sending him back into the flat he came from. This play proved that the Colts had done enough work to prepare for Sanders because there was a defensive back in position to tackle him deep behind the line of scrimmage when the ball arrived. The pass was slightly off target so no reception was made. Sanders' physical gifts are lost in the NFL. He doesn't stand out with his quickness, acceleration or long speed. If teams are comfortable in understanding how he is going to be used, they should have no issue containing him to short gains.