- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There are 13 days until the Jacksonville Jaguars open the 2015 regular season, which means tight end Julius Thomas and safety Johnathan Cyprien have less than two weeks to recover from their hand injuries in order to play against Carolina on Sept. 13.
Coach Gus Bradley said both players are going to have further tests this week, which will give him a better idea if they're going to be out longer than anticipated. He remains optimistic that both will be on the field against the Panthers.
"[The medical staff will] take a look at it, whether it’s an MRI, and see where we’re at," Bradley said. "Hopefully we get that sometime this week, and then we’ll have a better idea, but everything points to that they’re making really good progress.”
Both players were hurt in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh. Thomas suffered a fractured bone in his hand when he was flipped over after making a catch on the Jaguars' second offensive snap. Cyprien suffered a fractured finger but stayed on the field and sought treatment after the game.
There's less concern that Cyprien won't be able to play against Carolina. Even if his injury isn’t completely healed, he could play in a cast. The 6-foot, 217-pound Cyprien was the Jaguars’ second-round draft pick in 2013 and has compiled 218 tackles in his first two seasons, including a team-high 114 in 2014. He has just two forced fumbles, nine pass breakups and only one interception in 30 games.
The Jaguars signed Thomas (6-5, 250) to a five-year, $46 million contract, including $24 million guaranteed, in March to give second-year quarterback Blake Bortles a reliable target, especially in the red zone. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Thomas had 27 catches and 17 touchdowns in the red zone over the past two seasons. Only Jimmy Graham (20) and Dez Bryant (18) had more TD catches in the red zone.
5dJason Gibbs, Special to ESPN.com