There was an odd situation at Jaguars practice this week: injuries didn’t dictate who could play.
“It’s the first time I’ve looked out on the practice field away from our field and there was no one out there,” Head Coach Gus Bradley said. “That’s a good feeling, to see guys get reps and the number of receivers that we have, running backs and safeties and all of those things. It’s a good sign.”
Although Rashad Greene isn’t eligible to play until the Tennessee game in two weeks, he was practicing, working on his conditioning. Marqise Lee took some reps during the team and the individual drills. The competition at defensive back was heated since the three guys trying to earn the starting spot are all healthy. The coaching staff dragged out the decision on the starter into the weekend trying to get the most information they could.
“So, kind of let it play out again today and see. I know, like I told you [the media], [Dwayne] Gratz did pretty good [and Davon] House did pretty good,” Bradley explained. “I think ‘D-Mac’ [Demetrius McCray] showed up better today than he did yesterday.”
There’s a lot of talk in the NFL of shutting out “the noise.” That’s the stuff about winning streaks, playoffs and coaching hot seats. But Bradley knows the players are adults and hear plenty about all of those things. The fact that the Jaguars are 2-5 isn’t keeping them out of the playoff picture because the AFC South is so bad this year. So, somewhat begrudgingly, Bradley did talk to his team about what’s at stake, but not like, “hey, we can make the playoffs!”
“No, and I think when I said I acknowledged it the other day, it wasn’t like we put up the standings and showed everything. It was just more, ‘There’s some talk,’ so we just acknowledged it. I said, ‘Hey, this is the position, and now let’s go back to work.”
Playing at the Jets and at Baltimore in the next two weeks, the Jaguars have a chance to break their 12 game road-losing streak. Blake Bortles has never won a game on the road. All five wins in the last two years have come at home. Bradley said he didn’t bring that up this week, choosing to focus on things internally instead.
“It really hasn’t changed our mindset, as far as that’s concerned,” Bradley said on Friday before heading to New Jersey. “I really want these guys to understand how important the process is, how important it is to respect the day and get everything we can out of it and really truly believe about going in there and being our best.”