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First practice, fast tempo

Posted Apr 16, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis on first minicamp practice: "This was a hell of a start"

JACKSONVILLE – Now, *this* Marcedes Lewis hadn’t seen before. Not quite like this.

The Jaguars’ veteran tight end couldn’t say that he didn’t expect what happened Tuesday – not after listening to first-year Head Coach Gus Bradley in recent weeks.

Competition?  Tempo? Pressure?

Those are Bradley’s buzzwords, and the Jaguars’ first practice Tuesday more than lived up to the words, buzzing or otherwise. The team practiced two hours, 20 minutes on the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice fields, and Lewis said no way was it easy.

But the right direction? Yes, Lewis said it absolutely felt like that.

“This was a hell of a start,” Lewis said late Tuesday afternoon after the first of three practices scheduled outside EverBank Field this week.

“Everybody came out here with the right attitude and we got it done.”

The Jaguars worked with most of the 59 veteran roster players Tuesday, with 18 players practicing on a workout basis. The following players missed practice: defensive end Jeremy Mincey (ear infection), guard Uche Nwaneri (knee), guard Jason Spitz (foot), running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), fullback Montell Owens (knee), running back Jordan Todman (knee), tight end Matt Veldman (knee) and wide receiver Jerrell Jackson (groin).

Todman and Jackson’s injuries were non-football related Bradley said. He also said that middle linebacker Paul Posluszny went through a few early individual drills.

Newly signed defensive tackle Roy Miller missed practice with tendonitis, and veteran defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith left practice with a calf strain.

Bradley’s focus for the team’s first on-field day wasn’t about who was missing or even the specifics of installation or execution. Rather, it was about establishing work ethic, an area he said he was pleased with Tuesday.

“We try to compete in every drill,” Bradley said. “There are limitations, but in our footwork drills, our agility drills, we want high tempo and high competition. That’s a key factor in our team getting better, to find a way to compete. I was pleased with our effort. We busted them today, as you can see, especially in the last period. They did a great job handling it.”

The first day of minicamp practice also featured a new element – a practice-long soundtrack of upbeat songs that Bradley said will be a staple at his practices.

“We just believe it elevates the performance,” Bradley said. “It’s not just to have music out there. It elevates everybody’s performance. To us, practice is everything. We’re trying to get our guys to practice so right that when they go out there on Sunday they trust their preparation and can just go out there and play. We do everything we can to get practice at the highest level, and if that means play some music at the same time, we’re going to do that.”

Lewis, entering his eighth NFL season and now one of the tenured veterans on the team, gathered teammates on the field after practice.

“I told them if we’re out here practicing like that we’re going to be something to . . . with,” Lewis said. “We have a clean slate. Everything that happened last year is a blur now. All we can control is right now. Everybody who is in here, we understand that.

“Everyone is talking about the coaches and how great they are. It’s one thing to be able to coach great. It’s another thing to be great people. These are great people who care about you. The energy has been great since day one. We’re going to continue to feed off that and get better every day.”

Said Bradley, “It was just what I envisioned – high tempo, guys busting their tails, guys running from drill to drill. The tempo was high. We pushed them. It was definitely something to build on.”

Also Tuesday:

*Bradley said Jones-Drew is making good progress, but that it’s unclear if the three-time Pro Bowl running back will be ready for veteran minicamp in mid-June. Jones-Drew missed much of last season with a foot injury and underwent surgery on the area in December.

*Bradley opened his post-practice comments with thoughts on the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings Monday, noting that Christy Duffner – daughter of Jaguars linebackers coach Mark Duffner – was among those running Monday. Bradley said Christy Duffner was safe. “We want to express our thoughts and prayers to those in Boston,” Bradley said.

*Bradley said quarterback Blaine Gabbert did a good job on Tuesday, adding that the early emphasis isn’t so much about completions or yards as ensuring the practices maintain proper tempo. “We wanted to put strain on our guys, to see how far we can push them,” Bradley said. “We wanted to emphasis on playing hard, fast and together. The hard is the effort. The fast is the, “Can you think under pressure?” The together is being able to communicate under pressure. We really wanted to take a look at those three areas today. The completions and things like that, we’ll take a look at that, but the emphasis is on straining our guys that way.”

*Bradley also said he thought wide receiver Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III had good days, and specifically mentioned Shorts’ competitiveness.

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