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Jaguars move to the field

Posted Apr 15, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars veteran center Brad Meester says team anxious, ready for first voluntary minicamp under Head Coach Gus Bradley

JACKSONVILLE – It’s mid-April, so it’s time to play outside. At last.

Around EverBank Field, that means “Phase Two” of the Jaguars’ 2013 voluntary offseason program. As with many things to do with the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, this phase comes with a lot of things teams can and can’t do.

Here’s what’s important about Phase Two:

Players can start practicing.

That means Head Coach Gus Bradley and a largely new staff can begin coaching on the field, which – after two months planning and two more weeks of meetings, classroom work and conditioning – means the Jaguars are taking another step forward in preparation for the 2013 season.

With a new head coach, a new offensive and defensive coordinator and new offensive and defensive schemes, that makes Tuesday a big day for players and coaches.

“I think everybody’s anxious,” center Brad Meester said Monday, the day before the start of the three-day veteran minicamp at EverBank Field that highlights the first week of Phase Two.

“We spent the last couple of weeks working out and in the classroom, installing everything. I think it will be good to get out there and be able to start repping those things. One, it’s good to get on the field, but seeing it on paper is one thing and repping it is another.”

Since his January 17 hiring, Bradley not only has implemented an atmosphere based on competition and getting better each day, but he hired a largely new coaching staff.

The only holdovers among primary position coaches are wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan and linebackers coach Mark Duffner. There are new coaches at all other positions, including offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, defensive coordinator Bob Babich and special teams coordinator Mike Mallory.

That means installing a new offense and new defense, with coaches preparing the schemes for the two months, then beginning to teach them to players in the last two weeks.

The meetings during the two-week Phase One period were described by players as intense, with an emphasis on terminology and being ready once the players get onto the field. Phase Two, which consists of three weeks of on-field workouts, may include individual player instruction and drills and team practice. No live contact or “team” drills are permitted.

The final four weeks of the offseason – or Phase Three – consists of 10 days of organized team practice activities. There is still no live contact, but the team can hold 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills. The Jaguars’ OTAs are May 13-15, 20-21, 23 and June 4-7, with a rookie minicamp May 3-5.

Meester, the team’s most-tenured player, signed a one-year contract last month to return to the Jaguars for a 14th season. He said the much-talked about energy brought by Bradley has been evident in the meeting room.

And if it’s evident inside, he said it will be more obvious in the coming weeks.

“We were just in the classroom the two weeks – and that was it,” he said. “There was just a tremendous energy, and just a positive feeling. If you have that in the classroom, I can only imagine what it will be like on the field. I’m excited to get this week going.”

Meester said while he feels good about the direction of the offense under Fisch – including the zone-blocking approach being installed by offensive line coach George Yarno – it’s not so much specifics and details that have him optimistic.

“I do like the scheme,” Meester said. “I like a lot of the stuff we’re doing, and I think we’re doing a lot of great stuff scheme-wise. But it’s the way the guys are bringing the energy in the meetings. The emphasis really has been just to get better. That has been coach’s message throughout.

“As long as we go out and do our best each and every day and work on our trade, it’s going to be a good season.”

The Jaguars, who are undergoing significant roster turnover this offseason, enter minicamp with 59 players on the official roster, with the idea of adding players through the draft and college free agency later this month.

The team in recent weeks has added players such as defensive tackles Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller, cornerback Alan Ball, running back Justin Forsett, linebacker Geno Hayes and wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi in veteran free agency.

There also are expected to be approximately 19 players in camp this week on a workout basis.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces in that locker room,” Meester said. “That’s one of those things that happens. Change happens, but I believe we’ve got a lot of great guys. The new guys, in the time I’ve gotten to know them, they’re here with the right attitude and ready to work.

“You have to have the right group of guys in there, and I think we have that.”


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