JACKSONVILLE – The message was clear.
And if that was true of Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's offseason-opening speech early Tuesday at EverBank Field, veteran defensive tackle Roy Miller and just about everyone else who heard it said this was true, too:
That message was darned exciting, too.
That's the mood around EverBank Field these days – a feeling of excitement, of things getting started and moving in the right direction – and as the Jaguars' 2014 offseason conditioning program opened Tuesday, Miller said Bradley's message captured that in a big way.
"There's a sense of urgency," Miller said. "You understand what's going on. You understand the coaching philosophy. You understand what's expected of you. We have to take it and adapt it and really buy into it. Coming from that meeting, I feel we need to take what we had last year and build on it this year."
Great to have everyone, players, coaches, scouts, stat nerds, all of us, back together. Everbank Field's a magical place when we're all here — Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) April 22, 2014
Bradley, entering his second season as the Jaguars' Head Coach, spoke to the team around 8:30 a.m., with players undergoing physicals and meeting with physicians and trainers throughout the morning. Players will begin conditioning with the strength and conditioning staff Wednesday.
Veteran players such as tight end Marcedes Lewis and kicker Josh Scobee, the two most-tenured players on the roster, were among players arriving on Tuesday for the program, which – like all offseason activities other than one mandatory minicamp – is voluntary.
Defensive tackle Ziggy Hood, one of several unrestricted free agents signed by the team in March, said he arrived Saturday and worked out Monday.
"It's very festive," said Hood, who spent his first five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. "Everybody's welcoming back everybody, and it seems like everybody's having fun. As the new guy, I'm sitting back and observing the scene. It's new to me, but I like the atmosphere and seeing what's going on – seeing the smiles on the guys' faces.
"I'm having fun with it and I'm going to enjoy it as I go."
Hood said the Bradley he saw Tuesday was the same one he saw during the free-agency process.
"He was full of energy and you could tell he's genuinely happy that all the guys are back," Hood said. "It was fun to see him up there with a back-and-forth, wall-to-wall type of feel to it. It's the same guy. He hasn't changed – same guy in the hallway, same guy in the locker room, same guy in the team meeting."
Miller said veteran returning players saw the same coach, too, and that the consistency of message is an important part of the beginning of the second offseason program under Bradley.
"Gus doesn't change," Miller said. "He gives a consistent message, year in and year out. It's a positive message that echoes the same thing from last year except we have a better understanding of it – what he means by 'getting better,' and those types of things.
"For us, today was getting our minds back and focusing on the things we need to build on from last year. The biggest thing is developing the culture. Guys have bought into that, and now it's time for us to adopt it and take it to the next level."
Second-year safety Johnathan Cyprien said Bradley's message was basic, with the moral being to change yourself before you can change the world.
"It was about improving upon yourself," Cyprien said. "You're always energized when you're speaking to Gus. The mentality I have leaving the meeting is I want to improve off last year. You want to improve yourself personally, then bring it to the team."
Cyprien said overall players reported with the idea of continuing the progress made last season, when the Jaguars won four of five games after a 0-8 start before finishing the season 4-12 in Bradley's first season as head coach.
"There's a good feeling on that," Cyprien said. "Last year was the first time for us establishing a culture here in Jacksonville, not only for myself but for everybody on the team. Going into the second year, doing the same thing and being consistent with it, I believe we can be better than last year."