PHOENIX – Gus Bradley likes what he hears from Maurice Jones-Drew.
Bradley, the Jaguars' new head coach, likes what he has seen, too – on video, and from his own experience – from the Jaguars' three-time Pro Bowl running back, a player Bradley on Tuesday morning called "elite" and important to the Jaguars next season.
"I knew when I took the job I was really excited he was back there," Bradley said Tuesday morning during the AFC coaches media breakfast at the 2013 NFL annual meetings.
"He is elite. When he gets going and gets on a roll, he's difficult to stop. A lot of teams would be fortunate to have him and we have him in Jacksonville."
Jones-Drew, a Pro Bowl selection from 2009-2011 and the NFL's leading rusher in 2011, missed much of last season with a foot Injury. He has been attending classes at UCLA this offseason, but reportedly will return to Jacksonville this week.
He remains in a boot following surgery late last season, but toward the end of last season the projection was that he could be ready by early summer or training camp.
He also said late last season that he planned to participate as fully as possible in the team's offseason program. He held out much of training camp last season, with this season being the final year of his contract.
Bradley said Tuesday his conversations with Jones-Drew have been positive.
"We've talked a couple of times," Bradley said. "I saw him at a function. He said, 'We need to continue to talk.' In my eyes, he's doing everything right."
Bradley added, "His mindset is right where it needs to be in my opinion."
Bradley also said while Jones-Drew has been unable to work out because of the boot, he trusts that Jones-Drew will be in shape when necessary.
"I know Maurice's past history is that sometimes he leans up as he gets closer to the season," Bradley said. "I know this is probably challenging being in a boot, not being able to do something physical, but I trust him. I've had enough conversations with him that I totally trust that when he has the time he'll be ready to go."
Also on Tuesday:
*Bradley said while he was aware of recent reports from an anonymous former coach regarding quarterback Blaine Gabbert, he paid the comments little mind. "I didn't pay too much attention to it," he said. "I did see Blaine and I don't think I brought it up. I don't give any time to distractions like that. Who cares? You're going to hear a lot of things. You have to ignore the noise and concentrate on getting better. If I sat there and talked to him over and over about it it's like I'm allowing that to affect him. We know. Our vision is really strict. I want to talk about that. I didn't want to talk about that other stuff." A former assistant coach who was not named had criticized Gabbert, saying among other things that he was known around the building as "Blame Gabbert," but Bradley said he has gotten nothing but good impressions thus far in conversations with Gabbert. "He says, 'I'm excited, Gus.' "I don't know, maybe he's not, but he's saying the right things. I'm saying, 'Shoot, Let's go.' That's exactly how I feel. I'm not asking Blaine to be Tom Brady. I could care less about that. I'm not asking him to be Drew Brees, or anybody else. I just want to see him be the best he can be. He can do that, then let's see what happens."
*Bradley said he likes the team's approach with analytics, though he said his knowledge of the area was limited before taking the job. "I think it's been great. We're very open-minded to it," Bradley said, adding that he particularly likes its use in game management. "I think what it does is stimulate discussion. It makes you think about, 'OK, I've got to be prepared for all these different situations."
*Bradley said he likes middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, calling him "tough, reliable, smart." "He's got it all," Bradley said of Posluszny, who has started the last two seasons and set a franchise record for tackles last season. "I know the team gravitates toward him," Bradley said. "We're fortunate to have him."
*Bradley also discussed the team's three free agent signings from last Friday, calling defensive tackle Roy Miller a "tough hombre." "He's tough, reliable and smart," Bradley said of Miller, who spent his first four seasons with the Buccaneers, where he worked with Jaguars defensive line coach Todd Wash in 2009-2010. Bradley worked with running back Justin Forsett in Seattle, and said he and Miller are good locker room guys. "He comes into that locker room, and people gravitate toward him," Bradley said of Forsett. "He has that kind of impact." Bradley said while Forsett and Miller – as well as outside linebacker Geno Hayes – had worked with members of the staff, that was a coincidence. "They were available and the tape showed they were productive," Bradley said. "If they weren't good players, we wouldn't have considered them. It was icing on the cake that we knew them." Bradley also said cornerback Alan Ball has a chance to make an impact. "He has some of the traits we're looking for," Bradley said. "He has the length and he has the speed. We see the traits in him that has led to success in this league."
*Bradley said he is in favor of a proposed rule making it illegal for running backs to use the crown of their helmet to initiate contact in the open field. "How can you be against it?" Bradley said." Safety is the No. 1 thing for players." Bradley said a concern is calling the penalty in real game speed.