JACKSONVILLE – The process is far from easy.
But it is necessary, and it is important, and for that reason Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said while a big part of trimming and shaping the roster takes place Friday, it doesn't end that day.
And it may not end for a while.
The Jaguars on Friday were expected to make a series of roster moves toward trimming the roster from 75 players to 53, the number that the NFL requires teams to reach by 6 p.m. Saturday. But Bradley said when that number is reached, it won't mean the team will have its "Final 53."
"We'll have some new additions to our team," Bradley said. "With the waiver wire being open, I'm sure we'll pick up a player or two."
Bradley said he and General Manager David Caldwell were meeting about roster moves early Friday afternoon, with the coaching and scouting staffs also involved.
"It's not an easy day," Bradley said. "It's good to have open discussion."
Bradley said special teams will play a huge role in deciding the final roster spots at several positions, and also said overall was pleased with the team's development during the preseason.
The Jaguars finished the preseason 1-3, losing their first three games before a 20-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons Thursday.
"We made good progress," Bradley said. "I think we improved every preseason game. I say that whole-heartedly looking at all areas."
Bradley said he was particularly pleased that the Jaguars rallied from a second-half deficit to win Thursday. The Jaguars had led, 10-0, in the second quarter before allowing the Falcons to rally and losing the lead in the third quarter.
"I thought it was really cool (Thursday night), what took place," Bradley said. "Adversity came and hit us, and that is a question I had for our team: 'How do we take that punch? How do we respond?' They did a nice job."
Bradley on Friday also addressed the health of Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert, named the starting quarterback for the regular-season opener, missed the final two preseason games with a thumb injury. Bradley said the plan is for him to increase reps, squeeze the ball and possibly throw over the weekend with the goal to begin practicing next week.
He also said there will be an issue of pain tolerance involved in whether Gabbert plays in the opener.
"When he's ready, he's ready," Bradley said. "I don't know if we want to go into a situation where he's 60 percent. We feel good about Chad (Henne) and the progress he has made, too. I think we'll just have to evaluate as it goes on and see where Blaine's at."
The Jaguars play the Kansas City Chiefs in the regular-season opener September 8.
Also on Friday:
*Bradley said he expects guard Will Rackley (ankle) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf) to play against Kansas City. Rackley did not make the trip to Atlanta, but Bradley said he is "making good progress."
*Bradley said rookie Denard Robinson has thrown effectively in practice while playing quarterback from the Wildcat formation, but that it needs to translate to games. "I think this is a process," Bradley said. "We feel strongly about the strain he causes for a defense, but it has to be an honest strain. If it's not effective, that's not what we're all about."
*Bradley said defensive end Jeremy Mincey could play against Kansas City. Mincey had an allergic reaction to a prescribed drug that caused skin irritation, and did not make the trip to Atlanta.
*Bradley said running back Justin Forsett (toe) remains uncertain for Kansas City, though the veteran backup running back has made "really good progress."
*Bradley didn't commit to keeping recently-acquired quarterback Ricky Stanzi on the roster, but said, "I like what we saw on film of him – I can tell you that." The Jaguars acquired Stanzi off waivers from Kansas City Tuesday, but he did not play against Atlanta Thursday.
*Bradley said he expects right tackle Luke Joeckel to be ready to play a full game by the regular-season opener. The rookie missed the second game of the preseason and started the final two preseason games, playing less than a half in each game.
*Bradley drew a laugh from reporters at his Friday media availability when asked if he had talked to Stanzi about the Chiefs as the team prepares for the opener. "I haven't – yet," he replied, adding seriously, "I think too much credit goes into that. It's not like you're visiting with a coach. We like Ricky for what he brought, and the talent level he has."
*Bradley praised both rookie cornerback Demetrius McCray and veteran corner Will Blackmon for their play against Atlanta. McCray, a seventh-round selection, defensed two passes and was credited with a sack. "He's a guy we're excited about his future," Bradley said, also praising Blackmon's versatility. Blackmon registered two passes defensed and an interception, also returning a punt 21 yards.
*Blackmon's performance came two days after being claimed off waivers. Bradley said he met with Blackmon in the team hotel in Atlanta, reviewing the culture of the franchise and his game-day responsibilities in a half-hour meeting. "With all of the distractions he had, he went out and performed at a pretty good level," he said.
*Bradley said second-year defensive end Andre Branch has shown improvement in recent weeks. Branch finished the preseason with one sack. "We challenged him," Bradley said. "I like what I saw. I saw him do some things I hadn't seen before from him. He's done a nice job of trying to work different techniques. With that, I'm pleased he's going in the right direction."