JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley liked the physicality and effort, and that was a good start.
And while the Jaguars' head coach on Friday reiterated what he said following Thursday's preseason-opening loss to the New York Jets – that there are improvements to be made – there were a lot of good signs when reviewing the game.
Good tempo offensively. A good start offensively.
Significant improvement in the run game.
Mostly, Bradley emphasized the physical nature on both offense and defense at MetLife Stadium Thursday, saying that's an area on which to build in the coming days.
"The things we preached as a coaching staff going into this game were to be very, very physical and to play with great effort," Bradley said. "That was our mindset overall as a team. We wanted to see that nature of play – very pleased to see our physical nature.
"Obviously offense, defense and special teams we had things we can work on, but that was first and foremost."
The Jaguars, after talking throughout training camp about the need to start faster on offense, scored 10 points on their first two possessions. Quarterback Blake Bortles completed 6 of 7 passes for 105 yards during that span, but as significant was the offense's effectiveness running.
Chris Ivory, an offseason unrestricted free-agent signee who led the AFC in rushing for the Jets last season, rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown on six carries and second-year veteran T.J. Yeldon rushed for 24 yards on four carries. That tandem is expected to share first-team reps this season, and the duo played well enough Thursday that Bortles said afterward they "ran the crap out of the ball."
Bradley on Friday said the offense showed better tempo against the Jets than in a scrimmage last Friday, something that was a pregame emphasis. He also spoke specifically of liking the physical nature of the run game.
"I thought our running backs played real physical," Bradley said. "The yards after contact, all of those stats you look at regarding that – just very pleased with that. That will really be the mindset we continue on with next week, too – the physical, the tempo, the run game, the starting fast, then taking care of the ball."
Bradley said he liked much about the defensive effort, but reiterated what he said Thursday that discipline at times was an issue.
"The toughness and effort was there," Bradley said. "The discipline was not where we need it to be. Defensively, there were some things we've been doing all during training camp – going for the ball, rip attempts, things like that – that didn't quite carry over like we hoped."
Bradley said a positive was that the Jaguars allowed just two of 12 third-down conversions, a sign of improvement in an area of offseason emphasis.
"There's something there we can build on," Bradley said.
Bradley on Friday addressed a couple of game-specific issues, saying the timing between tight end Julius Thomas and Bortles led to a missed touchdown opportunity – and Bortles' lone incompletion – in the first quarter.
"It was just more, 'Were they seeing the same thing and thinking the same thing?''' Bradley said.
Bradley also said rookie linebacker Myles Jack "really flashed" and "played extremely physical" in extensive second- and third-quarter work with the second team.
"I thought his demeanor on the field and poise on the field was excellent," Bradley said, adding that Jack ran the defense well from the middle-linebacker position.
Images from the Jaguars first preseason game against the Jets.
Bradley said the game was emotional for defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft who missed his rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Thursday's game was Fowler's first since January 2015 – his final game at the University of Florida.
"You could just tell in the locker room that a lot of emotions were going through his head," Bradley said. "He was just so excited to play. I think this game was good to go through that and get that out of his system.
"With his pass rush there are things he would have liked to have done differently. But his effort was outstanding and his physicality was outstanding. There were some things like that I think he'll grow on."
Also on Friday, the Jaguars announced that cornerback Jalen Ramsey, center Brandon Linder and free safety Tashaun Gipson will return to practice Saturday. All three were held out of the Jets game for precautionary reasons.
In other injury news:
*Bradley said he expects veteran offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum to work in individual drills in practice this week and to be evaluated daily as to when he can work in team drills. Beachum did not play Thursday as the team remains cautious in his return from a torn ACL sustained in Week 6 with Pittsburgh last season. Beachum is expected to compete with Luke Joeckel for starting left tackle, with Bradley saying Joeckel appeared improved from last year while working extensively at left tackle throughout the first half Thursday. "I thought Luke showed up and played really physical," Bradley said. "His aggressiveness and strength were traits that showed up [Friday]. I thought he did a pretty good job at tackle – overall, much improved."
*Cornerback Aaron Colvin is considered day-to-day with a right ankle sprain sustained against the Jets.
*Safety James Sample will be evaluated in the next few days for a shoulder contusion sustained against the Jets.
*Offensive tackle Josh Wells underwent surgery Thursday to repair ligament damage in his right thumb.