JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars exit the bye close to full strength.
Free safety Tashaun Gipson was the lone player on the 53-man roster to miss practice Wednesday – and Head Coach Gus Bradley said Gipson likely will play Sunday.
"He ran out there [at practice] today," Bradley said as the Jaguars (1-3) prepared to play the Chicago Bears (1-4) at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, Sunday at 1 p.m. "I'm starting to learn more about him – that he may have these things that periodically show up but that as he gets closer to game day he seems to be pretty good.
"It [Wednesday's absence] was more on us. He felt like he could go. I think it was more precautionary on our end."
Gipson missed practice with a knee injury originally sustained against Indianapolis Colts the week before the team's bye week this past Sunday.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis (hip), wide receiver Rashad Greene (Achilles) and tight end Ben Koyack (meniscus tear) returned to practice Wednesday after missing Monday. Defensive end Jared Odrick (triceps) and tight end Julius Thomas (elbow) also practiced. Odrick and Koyack both missed two games before the bye and Thomas missed one.
Bradley said the healthy state of the roster will make deactivating players difficult Sunday. That's particularly true defensively, where ends Tyson Alualu and Chris Smith played well in recent weeks after being inactive the first two and three games of the season, respectively.
"This is a tough week for us," Bradley said. "We spend a lot of time on this and just looking at our philosophy going into the game as far as the number of defensive linemen, linebackers, defensive backs … it's a challenging week for us. We've got some guys who are playing really well who may have to be out."
OMAMEH LIKELY TO START
Look for Patrick Omameh to make his first Jaguars start Sunday. Omameh played left guard after Luke Joeckel's season-ending knee injury against the Colts. "He's getting most of the reps there now, so it looks like he has a good chance to be the starter," Bradley said. Omameh (6-feet-4, 305 pounds) started 16 games for Tampa Bay in 2014 and nine for Chicago last season before signing with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in June. "He's a big, strong, physical-type presence for us at that guard spot," Bradley said. "He brings that. We're hoping the physical part really comes through."
LOOKING GOOD EARLY
A key storyline defensively this week: cornerback Aaron Colvin's return from a four-week season-opening suspension under the NFL's performance-enhancing substances policy. Colvin played at a high level in training camp and preseason, and defensive coordinator Todd Wash said Wednesday Colvin has returned focused mentally. The Jaguars during Monday's practice challenged Colvin with a new look that required him to make a run fit, which he did successfully. "It was unbelievable to see how he executed the first play when he came back," Wash said. "He continued to study the game even though we were not with him or talking to him. We feel he'll come back just as good as before we left." Wash said Colvin will start out working the nickel with Jalen Ramsey, Prince Amukamara and Davon House at outside corner. "This will be a good, competitive week," Wash said. "We're slowly going to work Colvin back in on the outside, but he'll play nickel in our sub-package."
DON'T FORCE IT
Quarterback Blake Bortles talked Wednesday about the season's first four games. One point he made was the offense needs to play freer, and he also discussed reducing turnovers. Bortles has seven turnovers in three weeks – six interceptions and a lost fumble. He had at least one turnover in all three Jaguars losses and none in a 30-27 victory over Indianapolis. "Obviously a big part of it is accuracy and throwing the football and where you put it," Bortles said. "But I think for me it's more so not forcing things, not trying to make plays down the field early in games when they're not there. … I think I've had a bit of an issue of forcing things early, wanting to make a big play early in the game and forcing stuff downfield, whereas I think it's OK to take a check-down early in the game and let those things develop throughout the game because we'll keep calling shots and we'll eventually get them. It's getting the check-downs – and then if it's not, there take off and run, make something happen, make a play."
"I felt on Monday that this team came back [from the bye] really fresh. We've never had a bye week this early, but we had some injuries and it gave us a chance to come back healthy. There's a certain spirit that you saw in practice [Monday] and it continues today. Hopefully it carries over to Sunday.''
"Our guys are playing with some confidence right now. We played, realistically, three good football games out of four. There are some things we can get better at for damn sure. It is a situation where they are feeling confident right now and I think that is a lot of credit to them because they have put in the time. They are studying. They are doing the things they need to do to put themselves in positon."
--Wash on the Jaguars' defense