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First off the Field: Clemons likely to start at Leo


JACKSONVILLE – Chris Clemons is back in the starting lineup.

That doesn't mean the veteran will take an unreasonable amount of snaps, but Head Coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday Clemons likely will start at the Leo position in the regular-season opener Sunday.

Clemons, who signed with the Jaguars as a free agent in the 2014 offseason, started all 16 games at the Leo last season. He had worked as a third-down pass rusher in the team's third preseason game after not playing in the first two preseason games.

Nearly every Jaguars starter sat out the fourth preseason game last Thursday at Washington.

"I think you'll probably end up seeing him starting," Bradley said of Clemons Wednesday afternoon as the Jaguars prepared to play the Carolina Panthers at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.  "You should see him out there with the first group."

Bradley said while the Leo will be played "by committee" with Clemons, Ryan Davis and Chris Smith Sunday, Clemons' experience helped prompt the decision to work him with the first team Sunday. With fourth-year Leo Andre Branch out multiple games at the start of the season with a knee injury, Bradley previously had said second-year Leo Chris Smith would work with the first team on first and second downs. Smith worked in that role in the preseason finale.

Clemons registered eight sacks from the Leo position last season, but after missing the entire offseason program except for a three-day mandatory minicamp, he also spent the first part of training camp on the active non-football injury list. He missed the first two preseason games, and then played about 16 or 17 plays against the Detroit Lions in Preseason Week 3.

"I think you'll see Chris Smith there, too," Bradley said. "I think it's the experience level and finding out where Clem is at … He's not going to be a guy who can play 60 reps in a game. It's going to be by committee, but the first group that goes out there I'd anticipate him."

The Jaguars on Wednesday released their first official injury report of the 2015 regular season, with tight end Julius Thomas (hand), defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (knee), Branch (knee), wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring) and wide receiver Bryan Walters (hamstring) not practicing.

Thomas, Branch and Marks are expected to be out multiple games to start the season, while Lee is considered day-to-day this week. Bradley said Wednesday he expects Walters to play, which gives the Jaguars four healthy receivers: Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, rookie Rashad Greene and Walters.

"I think he's going to be OK," Bradley said. "It was more precautionary for us today to make sure, but it seemed like he felt pretty good. That would be a good sign for us."

Lee ran in practice Wednesday and Bradley said Lee said he felt good afterward.

"We'll find out more tonight," Bradley said.

Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. That's important because he's one of the team's top special teams players and the team's backup Otto linebacker behind veteran Dan Skuta. Reynolds hadn't practiced since the Jaguars' Preseason Week 2 loss to the New York Giants August 22.

Running back Toby Gerhart also practiced limited with an abdominal strain. He said Monday he expected to play.  Defensive tackle Michael Bennett also practiced limited with a knee contusion.

Starting strong safety Johnathan Cyprien (finger) returned to practice on a full-participation basis Wednesday and was not wearing a red, non-contact jersey. Cyprien had worked in the red jersey since sustaining his injury in the August 14 preseason opener.

Also, Bradley called Wednesday afternoon's two-and-a-half-hour practice "a good work day," adding that while the team worked some first-team-versus-first-team work the day also featured the first extensive, in-depth introduction of Carolina.

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