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First off the Field: DE Andre Branch's status uncertain


JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars slowed things down Thursday.

As they did, they worked for at least a day without the player who leads the team in sacks though four games this season.

Andre Branch, a third-year veteran and a backup at the team's Leo pass-rushing position, was added to the injury report on Thursday with a hip flexor injury. He is considered day-to-day as the team prepares to play Pittsburgh Sunday.

"He's better today than he was yesterday, so we're very hopeful on that," Head coach Gus Bradley said as the Jaguars (0-4) prepared to host the Steelers (2-2) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

Branch leads the team with three sacks and has eight sacks in his last 11 games.

With wide receiver Cecil Shorts III not expected to play with a hamstring injury, and wide receiver Marqise Lee already ruled out Sunday with a hamstring issue, Bradley joked that there was good news regarding Branch.

"It has nothing to do with a hamstring, so I have more confidence," Bradley said with a laugh.

The news regarding Branch came on a day the Jaguars focused on third downs, slowing the morning walk through and adding a period in the team session to concentrate on the area.

"I think it felt pretty good with the players," Bradley said. "I know they appreciated it. It was more of a learning segment in our (morning) walkthrough and more precision in our practice. It was a good practice overall."

Also around the Jaguars Thursday:

*Bradley said the Jaguars could know by Friday if Austin Pasztor will start at right tackle Sunday. The third-year veteran has been out since Preseason Week 2 with a hand injury, and after practicing with a protective club on his hand the past two weeks he is now working with a less restrictive device. He practiced full the last two days and Bradley said coaches will discuss Thursday whether to start Pasztor or Sam Young Sunday. "We wanted to see how he did again today, his comfort level," Bradley said of Pasztor, who said early Thursday afternoon he felt 100 percent ready for the first time since the injury. …

*Bradley said rookie tight end Nic Jacobs, signed off the Saints' practice squad last week, could be more involved this week. Jacobs caught a two-yard touchdown pass against San Diego Sunday. "We had a small package for him last week," Bradley said. "We're trying to speed things up. He did a great job learning the little bit that we asked him last week, but we're expanding that this week and he's doing a good job." …

*Cornerback Dwayne Gratz (concussion), Shorts, Lee and tight end Mickey Shuler (illness) remained out of practice Thursday for a second consecutive day. Lee was ruled out earlier in the week, with neither Shorts nor Gratz expected to play. Shuler remained day-to-day. Rookies Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson likely will start for Shorts and Lee with Demetrius McCray starting for Gratz. …

*Defensive end Ryan Davis (shoulder) returned to practice full after working limited Wednesday, and defensive tackle Roy Miller (ankle) also worked full after being limited Wednesday. Fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou (ankle) worked full after being limited Wednesday. …

*Outside linebacker Geno Hayes missed practice with a veteran day off. …

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