JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars took a step toward getting a lot healthier Wednesday.
At the very least, the first practice of the week featured a lot more familiar faces in familiar places as the Jaguars began preparing for an important division game Sunday.
Defensive end Andre Branch practiced for the first time since the preseason Wednesday, the same day three other front-line players who missed Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots practiced: safety Johnathan Cyprien, cornerback Dwayne Gratz and left tackle Luke Joeckel.
All four players worked full Wednesday.
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Branch – who has been rehabilitating a medial collateral ligament injury – will be evaluated to see how he responds from his first extensive work in more than a month. The expectation is he could play Sunday.
"I'd say there's a chance," Bradley said as the Jaguars (1-2) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (1-2) at Lucas Oi Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., Sunday at 1 p.m.
He also said Joeckel and Cyprien could start Sunday.
"Just by my eyes, watching, it seems they both did pretty well," Bradley said. "If everything progresses good, they have a chance to start."
Images from Wednesdays practice as the Jaguars prepare to face AFC South foe Indianapolis Colts.
Joeckel, out the last two games after sustaining an ankle injury in the regular-season opener, took all first-team repetitions, offensive coordinator Greg Olson said.
"He was good," Olson said. "It was great to see him out there."
Also on Wednesday, safety Josh Evans worked limited after leaving Sunday's game with a knee injury. The injury report read as follows:
Joeckel (ankle, full), Cyprien (calf, full), Gratz (ankle, full), Branch (knee, full), Evans (knee, limited), defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee, limited), offensive guard Brandon Linder (shoulder, limited), wide receiver Allen Hurns (thigh, limited), defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (knee, limited), tight end Julius Thomas (hand, limited), guard Zane Beadles (finger, limited), wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring, did not practice), free safety Sergio Brown (calf, DNP), cornerback Davon House (lower leg, DNP) and running back Denard Robinson (knee, DNP).
Lee, Brown and House all left Sunday's game in New England, while Robinson missed the game after sustaining a medial collateral ligament strain the week before against Miami.
With Brown out and Evans limited, the Jaguars had three players available to work full at safety: Cyprien, rookie James Sample and backup nickel corner Peyton Thompson, who was forced into action at free safety this past weekend at New England.
"It's extremely important," Bradley said of Cyprien's return to full status. "Just what he brings to this team – his leadership, his style of play. All are qualities that would be a great addition to the secondary. He just has a certain presence. Guys really trust him back there, and he allows us to do some different things with his presence back there."
Sample has worked at free and strong safety because of the recent injuries at the position. He is taking more repetitions at free safety this week.
"I like his play-making ability," Bradley said. "If we can get him to have a good grasp of both it will make us stronger."
Also, Bradley called Wednesday a "very, very competitive practice" in the wake of a 51-17 loss to the Patriots Sunday.
"We got a lot of work done, and I loved the way they came out – a lot of attention to detail and refocus," Bradley said. "I think our team feels like they wish they could play tomorrow, but we need these practices and they're excited about the opportunity."