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First off the Field: Strong week for defense


JACKSONVILLE – As Gus Bradley sees it, this has been a good week thus far.

That's particularly true for the Jaguars' defense as the team prepares for the final game of the 2015 preseason.

With the coaches adjusting their practice/preparation schedule on a short week that includes a Thursday road game, Bradley – in his third season as the Jaguars' head coach – on Monday said the defense has put together two good practices in succession at the beginning of the week.

"I will say this: the defense the last two days has had one of our better back-to-back practices," Bradley said Monday after the Jaguars worked for more than two hours at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness practice fields.

"Very, very pleased – they've really responded well the last two days."

Bradley said the Jaguars on Monday essentially combined a normal regular-season Wednesday practice with a normal regular-season Thursday practice. The team will practice Tuesday, then fly to Washington Wednesday in advance of Thursday night's preseason finale against the Redskins.

Bradley said he has emphasized to the Jaguars' younger players and reserves they will play extensively on Thursday. The Jaguars have not announced playing time for Thursday, but starters and front-line players rarely play extensively in the preseason finale and often don't play at all.

The Jaguars must trim the roster from 75 to 53 players by Saturday at 4 p.m.

Take a look at images as the Jaguars prepare for their final preseason game at Washington.

"A lot of guys are going to get an opportunity," Bradley said. "We're going to evaluate these guys. We have some tough decisions to make and I think the message today was, 'Don't miss this opportunity. Don't miss it.'''

Bradley noted that reserve linebacker Jeremiah George played 54 repetitions with 12 special teams plays in a Preseason Week 2 game against the New York Giants. Bradley said many reserves could see similar plays Thursday.

"What a great opportunity to put some stuff out on tape and get a chance for not only us to evaluate but for other teams," Bradley said. "That's what these guys are in hopes for."

Jaguars players out of practice Monday:

Leo defensive end Andre Branch (knee), guard Brandon Linder (toe), wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring), wide receiver Allen Hurns (hip), running back Toby Gerhart (abdomen), linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (knee) and cornerback Peyton Thompson (hamstring).  Defensive tackle Roy Miller had a veterans day off.

Lee has been out since early in training camp and has missed the first two preseason games. Bradley on Monday said he wasn't sure of a timetable for Lee's return.

"I think this week is going to be big for him," Bradley said. "We'll know more by the end of this week or early next week where he's at. I feel pretty confident (about Lee's chances to play against Carolina September 13 in the regular-season opener) with everything that's brought to me; he has a return-to-play (protocol) that might take five or six days.

"He's involved in it now. He just needs to keep stacking up good days."

Cornerback Demetrius McCray (knee), running back Bernard Pierce (back) and Neal Sterling (hamstring) worked limited for a second consecutive day. Tight end Julius Thomas (hand) and safety Johnathan Cyprien (finger) continued to work in red, non-contact jerseys.

Safety Matt Daniels (shoulder) and cornerback Davon House (elbow contusion) also were limited in practice Monday.

Wide receiver Bryan Walters (hamstring), a veteran competing with Tony Washington for the team's fifth receiver position, also was limited during practice. But Bradley said Walters took repetitions near the end of practice and finished practice.

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