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Gus Bradley speaks at combine: Linder could play center


INDIANAPOLIS – Brandon Linder could play center for the Jaguars.

Head Coach Gus Bradley's media availability at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday morning wasn't incredibly newsy, but that stood out.

Linder, who played right guard at a high level for the Jaguars throughout his 2014 rookie season before missing all but three games with a shoulder injury this past season, could play center next season. Bradley discussed the possibility while addressing the media at the Combine Thursday.

"He's one of our most talented offensive linemen," Bradley said of Linder Thursday morning at Lucas Oil Stadium. "I think there was a preseason game where he did play the center spot.

"At this time of year, you look through different scenarios, different options, how you can strengthen your team. We do that at every position. That [the ability to play center] is a trait he has. He has a skill set that could play that position. What's best for our team? We'll see how it goes."

The move is one of several possibilities for the Jaguars as they address the interior of the line. General Manager David Caldwell mentioned the possibility shortly after this past season of right guard A.J. Cann – a rookie last season – playing center. Tyler Shatley and Luke Bowanko are also possibilities at both guard and center.

The team made a free-agency run at center Alex Mack of Cleveland two years ago, and he is expected to opt out of his contract with the Browns before free agency begins. Aside from Mack, center is not considered a deep position in free agency this offseason.

Guard is considered likely to be significantly deeper than center in this year's free-agent class, so the Jaguars in theory could move Linder to center, sign or draft a guard and also leave Cann at guard.

Also on Thursday, Bradley said the first few weeks of defensive meetings, planning and review with defensive coordinator Todd Wash have gone well. Wash was promoted to the position from defensive line coach/run-game coordinator in late January.

"It's gone very smooth," Bradley said. "He's been very challenging. I've been very pleased that we're a similar system. We may have to tweak it a little bit, but I'm very excited how the last couple of weeks have gone."

Bradley on Thursday also said:

*He believes left tackle Luke Joeckel can continue to improve in his fourth season. "I've been around left tackles that it has taken a couple of years for them to really find their groove," Bradley said. "There was part of the season [last season] where we really thought he was in that groove and really performed well. Then, there were a couple of games where he expected himself to be better. His biggest thing is getting in the weight room to become stronger. That's what he's doing this offseason."

*He believes the same about safety Johnathan Cyprien, who like Joeckel showed flashes this past season but also was inconsistent. "I think there are some things we can do within the scheme to get him more comfortable with things that we're asking him to do," Bradley said. "Then, it's just the consistency part, because he had really good games –really strong flashes – of being the player we thought we got in the second round [of the 2013 NFL Draft]." …

*He likes the pass rushers at the top of the 2016 NFL Draft, a list that many analysts believe includes Joey Bosa of Ohio State and Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky. "Going into the draft class, there were some unknowns there," he said, "but as we've looked at more and more guys, there are some guys who have the traits we're looking for." …

Take a look back at some of your Jacksonville Jaguars at the NFL Combine.

*He likes the progress shown by Leo end Dante Fowler Jr., the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft who missed his 2015 rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in May rookie minicamp. "After the season, he's really amped it up," Bradley said. "I know a lot of his testing, the results have come back and they've been really, really good numbers. We're really pleased with how his rehab has gone." …

*He didn't want to comment further on the video released by TMZ Wednesday depicting Fowler. "Our organization has released a statement," Bradley said. "I'll just stand by that. I've had conversations with him and I'm here to support him and his family." …

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