SWITCHING ON THE LINE
Cameron Bradfield may get a chance to start at right tackle.
And if that means Eben Britton moving to left guard, Britton – a starter for the Jaguars at right tackle in 2009 and 2010 – said he's OK with that.
"If that's what the team needs to get the best five guys on the field, hey, that's cool with me," Britton said. "It's going to be fun to get back out there."
Britton, the Jaguars' second-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, said after missing much of last season with a back injury, he wants a chance to be on the field. Britton likely will start at left guard against the New York Giants Friday night in the preseason opener, while Bradfield – a rookie free agent in 2011 – is expected to start at right tackle.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity," Bradfield said. "I'm just excited to get the chance to be back out there with the guys."
Bradfield, who signed with the Jaguars as a rookie free agent from Grand Valley State, started two games last season, and has worked at right and left tackle this training camp after spending the first few days on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
When the Jaguars began practice Thursday, Eugene Monroe was at left tackle, with Britton at left guard, Brad Meester at center, Uche Nwaneri at right guard and Bradfield at right tackle.
"As I sit here, I would think that's the way we'll start it," Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said. "He (Bradfield) really looks pretty good for missing the time he has missed."
Starting left guard Will Rackley is out for 3-to-4 weeks with a high-ankle sprain.
PLAYING IT SMART**
Rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon almost certainly won't play Friday, Mularkey said.
Blackmon, who signed Monday after a 10-day holdout to start camp, under NFL rules would be allowed to play, but Mularkey said because he has yet to work in pads playing the No. 5 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft against the Giants would be unwise.
"We'd like him to be in there, but the thing we don't want to do is throw him in there and put him in a situation to fail right away," Mularkey said. "There are a lot of things that can happen there. Physically, I have to make sure he's ready to go. He has not had full practice and run multiple reps. Is he in game condition? I can find out better after a week of practice.
"I don't want to put him in a situation where he doesn't know what he's doing, fails, and that can make other people look bad as well. It's disappointing, but it is what it is. It's the situation that came about because of the holdout."
Blackmon will dress for the game, Mularkey said.
"He (quarterback Blaine Gabbert) is one of the most improved guys here. Blaine's playing pretty well. We've got to get guys around him playing better. We've got to do a better job catching the ball and getting open. We're improving daily. That's why you have training camp. We have work to do. No question about it. These games will help us get better."
WHAT WE SAW
The Jaguars on Thursday had their final full practice before Friday's preseason opener. Although the team didn't work in full pads, Mularkey said there continued to be progress, particularly in the passing game. Mularkey was pointed Thursday that despite some drops and miscues he is pleased with the progress made in the area. On Thursday, Gabbert took a few fewer repetitions than normal, the idea being to give backup Chad Henne and third quarterback Jordan Palmer repetitions in the late-half and fourth-quarter situations they likely will face Friday. Henne, who appeared to improve this week, had another solid day, including a drill early in practice when he completed back-to-back passes to wide receiver Chastin West and tight end Zach Potter for 25 and 30 yards. The pass to Potter went for a touchdown. The Jaguars also for a third consecutive day had receivers who dropped passes run laps. Tight end Marcedes Lewis dropped two passes, and running backs Jalen Parmele and Keith Toston each dropped one. "We had half the drops today, so maybe it's working," Mularkey said. "You keep doing the same thing over and over, you're going to get the same results."
At last, what's next is a game. The Jaguars play host to the New York Giants in the preseason opener at EverBank Field Friday at 7:30 p.m., then will have the day off Saturday. Training camp resumes Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
Mularkey has been pretty pitch-perfect thus far as Jaguars Head Coach. That was the case again this week. On Tuesday, NFL Network's Heath Evans suggested that there was a disconnect between Mularkey and Jaguars players. Players expressed surprise at this on Thursday, and when Mularkey was asked about the issue Thursday, he smiled. "That's just the way it is these days," he said. "There are things being said, positives, negatives. You can't overreact to anything that is being said. Nobody's in the building when things are going on in here, so I don't know how you can make any comments about what's taking place." Mularkey then added, "That's comical to me, that they would make a comment like that." Comical – actually, there may be no better description of Evans' thoughts on this matter. There have been many issues in camp. Maurice-Jones-Drew's holdout. Blackmon's holdout. The development of Gabbert. What hasn't been an issue is how players feel about Mularkey and the camp he and the coaches are running. To suggest otherwise is blatantly uninformed and inaccurate.
*Tight end Zach Miller will miss Friday's game with what Mularkey called "a little bit of a torn pec," and said the injury is not season-ending. Mularkey said the team hopes to have Miller back by Week 1.
"It's really going to be a matter up to him with his strength and pain tolerance," he said.
*Mularkey said although the passing offense has struggled at times in practice, he has high hopes for how the area will perform against the Giants Friday. "I've watched the tape so maybe it's what you see in practice," Mularkey said. "I'm not sure what your perception is, but when you've watched the tape and you have a chance to study it like we do it's not as bad as you think it is."
*Mularkey said the conditioning of tight end Marcedes Lewis has improved in two weeks of training camp.