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Jaguars finish Mike Mularkey's version of training camp


More than a month later, what Mike Mularkey sees as training camp is coming to an end. At last.

And as he sees it, the mission has been accomplished.

Mularkey, in his first season as the Jaguars' head coach, said while training camp technically ended on August 19, in his mind the team has remained in camp, and it really won't end until after Thursday night's preseason finale against Atlanta.

But with Wednesday's walkthrough and ensuing kickoff luncheon at the Prime Osborne Convention Center in downtown Jacksonville in a sense representing an end to the "camp" period of the preseason, Mularkey told reporters he felt the past month accomplished what he hoped.

"I'm very happy," Mularkey said. "I'm not in the least bit (disappointed). I think we have a great group. It shows up every day when we come to work. I feel good about it when I go home at night. I think the staff would agree, that that's been the feeling as we've finished camp each day."

Thirty-four days. Forty practices.

And yes, Mularkey said, the result is not only a prepared team, but one that knows more about each other than it did in mid-July.

"I think we're a very close team," Mularkey said. "I'm excited about what we've put together, and hopefully that transfers over next week when we get into the regular season. . . .We've been going since April, and I think this is a close group that really likes being around each other."

The Jaguars Wednesday morning went through a "Friday-type" practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness practice fields before busing to the luncheon. Mularkey said the younger players on the team received most of the repetitions.

Those same players – many of whom are free agents and rookies "on the bubble" – are expected to play most of the final three quarters Thursday, with the starters expected to get about 10-to-12 plays.

Tight end Zach Miller, cornerback Derek Cox, defensive end George Selvie, defensive end Austen Lane, cornerback Leigh Torrence, defensive tackle Odrick Ray and guard Will Rackley aren't expected to play Thursday, and Mularkey said Wednesday Montell Owens also will not play.

Owens, who is the backup running back behind Rashad Jennings with holdout Maurice Jones-Drew still not reporting, has experienced knee swelling.

"There's no reason to risk it," Mularkey said of Owens.

The Jaguars must trim the roster from 75 to 53 players by 9 p.m. Friday, and further moves could be made Saturday depending on players released by other teams.

"We're going to talk about it immediately after the game (Thursday) that night, then we'll continue into the Friday process," Mularkey said. "Let's play the game out, see what happens and hopefully both teams stay injury-free, and we'll discuss what we're going to do with the roster when the game gets over with."

As of Wednesday, with camp coming to an end, Mularkey said he believes that however the roster shakes out, he's going to like the look of it.

"I feel good about us," Mularkey said. "I think our staff and myself, we know these guys obviously a lot better than we did back in April. I think they know we are demanding. You've seen it in the practices. We're very demanding. We're asking a lot of time with them.

"There has been no bickering. It's just been a good experience this offseason."

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