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London touchdown: Jaguars arrive in United Kingdom


CHANDLER'S CROSS, England – A crowd of fans chanted, "Duuuval."

Soon thereafter, Jaguars players – a day after a 33-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Ohio, and hours after touching down in the United Kingdom – were running onto a practice field at the Grove Hotel, just 18 miles from downtown London.

It was that kind of Monday for the Jaguars.

It was gray in the United Kingdom. It was rainy with a chill in the air. It was full of fatigue, and it was more than a bit hectic.

But it was also part of the unique experience that began late Sunday afternoon and will culminate Sunday, when the Jaguars play at Wembley Stadium in London for a second consecutive year – this time against the playoff-contending Dallas Cowboys.

"We enjoy it, and our players enjoy it," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said of the London experience. "For some of them, it's an unknown – like it was for me last year – and they're not quite sure what the whole process is about, but once you experience it it's a great atmosphere."

The Jaguars left Cincinnati around 9 p.m. ET Sunday, arriving in London shortly after 9 a.m. GMT. The team then traveled by charter buses to the Grove Hotel, where they will meet and practice this week before changing hotels later in the week.

"It went well," said Jaguars linebacker Geno Hayes, who is participating in his second London game in as many years and the fourth of his career.  "We had a nice dinner, got on a plane and went to sleep. It's good. It's something to get used to."

Hayes played in London as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009 and 2011 and with the Jaguars last season.

"I think I'm used to it," he said, laughing. "I've done it four or five times. It's no biggie for me, but I know guys have to get used to it."

The team met briefly Monday after arriving before a short workout at the Grove's practice field, the site where the team will practice Wednesday-Friday. About 100 fans from the Jaguars' Union Jax-UK support group attended the practice.

They wore Jaguars jerseys, hats and T-Shirts, and shouted "Duuvual" as they waited for players to arrive. Players then signed autographs and shook hands with fans before leaving. Players are off Monday and Tuesday this week, but many will participate in on-field events and appearances the next two days.

Players also will be involved on Tuesday with not only a Play 60 Football Clinic, but a visit to the Armed Forces Rehab Center at Headley Court and a visit to the Royal British Legion.

"It is a business trip," wide receiver Cecil Shorts III said Monday. "You want to go over here and get ready for the game, but it cool to go around and sight-see."

Maybe the most memorable moment Monday came around 1:45 p.m. local time, when Bradley led an impromptu chant of "We Believe in Victory Speech" that has become popular among Jaguars fan. Bradley led the cheer and danced with the crowd, who chanted along and applauded the second-year head coach.

Bradley laughed later when asked if he had planned to lead the cheer.

"It was pretty spontaneous," he said. "But it's good. If you're going to say, 'Connect with the following …' it's easy to talk it. I think you have to really demonstrate it."

Asked if the Jaguars were becoming "London's team," Bradley replied, "It sure feels that way."

"Seeing the jerseys people are wearing, and the hats – I know Jags Wear has gone up over here," Bradley said. "You really feel that sense of it."

Bradley said the experience of playing at Wembley Stadium last year was a memorable one. The Jaguars lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 42-10, but the energy and the enthusiasm from 83,559 fans at Wembley made the day memorable.

"That's another one of those things, where you're not sure what you're walking into," Bradley said. "Then you see it, with the flags waving for Jacksonville … the whole atmosphere was unbelievable and we talked about the whole experience, this whole week … we do want our players to enjoy it.

"We also understand we have a task we have to do and prepare for."

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