JACKSONVILLE – The head coach’s post-bye message was serious and focused.
So was the mood around the Jaguars.
“We’re excited to get out there – ready to start it up again,” Head Coach Doug Marrone said.
This was Wednesday afternoon as the Jaguars (3-5) gathered at TIAA Bank Field to begin preparing to play the Indianapolis Colts (3-5) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday.
The words came after Jaguars players had spoken to the media and before the team practiced full for the first time since returning from a bye this past weekend.
With the Jaguars struggling before the bye, Marrone made changes to the practice schedule – expanding the morning walkthrough and moving practice to earlier in the afternoon. The idea was to increase focus, and to find a way out of four-game losing streak.
“The players came back and seemed focus, as they should be,” Marrone said. “Basically, what I told them was just, ‘Learn from the past, but don’t live in the past.’ In other words, you act upon the things that you learned, but take the anger out of it, take the selfishness out of it.
“We’re expecting them to go out there, we’re expecting them to work hard and give ourselves a chance to win a game on Sunday. We all know we have to put the work in.”
Marrone on Wednesday discussed several injured players, most notably running back Leonard Fournette.
Fournette, who rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie last season, missed the final four games before the bye with a hamstring injury. He has missed six of the last seven games but practiced Monday and again Wednesday.
Cornerbacks A.J. Bouye (calf) and Quenton Meeks (knee) were not expected to practice Wednesday, but five injured players – Fournette, tight end James O’Shaughnessy (hip), defensive end Lerentee McCray (hamstring), cornerback D.J. Hayden (toe) and quarterback Blake Bortles (non-throwing shoulder) – were expected to practice.
Bortles earlier in the day said his shoulder felt good.
“The other guys who are out there, we’ll take it day-by-day and see what they can do,” Marrone said.
Jaguars players on Monday also discussed the feeling around the locker room as they gathered for the second half of the season.
“We need to be focused and locked in, and just play with good energy,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “With the change of schedule, guys have to be more alert – just naturally.”
Bortles speaking of three days of productive meetings last week before players left for the NFL-mandated four-day bye weekend.
“We had some good meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday that kind of honed everything and got everybody thinking the right way,” Bortles said. “That break gave guys some time off, some time to reload and get ready to go in the second half of the season and get rolling.”
Bortles called Wednesday’s extended morning walkthrough “the best walkthrough we’ve had all year long as far as guys paying attention to the assignments and attention to detail.”
“That was good to see,” Bortles said. “When you play like that for multiple games in a row something’s gotta change. You have to change attitude, change mindset and figure it out. You’ve got try different things to figure out how to get it fixed.
“If I knew, if anybody knew, we’d fix it in a heartbeat. But for whatever reason, things weren’t going the way we wanted to, we weren’t playing the way we wanted to. We were messing up and making mistakes that we don’t make during the week and we shouldn’t be making.
“We weren’t playing at a level as an offense that we knew we could play at on a consistent basis. In order to get back to where we want to be, the attention to detail and the heightened alertness of what we’re doing in a walkthrough becomes more important.”