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Monday update: Schedule adjusted for holidays


JACKSONVILLE – The weekend off is over …

The final week – a holiday week, no less – has begun.

That was the Jaguars' scenario Monday as they returned to EverBank Field, and it was fair to call it an unusual situation as they began preparing for the 2014 regular-season finale.

"It's Christmas, and every team in the league wants to do right there because of the holiday season," Head Coach Gus Bradley said Monday as the Jaguars (3-12) began early preparations to play the Texans (8-7) at NRG Stadium in Houston Sunday at 1 p.m.

Because the Jaguars played the Tennessee Titans last Thursday, players had three days off before returning Monday. And because there was no game Sunday, Bradley said the team was able to adjust this week's schedule to give players and coaches Thursday – Christmas Day – off.

Whereas the Jaguars would have had meetings Monday with a day off Tuesday and practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on a normal week, the schedule this week calls for practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday with an off day Thursday.

"It worked out we could do that because of our Thursday game," Bradley said. "That part will be a little bit different in the routine they have week to week, but I think we'll be able to adjust. It's benefitted us as far as health. To have those guys in for a couple of extra days of treatment has been good."

Injured players received treatment at EverBank Field throughout the weekend. Coaches were in Friday, off Saturday and began preparing for Houston on Sunday.

Bradley said while keeping the team focused on a holiday week is an issue, he has seen no signs of players being overly distracted with the unusual week.

"How I look it is you don't want to be naïve," Bradley said. "I don't believe that's our team's character or our makeup. That's not been our character, but I also know we have to provide direction for our guys as well."

Also on Monday:

*Bradley said he has seen improvement in recent weeks from quarterback Blake Bortles, and said the rookie has responded to challenges from coaches to make good decisions without becoming less aggressive. "It hasn't affected his mentality," Bradley said. "He goes out there and is still willing to take chances and risks – and he's been ultra-competitive throughout the whole thing. To me, that he has stayed true to who he is, has made the corrections and been consistent is impressive."

*Bradley said Bortles has told him that he is "coming up with more answers" on the field. "I think that's probably the biggest reasons he's made better decisions,'" Bradley said. …

*Bradley said playing the Texans three weeks after the team's first meeting of the season gives coaches and players a good feel entering game-planning. He also said one overriding element remains true no matter when or how often you play the Texans. "I think you always have to know where (defensive end) J.J. Watt is regardless," Bradley said. …

*Bradley said overall the play of the defensive line this season has been what the team hoped. The Jaguars this past offseason signed ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons and tackle Ziggy Hood with the hope of providing depth and therefore keeping the front fresh and active throughout the season. The line has been perhaps the best unit on the team and is a major reason for the team's 42 sacks this season. "It's becoming what we hoped it would be," Bradley said. The sacks total is tied for fifth-most in the NFL…

*Bradley also said he is pleased with the team's speed and energy late in the season. Bradley said the team perhaps didn't play quite as fast late last season – perhaps because of health or just "being banged up." "That was one of the things that we looked into (in the offseason)," Bradley said. "I think it's been pretty good. Last week we were playing a Thursday game and didn't go pads the whole week – hats and cleats and that's it. At that time you're always nervous to see how the team responds, but I've been really pleased with the number of injuries we've had. Every team has them, but the level of effort – I think you can see we still have some burst in our team." …

*The Jaguars provided no injury updates on players with uncertain statuses for Sunday such as defensive end Andre Branch (groin) and defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee). An update is expected Tuesday. …

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