DETROIT, Mich. – As Gus Bradley saw it, the Jaguars accomplished a lot Friday.
The whole dress rehearsal part of the third preseason game – a huge part of the third week of the NFL preseason— went fine, and the Jaguars' second-year head coach said many good things came from a 13-12 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Friday night.
Mainly, Bradley said he was impressed with the team's effort.
The Jaguars, despite breaking training camp about a week and a half ago, have continued to hold intense training-camp type practices. Even with that, Bradley said the Jaguars had good energy Friday in a game they led into the fourth quarter.
"To have that kind of energy into preseason, my hat's off to them for it," Bradley said after the Jaguars lost a fourth-quarter lead with a late 1-yard touchdown run by Lions reserve running back George Winn. "I think we can really build off of that."
Specifically, Bradley said he liked several aspects of the Jaguars' play early.
First, running back Toby Gerhart – one of the team's top offseason acquisitions – ran hard early, finishing with 32 yards on 10 carries. Gerhart missed the preseason opener with a hip flexor, but has rushed for 51 yards in the last two games.
"I know he wanted to get the ball more," Bradley said. "He felt like he was healthy. He id a nice job and that's attributed to up front, too – getting some good blocks."
Bradley added of Gerhart, "We're just really pleased with the progress he's making."
Second, rookie free agent wide receiver Allen Hurns – caught seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came in the third quarter and was a 12-yarder from rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.
"Allen Hurns, what can you say?" Bradley said. "He did what he always does in practice. He really made some great plays. I'm really impressed by him."
Bradley in his post-game remarks also addressed the team's quarterback situation, emphasizing that while Bortles – the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft – has played well the team continues to plan to start veteran Chad Henne this season.
Henne completed nine of 14 passes for 70 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked twice. Bradley said the Jaguars like that Henne is playing fast, and noted that the team had some drops with Henne in the game.
"I thought Chad did a really nice job," Bradley said.
Bradley said Bortles handled a two-minute situation late in the first half well, moving the Jaguars from their own 5-yard line into range for a 34-yard field goal by Kasey Redfern. That drive included a 28-yard strike to Hurns and a 30-yard pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis.
"He did a nice job moving the team," Bradley said. "Overall, very efficient."
Bradley said he was particularly impressed with the 28-yarder to Hurns, which took the Jaguars from 2nd-and-2 at their 13 to 1st-and-10 at their 41.
"We talk about that, that in two-minute somewhere you have to get an explosive," he said. "That was a great play by Allen Hurns, but to have that mindset – that there's an opportunity for an explosive play and to take it – that's a great play by him."
A SPECIAL GUY
Bradley was far from the only person around the Jaguars impressed with Hurns Friday.
Henne lauded the rookie free-agent, who was targeted nine times to catch his game-high seven passes for 113 yards.
"I don't know how he's undrafted," Henne said. "He's a special guy. He keeps showing that and we're going to have to put him in the game."
Henne said Hurns excels in one-on-one matchups and making plays on the ball.
"It's good to have that guy out there," Henne said.
*Bradley lauded rookie center Luke Bowanko for returning eight days after leaving a preseason loss at Chicago with an ankle injury. Bowanko replaced starter Jacques McClendon and played extensively late in the second quarter. "We'll see how he did on tape," Bradley said of Bowanko. "I thought he handled himself pretty good." McClendon's start Friday came after Mike Brewster started the first two preseason games at center. Brewster played right guard at the start of the second half Friday. "There's good competition going on right there," Bradley said. "We'll evaluate the tape and have further discussions about it and maybe give you an answer.'' …
*Bradley called a first-half interception by defensive end Andre Branch 30 yards downfield "an unbelievable athletic play." …
*Bradley also said wide receiver Cecil Shorts III looked very good in pregame. He was targeted once in his first action of the preseason after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury. "We're pleased with where he's at,'' Bradley said. …
*Bradley also said a sack by free-agent linebacker Dekoda Watson in his first game action shows the veteran's "explosiveness coming off the edge." Bradley called it, "A good sign." …
Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks left the game with a right shoulder injury in the second quarter, and did not return. He is expected to undergo an MRI on the area.
Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny left the game with a laceration to his biceps, but said afterward he expects to be fine. The injury to Posluzny was not to the same biceps that kept him from traveling to Chicago last week.
Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee also sustained a quad injury in the first half and did not return, while safety Winston Guy, Jr., sustained a first-half injury to his left ankle. X-rays on Guy's wrist were negative.
Jaguars wide receiver Kerry Taylor sustained a wrist injury in the second half and did not return.
Defensive tackle David Carter sustained an sprained a medial collateral ligament and also will undergo an MRI.
1.Posluszny: "I think we did OK. We're not happy about the long touchdown run. Our rush defense … we feel like we can do better than that. There are things we did really well, too. We forced a lot of turnovers. We didn't give up too many points. There were positives that came out of it, but there are also things where we say, 'Hey, we can do a lot better.'''
2.Marks: "We still have work to do, but I think it's come a long way. We've added a lot of new guys to the system. I think we've come a long way to go. In this game, you're always going to have work to do, but for where we are now – third game of the preseason – I think it's a big improvement for our team."
3.Henne: "I feel confident in my abilities and my ability to lead this offense. The biggest thing is to keep working every day, establish the tempo and put more points on the board." …
The Jaguars will play host to the Atlanta Falcons at EverBank Field in Jacksonville at 6 p.m.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are barely bested by the Detroit Lions in the 3rd game of the 2014 preseason.