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Open Locker Room: Secondary suddenly an issue


JACKSONVILLE – Thanksgiving was no holiday for the back seven.

The Jaguars' defensive backfield spent Thursday dealing with two new injuries, meaning the health of the unit could be an issue entering the weekend.

Demetrius McCray, a starter in seven games this season and perhaps the team's best cornerback much of the season, sustained an ankle injury during practice Thanksgiving morning at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.

McCray did not finish practice and was listed as limited on the team's injury report.

Josh Evans, a starter at free safety since Week 3, missed practice with an elbow injury. Evans said he expects to play Sunday.

"I'm not too concerned – it swelled up a little bit (Wednesday,)" Evans said Thursday as the Jaguars (1-10) prepared to play the New York Giants (3-8) at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.

Evans said he could have the area drained Friday, and that missing practice Thursday was precautionary.

"I should be able to go," he said.

McCray's status should be updated Friday, with Jeremy Harris the possible starter opposite Dwayne Gratz at corner if McCray can't play. Rookie cornerback Aaron Colvin, who spent the first 10 games on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a knee injury, played the nickel Sunday in Indianapolis along with Sherrod Martin.

Colvin and Martin likely would stay at the nickel Sunday.

Bradley on Thursday also said he liked how the team's linebacker group of Geno Hayes at Otto, J.T. Thomas in the middle and rookie Telvin Smith on the weak side played against Indianapolis. That was the first time that group had been on the field together in those positions, with Hayes getting his first start at Otto and Smith getting his first start on the weak side.

Hayes had been starting on the weak side, but the release of Otto linebacker Dekoda Watson during the team's bye week necessitated the change.

"We do like it," Bradley said, adding that the group gets the team's best linebackers in terms of "instincts and play-making ability" on the field.

Bradley added of Hayes, "He adjusted well. He's never played that position before, but I think he adjusted well. The good thing is before we came up with the Otto, he was in that position (on the strong side of the defense) at times to do some of the things we were asking, just not full-time. I thought Geno handled it pretty well."

Also around the Jaguars Thursday:

*Bradley said the team has focused more this week on core offensive plays in practice. He had said Monday that was the plan. "You always have your core plays and then you always have your plays that are maybe game-specific that you like and utilize," Bradley said, adding that the game-specific plays often third-down and red-zone specific. "First and second down, you want to emphasize your core plays – the ones you use most often. But you'll always have your exceptions." …

*The team altered its schedule from a normal Thursday, practicing in the morning and early afternoon to allow players and coaches the afternoon off for Thanksgiving with no post-practice meetings. "We'll get that caught up tomorrow morning with earlier meetings," Bradley said. …

*Defensive end Andre Branch worked full after working limited Wednesday, and Bradley said he expects the third-year veteran will play Sunday. Branch has missed the last four games with a groin injury. "The way he practiced today, we expect that he'll be okay on Sunday," Bradley said. …

*Middle linebacker Jeremiah George, a starter at the position in Week 9 at Cincinnati, did not practice on Thursday after working limited Wednesday. He has been out the last two games with a high-ankle sprain. …

*Defensive end Chris Clemons (knee) did not practice on Thursday after working full Wednesday. He typically has had veteran days off on Thursdays this season.

*Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (flu) returned to practice full Thursday after not practicing Wednesday and quarterback Blake Bortles (left wrist) worked full for a second consecutive day.

*Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (neck) was limited in practice Thursday after not practicing Wednesday.

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