JACKSONVILLE – So far, so good.
But if that's how Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley sees 2013 organized team activities at essentially the offseason's midway point, he said Friday that part two is as important as part one.
"In our locker room I told them, 'It feels good, but be careful with that,'" Bradley said Thursday as the Jaguars wrapped up the second week of 2013 OTAs with a sixth OTA practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields adjacent to EverBank Field.
"One of the things I talked to our guys about is, 'Be allergic to the big meal. Don't feel too good. At this break let's go home and eat crumbs and continue the mindset that we're trying to build, take these days off that you have and continue to work out.'
"'Let's not see how much weight we gain over this next week and a half. We'll see how good of shape we come in after this.' That in itself is a challenge to our team."
The Jaguars won't practice next week, and then will return with four OTA practices June 4-7 followed by a three-day mandatory minicamp June 11-13.
The minicamp will be the last work for veterans until training camp begins in Jacksonville at the end of July.
The first two weeks of OTAs have featured significant changes on the defensive line, with Tyson Alualu moving from tackle to end and with the team claiming Brandon Deaderick and Kyle Love off waivers and releasing second-year defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton.
The offensive line also continues to transition to a zone-blocking-oriented scheme. Bradley said competition there – and at the quarterback position – will intensify once the team moves into pads during training camp, but he said the final two weeks of unpadded OTAs will be important in the process of preparing for the competition that will take place in training camp.
"We'll be watching as they came back," Bradley said. "It goes back to, 'Learn the learner.' Let's see how they come back now. We give them a little bit of juice here and a little bit of time off. It will be interesting to see how they come back. You can expect that first day of practice, what that's going to be like. You kind of understand how that's going to be, so I'm sure they understand that too."
VIEW FROM THE OZONE**
We close Jaguars 2013 week two of OTAs with what has become a hot issue this week: Maurice Jones-Drew's decision to train the next few weeks in Miami. This is not Jones-Drew unhappy. This is not a protest. This is not about his contract, and it's not about his holdout last offseason. Those things aren't driving Jones-Drew right now. His decision to train in South Florida is simply about him doing what he must do to play next season. Jones-Drew returned from a serious knee injury in 2011 and led the NFL in rushing, and he believes he will do so again this season. He believes, too, he will be ready for training camp. But he also believes his best chance to do all of that is to train in Miami. There he can train specific to rehabbing and to gaining speed. There's a perception leftover from last season that Jones-Drew is somehow in protest mode. That's not the Jones-Drew I saw Tuesday night when I spoke to him, and it's not the one Bradley has talked about whenever he has talked about the topic this offseason. Will Jones-Drew's contract and future be a question after this season? No doubt. For now, the only thing motivating him is being ready for 2013.
"You still feel like they're getting that comfort level with the offense. I just talked to both of them a couple of days ago and they're starting to feel more and more comfortable with it. . . . It's a constant evaluation. A constant evaluation."
--- Bradley on the competition at quarterback between Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne
The Jaguars will hold the seventh of 10 organized team activities practices at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields Tuesday, June 4. OTA practices are closed to the public.
AROUND THE JAGUARS
*Veteran defensive tackle Roy Miller worked Thursday after missing the first five OTA practices with tendinitis in his knee. Miller, a fifth-year veteran signed as an unrestricted free agent early in the offseason. "It was good to get him back," Bradley said. "I know he's been frustrated a little bit with the whole deal, but we have to do what's best for him and the team to bring him back and get him on the field. The big thing we want to do is make sure we don't set him back with another injury and bring him back too soon. He understands. He's a sure pro and understands his body."
*Bradley said the Jaguars likely wouldn't be interested in being the featured team in HBO's "Hard Knocks" series this season. "For us right now it's such a trust for us," he said. "Not that it takes away trust, but I just really want to establish ourselves as a coaching staff and as a team. I really want us to concentrate on that. We talked about eliminating distractions, and I feel we're making progress in that area. I just really want to focus our attention on that and not add more at this point in time. . . . I think it's going more away from it than to it."
*Wide receiver Justin Blackmon missed a third practice of the week with a groin injury, with rookie wide receiver Ace Sanders missing with a groin/abdominal issue and veteran Toney Clemons missing for personal reasons. Backup running back Jordan Todman returned to practice (knee), while quarterback Jordan Rodgers (sports hernia) missed practice. Rookie running back De'Leon Eskridge continued to miss because of school.
*First-year wide receiver Jeremy Ebert practiced after signing as a free agent Wednesday. A seventh-round selection by the New England Patriots in the 2012 NFL Draft, Ebert was waived by New England April 29. "The biggest part of it was bringing in more competition at that spot," Bradley said. "We are down a little bit in numbers there so that helped us out with practice as well. But as always the main purpose is for more competition." Bradley said Ebert will play primarily in the slot.