The Jaguars hosted a full 53-man squad on the practice field on Monday to launch the start of the regular season.
Paired with a newly-minted 10-man practice squad unit, the team welcomed back its 52 returning players and introduced newly-acquired linebacker Arthur Brown to the fields outside of EverBank Field.
The group - featuring five draft picks - started its practice preparation for Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. The home game is sold out and expectations are mounting for the young squad.
Jaguars take advantage of "Bonus Monday"
Head coach Gus Bradley's theme for practice was "Bonus Monday." The group assembled as a team and began preparing for the Packers. The install was light and allowed the Jaguars to focus on a regular season matchup for the first time as a unit.
"We did introduce Green Bay prep. We went through it a little bit more," Bradley told the media.
"We will get into more detail on Wednesday. Kind of split it up like we normally do on Wednesday. A lot of good on good today. A lot of good on good, especially on first and second down and some red zone and third down. A good overall practice to get the guys back and running again.”
Bradley said that Sunday night was an opportunity to get the team together for the first time. Quarterback Blake Bortles, linebacker Paul Posluszny and long snapper Carson Tinker were named captains and the team spent time together as a group.
"So three captains were voted on and three great picks," Bradley said about the meeting.
"Those guys are well-deserving. Multiple guys, I think we had 25 guys that got votes, so that was cool to see. Lot of highly respected guys in this team that felt that they could lead."
Only one member of the active roster was not with the Jaguars during training camp - Brown - so the unit has already formed a bond. The team will now have to make that bond work for them on the field against Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and the Packers.
Special teams factors heavily into depth decisions
Like the rest of the league, the Jaguars rely on their depth units for special teams. Bradley said after practice that a lot of the decisions made this past weekend had to do with special teams.
"I know we have our 53 and our ten practice squad, but we are always going to look and see if we can improve certain area," Bradley said.
"We just felt that these guys would help improve the special teams. The big part of that is continuity. Now we know who is here. We can get our front lines ready to go, who our personnel is going to be and to get them multiple reps working together.”
Bradley noted the special teams ability of safety Marqueston Huff, who was claimed off waivers on Sunday after the initial cuts went through. After seeing Huff perform with a division rival, the Jaguars jumped at the opportunity to add him.
"Very good special teams player," Bradley said. "I know we have had a chance to go against him and we have a lot of respect for him.”
Bradley also acknowledged the reason for wide receiver Arrelious Benn's return was partially due to his size and length when it comes to the game's third phase.
“Very good on special teams," Bradley said. "I think when we looked at it, his effort on special teams and what he brings to the table. He is a different style of wide receiver for us, too, as far as a more physical-type wide receiver. That quality, but the big part was special teams.”
- The Jaguars have gone light with the offensive line. The team currently features the five starters and just three backups. The team has a lot of confidence in the the versatility of backups Tyler Shatley, Chris Reed and Patrick Omameh.
“I think with [Josh] Wells, we will see where he is at," Bradley said. "We felt like because of what we did in OTAs, where we cross-trained some guys and they have some flexibility to play multiple positions, it allowed us to go with [eight] guys and load up in some other areas.”
- Former Ravens linebacker Arthur Brown will be Dan Skuta's backup at Otto linebacker. Brown has been limited to depth work throughout his career. In 34 games, he has only produced 17 tackles and a half sack.
- The Jaguars completed the team's practice squad on Monday. Tight end Alex Ellis, running back Bronson Hill and offensive lineman Jermiah Poutasi were signed to the practice roster.
Poutasi was a third round pick of the Tennessee Titans last offseason but was cut on Sunday. The 6-foot-5, 335-pound guard played in 11 games (seven starts) for the Titans last season. He was a three-starter at Utah during his college football career.
Ellis also spent time with the Titans, joining their offseason roster as an undrafted free agent before also being let go during final cuts. The 6-foot-4, 253-pound tight end was a walk-on at the University of Tennessee.
Hill joins the team after stops in Buffalo, New Orleans, Miami, Chicago and Cincinnati. He was waived by the Bengals during final cuts. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound running back played four seasons at Eastern Michigan before going undrafted last offseason.
The new trio joins defensive tackle Richard Ash, offensive tackle Rashod Hill, cornerback Nick Marshall, linebacker Sean Porter and wide receivers Shane Wynn, Rashad Lawrence and Shaq Evans on the practice squad. The 10-man limit has now been reached.
- Numbers Update: Brown will wear No. 59, which was previously worn by longtime pass rusher Ryan Davis. Huff will now wear No. 26, which was previously worn by safety Josh Evans. Both Davis and Evans were part of the Jaguars' final cuts on Saturday. Brown and Huff were claimed off waivers on Sunday.
Since Huff is serving a one-game suspension, he was not on the practice field with his new teammates and does not count against the active roster.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.