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Grieving Bradley receives vote of confidence from Jags owner

The SportsXchange

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Armed with a vote of confidence from owner Shad Khan, coach Gus Bradley rejoined the Jacksonville Jaguars on Wednesday an hour into their first practice in London for Sunday's game against San Francisco.

Bradley heard cheers from the players when he arrived after missing the trip with the team Monday because of the death of his father, Roy Bradley, Sunday night. Bradley instead flew to Minnesota to be with his family.

The players had Bradley on their mind even though he wasn't with them.

Rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien said he sent Bradley a text message saying, "letting him know he was in my prayers."

Quarterback Chad Henne said, "I'm sure the players will be ready to rally around him."

Bradley said upon his return that the Jaguars had talked about developing a culture this year.

"I know that culture was talking about how we want to deal with it in the locker room, how we want to deal with things on the field, but they taught me about culture in situations that our family has gone through. How they stepped up, their support and not only Shad and (general manager) Dave (Caldwell) and Tony (Khan) and those guys but our whole team.

"The support has been off the charts. Our family really appreciates it and on top of that the NFL is a special, special deal. The number of coaches, GMs and owners that have reached out to me and our family has been incredible. I just want to tell you it was an awesome feeling and I learned some great things by being gone for a day and a half. I learned about our strength, I learned about weaknesses and I learned about spirit.

"I think it's a good reflection for us and I think I realized how important this team is and I think our team has all three of those traits. We have strengths, we have weaknesses and we have spirit and it's okay to have all three of them."

At the moment, the Jaguars have more weaknesses than strengths as they bring an 0-7 record into Sunday's game against San Francisco.

Meanwhile, despite the record in the first year of the regime of Caldwell and Bradley, Khan hasn't lost any confidence in them.

"I thought Dave and Gus were absolutely the two right guys for the job and as the season has unfolded, if I could be convinced more, I am," he said.

Caldwell and Bradley decided to strip down the team and start over, getting rid of such veterans as Daryl Smith and Rashean Mathis, who could have helped them.

Smith is starting in Baltimore and Mathis is starting in Detroit.

"Obviously, if you're a Jaguars fan, we want to do better," Khan said. "But we know the process we started, which is pretty much starting from the ground up and doing something ... we probably should have started earlier."

A year ago, Kahn kept general manager Gene Smith, who hired head coach Mike Mularkey to replace Jack Del Rio, who was fired when Khan bought the team by former owner Wayne Weaver, and Mel Tucker, who served as interim coach.

The Jaguars were then under the perception they were close to contending.

A 2-14 season convinced Khan they needed to start over and both Smith and Mularkey were fired.

"Speaking practically, we've got to get more talent. But I definitely feel we're moving in the right direction. Status quo, maintaining what we had, was not an option," Kahn said.

Khan also liked the idea of trading left tackle Eugene Monroe for fourth- and fifth-round draft picks earlier this month.

"His contract was expiring so what we have to do is maximize whatever assets we have," he said.

The contract of running back Maurice Jones-Drew is also expiring, but Khan indicated he would like to keep him and have him end his career in Jacksonville.

"He's an inspirational guy, hard-working, a leader, a quality guy," Kahn said. "But it takes two to tango."

That's a sign that they want Jones-Drew back at their price. And Jones-Drew may not think that is the right price.

--The Jaguars are heavy underdogs against the 49ers and also have to deal with the distractions of spending a week in London.

"I'm loving it," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "I've got about 12 to 13 members of my family here and I was going to go see them in the city and they surprised me by coming out here and hopping on a train." he said.

So he returned on the train with him.

"Just seeing the agriculture, the environment, the different people, the accents, it's something new for me because I haven't been exposed to it before so I'm having a good time," he said.

--One of the Jaguars' goals it to get Maurice Jones-Drew more carries after he had nine carries against San Diego last week.

Quarterback Chad Henne said, "We had two possessions in the first half and we were down 14 to 20 points. At that time, it's, 'can we run the ball?' Yeah, we can run the ball. But more than likely we're trying to play catch up and throw the ball down the field and score touchdowns. If we can keep it balanced and keep the game close, we can run the ball a lot more."

--Dealing with the rain that often hits London and the field conditions at Wembley Stadium will be a challenge.

Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said, "It's going to be pretty tough. I don't usually go out for pregame, but I'll make an appearance this pregame, just to go out and get used to the field. It will be different. Never played here. Have to go out and get a feel for it. I think I can adjust pretty well."

--WR Justin Blackmon missed practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury, but is likely to play Sunday. He has played the last two games with the injury.

--WR Cecil Shorts missed practice Wednesday with a sprained SC joint, but he is likely to play Sunday because he played with the injury last week.

--LB Russell Allen was limited in practice Wednesday with a rib injury.

--CB Dwayne Gratz was limited in practice Wednesday with an ankle injury.

--DT Sen'Derrick Marks was limited in practice Wednesday with a knee injury.

--DT Roy Miller was limited in practice Wednesday with a shoulder injury.

--DE Andre Branch did the whole practice Wednesday, although he was on the injury report with a knee injury.

--S Johnathan Cyprien did the whole practice Wednesday even though he was on the injury report with a calf injury.

--DE Jason Babin had a veteran's day off Wednesday.

--C Brad Meester had a veteran's day off Wednesday.

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