MOBILE, Ala. – Gus Bradley has made it clear he has no interest in coaching the Senior Bowl every year. But since Bradley and the coaching staff are in Mobile, they may as well make the most of the opportunity.
"It's been a great experience thus far," said the Jaguars head coach. "Guys have really bought into it. We challenged them. We had a really high-tempo practice…a real challenging practice."
Bradley and his staff are coaching the South squad. The Atlanta Falcons will coach the North team. Bradley says his goal is to give the players a glimpse of football at the next level.
"We want to simulate as much of an NFL week as possible," said Bradley. "If we can give them an idea of what it's like all the more power to us. We told them they have to compete in everything they do. Not only do they get a chance to showcase their talents on the field but off the field."
The Jaguars hold the third overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. They are not expected to find their first-round pick in Mobile, but it's still important to scout prospects for the later rounds.
"You try to really look at the good things they're doing" Bradley said. This first day especially, they're trying to get lined up, how to do stretch and get a feel for how we're going to do things. But as the week goes on, you really get to see their spirit and I think what's big is to see how competitive they are."
Day one of Senior Bowl week did not come without some disappointment for the Jaguars. Mark Duffner left the staff to take over as linebackers coach with the Dolphins.
"It's a great opportunity for Duffner and his family," said general manager Dave Caldwell. "He's had opportunities in the past to leave but this was a situation that was special for him."
Long-time trainer Mike Ryan announced he is leaving the team in February to pursue other opportunities.
"26 years as a trainer, Mike's done a heck of a job," said Caldwell. "I've enjoyed the year working with him and I think it's time for him to focus on his family."
"When I was in tenth grade I decided I wanted to be an athletic trainer," said Ryan. "To have that childhood dream back in 1979 and to live it for 26 years and I'm very grateful. I couldn't be happier with the career path I chose and really excited about what I can do helping people down the road."
Bradley and the South squad return to practice on Tuesday from 2:30-4:30 eastern time at Ladd Peebles Stadium.