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Sam: Julius Thomas paying dividends

Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas (80) is pushed out of bounds by San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle (32).
Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas (80) is pushed out of bounds by San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle (32). (AP Photo/John Raoux)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One thing that’s changed with the Jaguars offense is the production from Julius Thomas at tight end.  Thomas’ injury in the preseason slowed what the Jaguars were hoping he could provide to Blake Bortles and the offensive production but in the second half of the season it’s been just what they hoped for.

“I think that we knew there was a chance. I would say where he’s at and what he’s done for us, I don’t know if it exceeded expectations,” Bradley said this week.  “We felt pretty strongly about him but very happy with how he’s come along. I think the big thing with him was just getting in a groove with Blake.”

It’s what Bradley was expecting and has been waiting for from his second year quarterback and prized free agent acquisition.

“I think after the injury there was some time there where he was competing but the timing wasn’t quite right,” Gus explained. “They took time after practice and really worked on it. I just think it’s starting to come together but it’s still a work in progress.”

With his size and speed, not to mention his hands as a receiver, Thomas creates real matchup problems on defense, something Bradley is well aware of as a former defensive coordinator.  Bortles knows when he comes to the line of scrimmage and sees any number besides one starting with a “2” trying to cover Thomas, Julius is going to be open. 

Bradley put his defensive coach hat on to explain how he would see it if he was trying to play defense against Thomas in the grand scheme of a defensive philosophy.  “If we want to run our pressure who’s matched up with who, and it puts you into that thinking. Then you start to think is it worth it to run that pressure? In order for us to run that we have to run this matchup.”

As long as Bradley is the coach, Thomas fits into the mold of the kind of player he wants on his team. Dedicated, professional, prepared and a good teammate.

“I think what it says about him is just his spirit all the way through. He missed a lot of games, had the injury but another guy that never wavered. He’s strong throughout, competed, competed through his injury and that’s where I’ve learned a great deal about Julius.”