BAGSHOT, England (AP) — After being called out by their coach, the Jacksonville Jaguars see their overseas game against the San Francisco 49ers as a chance to redeem themselves to Gus Bradley.
The Jaguars are in London for the first of four NFL International Series games they have signed up to play at Wembley Stadium. They are 0-7 after a 24-6 home loss to the San Diego Chargers that led to criticism from Bradley. The coach, meanwhile, is dealing with personal grief after his father died Sunday.
There are many reasons for the overseas trip to spur the Jaguars, who are the designated home team, but Bradley is providing great motivation going into their game against the 49ers (5-2).
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“He’s our leader; he’s our Energizer Bunny,” wide receiver Justin Blackmon said Wednesday. “It’ll be good to have him back.”
Bradley arrived midway through Wednesday’s practice at the training facility outside London.
Bradley had said his team “didn’t show up” against the Chargers, but he toned his comments down Wednesday.
“It was not necessarily down to effort but (a lack of) spirit,” Bradley said. “If we don’t play with enough energy, we don’t play the same football. We were heading in the right direction and we had setbacks in the last game. We have to get it back on course.”
So Sunday’s game in front of an expected 84,000 spectators has become more than a business trip for Jacksonville.
Bradley said Chad Henne would start at quarterback for the Jaguars for the third straight game.
Guard Uche Nwaneri felt a breakthrough was close, even though Jacksonville languishes in last place in many of the league’s most important offensive and defensive team indicators.
“There’s not a great difference in talent between us and other teams in the NFL. It’s a difference of execution,” Nwaneri said of a team that has scored five touchdowns in 18 trips into its opponents’ red zone. “We shoot ourselves in the foot, not making the catch or getting the yardage.”
The players were still able to enjoy the quirks of traveling abroad.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis visited London with 13 family members Tuesday. Blackmon was perplexed by the terminology such as “bangers and mash,” a typical English meal of sausages and potatoes.
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and several other players mixed sightseeing with some shopping at Louis Vutton in central London.
“For the most part it was peaceful,” Kaepernick said of going unnoticed here. “It was nice.”
Kaepernick said the players were adjusting to the time change and fatigue, and preparations were going smoothly against a team hungry for a victory. San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh expects to have safety Donte Whitner available Sunday.
Last month, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-27 in the season’s other International Series game.