Mel Tucker didn't take long to make an impact on the Jaguars.
When Tucker walked onto the field Thursday for his first practice as the Jaguars' new interim head coach a half-hour before it was scheduled to start, punter Nick Harris was the only player on the field.
"I actually wanted to go out there and get some fresh air. There are no windows in the building here," Tucker said with a smile.
He then added the real reason.
"I wanted to check the field. I wanted to check weather. There were certain things I just wanted to get a feel for before I got out there and then I wanted to be there as the players arrived on the field. We set the tone in terms of the things we want to do and we'll continue to do that, but I do believe in leading by example," he said.
Tucker showed the Jaguars have a new sheriff running the team although the soft-spoken coach wouldn't use that phrase the way Dennis Green once did.
He started to change the culture of the team that had become lax under former coach Jack Del Rio.
When Tucker was asked why he wanted to see the players arrive, he said, "Because I think everything's important so I need to see as much as possible. Everything matters and what I saw was guys eager to get out there and get to work and I saw that we were prompt, most importantly."
In the old days, like last week under Del Rio, who was fired Tuesday, the special teams players arrived first and the starters would straggle out because the first half-hour of practice is mostly for the special teams.
There were no stragglers Thursday.
"We got out there today," tight end Marcedes Lewis said.
Tucker said, "I told them that we want to be on time in everything we do and we were that today."
Then there was the up-tempo nature of the practice itself. It ended 18 minutes early because of the fast tempo of the drills. The players ran between drills and there wasn't much standing around.
Of finishing early, Tucker said, "That tells you we had tempo and overall I thought we got better today and that was the focus that was laid out for the players. The expectation was that we were going to focus on today."
Tucker gave the players a list of what he wanted to accomplish and he said the main goal is to get better each day.
"I felt like we would be better, and in my estimation was we did get better today as a football team, offense, defense and special teams. So we pick it up again tomorrow," he said.
The players weren't surprised that Tucker ran a high-tempo practice because that is the way he's had the defense practicing all year in his role as defensive coordinator under Del Rio.
Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said, "We practice high tempo and now the whole team is the same way. He brings energy to practice," he said.
"It was a lot faster today," said wide receiver Mike Thomas. "I like it. Guys can come in and get their work and not have too much miscellaneous time. Guys are running and working hard. It was good, more work but in a timely manner. It was good for us."
Lewis said, "When he was just coaching the defense, he had those guys flying around, stripping balls. If the pass is incomplete, he still has guys scooping and scoring. That's the mentality you want. He's a stickler for tempo. That's one of the things he did say. We're going to go out there and play with tempo and love of the game. There was a different feel in practice."
Defensive end Aaron Kampman said, "The faster you practice, the slower the game becomes."
More Culpability Under Tucker
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