- Associated Press - Saturday, September 6, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Gus Bradley probably would be coaching the Philadelphia Eagles if Chip Kelly didn’t change his mind about leaving Oregon.

The two second-year coaches go head to head Sunday when Bradley and the Jacksonville Jaguars visit Kelly’s Eagles in the season opener at Lincoln Financial Field.

Bradley interviewed twice with the Eagles in January 2013. Owner Jeffrey Lurie flew him in from Seattle for the second one, but the Eagles were waiting on Kelly to make a decision, and Bradley left Philadelphia to interview with the Jaguars.

Kelly ended up coming to the NFL and Bradley took over in Jacksonville.

“I really enjoyed the whole interview process up there,” Bradley said. “Jeffrey Lurie was great, to meet them and go through the process. I really enjoyed it.”

Kelly made a quick impact in Philadelphia, taking the Eagles from worst to first in the NFC East. Bradley went 4-12 in his first season with the Jags.

“I believe that the NFL is a precision league,” Bradley said. “I think whatever you decide to do, you have to be precise. You have to be on your job.”

Kelly and Bradley have only met briefly at the league meetings in March.

“Gus is a really, really nice guy,” Kelly said.

Here are things to watch for in the season opener between Bradley’s Jags and Kelly’s Eagles:

SHADY & SPROLES: Kelly has been elusive about how he plans to use the versatile Darren Sproles in the backfield with All-Pro RB LeSean McCoy. But McCoy offered a hint of those plans when asked if he expects to have 366 touches again this year.

“I don’t think 300-plus carries is really needed,” he said. “I’m sure if the game is tight and you need to ride me, I’m the guy for it, but (we can) mix up with Sproles doing different things. Sometimes a 6-yard carry is the same as a 6-yard route for Sproles. I’m going to be the key guy they’re watching. With Sproles in there mixing it up with screens and passes, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to have that many carries.”

JOECKEL RETURNS: Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel, the second overall pick in 2013, is back after missing the last 11 games because of a broken right ankle. He’s being counted on to anchor one of the most inexperienced lines in the league. Rookie Brandon Linder will start at right guard and journeyman Jacques McClendon will make his first career start at center, replacing 12-year starter Brad Meester.

“I’m feeling great,” Joeckel said. “None of the injuries are lingering. I’m moving well and getting better every week.”

ROOKIE RECEIVERS: Both teams are counting on a pair of second-round picks taken three sports apart. The Jaguars took USC’s Marqise Lee at No. 39 and the Eagles chose Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews at No. 42. Lee might’ve been an Eagle if he was still on the board when they picked.

“We were really, really high on him,” Kelly said. “He has a great knack for the deep ball, does a great job of adjusting to it, and he’s an unbelievable competitor. He’s everything you want.”

The Jaguars have two other rookies at wide receiver, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The veteran in the group is Cecil Shorts III, who is only 26. Ace Sanders, a rookie fourth-round pick last year, will miss the first four games to serve a suspension. He caught 51 passes for 484 yards and a touchdown as a rookie.

“It’s a damn good group,” said Shorts, who missed practice on Thursday with hamstring tightness. “We’re all going to push each other to be the best group we can be.”

NO LANE: After starting the same five guys on the offensive line for every game last season, the Eagles have a new right tackle because Lane Johnson is suspended for the first four games. Allen Barbre takes Johnson’s spot, joining two All-Pros in Jason Peters and Evan Mathis, and Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans. Barbre will make his eighth career start and first since 2009 with Green Bay.

CLIPBOARD WATCH: Rookie Blake Bortles, the third overall pick in the draft, will start his career as Chad Henne’s backup in Jacksonville. Bortles had a strong preseason, but Bradley stuck with his veteran QB for now. The Eagles have a new backup with an impressive resume. Mark Sanchez, who led the Jets to the AFC championship game his first two seasons in the league, replaces Michael Vick as the guy behind Nick Foles.


AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_RobMaaddi

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