While the preseason can look meaningless for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the bottom rungs of the roster are always filled with position battles and fringe guys doing better (or sometimes worse) than you thought.
Typically, starters aren’t playing a lot of snaps. Even highly drafted rookies are given a schedule of snaps and then they’re held out in an effort to preserve them for the regular season.
And then there’s Taven Bryan.
A first round draft pick in 2018, Bryan has been largely disappointing through two offseasons and one regular season. His lone sack last year ranked him alongside linebacker Nick DeLuca (who’s no longer with the team) and strong safety Ronnie Harrison. His two quarterback hits is the same nickel cornerback D.J. Hayden finished with. He had less tackles than seventh round rookie linebacker Leon Jacobs.
And as the preseason wound down, Bryan was consistently disappointing. During the all important Week 3 preseason game he committed back to back personal fouls against the quarterback, negating a third down stop.
As the preseason finale approached last night, we heard 40 players were being held out. Nearly every starter.
But Bryan remained. In fact, he played the entire first half — a personnel move that was as loud a message as head coach Doug Marrone could send to his second year defensive lineman: “Play better.”
“He knew coming off of the last game with two personal fouls and I used the word, ‘little funk,’ I think that happens,” Marrone said after the game on Thursday night. “The major thing is how do you come out of it? ... You have to get better and better each day and that’s the way the profession is and if you don’t, it will eat you up. I was happy, it’s a step in a right direction that he needed and one we wanted him to take.”
As much as Marrone can sugarcoat it in his postgame press conference, it was an encouraging thing to see out of the head coach. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first round draft pick, if you’re not performing you will know about it. Dawuane Smoot was underperforming up until this offseason too, but he’s really picked up his game. And guess what? Smoot didn’t see the field last night.
But Bryan was there — playing two quarters worth of snaps in the most meaningless game of a largely meaningless preseason.
Gus Bradley would have never.