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Despite missing most of camp, Jaguars’ Bryan seems poised to make 53-man roster

The Jaguars defensive line might be one of its deepest groups, and that likely will include former first-round pick Taven Bryan.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

This hasn’t been a typical training camp for defensive lineman Taven Bryan.

While the former first-round pick has missed time in previous camps due to an injury, he hasn’t experienced anything quite like this, starting camp on the non-football injury list and then immediately landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Bryan would ultimately miss 12 days of being active around the Jaguars’ complex on the reserve/COVID-19 list, placed on the list originally on Aug. 3. He would be activated on Aug. 15. Prior to that, Bryan spent the first two weeks of camp on NFI, missing valuable playing time on the practice field.

“It’s hard to be away for so long, especially in important time frames and especially when you can’t be in the building and whatnot,” Bryan said on Friday. “But for the most part, I got on the virtual meetings and then caught up real quick.”

The Jaguars made sure to upgrade its defensive line this year, trading for Malcom Brown and signing Roy Robertson-Harris, along with drafting a defensive lineman in Jay Tufele. With all of those moves, it’s been speculated that Bryan may not be a lock to make the Jacksonville roster.

During the offseason, Jacksonville declined Bryan’s fifth-year option, making him set to become a free agent following this year.

Still, coaches have been impressed with the lineman’s play over the past two preseason games. Even with the missed time and additional players on the roster, Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen said on Friday that the team wants to find a place for the young defensive lineman.

“I mean, if he continues to progress like he did last week, we’ll find a place for him,” he indicated.

“In my time here, his effort has been really, really good,” Cullen said. “He’s physical and he’s playing the techniques that we want and that’s what I like about him right now. He’s going to continue to develop.”

Bryan was originally selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Jaguars at pick No. 29. Since then, he’s underperformed, accounting for just 17 starts, 71 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

Bryan wants to control what he can control, and ultimately not make things harder on his teammates this year.

“Probably the biggest and most important thing to me is I just don’t want to let my teammates down,” Bryan said.

“We have a bunch of other dudes that are going to be playing and stuff, so if I kind of goof off as a three or something, it’s going to mess up the nose, the end, the other end, they might not get the production they need, and it might affect them as well.

“It’s less [about] me. The past is what it is, and I can’t control that, but I can control what I’m doing going forward.”

Today’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Jaguars’ final preseason game, will be yet another test for Bryan who says he still wants to improve with his get-off, pass rush and working on the edge a bit. Feeling comfortable anywhere from three-five techniques, Bryan will need to hone in on his craft before the season begins.

If Bryan is to play well, as he did last week according to Cullen, he appears to be a lock to make the team’s roster, making it tough for other players such as Adam Gotsis and Daniel Ekuale to make the team.

While it appeared like an uphill battle to start, Bryan seems to have made the most of his opportunities, poised to make the 53-man roster come cutdown day on Tuesday, Aug. 31.