JACKSONVILLE – He hears the praise, and it's great.
But Jaguars defensive end Tyson Alualu isn't about that, nor does he buy the theory that he is more aggressive or hungrier or actually all that much different during Jaguars 2014 Training Camp than he was in 2013, 2012, etc.
Alualu, entering his fifth NFL season, said on Tuesday afternoon that the main difference between this August and Augusts past is he feels better than he has in a long time. He said that means his long-bothersome knee and everything else.
And as Alualu see it, feeling healthy is a very good feeling.
"I feel good," Alualu said Tuesday following a two-hour, 20-minute practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. "That gives me a better chance to go out there and work my craft. It allows me to play faster, without having to think about, 'Is my knee going to hold up today?'"
Alualu, who underwent microfracture surgery in his right knee in January 2012, said while he has felt better each year since the surgery, the difference this year is significant. He also said he is more comfortable in his second year playing the six-technique, run-oriented defensive end spot in Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's scheme – and that the presence of free-agent signee Red Bryant has helped him and everyone else on the line.
And while Alualu, who has started all 64 games in his four-year NFL career, is expected to enter the season as a backup to Bryant, Jaguars coaches see Alualu as not only an improved player, but one key to the defensive front.
"Tyson has definitely benefited (from Bryant's presence),'' Jaguars defensive line coach Todd Wash said. "There's a good competition between the two. … He's played extremely well. We really feel like we got two starting 4-Bs, six-technique-type guys and we're excited about both of them, but he's definitely stepped up his performance in camp."
Bradley on Tuesday said Alualu hasn't had a bad day in camp.
"We had a meeting with our scouts and the personnel, and his name popped up that he's been consistent," Bradley said. "He's healthy. I think that's a big part of it. He was battling that knee but this year has had no effects of it. So with him we're seeing that consistent play."
Alualu earlier in camp scuffled with tight end Clay Harbor, and had a minor post-play altercation with guard Zane Beadles.
"He's competing," Bradley said. "When you feel good and you're healthy, I think it comes with it. He's just in a good state right now."
But while Alualu agrees that he is in a good state, he said a couple of scuffles aren't a sign of increased fire or enthusiasm.
"I see it as part of football," Alualu said. "When guys compete against each other and try to get each other better, things like that happen naturally in this profession. I feel like my attitude has always been that way, not being afraid of any competition or anyone.
"I definitely feel a lot more comfortable with what's expected. They talk about raising the bar. I'm just trying to set higher standards for myself and be the best I can be as a football player."
LOOKING ON . . .
*Third-year safety Joe Young continues to look good in camp. He worked with the second-team defense last week, and worked at strong safety on Tuesday with Johnathan Cyprien out much of practice with a hip flexor. Bradley on Tuesday called Young, "Very physical," adding, "He can go. I think he's getting a better comfort level with defense. But he's really showed up on special teams." …
*Wash on free-agent defensive tackle Ziggy Hood: "The biggest thing is we know he's a stout run defender. He's adjusted well into the package. It was a little bit of a slow process during OTAs (organized team activities), but he's really taken off here in training camp. …When he gets a one-on-one rush, we feel that he is athletic enough to disrupt." …
*The Jaguars lost about 10 plays of a "four-minute" drill Monday with practice shortened because of lightning near downtown Jacksonville. Bradley said coaches incorporated that lost work into the end of Tuesday's practice. …
*Bradley said while running back Toby Gerhart has been out four days with a hip flexor injury he ideally would like to play the free agent in the preseason opener Friday against Tampa Bay. "We'll err on being more conservative," Bradley said. "But what would I like? I'd like to see him get in there." Bradley said he expects to make a decision on Gerhart and other injured players – as well as a determination about playing time for different units – Wednesday night. …
"I think the biggest thing is you're looking for spurts of consistency. It's no different than with (rookie quarterback) Blake (Bortles). He comes out and maybe has a good day; then maybe the next day, not as good. … That's what we're trying to train those younger guys. We say, 'Hey to play at this level, and to play a lot, you've got to have that consistency.'"
--- Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley
"We want to set a foundation of coming out and stopping the run."
--- Jaguars Defensive Line Coach Todd Wash
A daily training camp thought from Jaguars.com senior correspondent Brian Sexton …
"To me, the offensive line is the barometer of what this team does in 2014. It's all new. I think (left tackle Luke) Joeckel and (left guard Zane) Beadles will be better than fine. I think they'll be very good. I think (right tackle) Austin (Pasztor) and (right guard) Brandon (Linder) will be good with the opportunity to improve. My concern is at center, where we haven't had to worry about it since 2003. People tell me he (Mike Brewster) will be OK. We'll find out Friday night."
A daily training camp thought from Jaguars Radio Network analyst Jeff Lageman …
"The biggest concern right now is you've got six wide receivers. You've got a backup long snapper (Charley Hughlett) putting on a red jersey and taking reps (at wide receiver) in practice. With a second-year offense and a young quarterback and a new offensive line, there's already so much newness is definitely hurts when part of that newness isn't practicing. Offense is about consistency, execution and timing. When you don't have players there who are going to be there at the end of the day, it hurts."
The Jacksonville Jaguars on their ninth day of 2014 Training Camp.