JACKSONVILLE – Taven Bryan's approach these days is simple.
Control what he can, don't stress about what he can't and play hard. It's an approach the Jaguars' new coaching staff likes, an approach that has defined the fourth-year defensive lineman's 2021 Training Camp and preseason.
His past, Bryan said, is his past.
"I can't control that; I can control what I do going forward," Bryan said Friday afternoon as the Jaguars (0-2 in the preseason) prepared to play the Dallas Cowboys (0-3) in the 2021 preseason finale at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Bryan, a first-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft who has played various positions on the defensive front in three NFL seasons, missed the first part of '21 camp on the active/non-football injury list followed by a stint on reserve/COVID-19. He missed a Preseason Week 1 loss to Cleveland but played the most snaps – 26 – of any Jaguars defensive lineman in a Preseason Week 2 loss in New Orleans Monday.
"His effort has been really, really good," Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen said. "He's physical. He's playing the techniques we want. That's what I like about him right now and he's going to continue to develop."
Specific to how Bryan played against New Orleans, Cullen said: "You talk about physical – in terms of knockback up front in the base packages, and running to the football … he was really, really good. He's just continuing to get better. All the guys up front have to play dual roles and he did it well [Monday]."
Bryan, asked if he believed he was playing for a roster spot, replied: "Yep. Every day." He added of the extra repetitions: "I appreciate the extra reps, and the ability to get in there and show what I can do."
"I did pretty decent," Bryan said. "There's always stuff you want to work on and improve. But for the first time really back and doing stuff, I felt it was pretty decent."
Cullen, asked about Bryan perhaps facing an uphill battle to be in the defensive line rotation, said: "No."
"If he continues to progress like he did last week, we'll find a place for him," Cullen said.
Bryan spoke to the media Friday for the first time during '21 camp. He declined to discuss the non-football injury – "I didn't get beat up," he said, smiling – and called the delayed start to his training camp "kind of a crappy deal."
"I wasn't really doing anything bad to get injured like that," Bryan said. "Then I got injured because I was trying to chill out before camp started. Then I got sick and it kind of postponed everything. It slowed down momentum. You lose your in-shapeness."
Bryan added, "It's hard to be away for so long, especially important time frames – and especially when you can't be in the building. But I got in the virtual meetings and caught up real quick."
Bryan said the COVID-19 stint didn't affect him physically.
"I didn't even know I was sick," he said. "I was just forced to stay home.
Bryan, too, said he has been helped by the Jaguars' new scheme under Cullen – a scheme similar to one in which he played under Head Coach Will Muschamp at Florida.
"It's pretty similar, so it's kind of a carry over," Bryan said.
Bryan on Friday spoke to the media for about 10 minutes, discussing his focus entering his fourth NFL season. He said his preseason focus is to improve against the run and overall pass rush, and that he wants to improve his get off against the run and his edge technique rushing the passer.
"We've got a bunch of other dudes that have been playing," Bryan said. "If I kind of goof off as the three (technique) or something, it's going to mess up the nose and the edge. They might not get the production they need. Probably the biggest and most important thing to me is I just don't want to let my teammates down."
And while the Jaguars declined the fifth-year option on his '18 rookie contract, meaning he will be a free agent after this season, he said that didn't change his outlook on the season or the future.
"I just kept doing what I was doing – working out, trying to stay in shape and getting ready for the season," Bryan said. "You just have to go to work and make sure you get the job done."