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OTA 6: Grant gets noticed


JACKSONVILLE – It was an obvious answer to an obvious question.

But it also was a telling answer from Doran Grant, a relatively unknown player who has become less so early in Jaguars 2017 organized team activities.

Grant, a cornerback who joined the Jaguars' practice squad late last season, was asked Thursday what he wanted to do this offseason and training camp that perhaps he didn't do at past NFL stops.

"Make the roster," Grant said with a laugh.

The laughter didn't mean he wasn't serious.

"That's my main focus right now – do what I can to make the 53," he said.

That's indeed Grant's focus. While time will determine the outcome, Grant (5-feet-10, 196 pounds) early in OTAs has done what players in his situation must do, drawing notice from Head Coach Doug Marrone – and drawing it in a positive way.

With cornerback A.J. Bouye out the first four OTA practices before returning Thursday – and with nickel corner Aaron Colvin also not yet participating in OTAs – Grant and other younger corners have had more opportunities than originally expected to work with the team's front-line groups.

Grant has taken advantage of the opportunity, including what Marrone last Friday called an "unbelievable bounce back." Grant, who has flashed with pass breakups on multiple occasions during OTAs, had three or four pass breakups that day, prompting Marrone to have Grant "break down the team" after practice that day.

"He was on fire … I was happy to see that," Marrone said at the time. "I always try to reward people who are able to have a good practice or come back and do a good thing. He's a guy that's been up and down, kind of buried … no one knows about him and then all of a sudden today [Friday] everyone was like who is that?"

Grant knows from experience one feel-good, break-down-the-team day doesn't make a career. Nor does it automatically earn a roster position. But it doesn't hurt.

"Right now, you take it for what it's worth – and it's a good thing," he said. "It's a good thing to have the coach notice you're getting better, especially that quick. Coming off the offseason, not really guarding anybody, then getting into it … it's good."

Originally a fourth-round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft, Grant spent much of his rookie season on the Steelers' practice squad and was active for three games with the Steelers that season. He was released by the Steelers after the following preseason, and spent time on the practice squads of the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and Jaguars last season.

Images from Friday's practice.

The Jaguars not only kept Grant on the practice squad from October through the end of last season, they re-signed him following the season.

"It's a big opportunity," Grant said. "They brought me in last year on the practice squad. They signed me back, so it's a great opportunity. It's a chance. You've got to take advantage of your opportunities.

"Of course those guys are going to get well and hurry back, and get healthy. When you get your chance, you've got to go out and do what you can do with it."

While Grant said the impact plays he has made early in camp are great, consistency is just as important when it comes to making the roster.

"Impact plays will help, obviously," Grant said. "But making the plays when they come to you, staying consistent … that's what you need to do to be a professional. I'd say I'm going to work on doing both of those things."

Grant, a four-year player and two-year starter at Ohio State, is a former Ohio state high school hurdles champion, and fits into the Jaguars' move toward speedier, athletic players in the secondary. He his confidence remains high – and said he believes experience could help in this effort to attain his obvious goal.

"The other times, like I've said before, I feel like I got the short end of the stick because of the business part of it," Grant said. "I'm leaving that behind me, and I'm excited to be here. I'm ready to compete."

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