JACKSONVILLE – Taven Bryan's ready.
If you dare believe that's not true, if you dare question Bryan's progress this season, his teammate – Abry Jones – has a message for you. Want to criticize Bryan?
Want to discount his ability?
"Anyone who wants to talk about TB, meet me at the 'Bank and we can have this discussion," Jones said Thursday.
Bryan, a defensive tackle and the Jaguars' first-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, is an important topic around the Jaguars (3-4) this week because he will start in place of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus against the New York Jets (1-5) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
Dareus, who underwent core-muscle surgery Thursday, is critical to the team's run defense – and Bryan has been criticized at times by fans and observers in a season and half with the team. But make no mistake:
Teammates believe he's ready for the task at hand – and it's not just Jones who believes it.
"It's a great opportunity for him," defensive end/captain Calais Campbell said Thursday. "You can definitely see that he's ready. I'm excited to see what he does. He's been playing good football for us in small spurts, and now it's just more opportunity for him."
Bryan had perhaps the best game of his NFL career this past Sunday. While he did not register a sack, he got consistent pressure and penetration in a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, and it was Bryan's pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton that forced an errant pass that defensive end Yannick Ngakoue turned into a 23-yard, game-clinching interception return for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
"I've been waiting on this question," Jones said. "For all the people out there who think they know so much about football who keep talking about my man Taven … if you don't see the progress this year, then you really haven't been watching football.
"The man's overall knowledge of the game is a lot better. He's taking coaching a lot more seriously. He's all the way focused in. We're going to miss 'Ell' dearly. He's a key person in our run game, and that's key for this defense.
"But TB is going to come in and show his worth as that first-round pick."
Defensive coordinator Todd Wash said Bryan likely will start next to Jones Sunday, and also said Campbell – who typically starts at strong-side end and plays inside in passing situations – could play more inside because of Dareus' absence.
"We'll still have a three-way rotation," Wash said. "We feel comfortable. I think Taven's gotten better and better each week, and he's getting more and more reps. You've seen some splash plays last week out of Taven, so it's going to be fun to watch him this week."
Also around the Jaguars:
*Sunday will be the third career meeting between Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and college teammate Jamal Adams, a safety for the Jets. The two played together at Louisiana State University, with Fournette being selected No. 4 overall by the Jaguars in the 2017 NFL Draft and Adams being selected by the Jets two selections later. Fournette said he offered advice to the Jaguars' receivers regarding the Pro Bowl safety: "Just be ready, because he doesn't take a play off. That's the kind of guy he always has been. I know he's going to come out and have his A game. I got no choice. He's going to come at me. Even when we were in college together, I've always competed against Jamal. In the first day in pads freshman year, I ran him over. He came out of nowhere and lit my ass up. I always had that respect for Jamal. He's going to come out and ball."
*Left tackle Cam Robinson on Thursday practiced limited with a toe injury sustained last week against Cincinnati; Robinson missed practice Wednesday and Head Coach Doug Marrone likely will discuss his status after the Jaguars' practice Friday. Wide receiver Dede Westbrook missed practice for a second consecutive day with a shoulder injury, an injury he has played through in recent weeks; wide receiver Marqise Lee, who missed this past Sunday's game at Cincinnati with an ankle injury, missed practice for a scheduled day off after working limited Wednesday. All three linebackers who are considered doubtful for Sunday – strong-side backer Leon Jacobs (hamstring) and weak-side backers Najee Goode (toe) and Quincy Williams (hamstring) – missed practice for a second consecutive day. Guard Andrew Norwell practiced limited with an ankle injury for a second consecutive day. …