JACKSONVILLE – Taven Bryan is progressing.
That's Doug Marrone's assessment of the Jaguars' 2018 first-round draft selection two weeks into 2019 Training Camp, with the head coach calling the defensive tackle's performance in the '19 preseason opener "encouraging."
"I thought he really did a lot of good things," Marrone said Saturday shortly before Day 12 training camp practice at the Dream Finders Homes Flex Field.
Bryan was one topic Marrone covered during his Saturday media availability. He also touched on the developing competition on the Jaguars' offensive line and the team's continuing injury issues. We'll get to those later in these takeaways.
Bryan, a defensive tackle and the No. 29 overall selection in the '18 NFL Draft, didn't record an official tackle in a 29-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Thursday's preseason opener. But Marrone on Saturday detailed several areas where he thought the former University of Florida standout excelled.
"He did a nice job of getting off the ball," Marrone said. "He did a good job of getting off blocks. He was in the backfield. It was really exciting and real improvement that we've been pushing, pushing, pushing and now you can see it."
Bryan played in all 16 games as a rookie, starting one. He was heavily involved in the defensive-line rotation early in camp, working behind starters Abry Jones and Marcell Dareus. He finished his rookie season with a sack, 20 tackles and three tackles for loss.
"We are hungry as coaches," Marrone said. "He's hungry as a player because we really feel we can take another step this week, take another step next week and now all of a sudden, we have a guy that is going to be making plays for us on Sunday. That was exciting."
Other takeaways from Saturday:
*Marrone was disappointed not to have better news Saturday regarding left tackle Cam Robinson and wide receiver Marqise Lee. The two have been on the physically unable to perform list since the beginning of training camp while returning from serious knee injuries sustained last season. Marrone said Saturday he doesn't know if either player will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season. "We've got to go and start preparing to play without them, unfortunately," Marrone said. "It could change, but it'll be tough." More from Marrone on Lee/Robinson here.
*The Jaguars' first-team offense appeared to have a good day Saturday. Quarterback Nick Foles continues to have good chemistry with the front-line receivers, hitting wide receiver Chris Conley with a perfect deep pass. Foles also continued to connect with wide receiver Dede Westbrook. Marrone said before practice the plan was to have a heavy workload for the first team after few starters played against Baltimore.
*The Jaguars held multiple players out of practice Saturday after 14 players missed the Baltimore game because of injuries. Among players out Saturday: Lee, Robinson, linebacker Jake Ryan (reserve/non-football injury), wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr., guard Andrew Norwell, running back Ryquell Armstead, linebacker Quincy Williams (knee), linebacker D.J. Alexander, right tackle Jawaan Taylor (knee), tight end Ben Koyack, tight end Charles Jones, tight end Geoff Swaim and tight end Josh Oliver (hamstring). Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was excused from practice Saturday for personal reasons. Marrone has structured training camp days to prevent injuries and held 30 players out of the Baltimore game toward that end. "If I didn't try, I think that would make me frustrated and I expected a different result," Marrone said. "I think when you try, and you do the best you can, I think I can look in the mirror and say, 'Hey listen, we've done a ton of research, and practices and all that stuff-…' I have zero regrets. I mean, I busted my ass to figure it out, so I'm doing everything I possibly can."
*A positive for the Jaguars on the injury front: Cornerback A.J. Bouye (hamstring) and safety Cody Davis returned to practice, with Bouye appearing to work mostly individual drills.
*Bryan wasn't the only player Marrone singled out as playing well Thursday. He said second-year offensive lineman Will Richardson "showed really good strength in the run game." Marrone said Richardson got "worn out a little bit strength-wise near the end, but that's something that will come with experience and strength, coming back from it. I thought he did a nice job." Marrone also lauded the following players: veteran defensive end Dawuane Smoot, rookie linebacker Joe Giles-Harris, veteran left tackle Josh Wells, veteran linebacker Najee Goode, safety C.J. Reavis, cornerback Tre Herndon, cornerback Breon Borders and cornerback Tae Hayes.
*Marrone on not playing many healthy players Thursday: "If we put guys in jeopardy and we don't have anyone for the season, that to me is the ultimate thing that we're trying to do. We're trying to get guys to the season ready to go, so that's why practices are the way they are and that's why we're playing the way we are. Is it something that we like to do, myself personally? Absolutely not. That's not in my background. I've changed the philosophy of what I've had in the preseason and I've had to do it. It's something that was kind of forced with the injuries and everything that happened. And I'm happy that we made all these changes now with what's going on right now. Obviously, I don't want the injuries, but I couldn't have made a drastic change in the middle of it, like right now, with the amount of guys that we have that are out."
*Marrone also discussed the continuing search for the starting offensive line – and for the top seven-to-eight players in the rotation. Marrone on Saturday said he's unsure about the starter at right guard, mentioning A.J. Cann, Richardson and Brandon Thomas as possibilities. Cann also has worked at center during training camp, as has longtime backup center Tyler Shatley. "I'm trying to figure out if we dress seven [offensive linemen], who is my backup center?" Marrone said. Brandon Linder is expected to start at center with Norwell at left guard and Taylor at right tackle. With Robinson possibly not being ready for Week 1, Marrone on Saturday mentioned Josh Wells, Cedric Ogbuehi and Leonard Wester as possibilities at left tackle.
Images from Saturday afternoon's practice.