Training Camp 2020: Marrone hopeful about defensive line changes

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Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan (90) on the sideline during an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Chiefs defeated the Jaguars 40-26. (AP Photo/Perry Knotts)

JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone won't say this is ideal.

The Jaguars early in 2020 Training Camp have lost multiple defensive linemen to injury and/or COVID-19 opt-outs, and the Jaguars' head coach on Monday said it's absolutely an issue.

"I'm not going to say it's not a concern; that would be ridiculous," Marrone said. "It would be a lack of awareness."

Marrone, speaking to media via videoconference Monday morning, also said he is hopeful about how the Jaguars have addressed the issue.

"We're fortunate; even the players we've picked up late have really looked good out there," Marrone said.

The Jaguars' defensive line changes in recent days/weeks:

*Veteran defensive tackle Al Woods and defensive end Lerentee McCray opted out of the 2020 season for COVID-19 reasons early in training camp.

*Second-year defensive tackle Dontavius Russell (hip) and third-year defensive tackle Brian Price (knee) were placed on injured reserve Sunday.

*Veteran defensive lineman Rodney Gunter was placed on the reserve non-football illness list Sunday.

*Fifth-year defensive end Adam Gotsis was signed August 2 and fifth-year defensive tackle Carl Davis and fifth-year defensive lineman Caraun Reid were signed Sunday.

"We're bringing in guys that we feel have a chance," Marrone said. "I think where you get disappointed is if you're bringing in players just to be able to survive practice and not bringing in people who have an opportunity to make the team. We've got guys who have good numbers, good intangibles and who show some flexibility.

"Some of these guys we're signing, they've bounced around a little bit and they're champing at the bit to try to get a job. I feel comfortable with the guys we're bringing in here."

Marrone also said he has been pleased with third-year defensive tackle Taven Bryan and remains confident that the 2018 first-round draft selection will continue the progress he made late last season. He said Bryan may have been hurt by the Jaguars moving him between end and tackle as a rookie.

"I really we probably didn't help him early on his career," Marrone said. "Technically, technique-wise, that probably stopped a little bit of the growth. When we kept him in one spot, you really saw some growth and saw him make some plays. I think he'll take another big step this year.

"I think he took a big step last year where he was able to be productive and make plays. I feel really good about him. He's always been a hard worker and extremely strong. From what I've seen so far in camp, I see someone who's really focused.

I'm looking to see him to take a big step this year and I think it will help."

Also:

*Marrone said experience played a role in the signing Sunday of 11-year veteran cornerback Tramaine Brock. Veteran corner Rashaan Melvin, who signed as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason, voluntarily opted out of 2020 last week because of COVID-19 concerns. "It did factor into it," Marrone said of Brock's experience. "If we would have lost a younger player, I think we would have brought a younger player in. When Rashaan left we wanted to bring in somebody that has experience, that has the length to play outside, that has done that before. That's important because at least you know what you're getting in. We're excited to have him and excited that he was out there." …

*Marrone said tight end James O'Shaughnessy could be activated from the physically unable to perform list this week. The sixth-year veteran sustained a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in a Week 5 loss at Carolina last season. "We'll be looking at that as the week goes," Marrone said. …

*Marrone called Gunter's potential return "a fluid situation. I would say it would be at least a couple of days. He's heavily involved. We're talking to him daily. We're just trying to do the right thing and working with the doctors and working it out to get him back out on the field. The sooner, the better for all of us – including him—but it's just a matter that it's going to take some time." …

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