5 defensive players to watch in Jags’ preseason game vs. Saints

The Jags’ defense could put the NFL on notice Monday night with many around the nation watching. Here are some players on the unit to keep in mind when they take the field.

Week 2 of the NFL preseason is about to come to an end, but not before the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints take the field for a Monday night battle at Caesars Superdome. Both teams will not only be looking for their first preseason wins in the process, but looking to garner some momentum as regular season football is weeks away.

In their first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, the Jags’ defense had both some positive and negative takeaways. The most notable one was their stoutness against the run, but at the same time, they struggled mightily against the screen game. The hope is that they will be able to clean that up against the Saints, who are a team with notable threats in the backfield.

From an individual standpoint there are also a variety of players Jags fans will be tuning in to see tonight as the unit has some gelling to do. Here are five players we think will be worth watching as the Jags will once again be taking a national stage this week.

Jags activate DL Taven Bryan from Reserve/COVID-19

Jags’ No. 29 overall pick from 2019 is finally ready to return to the field, but is it too late?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have activated defensive lineman Taven Bryan from their Reserve/COVID-19 list the team announced Sunday. With him coming off the list, he’s now set to begin practice for the first time since training camp started after initially being placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

With just two preseason games remaining, Bryan will have to make up a lot of ground as the Jags will be on Day 14 of camp when he returns. Many were hoping that things would click this season for the Jags’ No. 29 overall pick from 2019, but at this point, it seems his roster spot is in jeopardy.

Bryan entered this season with 17 starts, 71 combined tackles, and 3.5 sacks. He’ll be tasked with finding a place in a rotation that currently has Malcom Brown, Roy Robertson-Harris, Adam Gotsis, and Dawuane Smoot all ahead of him on the unofficial depth chart. That said, the Jags’ next weeks of practice and upcoming preseason games against the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys might be the most important events of Bryan’s career in Duval.

Poll: Will Taven Bryan make the Jaguars’ final roster?

Bryan’s spot on the Jags roster could be in jeopardy heading into training camp.

With all of the defensive additions made this offseason, one player has been almost entirely ignored: fourth-year defensive tackle Taven Bryan. The Jaguars faced some scrutiny when they decided to draft him with the 29th pick back in 2018, as his production in college at Florida was limited and some scouts questioned his feel for the game.

Now, as Bryan enters the final season of his rookie deal, those concerns appear to have been warranted. Bryan has only started 17 games in three years, never totaling more than two sacks in a season, and his career-high in tackles (33) came in 2019. The Jaguars declined his fifth-year option this offseason, and though Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer said the team wants Bryan around, it’s unclear what role (if any) he will play in the future.

With veterans set to report to training camp next week, Bryan’s spot on the roster has been called into question. The Jaguars bulked up the interior of their defensive line this offseason by signing Roy Robertson-Harris, trading for Malcom Brown, and drafting Jay Tufele, and now there may not be a spot for him on the final 53.

Is it possible that Bryan could be released before the season starts? Given Jacksonville’s relative lack of depth along the defensive line, it seems unlikely on its face. Bryan hasn’t been particularly productive, but with a new scheme being installed by incoming defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, it would be somewhat surprising if the team didn’t give him the final season of his rookie season.

The multiple defense and added 3-4 looks may not help Bryan, but the scheme will certainly be more similar to the one he ran in college at Florida. Considering the Jags once invested a first-round pick in Bryan, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to ditch him now, especially considering he’s an inexpensive option and the team can just walk away from him after the season, if it wants to.

Though it’s tenuous, Bryan’s spot on the roster seems safe, at least for now. But we want to hear from you. Will the fourth-year player make Jacksonville’s final roster? Let us know in the poll below.

[polldaddy poll=10886160]

Jaguars pass on DT Taven Bryan’s fifth-year option

Taven Bryan will have top prove himself in 2021 if he wants to remain on the Jags roster as the declined his fifth-year option on Monday.

The time has arrived for teams to pick up the fifth-year options of their 2018 first-round draft picks, and many have elected to do so. However, the Jags aren’t among those teams and will be doing the opposite for defensive tackle Taven Bryan, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

While Bryan did flash a little in 2017, he’s been largely unimpressive since entering the league, so the Jags’ decision comes as no surprise. Overall he’s manage to accumulate 71 tackles and 3.5 sacks over 17 starts, and 48 appearances. In his first three seasons, he was able to register grades of 69.4, 75.5, and a 59.0, respectively, on Pro Football Focus.

Bryan has the first fifth-year option the Jags’ new regime has had to make a decision on from the Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell era. Earlier in the week, Jags coach Urban Meyer told the media that they wanted the young defensive tackle on the team. And while he still has a chance to impress the new staff, it may be hard to do with all of the players who could be in front of him on the depth chart at this point.

Bryan’s base salary figure for 2021 is set at $1,864,767 per Spotrac. However, if he’s cut this offseason, they would save over $1.1 million, but would eat a dead cap hit of over $2 million.


Stock up, stock down from Jags’ 27-25 loss to Texans

The Jags may have loss to the Texans Week 9, but there were several players who impressed like Jake Luton and DJ Chark.

The Jacksonville Jaguars found themselves on the wrong end of the win column after a grueling, yet competitive matchup against their divisional rivals in the Houston Texans. The Texans defeated the Jaguars by a score of 27-25 in a battle that was within reach for the Jags to win.

Despite the loss, there were some players who improved their stock, while others did the opposite. Lets take a look at four of those players who either stood out in a good way, or bad way.

Stock Up: QB Jake Luton

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Jaguars rookie quarterback Jake Luton proved that he can play in the NFL. While he wasn’t perfect by any means, he played well enough to give the Jags multiple opportunities to win.

The sixth-round rookie out of Oregon State finished the game with a 68.4% completion rate (26-of-38) for 304 passing yards and a pick. He only had one touchdown pass, but it was a beauty and he even rushed for a 13-yard touchdown, which put the Jaguars in prime position to tie the game up. Unfortunately, the ensuing two-point conversion failed and the Jags would not be able to complete the comeback.

Luton has drawn some similarities to his sixth-round counterpart in Jags quarterback Gardner Minshew II, who he started for because of a thumb injury. With Minshew not even at the point where he can throw yet, he could be playing for an extended period of time, which means Luton has a chance to get better in time.

If Luton can replicate the success he had against the Texans, then head coach Doug Marrone will have an interesting decision to make when/ if Minshew is healthy enough to play.

Stock Down: DT Taven Bryan

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The Jaguars’ defense has been much maligned all year but the defensive line has truly had it’s fair share of problems. One of those problems has been the play of defensive tackle Taven Bryan this year.

Bryan has not played well this season, entering the week with a 54.5, per Pro Football Focus. Against the Texans, he finished with only two tackles and was actually benched in favor of reserve defensive lineman Doug Costin.

Bryan was selected with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Florida University. Since, he’s accumulated 62 tackles in his three seasons with the Jags, but he has only 3.5 sacks overall leading up to Sunday’s game against the Texans.

Sunday may have represented the Jaguars acknowledging that Bryan may not be the guy to anchor the defensive line and there could be a change in the offseason if the production doesn’t pick up.

Stock Up: WR DJ Chark Jr.

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It would seem preposterous that a Pro Bowl wide receiver and the best offensive weapon on the Jags’ team would have a falling stock, but it is the case as D.J. Chark Jr. has had a stretch of forgettable games in the past few weeks.

Through Weeks 5-7, Chark was only able to garner 11 receptions on 25 targets for 87 yards and has not found the endzone. Sunday’s game reminded everyone on how dominant he can be as he finished with seven receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown. Chark was targeted 12 times in the game, so it appears that Luton feels extremely comfortable looking Chark’s way whenever under duress.

If Luton retains the job, we could see more of these connections for the rest of the season.

Stock Down: CB C.J. Henderson

Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It’s tough being a rookie in the NFL but it has been a huge trial by fire season for Jags rookie cornerback C.J. Henderson.

After being selected with the No. 9 overall selection out of Florida, Henderson has had a rollercoaster of a season as he currently has a disappointing 60.0 PFF grade with a 60.3 grade in coverage.

On Sunday, the rookie had a game to forget as he was the main culprit behind a huge 77-yard touchdown from Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to wide receiver Will Fuller V. The rookie also committed an extremely costly 50-yard pass interference penalty on Fuller, which set up a one-yard touchdown from running back Duke Johnson. That score capped off a 98-yard drive from the Texans and the penalty played a large part in aiding it.

While Henderson was drafted to be the cornerstone of the secondary and while he is an intriguing athlete, the past few weeks have not been kind to him and his struggles against the Texans reflect that. Hopefully, he steps things up during the second half of the season as the Jags have some notable opponents coming up.

Jaguars vs. Chargers: 3 players to watch on defense

Josh Allen will be returning from injury and needs to have a huge day pressuring QB Justin Herbert if the Jags are to win Week 7.

With a 1-5 record after five straight losses, the Jacksonville Jaguars have reached a desperation point earlier than many expected in 2020. Another defeat today and the team will go into their bye week with a disappointing 1-6 record, which would keep them in strong contention for the first overall pick.

Today’s matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers presents a difficult challenge. Their rookie quarterback has lit up the league in the past two weeks, whilst the return of edge rusher Melvin Ingram will make them a much tougher opponent on the other side of the ball.

If the Jaguars are to win today, they will need strong showings across the board, but these are three players who simply must have an impact for Jacksonville to leave Los Angeles with a victory:

LB Joe Schobert

Linebacker Myles Jack has been ruled out of today’s game, which heaps pressure on the Jaguars’ high-profile signing of the summer. Joe Schobert has struggled often without Jack in the lineup, so defensive coordinator Todd Wash will be hoping for better play out of the veteran.

The Chargers have weapons littered throughout their offense and it’s hard to find many more dependable than tight end Hunter Henry. Schobert’s ability to cover will be tested throughout this game, but it’s a duel he will need to come out on top of if the Jaguars are to have a chance of winning this game.

CB Sidney Jones IV

Featured in last week’s edition of this post prior to the loss against the Lions, Sidney Jones IV remains a key piece to watch on this Jaguars defense after multiple impressive showings. He was activated off the practice squad just three weeks ago and hasn’t looked back since his first start with the Jags, which was a solid performance that came against the Houston Texans.

In that game, Jones finished with one interception, three pass breakups (including one tip that turned into a pick), which makes him the only Jaguars defensive back with four passes defensed in a single game for the last four years. That said, he’s made it clear he has talent.

With Keenan Allen and Mike Williams posing as one of the best receiver duos in the entire league, Jones will likely have his hands full for much of the afternoon. If he is able to have another strong performance, he will likely earn himself a long-term spot in the Jaguars secondary.

DT Taven bryan

With Josh Allen back for this game, rookie edge-rusher K’Lavon Chaisson will likely see his snap count fall again as both are rarely on the field at the same time. That means, former first-round pick Taven Bryan is going to have to force pressure through the middle.

Defensive coordinator Todd Wash rarely blitzes on first and second down, which means Bryan will play a vital role in generating pressure as part of the team’s four-man rush. With a rookie in DaVon Hamilton set to start next to him Sunday, the Jags will really need Bryan to up his play and begin to show the team why he was drafted in the first round in 2018.

Jags DL coach on Taven Bryan: He’s having one heck of a camp

With him entering his third season, 2020 will be an important season for Taven Bryan who made some steps last season. While he hasn’t quite reached where most would want for a first-round pick, there is no denying he showed up at key moments and has …

With him entering his third season, 2020 will be an important season for Taven Bryan who made some steps last season. While he hasn’t quite reached where most would want for a first-round pick, there is no denying he showed up at key moments and has something to build towards this year.

So far in camp, he’s seemingly impressed his position coach, Jason Rebrovich, who had a great deal of praise for Bryan before Tuesday’s practice.

“Hopefully all of you guys have watched some tape for the last few 9 or 10 practices, Taven Bryan is having one heck of a camp now,” Rebrovich said to the media Tuesday, “He’s showing up quite a bit in his running, in his toughness at the point of attack and how he strains, it’s showing. And I’m going to tell you this, his confidence level is coming with that, too.”

Despite him currently being sidelined with a knee bruise, this is certainly good to hear about Bryan because the defensive line is likely going to need him to start and thrive in the process. The team lost two projected starters in Rodney Gunter and Al Woods to a heart condition and opt-out for concerns for the coronavirus, respectively, leaving two key spots on the line available.

Bryan will enter 2020 with the second-highest 2019 Pro Football Focus grade on the Jags’ roster (75.6), with only nickelback D.J. Hayden registering a better grade (76.9). When looking back at it, most of his success came during the Week 3-7 range. He also had a good showing in the Jags’ season finale against the Indianapolis Colts, giving All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson all he could handle.

Heading forward it looks like Bryan’s snap count will definitely increase. With that could come consistency out of the third-year defensive, which would be huge for the Jags’ future because he and Josh Allen could be the nucleus of the defensive line.

Taven Bryan listed amongst players who could shed ‘bust’ label in 2020

Taven Bryan flashed in 2019 and had a low-key type season. 2020 could be even better season for him as the Jags will sprinkle in 3-4 looks.

Due to the team’s lack of success over the last couple of years, a lot of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ recent draft additions have been highly scrutinized. None of Dave Caldwell’s picks on the roster currently may be as scrutinized as 2018 first-round pick Taven Bryan, who hasn’t met expectations in the early stages of his career.

Since being drafted, Bryan has only registered nine starts, 53 tackles, and three sacks, which are figures that won’t appeal to fans when considering the team passed on Lamar Jackson, who came off the board three picks later. That said, with Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone being on the hot seat, 2020 is going to be a big year for Bryan and one that will determine whether or not the team picks up his fifth-year option in 2021.

Some believe he’ll rise to the occasion this upcoming season due to being an extremely raw prospect in the draft. Others feel he won’t improve all that much, which would mark another first-round selection that could’ve been used elsewhere. Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine believes the former may be what fans witness as he listed Bryant amongst his list of players who will shed their label of being a bust after having a better season than the stats showed.

First, there was a step up in improvement for Bryan in 2019. He started eight games, posted the eighth-highest run grade among interior defenders in November, per Pro Football Focus, and finished the season with a respectable 75.6 overall grade. That’s all while taking a much bigger role than he had in his rookie season. He went from playing 29 percent of the defensive snaps in 2018 to 46 percent in 2019.

I agree with Ballentine as Bryan was a player we caught on to during the first quarter of the season and a few games beyond. He especially made his presence known in the backfield during Weeks 4 through 6, which involved two playoff opponents in the Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints.

Bryan also finished the season on a high note flashing against All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson and the Indianapolis Colts. When adding in the fact that the Jags will be moving to more 3-4 looks, Bryan could be right at home in 2020 being that the Florida Gators utilized it during his time in Gainesville.

Jaguars vs. Titans: 3 players to watch in Week 12’s AFC South battle

Taven Bryan is one of many players who will be key to a Jags victory against the Titans due to his abilities behind the line of scrimmage.

This week the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Nashville to face off against their third consecutive division rival: the Tennessee Titans. After falling to the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts the last two games, the Jags are hoping to turn things around against a Titans team on a hot streak. New quarterback Ryan Tannehill has brought back life into the Titans team and looks to have them back in the playoff hunt.

If Jacksonville has any hope of getting back into the playoff picture, it starts here. Here are some key players to watch in this matchup that may just turn the tide in favor of the teal and black:

Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Center Brandon Linder

Brandon Linder has been a team leader since his early days with the Jags when he was one of the league’s top offensive lineman. Unfortunately, as of the last two seasons, he has been largely inconsistent and doesn’t look like the dominant force we have all come to know. The running game has struggled as of late and penalties have plagued the line all season.

Through the first eight games, Leonard Fournette was on a record pace as a rusher. Since, the back has seen just 19 carries and the offense has similarly struggled to get going. Whether it is the fault of play-calling or execution, the offense needs to get back on its feet and the offensive line is the key. With Jurrell Casey posing a threat on the other side of the line of scrimmage, Linder will need to play his best ball.