- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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That doesn't mean it didn't bother him a bit and it's not preventing him from using it as incentive in his first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"It definitely motivates you," Bryant said. "In my situation, me being a captain for the last two years, and then after winning the Super Bowl and in the offseason being released, it adds fuel to the fire. But that's the business of football. Like I always tell people, it isn't what happens to you it's how you respond.
"So if I respond in the right way, if I can prove Gus [Bradley] and Dave [Caldwell] right for wanting to pick me up, I'll feel like I accomplished something."
Bryant was a salary-cap casualty in Seattle -- he was due a $4 million roster bonus in March -- so his release wasn't related to his performance. So far this preseason, Bryant has shown that the Jaguars' decision to sign him to a four-year, $17 million contract less than two weeks after he was released looks pretty good. The Jaguars ranked 29th in the league in rush defense (131.8 yards per game) and gave up at least 150 yards rushing seven times in 2013. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound Bryant has helped drop that number to 113 yards per game in three preseason games.
Roughly a quarter of the 339 rushing yards the Jaguars have allowed this preseason came on Reggie Bush's 86-yard touchdown run last Friday night. Several players, including safety Johnathan Cyprien and linebacker Telvin Smith, were out of position on that play. Otherwise, the Jaguars' run defense has been solid.
That's due in large part to Bryant, who anchors the outside of the defensive line as a five-technique end. He hasn't played an entire game yet, but Bryant certainly upgrades the defensive front. He is coming off a season in which he made 30 tackles, recorded a career-high 1.5 sacks, and had a career-high four tackles for loss.
"It takes a while to know what type of impact you have," Bryant said. "I just try to keep the younger players encouraged because this is a talented group. It's deep at every position and that's always a great starting point when you're trying to build something. I feel like Gus and Mr. Caldwell got this program on the right track in terms of trying to build a consistent winner. If I could just keep the younger guys encouraged of what it takes I feel like I'll be doing my job."
13hEric D. Williams