Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook

Article excerpt

Byline: Bart Hubbuch, Times-Union sports writer

BRYANT SHINES IN CAMP

Cornerback Fernando Bryant is at full strength for the first time in two years, and it's showing in his play.

That's how coach Tom Coughlin views the situation after Bryant had yet another strong day of practice yesterday. The Jaguars' No. 1 pick in 1999 provided one of the highlights of the afternoon practice with a diving play to break up David Garrard's pass for speedy receiver Patrick Johnson.

Such plays have been common by Bryant this summer, a turnaround both he and Coughlin attribute to the absence of foot problems that plagued Bryant the past two seasons. Those injuries are a major factor why Bryant hasn't had an interception since Oct. 1, 2000 -- a span of 19 games.

"Fernando's had a very good camp, especially since he's had some groin problems that he's fought through,'' Coughlin said. "He's made some nice plays.''

Bryant said he isn't speaking to reporters this season but told the Jaguars' Web site that losing more than 10 pounds in the offseason (down to 175 pounds) has made the biggest difference in his play.

"I slimmed down and got everything back,'' he said. "I feel great for the first time since I came here in college.''

EPSTEIN 'LOOKING GOOD'

Not only is Hayden Epstein putting distance on the ball, but the seventh-round pick from Michigan also seems to be putting distance between himself and Derek Schorejs for the Jaguars' vacant kicking job.

Epstein, who didn't miss a field goal in Friday's joint practices with the New Orleans Saints, had another perfect afternoon yesterday. Epstein converted all three of his attempts, while Schorejs missed an apparent 40-yard try.

Epstein also is getting better distance on his kickoffs than Schorejs, which is a must in the eyes of the coaching staff after the Jaguars recorded just one touchback last season. …

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