Jaguars hope Cyprien’s return to the lineup stabilizes safety spot
After missing the last two games with a calf injury suffered in Jacksonville’s season-opening loss to the Carolina Panthers. safety Johnathan Cyprien returned to practice on Wednesday.
With Cyprien and fellow starter Sergio Brown out in recent weeks, the Jaguars have been forced to mix and match in the defensive backfield, including playing cornerback Peyton Thompson as a safety last week against the New England Patriots.
Brown still nursing a calf injury, so Cyprien is likely to start at strong safety Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, opposite rookie James Sample. Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley said having Cyprien back in the lineup will make a big difference in the secondary.
“Just what he brings to this team, his leadership, his style of play,” Bradley said, per the Florida Times-Union. “I think all those qualities right now would be a great addition to the secondary. He just has a certain presence. Guys really trust him back there, and it allows us to do some different things with his presence back there.”
As the team prepares to face the Colts, Cyprien said he’s noticed Indianapolis leads the NFL with 10 turnovers so far, including seven by quarterback Andrew Luck.
“Right now, they are going through some struggles,” Cyprien said. “To me, it looks like they are trying to put themselves together. They’re definitely a team that’s been giving things up. We plan on going in there and trying to expose that.”
But while the Colts offense has been turning the ball over, the Jaguars defense has just one turnover so far.
“We’re going to try to go after it a little bit more,” Cyprien said. “Not just with the Colts since they’ve been giving it up. We’ve been going for strips and trying for interceptions. We’ve just been falling short. We understand that’s an issue. To be the defense we have to be, we have to make those kinds of plays.”
Sample, a fourth-round pick out of Louisville, played 44 snaps in place of Brown last week against the Patriots.
"Everything is making sense, and I’m able to play faster now,” Sample said. “I’ve started preparing to be the starter this week. I’m getting ahead on film and getting some keys on what Andrew Luck does. My teammates are helping me. A lot of them have played against him a couple times already. They’ve shown me tips on certain plays to be on watch for so I can play faster.”
Bradley said Sample, like Cyprien, makes his presence felt on the field.
“I saw it with him in the (Patriots) game. He makes plays,” Bradley said.
The Jaguars hope that continues Sunday against the Colts.