The best thing for Tyson Alualu this season is he feels healthy. The defensive lineman has been a nice surprise for Gus Bradley and the Jaguars defense this training camp, which means Alualu, a fifth-year player and the in the final year of his rookie contract, knows there is some competition at his position and a need for the veteran to step up and keep his job.

This year, especially, it will not be easy.

The Jaguars were supposed to be modest players in free agency, but did a complete overhaul of the defensive front four.

  • Chris Clemons
  • Red Bryant
  • Ziggy Hood

They all signed contracts to come to Florida and play for Bradley and his system. For players like Alualu, who will always be connected to the Draft that could have landed Tim Tebow, it is now that he must step up and claim his place with this franchise.

Add to the fact that Ryan Davis, Chris Davis and Andre Branch have been impressive and there is more reason this season for the California product to make it all happen.

Alualu said on Tuesday afternoon that the main difference between this August and Augusts past is he feels better than he has in a long time. He said that means his long-bothersome knee and everything else.

And as Alualu sees it, feeling healthy is a very good feeling.

“I feel good,” Alualu said Tuesday on, following a two-hour, 20-minute practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. “That gives me a better chance to go out there and work my craft. It allows me to play faster, without having to think about, ‘Is my knee going to hold up today?’”

Alualu, who underwent microfracture surgery in his right knee in January 2012, said while he has felt better each year since the surgery, the difference this year is significant. He also said he is more comfortable in his second year playing the six-technique, run-oriented defensive end spot in Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley’s scheme – and that the presence of free-agent signee Red Bryant has helped him and everyone else on the line.

And while Alualu, who has started all 64 games in his four-year NFL career, is expected to enter the season as a backup to Bryant, Jaguars coaches see Alualu as not only an improved player, but one key to the defensive front.

“Tyson has definitely benefited (from Bryant’s presence),’’ Jaguars defensive line coach Todd Wash said. “There’s a good competition between the two. … He’s played extremely well. We really feel like we got two starting 4-Bs, six-technique-type guys and we’re excited about both of them, but he’s definitely stepped up his performance in camp.”

In other notes

  • Bradley said while running back Toby Gerhart has been out four days with a hip flexor injury he ideally would like to play the free agent in the preseason opener Friday against Tampa Bay. “We’ll err on being more conservative,” Bradley said. “But what would I like? I’d like to see him get in there.” Bradley said he expects to make a decision on Gerhart and other injured players – as well as a determination about playing time for different units – Wednesday night. …
  • Josh Davis, a fifth round defensive back from the 2013 draft is currently listed as the third-team safety on the team’s depth chart.
  • Third-year safety Joe Young continues to look good in camp. He worked with the second-team defense last week, and worked at strong safety on Tuesday with Johnathan Cyprien out much of practice with a hip flexor. Bradley on Tuesday called Young, “Very physical,” adding, “He can go. I think he’s getting a better comfort level with defense. But he’s really showed up on special teams.”
  • Right now, the Jaguars only have six wide receivers in uniform due to injuries and suspensions.