On the verge of his 50th AFL game, Essendon midfielder Jye Caldwell is relishing his opportunities to improve on a week-to-week basis. 

After an injury-riddled first three seasons across both the Giants and the Bombers, Caldwell has broken the shackles to play 35 of a possible 37 games over the last two years, bolstering the Bombers’ midfield depth. 

Caldwell told Breakfast with Harf that the chance to play consistently has provided a newfound freedom in his game. 

“Playing every week is something that I’ve never really experienced before and doing that is actually really rewarding, it’s something I don’t take for granted,” Caldwell said. 

“I can just focus on honing my craft, running patterns, getting better as a footballer. You don’t have these second thoughts (about injuries) running through your head, you can just purely focus on football.” 

After missing the majority of his first season with the Bombers in 2021 through a nasty hamstring injury, Caldwell admitted that experiencing those setbacks as a young footballer came with their moments of self-doubt. 

Once his focus shifted internally however, Caldwell found the best platform to get himself right to go. 

“There was a stage where I thought I was stuffed, so to be able to get (to 50 games) is a massive achievement for me. I probably got caught comparing myself to others and it got me down a fair bit. I realised it doesn’t really matter, just focus on yourself,” Caldwell said. 

“I feel great (now), it’s the best I’ve felt. I had a slow first three seasons, but the past two I’ve played the majority of the games, so it’s good to build that consistency in my body.” 

Caldwell was a shining light for the Bombers in a heartbreaking finish against Port Adelaide last week, racking up 24 disposals and kicking two late goals to nearly drag his side over the line. 

Despite the tough loss, Caldwell is full of optimism around the Bombers’ current play, as well as their room for improvement in the long haul. 

“We’re playing a good, high level at the moment, we’re staying in games and there’s a lot of guys bringing their flair. It’s good that we’re not getting blown out and it shows that we’re gradually improving,” Caldwell said. 

“We probably had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows within a couple of minutes (on the weekend). In football, each week comes around pretty quick, so if you hold onto a game too long, you drag it into your next prep. We’ve moved onto Adelaide now.”