In the midst of a career-defining offseason, Dante Fowler Jr. slipped up and was arrested for battery on Tuesday evening.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are ramping up for a high-pressure 2017 regular season, with pressure on numerous individual players and coaches. The team hasn’t had a successful season since 2007 and frustration is mounting among fans as well as the guys employed by the franchise.
One guy under a microscope in 2017 is former first round pick Dante Fowler Jr.
After injuring his knee and missing his entire rookie season, Fowler was given a pass for what was an underwhelming 2016 campaign. He looked overmatched as a pure edge rusher and was outplayed by his counterpart, rookie defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
With plenty of talent around him on defense, Fowler needs to show up and look improved in 2017.
What he doesn’t need to do is get into trouble off the field.
Fowler was arrested Tuesday evening on charges of “simple battery” according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.
"The arrest report said that Fowler was driving in the Trellis at the Lakes apartment complex Tuesday night around 6:30 p.m. when a man walking in the complex made a comment about his driving. Fowler got out of his car, exchanged words with the man, then “hit the man, knocked his glasses off and stepped on them,” according to the report. He then “took the victim’s grocery bag, with recently purchased liquor, and threw it in a lake,” according to the report, which said the victim was not injured."
That’s a bad look for any player, especially one who hasn’t done much to live up to his high first round pedigree.
The Jaguars also released an official statement regarding the arrest:
"“The Jaguars are aware of the situation involving defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and are currently gathering more information. The team has been in communication with Dante. No further comment will be made at this time.”"
One of the quiet constants this offseason has been head coach Doug Marrone’s hesitance to fully endorse Fowler. Quite the opposite, as he’s consistently cited “maturity” as one of the main things Fowler needs to work on to become a good professional player.
An incident like this certainly isn’t going to help Fowler endear himself to Marrone, but more importantly it could also hurt his ability to contribute if he has to miss time for one reason or another.
The Jaguars almost made it through the dead zone without incident, but they’ll head into training camp next week with yet another off-field question to address during media sessions.