Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr. shows some significant growth


Has Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. finally found his groove?

One practice is certainly not enough to anoint Dante Fowler Jr. as the next Reggie White, but it is a step forward. Following a big third day in Jacksonville Jaguars training camp, Fowler is getting back in the good graces of Jags fans.

This is critical following a thoroughly depressing first year on the field in 2016 and recent off-field issues. Fowler still needs to grow as a professional, but he may finally be growing as a football player, too.

In a bad day for quarterback Blake Bortles, Fowler managed to shine. Racking up sacks and being a regular menace on the field, Fowler looked like he finally turned the athleticism that made him the third-overall pick in 2015 into productivity.

The Jaguars have Yannick Ngakoue fresh off a franchise record-setting eight sacks as a rookie but still need help with rushing the passer. Getting a consistent pass rush from Fowler would go a long way to helping the defense become a top-10 unit. Fowler was hardly disruptive as a first-year player in 2016 and showed he needed more time on the field to grow.

So far it looks like he is growing. While this is just one practice, any demonstrated growth after hype from his fellow players this offseason is good. Fowler is one of the more athletic players on the defensive side of the ball but hasn’t done much to this point to show that he can turn that into productive pass rushing.

Now, with just a little bit of evidence, the optimism can start to build up again.