Calais Campbell Is Enjoying Jacksonville Jaguars OTAs

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 17: Calais Campbell /

The one thing I took out of the conversation Calais Campbell had with the media on Thursday was even after more than a decade in the NFL, he was having fun.

This might be the second day of OTAs and he and his Jacksonville Jaguars’ teammates are going through the paces, focusing on new techniques while refining old plays, but the smile across the All-Pro defensive end’s face told the story.

Calais Campbell is enjoying the start of his second season in a Jaguars uniform.

Campbell and the other 89 players on the practice field adjacent to TIAA Bank Field dealt with scorching heat while being put through the two-hour practice session. It was something he said you don’t get used to, but he was ready to tackle it as part of the preparation for the upcoming season.

This time last offseason, the former second-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals was learning a playbook, shaking hands with new teammates and getting acclimated to the change of this organization. Now, entrenched as a leader on the roster and a player who dominated his position, there is still plenty more Calais Campbell wants to prove.

So do his Jaguars teammates.

"“We have a lot of talent, and guys are working and pushing hard,” he told the media. “It’s nice being outside even though it was very hot today. Guys were competing, taking turns making plays – offense and defense. It really felt like the competition factor was really good today.”"

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That competitive fire will be counted on by the coaching staff this season. There were changes to this defense, the second best in the NFL last season. No Paul Posluszny at middle linebacker because of his retirement. Aaron Colvin is in Houston after playing nickel cornerback last season. Taven Bryan was drafted in the first round to play on the end and at defensive tackle. There is plenty to get excited about, but there is also plenty of work to be done.

"“This year you can work on specific things every day to try and get better. Today, you can get the sense that everyone was taking a play or two here to try and work on a style or a different technique they wanted to work on. It just seemed that everybody was more focused on getting better, not so much of trying to come together,” Campbell explained.“Last year, I feel like everybody was so new – it was a new coaching staff and a lot of players – now we’re trying to just get better one day at a time.”"

Calais Campbell and his teammates came up short in the AFC Title Game, a pain the entire team felt. Now, like Doug Marrone explained in his press conference on Tuesday, the slate is wiped clean, there is a renewed concentration on what lies ahead. This time, the team is focused as the reigning AFC South champions.

He said the large numbers of quality players on the defensive side of the ball won’t present a problem with keeping a rhythm going because everyone is after the same goal.

"“Don’t have to wait to get into a rhythm.  You really want to come out right away, and every defensive lineman has that mentality.  If they get 10 reps, all 10 should be quality reps,” said Campbell.  “Obviously you want to stand the guy up and some other stuff in the pass rush, but as far as wreaking havoc, there’s no downside there.  Having depth is definitely a benefit.“The only downside is you might not be able to make as many stats numbers-wise, but we’re going to win a lot of games and you can trade wins for stats every day of the week.”"