Calais Campbell was smiling on Tuesday when he talked to the media. The veteran defensive end said coming back to TIAA Bank Field and beginning the Jaguars voluntary workout program was something he was excited about. Putting in work, preparing for 2019. Most of all, like others on the team, the beginning of the three phases of the program meant putting the 2018 season behind him.
The Jaguars want to erase memories of what was supposed to be a “super” season for this franchise, but became more of a nightmare. Now, with new faces on offense and changes to the roster on defense, Campbell, who is in his third season with the team, will focus on playing football and enjoying the time he has on the field and with his teammates.
“I’m very excited. It seems like every year I get more and more excited to come into the offseason program, the spring ball,” Campbell said. “I guess as you get closer, get a little older, you try to appreciate these moments. It’s a good opportunity to kind of build that chemistry and develop the mentality we are going to have for this year.”
Quarterback Nick Foles told the media on Tuesday he called Campbell after signing his free-agent deal with the team to talk about playing football in Jacksonville. The two veterans will be counted on to help guide this locker room back toward the goal of the playoffs and beyond. Both players spoke admirably of each other, which should help foster continuity with transition this offseason.
“I met him a few times, talked to him. I have always respected him. I played against him years ago. It’s funny – time flies. I’ve seen his development. He has really developed into a quality player – Super Bowl MVP. But he is just a really good guy,” Campbell said.
“He has a strong confidence about himself. He is very poised. He has a presence. You see him in the locker room, he brings a presence with him. That is a good sign. Since we signed him and I have talked to him a few more times – I’m really impressed with the guy, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do together.”
Campbell has enjoyed two of the best seasons of his NFL career here in Jacksonville after signing as a free agent in 2017. As he gets older, he appears to get better. Having Yannick Ngakoue on the other side of the defensive line helps.
But there is a belief the Jaguars may still grab a pass rusher as early as Round 1 next week in the NFL Draft. At 32-years-old, Campbell’s career is on the shorter side, but he is not slowing down just yet.
Campbell had 10.5 sacks last season after a 14.5-sack campaign in 2017. He said every season is an opportunity, something he does not take for granted. He said the team needs to refocus on every day instead of looking ahead of itself.