Jacksonville Jaguars third year defensive end Dante Fowler is trying to recover from a tumultuous offseason with a strong training camp. By all accounts leading up to the joint practices, Fowler had been showing strong in camp but then kind of disappeared against the Patriots in joint practice. In Thursday’s game against the Patriots Fowler, in my opinion, looked like the Fowler we know.
He didn’t offer much in the pass rush, but he made some plays in the run game. Some people think Fowler had multiple pressures on the quarterback, but from my watch it wasn’t really enough to be excited about.
Either way, Fowler has done well enough in camp to draw some praise from his head coach Doug Marrone.
“I’m happy with where his weight is. It’s going in the right direction. It’s always tough to manage it. I’m happy with his effort level. I think he gives good effort, and I think he’s getting more quality snaps, meaning building on that, which is what you want to see from players,” Marrone said after Monday’s joint practice against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “Now, the next thing we need is to just start getting the results, and they will come. It’s a little bit of balance working with him. Sometimes he becomes extremely frustrated because he’s not getting the results that he wants right away, but I keep telling him, this is what I’m seeing. I’m seeing a guy that’s going to be able to play more quality snaps and those things will come. Right now, he’s doing a good job.”
Yannick Ngakoue seems to be fully entrenched as the Jaguars starting right end, rightfully so, so most of Fowler’s actions are going to come on third downs and spelling Ngakoue. Fowler should get plenty of action in the preseason as well, which is good for him. He still needs to work on using his hands when rushing and developing a move when his bull rush or speed rush get shut down.
While Fowler got pulled from the practice against the Patriots last week, which was eerily parallel to last season when he got tossed from practice with Bucs, the player he was matched up with last year seems to have noticed a difference this year, albeit in one practice.
“He wasn’t as much of a hot-head [as last year],” Buccaneers offensive tackle Demar Dotson told Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “I threw him down the one time and he didn’t complain. He got up and went back to the huddle. You can see he has a [higher] maturity level and he’s not trying to fight or trash talk.”
My first instinct is to laugh at the bar being so low that not getting booted from practice is where the bar is at, but in reality it’s good that he’s maturing to this point, at least on the football field. As I said previously in regards to the arrest etc. this offseason, Fowler needs to mature as a person on and off the football field before he matures as a football player, on the field.
Baby steps are better than no steps.