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The Jacksonville Jaguars are primed for the most exciting season in franchise history. Man, does it feel good to say that!
Earlier this week, the Jacksonville Jaguars sent former No. 9 overall pick cornerback CJ Henderson packing, shipping the second-year CB off to the Carolina Panthers after just 10 games played in Jacksonville. With that, Jacksonville has given the keys to the castle at one of its key defensive back positions to 2021 second-round selection Tyson Campbell.
Since being drafted by Jacksonville, Campbell was always slated to play a major role on defense. While it wasn’t expected to be quite this much, this year, this year, the situation the team is currently in has dictated it.
Instead of playing in the slot, Campbell is set to man the outside cornerback position along with Shaquill Griffin. The veteran cornerback sees the potential that Campbell has, and is confident in his abilities to man the role that Henderson has now left.
“He makes tackles — really good fitting up tackles and that is what we need for this defense,” Griffin said of the young defensive back on Monday. “We need someone that is going to compete no matter what happens [and] you are going to make it tough on them and the things that we have to work on are ‘okay get your head around, let’s see the judgement of the ball’ we will work on those things [and] we will fix those.”
Throughout the season, Campbell has looked as advertised, while also struggling at times to locate the football, leading to big plays by the opposing offense. The skillset is there, it is simply a matter of figuring out the final key aspect of being a big-time NFL defensive back, getting his head around and making a play on the ball in the air.
For Griffin, those sort of issues for being a young player are fine, and fixable. The key aspect to the position is confidence, something he believes Campbell has shown to have plenty of.
“In this game there are going to be some cornerbacks that give up some plays, there are some cornerbacks that get in this hole [that] they cannot get out of and you cannot teach that. My main thing is I want to see Tyson Campbell fight and he showed that and I can play with a guy like that.”
Campbell’s first opportunity to play outside at cornerback full time came on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals last week.
Filling in for an injured Henderson, Campbell was tasked with defending Cardinals receiver A.J. Green, one of the better receivers from the last decade. While he did give up some plays, Campbell didn’t ever appear overwhelmed on the day, and even recorded a key pass breakup early in the contest.
Safety Rayshawn Jenkins, another captain with Jacksonville, says he’s seen plenty of ability from Campbell, while also mentioning that there is a learning curve for young cornerbacks.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Jenkins said on Monday when asked if he was confident in Campbell stepping up as a starter.
“I saw Tyson [Campbell] as a young cornerback, as a rookie cornerback do some great stuff yesterday, do some good things yesterday. Of course, there is always, always a learning curve with rookies. I don’t know not one rookie that I played with and didn’t have a learning curve. Of course, he has some things to fix, but I do like what he’s able to bring to the table.”
The next opportunity for Campbell will come tonight against the Cincinnati Bengals. An offense that boasts one of the more dynamic receiving corps in the NFL. Even with Henderson’s departure, Jenkins doesn’t feel the team’s defensive backs room was shaken up much, if at all.
“I wouldn’t say we are too shaken up. I feel like we have everybody that we need, so I wouldn’t say we’re shaken up. CJ [Henderson] was a good player. He’s with Carolina so I know he’s going to go there and [will] make an immediate impact, so [I] wish him the best.”