JACKSONVILLE – K'Lavon Chaisson carries the weight of high expectations on his shoulders.
Chaisson, a linebacker/defensive end selected No. 20 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft from Louisiana State, arrived in Jacksonville with the franchise's arrow pointed decidedly down. He tallied a single sack as a rookie – far below what he wanted to deliver – but finished strong and is clearly energized by the changes to the team.
"I wouldn't say I was discouraged," Chaisson said Wednesday discussing his 2020 rookie season after Day 12 practice of Jaguars 2021 Training Camp. "But coming from where I was coming from, a winning background … I won in high school, I won in college. Then it wasn't going our way [last season].
"It kind of got to me a little bit. As time went on, I just focused on the positive – what I could get better in, where I could improve."
Chaisson this past offseason went as far as Las Vegas, Nevada. There, he attended a pass-rush seminar put on by Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and a cadre of premier defenders who help one another get better.
"Man, I've been trying to get to that since my freshman year in college," he said. "It meant the world to me – getting to be around Von, DeMarcus Ware and all these other players from around the league who have had success chasing the quarterback and doing the things I want to do and helping their team win.
"The DeMarcus Ware piece really got to me because I was like; 'Dang, I didn't ever think about that.' I recorded everything they said and every year I'm going to try and get back out there."
It's a big plus that this new defensive scheme brought from Baltimore by new Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen is creating a lot of energy on the field. Chaisson is excited about going to work every day.
Chaisson, speaking to the media Wednesday for the first time during '21 camp, was asked if he liked the new defensive scheme.
"What do you think?" he said with a smile. "It's fast, man. We're coming from all different ways. This defense has a lot of confidence and I feel like we all trust each other to do our job. It's been fun out there, especially when you're going against the No. 1 pick (Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence) who looks like a pro already with [Jaguars defensive end/outside linebacker] Josh [Allen] and me competing to get there and he's throwing dimes. It's fun."
It's also different – although despite the new staff, new players and new era in Jacksonville there is at least one very familiar face. Chaisson and rookie left tackle Walker Little were friends from their days as high-school standouts in Houston, Texas.
"That's my dog," Chaisson said. "We go back to high school days and we were even talking about going to the same school. Every day I come out here and kind of just flash back when I'm in my stance to how it was back then and it brings a competitive edge to me, pride wise.
"He's a great player and I try and give him my best every day. He's going to be going against some premier pass rushers and I want to give him some good looks so when the season comes there won't be any issues. Walker is still amazing."
What a difference a few months can make in professional football.
Chaisson: "I've tremendously progressed (since last season). As time goes on you get more film, you get more time to study. Then you just get around vets and around people who have been around the game. I've talked to people who have been in the league and people who just give me knowledge every day. I'm progressing tremendously and taking advantage of it."
Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson on the team under Head Coach Urban Meyer: "It's just different this year. Me being around a guy who's been here for a while – when we've had success, when we haven't have success – it's just a different feel. It's hard to explain, but the energy is different. That's something I enjoy, personally. I come from a winning culture. That's something I'm used to – and that's what's needed, honestly. That was big for me, and I think it's big for the whole organization."
Robinson on what makes Meyer's approach similar to his coach at the University of Alabama, Nick Saban: "Not accepting anything but anybody's best. If it's not up to his standard, then it's not acceptable. If it's not up to a standard of what we're trying to get done, then it's not acceptable and it won't be accepted."