JACKSONVILLE – The difference is real, and DaVon Hamilton can feel it.
The Jaguars' second-year defensive tackle looks different, which is a reason he feels different. And to hear those around the Jaguars tell it, he's absolutely playing different.
Those are good differences for the interior of the defensive front.
"I feel like I'm a little more experienced, and I'm able to see stuff," Hamilton said Tuesday on Day 11 of Jaguars 2021 Training Camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. "The game is slowing down for me. That's a big thing."
Hamilton was asked what happens for him when the game slows down.
"A lot of disruption in the backfield," he said with a smile.
Hamilton, a third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, was starting to show that disruption last season before a late-season, season-ending knee injury. To hear coaches and players tell it, he's showing that again – and more – thus far during '21 camp.
"DaVon's doing a great job inside," Jaguars assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Charlie Strong said Tuesday. "We're lucky to have him and [veteran defensive tackle] Malcom [Brown]. They're two big bodies. You need big bodies. It's always fun when you see his [Hamilton's] effort.
"You watch tape and he just hustles to the ball and runs downfield after the football. He's a young guy who's really improving and he's taking a big step."
Hamilton, who played collegiately at Ohio State University, flashed and showed promising signs as a rookie. He played 11 games, started six and was developing as a disruptive presence – with five quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a pass defensed – before a season-ending knee injury in a November 29 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Hamilton said he entered the offseason wanting to drop body fat – "You've always got to finish," he said – and gain muscle. He said the result is a redistribution of weight that he likes and that should help his stamina.
"Especially in this heat," he said with a laugh, adding that his '21 offseason was "definitely" different from 2020.
"This year was actually a lot better because I was able to be here," Hamilton said. "I was here the majority of the offseason just trying to heal up. It's been great. I love the staff, love what they're doing and love what they're bringing to the city. You can't beat it."
A major difference: the Jaguars' hiring of Head Coach Urban Meyer, for whom Hamilton played at Ohio State in 2015-2016.
"It's been a great experience," Hamilton said. "Obviously, I know a lot about him, and he knows a lot about me. We were able to jell and get to winning some games around here."
Some of the better one-on-one drills of '21 camp have featured an improving Hamilton working in one-on-one pass rush drills against center Brandon Linder, drills that Hamilton said have befitted him. "I love going against Linder," he said. "He's a good vet. He's one of the best centers in the league. I can't ask more from him. He's giving me advice, helping me get better every day."
Hamilton on Brown: "He definitely brings something to the defensive group. He's definitely a leader. For me, it's just another vet in the room that is able to help me out and critique some things I normally wouldn't see and ultimately make me better."
Safety Josh Jones on the Jaguars' defense under defensive coordinator Joe Cullen: "It's crazy. You've got things flying from everywhere. It's not just, 'You line up in one defense and you're playing it.' You've got coverages here, blitz here and doing this, this and that. It's a mix of a lot things and it's pretty cool. It's definitely different than the one last year. This defense is for guys to fly around. We're going to lead the league in effort."