JACKSONVILLE – DaVon Hamilton's in a good place these days.
He's playing nose tackle for the Jaguars. He's healthy again. He's starting to play like himself, too. And after what he endured early in the 2023 NFL season, the fourth-year nose tackle appreciates those things in a big way.
"Just being present every day is a great blessing for me," Hamilton said. "I feel like every day is an opportunity to get better and I am a little more appreciative of that now. When you have a passion for something and you have to step away from it, it's difficult."
Hamilton, a third-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft who signed a contract extension with the team this past offseason, joined senior writer John Oehser for this Week 16 2023 O-Zone Podcast. He discussed multiple topics, including how the Jaguars are handling being tied for the AFC South lead with three games remaining.
The Jaguars, after leading the South by two games following a Week 12 victory over the Houston Texans, have lost three consecutive games. They enter Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa Sunday tied with the Indianapolis Colts and the Texans – though they lead the division because of tiebreaker advantages.
"It's definitely very important," Hamilton said. "We have to keep on fighting. We obviously have to finish the year out pretty strong to get where we want to go. I don't see anybody doubting or anything like that. It's about locking in on what we know and what we know we can be. That's pretty much it."
Hamilton in a very real sense is pleased to be playing in any circumstance. He developed a spinal abscess during the preseason, major infection that kept him out the first seven games of the season – and one he said could have threatened his ability to play long-term.
"A lot of stuff was going on," he said. "A lot of side effects were going on. I was in a weird place. This isn't really a normal illness, or a normal infection people get. It was very strange. I feel very fortunate. There was a lot of stuff that could have happened. I could be not playing football permanently.
"I'm incredibly blessed to be back where I am. I'm so thankful for the people who supported me."
He returned for two weeks, was inactive for two more weeks and has started the last two games.
"I feel great," he said. "I feel like I'm back to my normal self. I feel like I'm playing better now and the sky's the limit."
Listen to the entire O-Zone Podcast episode with Hamilton below. To listen to other episodes, click HERE.