JACKSONVILLE – His focus is singular, and that's how K'Lavon Chaisson wants it.
This Jaguars 2023 Training Camp is as important as any time in the fourth-year outside linebacker's football career. But his focus isn't on numbers, or expectations, or outside thoughts.
"I'm just staying true to my path right now," he said.
Chaisson, the No. 20 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft, is an important '23 Jaguars training camp story for multiple reasons. One is it's the final year of his rookie contract. Another is that teammates and coaches like what they see from him.
Still another is that Chaisson has a chance to contribute in the Jaguars' outside linebacker rotation along with 2019 No. 7 overall selection Josh Allen and 2022 No. 1 overall selection Travon Walker.
"When you look at K'Lavon, the tools are there," defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell said. "He's a smart and talented outside linebacker. He has ability to rush. He has shown it, and we're just waiting for him to be healthy and get his opportunity to get out there and show what he can do.
"When you look at it, he's never really had the chance for a full season. From the time we got here to now, the work he's put in, it's time for his hard work to pay off for him."
Chaisson's approach to making that work pay off: Continue to work, with an emphasis not as much on techniques and statistics but on "grinding every day."
"Consistency is the biggest thing you can get out of someone," he said. "Whatever results from that, that's a result and that's an acknowledgement of my grind. That's really it. That's what I come out and do every day."
Allen, like Caldwell, has spoken highly of Chaisson throughout '23 training camp. Chaisson appeared to have one of his better offseasons, with a heightened knowledge of the defense in Caldwell's second season, and he had a strong repetition Tuesday in the Jaguars' first one-on-one pass-rush drill of '23 camp.
"I'm seeing K'Lavon be a leader on this defense," Allen said. "He's a guy that the young guys, the rookies, go to if they need questions. K'Lavon is a really smart player. He knows the defense in and out. He puts himself in a position to be successful. He's a guy you can talk to about formations: 'How would you align right here? I see it a little different; tell me what you see.'
"I just think playing a little faster, being comfortable working his moves, going throughout the whole process … if he continues to grow, he'll have a lot of good opportunities."
Chaisson, who missed eight games early last season with a knee injury, has played 40 of 49 possible regular-season games in three seasons with 11 starts and three sacks – one in each season. But Chaisson on Tuesday said he's not concerned about numbers, or opinions of observers.
He said he has grown in three NFL seasons – "the best thing you can get in life is experience," he said – and that his focus now is being healthy and earning trust of coaches.
"I'm going to control as much as I can, and let everything else play out," he said. "This is a game that consistency gets rewarded. The more you have your head down, the more you work and don't get caught in outside noises or expectations, you just put your head down and you grind.
"I'm just playing the course, keeping my head down and working. The work ethic has always been there. I'm just playing the cards being dealt by the man above and continuing to be on the path I'm on."
- The Jaguars finished 12th in the NFL in points allowed and fourth in the NFL turnovers forced last season, Caldwell's first as defensive coordinator. He was asked on Tuesday what differences he expects in his approach in 2023. "Probably the biggest thing is just allowing the players to play," he said. "Early on [in 2022], I was trying to make the perfect call and now it goes back and forth. They trust us, we trust them and I have to trust them to whatever call I make, they'll go out there and execute and get the job done. It's more me understanding I'm going to out there and let them play. I'll at times try to help them out but majority of the time, 'Let them go out there and play.' We want to attack and when you attack, you come from anywhere and we want to be able to be versatile enough to be able to do that to offenses. They have their tendencies, we want to study those, but at the end of the day we can't sit back and wait on them. We have to dictate. We have to play our game."