JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars' 2021 draft class had a good week. Really good.
First, quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne Jr. started Week 1 strong. By week's end, a third member of that class – cornerback Tyson Campbell – was standing out in Jaguars 2022 Training Camp. And make no mistake:
When discussing Campbell this week, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson sounded enthusiastic about the future of a young player who has made remarkable strides in a short time.
"Tyson is really beginning to come into his own as a corner in this league," Pederson said Thursday as '22 camp continued at the Knight Sports Campus at Episcopal School of Jacksonville.
Campbell, a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, had one of the week's highlight moments. During a Wednesday practice in which he defended two passes thrown by Lawrence, Campbell after one of the breakups exuberantly shouted, "It's Like Chick-fil-A on a Sunday."
That means his side of the field is closed – and it's that sort of confidence that Pederson said is part of an impressive makeup for the former University of Georgia standout.
"He's long and lanky and can run," Pederson said. "He's another one of those young players that the more reps and more time on the grass, is just going to make him a better football player. He's young, energetic, he's also becoming a leader on that side of the ball. That's good to see."
Campbell, after struggling early in the season as a rookie, had a strong second half of the season. He finished with a team-high 10 passes defensed and led the team with two of the team's seven interceptions.
"In your second and third year is where you start seeing these young players really make strides in this league," Pederson said. "It is good to see. At the same time, he also knows it's a long season and you're going to have highs and lows but how you manage it and how you stay right in the middle, I think, goes a long way."
Center Luke Fortner, a third-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, has worked with the first-team offensive line each of the first four days of '22 camp. With that move, Tyler Shatley – who had started extensively at center in recent seasons when starter Brandon Linder was injured – has worked with the first team at left guard. "When we draft these guys as high as we did we knew at some point that we have to at least get him in there with the ones and let him go to work," Pederson said. "Nothing is set in stone, but we want to give him those valuable reps to work with a veteran in [right guard] Brandon [Scherff] to his right and [left tackle] Cam [Robinson] to the left and work with these guys. He's done a nice job and he's handled it well. We continue to throw a lot of information at him and see what he can handle."
Pederson on a wide receivers group that includes Marvin Jones Jr., Zay Jones, Christian Kirk and Laviska Shenault Jr.: "These are unselfish guys. It's not about, 'Throw me the football all the time.' They understand there's one football and in order for a play to work sometimes one guy has to kind of be the take-the-top-off guy. Each one these guys can do that. They're very unselfish that way. It's good to see."
Pederson on what to expect when camp moves into its “full-pads” phase beginning Sunday: "You'll start seeing more of the one-on-one pass rush games and more of the o-line and d-line working together. In this acclimation phase, we have to limit the amount of contact we're doing. Once the pads come on, it's game on at that point."
Kirk on Lawrence: "The great thing about him, and what I think is important, is the open-minded communication between him and us receivers and the tight ends, and even his offensive line. If he sees something, immediately after the play he's coming up to us, we're talking it through and making sure we're getting it right. That's the kind of thing you want to see from your quarterback and having that communication and getting better. I may say, 'Hey, I see this, and I think maybe try this,' and it may work. He's really open to taking that and taking that coaching, that reassurance from other guys, so being able to have that and that maturity is great to see."