JACKSONVILLE – Calais Campbell laughed at the question.
“Why is he different?” he said. “It’s God-given.”
As the Pro Bowl defensive end sees it, that’s a good start when understanding what makes Deshaun Watson one of the Jaguars’ toughest opponents each season.
Elusiveness. Strength. Playmaking ability.
The Houston Texans’ quarterback has all the above attributes. And Campbell said those attributes help explain why Watson is a Most Valuable Player candidate – and why limiting his effectiveness is critical for the Jaguars this week.
“He has a knack for making plays,” Campbell said as the Jaguars (4-4) prepared to play the Texans (5-3) at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday at 9:30 a.m. “His vision when he’s on the move is special. Aaron Rodgers [of Green Bay], Russell Wilson [of Seattle] and him – when they’re running, for some reason they can still keep their eyes down the field and know exactly where their guys are going to be.
“When we get our hands on him, we can’t miss him. That’s when you really get hurt.”
Defensive coordinator Todd Wash on Thursday called Watson “probably the most dynamic player that we will face all year long.”
“He can throw the ball extremely well, and he really hurts you with his legs,” Wash said. “Not only do we have to worry about Hop (All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins), we have to worry about the quarterback.”
The Jaguars ranked third in the NFL this season with 29 sacks, registering eight in a victory over the New York Jets this past Sunday. The Texans’ offensive line also has dealt with injuries in recent weeks. Campbell said winning at the line of scrimmage is only part of the challenge against Watson.
“Beating your block is great; you’ve got to do that,” Campbell said with a laugh. “The thing about him is when you beat your block, you’re just getting started. The real task is getting him down. He is very, very elusive and has a good knack for making guys miss. He’s strong. He’s tough. We’ve got our hands full.
“The key is doing it together. He makes one guy miss, then makes another guy miss, then makes another guy miss … hey, we’ll just keep coming. Eventually we’ll get him down.”
Also around the Jaguars Thursday:
*Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo discussed center Brandon Linder, praising the veteran’s ability to assist rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II calling pre-snap protections. “He has really helped him in that,” DeFilippo said. “There’s a lot for any quarterback to see, but especially a young guy who’s in there. He has done a tremendous job of getting everyone on the same page. I can’t say enough good things about Brandon Linder. He’s the glue that kind of holds that [offensive line] together.” …
*Wash said veteran Najee Goode is expected to start at weak-side linebacker after missing last week’s game with a toe injury. Wash praised middle linebacker Myles Jack for his play in recent weeks with Goode, strongside backer Leon Jacobs (hamstring) and weak-side backup Quincy Williams (hamstring) all missing various amounts of time with injuries. All three players missed last week’s victory over the Jets. After allowing 285 yards rushing to Carolina in Week 5, the Jaguars have allowed 61 yards per game rushing over the last three games. “He has played extremely well, especially about the last two or three weeks,” Wash said of Jack. “He has to get everybody lined up. It was impressive how he did it last week with the guys we had in. … He’s doing a nice job quarterbacking our whole defense.”
*Kicker Josh Lambo practiced on a limited basis a day after missing practice with a groin injury. Campbell (back) and Linder (shoulder) also practiced limited after missing practice as the duo typically does on Wednesdays during the regular season. …
*Cornerback D.J. Hayden missed practice for a second consecutive day with a neck/shoulder injury sustained in a victory over the New York Jets this past Sunday. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday he expects Hayden to be questionable entering the weekend. Williams and Jacobs both missed practice for a second consecutive day, and guard Andrew Norwell was added to the injury report as not practicing because of a calf injury. …
*Wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck/shoulder), safety Jarrod Wilson (knee), wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. (quad) and Goode all worked limited for a second consecutive day. Minshew also worked limited for a second consecutive day with a right shoulder issue that is not thought serious. …