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View from the O-Zone: Campbell remains confident


JACKSONVILLE – Calais Campbell laughed, then the big man reconsidered the question.

And he laughed again.

He laughed a bit more during his response Sunday afternoon, too. That's because the question was about panic and the preseason – and the Jaguars' defensive end has been around the NFL long enough to know when to worry, panic or otherwise be very, very concerned.

Now isn't one of those times.

One rough preseason half isn't one of those times.

Two games into the preseason isn't one of those times.

To think otherwise is, well …


"That's hilarious – no, not even close," Campbell said.

Understand this:

No one around the Jaguars was particularly thrilled with much about a 12-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at EverBank Field in the second game of the preseason Thursday. The run game struggled. Starting quarterback Blake Bortles struggled – and Head Coach Doug Marrone afterward declared the position open for competition between Bortles and backup Chad Henne.

The defense struggled to stop the Buccaneers early, and there were enough dropped passes, missed kicks and other not-awesome stuff that Marrone talked Saturday of moving some players at positions other than quarterback.

The goal, Marrone said Saturday, was simple: "To make sure we get this team in the best position to go out there and play a whole lot better than, obviously, we played another night."

So, no: Thursday's 2017 debut in the 'Bank wasn't ideal. And yes, much needs to improve.

But panic?

No, Campbell and Jaguars veterans said Sunday it's absolutely not time for that.

"It's way too early for that," Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson said. "At the end of the day, it's Preseason [Week 2]. Not to make excuses, but we've still got some time. For us, it's trending upward."

Defensive tackle Malik Jackson said the preseason goal remains the same – and it's not about playing well in mid-August.

"We have Houston Week 1 and that's what we're preparing for," Jackson said.

Robinson agreed.

"We want to be peaking and playing our best ball around Week 1 time," Robinson said. "We're trying to get some of the kinks out and trying to get acclimated to some new things. It was the first time the ones had played that many snaps in a game, so you know what I'm saying? I'd say there's no panic at all for this team."

Among the newness to which the Jaguars are acclimating: A new offense installed by offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Bortles mentioned this last week when speaking to the media, and there is an adjustment period for a team that features a largely new coaching staff outside Marrone and coordinators Hackett and Todd Wash (defense).

The Jaguars also played Thursday without a slew of front-line players, including rookie running back Leonard Fournette, wide receiver Marqise Lee and their top three corners: Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and nickel corner Aaron Colvin. All five figure to be critical to the team's hopes this season.

"A lot of guys are still learning," Jackson said. "That was Calais' first game back in over a few months. We still don't have our corners. Guys are still learning and getting their feet under them and seeing things. That's just the process of what it is. If people want to panic, I'd tell them to calm down:

"Stay with us. It's a long season."

Mainly, players said, the preseason is just that: the preseason – and while winning and performing well matter, there also is an ongoing process that doesn't always play out until the regular season.

"It's the start of the season," Campbell said. "You're just preparing and getting ready for what you're going to be. You're trying to figure yourself out. It's about getting a feel for guys."

Veteran weakside Linebacker Telvin Smith agreed, and said he remains optimistic for simple reasons.

"The things that need to be corrected can be corrected," Smith said. "I'm still more than excited about this team because we see that it's there. Now, we must be there."

Campbell, who signed with the Jaguars as unrestricted free agent in March from Arizona, was vocal throughout the offseason about his high hopes for this Jaguars season. He said his hopes absolutely remain high.

"There's no reason for panic at all," Campbell said. "You have some bad days at the office. That's how it's going to be."

"So," Campbell was asked, "you still like what you see from this team?"

He laughed.

"Yeah, without a doubt," he said.

And as far as he sees it, to think otherwise is … well …

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