JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the week that was around the Jaguars last week with an eye looking forward to this week's three-day mandatory minicamp …
The new leader of the Jaguars' defense thinks highly of its best young player.
That was evident when Calais Campbell spoke to the media last week.
Campbell, the veteran defensive end who may be the team's most important offseason acquisition – and who quickly has emerged as the leader the team envisioned upon his signing – spoke to the media late last week during the final week of 2017 organized team activities.
One of the topics was second-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and it was evident Campbell is impressed with the No. 5 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.
"He's an incredible athlete," Campbell said.
Campbell, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who spent his first nine seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, quickly has taken on the role of team spokesman, and he appears comfortable in a leadership role. He talked about several issues late last week, and was pointed when talking about the talent level around him on defense.
"This team is stacked with talent," Campbell said.
Campbell seemed particularly enthusiastic talking about Ramsey, and was asked about the second-year veteran in the context of Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson. That's a lofty comparison considering Peterson's status as a Top 3-to-5 cornerback, but Campbell didn't discount the comparison.
"The way he can jump up and get the ball … much like Patrick when I saw Patrick do some special things," Campbell said. "Ramsey has the same kind of ability and the same kind of hunger. I've talked with him and he wants to be the best in the game. He doesn't just want to be a good player, he wants to be the best so I love that when he shows that kind of determination when I see that.
"He's smart and he prepares by watching film of even himself trying to make sure he's getting better. I'm excited."
It's little surprise Campbell has seen this from Ramsey, who increasingly last season looked destined for multiple Pro Bowls. Ramsey wasn't perfect last season, but despite the team's struggles, he improved as the season continued and by December was playing at a higher level with fewer mistakes than early in the season.
He also was making high-profile impact plays consistently at a position where game-changing plays can be difficult to make consistently.
It's not surprising a veteran would notice such a player quickly, but for Campbell to already like Ramsey's off-field approach as much as his on-field ability is a very good sign for the player who already may be the Jaguars' best player.
Campbell's quick emergence as a team leader, while expected – and while a huge reason the Jaguars signed him in early March – nonetheless has been a key storyline during the offseason program. Rookies and veterans alike have discussed his presence in the locker room, and he appears to be accomplishing the difficult task of providing real leadership in what for him is still a relatedly foreign environment. Linebacker Paul Posluszny has provided such leadership in recent seasons, and former nose tackle Roy Miller III – released this offseason – brought that element. Teams need more than one or two such players. Campbell along with Posluszny and emerging leader Telvin Smith could be beginning to provide such a presence on a roster that is still young by NFL standards.
AROUND THE JAGUARS
*The Jaguars' three-day mandatory minicamp will be held Tuesday through Thursday, marking the end of the veteran portion of the 2017 offseason program. The three days will be different from the three weeks of 10 organized team activities that just ended in the sense that minicamp is mandatory and OTAs are voluntary, but other than that there's not much difference in what happens on the field. …
*Jaguars left tackle Branden Albert is expected to attend minicamp, Marrone said last week. Albert, who was acquired in a trade from Miami in March, did not attend the voluntary OTA sessions. He was the only Jaguars player not in attendance for the majority of OTAs.
*Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone, who was clear throughout OTAs he didn't consider the non-contact, unpadded work practice – and that he therefore didn't draw many conclusions about the team from them – made it equally clear last week that he doesn't consider minicamp "practice," either. "I consider it an activity," he said with a laugh. …
*Marrone also said he won't use minicamp week as anything like a dress rehearsal for a regular-season week, saying last week "I'm not going to get into those schedules until late in training camp. I probably tend to get into them later than most people. I think players adjust very easily and I think I try to maximize the amount of work that we can get. That has always been my philosophy." …