JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It had been more than 500 days since Dante Fowler Jr. wore full pads on a football field. If you have seen any parts of the Jaguars 2016 training camp so far, you would never believe it. Although Fowler Jr. says his surgically repaired knee is 100%, he feels that something is still missing.
If that is true, quarterbacks in the AFC South and the NFL should be put on notice as Fowler has stacked good practice after good practice so far in training camp for the Jaguars, showing the explosiveness that he showed with the Gators two years ago that made him the Jaguars 1st round draft pick in 2015.
"It kind of surprises me," says Fowler Jr. about how quick he is getting off the ball so far in camp. "It wows me to see where I am at because even though my knee is 100%, they say the last thing you get is your explosiveness back. Just to see where I am at right now and what I am doing, I can't wait to see what the future holds."
So can Jaguars fans. Especially those on hand for Wednesday's training camp session who witnessed Fowler make offensive lineman after offensive lineman look silly in one-on-one pass rush drills. If we haven't seen Fowler Jr.'s explosiveness yet, what will it look like when we do?
"It is going to look real nice," said Fowler Jr.
His teammate on the defensive line Jared Odrick has seen Fowler progress through his ACL tear last season and now his first full training camp this year and says his explosiveness is very rare.
"Dante sticks out just because how explosive he is," says Odrick. "People say that across the board for football players, you know, 'he's got explosive moves' or 'he's explosive off the ball.' You hear that all the time but Dante is really explosive. I talk to him about that all the time, how to use that explosiveness and harness it and use it in the right way and I think he is doing that so far."
His defensive coordinator Todd Wash feels the same way. Talking to the media before Wednesday's camp session, he says that as much as he loves his explosiveness, he would prefer if Fowler Jr. back it down a notch against his own team in practice.
"He actually had a question in meetings today, asking how do I slow down and not hit people, which is a good thing," says Wash. "We love the energy and the effort he plays with and we are not limiting him at all right now. He goes out and he is physical but we have to get him to slow down and play within himself. He tries to do too much at times. He's kind of a bull in a china shop sometimes, but that's the kind of mental make up we want on defense."
The Jaguars are back on the practice fields at 10AM on Thursday before they have a live scrimmage open to the public in the stadium on Friday night at 6:20PM. News4Jax will have a live special from 7 to 8PM that night featuring Sam Kouvaris and many Jaguars alumni.