Marrone: Dante Fowler will play against Tampa Bay

Jaguars DE has only played in one preseason game


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The majority of the Jaguars starters will spend Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers standing on the sidelines with a baseball cap. It’s common practice across the NFL for starters to sit the final preseason game. Dante Fowler Jr. won’t have that same luxury. 

“He’s going to play, that’s my plan,” said Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone on Tuesday. 

In a back-up role Fowler had eight sacks in 2017. The former No. 3 overall pick hasn’t been on the field for much of the preseason. Fowler missed the first two-and-a-half weeks of training camp while recovering from a left shoulder injury, which kept him out of the first preseason game. 

Then after returning for only a couple of practices Fowler was suspended for a week following an after practice skirmish with fellow defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. That incident caused him to miss the second preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. 

Fowler made his preseason debut on Saturday against the Falcons and after the game he spoke with the media for the first time since his suspension.  

“After the incident happened, we came in the locker room and literally hugged and made up,” said Fowler. “It was really a pride standpoint because of how much we love each other. Things got a little antsy because that was my second day back out there. Just trying to set the tone, but I set it a little too much. We have to care for our teammates and look out for them. I love JO (James O’Shaughnessy) and he loves me, too. I love Yann (Yannick Ngakoue) and Malik (Jackson) and all those boys. You know it’s a team. We are brothers with egos. It will make sense, I feel, 10 years from now, but it doesn’t make sense now. Those are my brothers and I love them, honestly.”

Thursday night will give Fowler an opportunity to make up some of the time he’s missed during the preseason. He knows he’ll play but for the moment Marrone hasn’t decided how long he’ll be out there against the Buccaneers. 

“Just so you guys know, my philosophy has been – you can look back at what I have done before, but if someone is playing, I never really tell them how much they’re playing,” said Marrone. “What happens is they get that pitch count in their mind. All of a sudden it’s like, ‘Whew, I have two more plays left.’ Then all of a sudden, they take it a little bit easy and maybe they stand up a little bit and someone rolls into them. I try to keep their mindset – you’re getting ready to play, play a whole game, until we tell you that you’re not. This way the player doesn’t know and he is prepared for everything. That’s how I feel. I don’t know if it’s real or what people feel or not. I just know my experience as a player when people have gotten a pitch count, then those guys will be counting the plays.”