You really have to hand it to Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler. He really can talk a good game. He’s yet to play very many of them, but he can sure a talk good one.
He was at it again this week, when he told the Florida Times Union that he realizes it is well past time for him to prove that he can be everything that a third overall draft pick is supposed to be.
“I just want to be able to show I’m a pro and I can be a role model off the field,” Fowler said. “I want to be a big part of the community in Jacksonville.
“I want to be the best. And I know that I can be the best. But the thing is, I got to be able to want it that bad for myself, and I got to be able to showcase it and display it.’’
What Fowler has displayed thus far has been nothing short of disappointing. He missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury and struggled throughout his comeback a year ago.
Meanwhile, off the field, he’s continued to find trouble. He’s been arrested twice over the course of the last 17 months, including once for battery, criminal mischief and petit theft this past July 18.
Fowler, in fact, is due in court in Clearwater to address those misdemeanor charges the day after the Jaguars open their season Sunday against the Texans.
It was against that backdrop, though, that Fowler said he has finally come to understand what’s expected of a player who was drafted to be a franchise cornerstone.
He said came to the realization, at least in part, while repeatedly watching the same cut-ups of himself from the 2016 season, one in which he admits he didn’t quite recognize the player he was seeing.
“I had to look in the mirror a few times you know,” Fowler said. “I soul searched a lot. I was coming off the (torn) ACL injury and I was amped up and excited to get back on the field to be able to play again.
“But my mind wasn’t on knowing what I was about to get myself in, going against the best. I wanted to be great so bad, but the things that I was doing I couldn’t be great by doing that.’’
Fowler still hasn’t achieved great. Just as he did last year he’s slated to start the season working a platoon with Yannick Ngakoue at defensive end. The good news is that coach Doug Marrone sees progress, Progress, though, isn’t enough.
“I’m happy with his effort level,” Marrone said. “I think he’s getting more quality snaps (and) building on that, which is what you want to see from players. Now, the next thing we need is to start getting the results.’’