JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Calais Campbell has been to a Super Bowl. He knows what it's like to play on the grandest stage in the football world.
That's partially the reason why he backs his Jaguars teammates who aspire to win a championship as early as this season.
The 6-foot-8, 300-pound defensive end believes it's the right attitude to have moving forward.
“You just see the guys motivated, hungry," Campbell said in a press conference on Wednesday. "You see leaders being born. Everybody is taking care of the small details. You can only control what’s in front of you. What we have in front of us, the task we’re being asked to do, guys are alert and focused and trying to accomplish those tasks.”
The former Arizona Cardinals lineman has been around the league for quite some time. After nine seasons in the desert, the two-time Pro Bowl selection decided to head to Duval County on a four-year, $60 million contract.
His positivity is predictable. Everyone in the NFL has a positive outlook before the metaphorical bullets fly.
However, Campbell said his reasoning behind the optimism is isolated to EverBank Field.
“Everybody is motivated to a degree, but the execution of the small details? It’s situational," Campbell said. "I don’t think that everybody is executing the small details. I’m talking about in a football locker room. Coach asked a lot of us. He’s very focused and the guys, they don’t complain. They know, based off the history, that Coach should ask a lot of us in that we’re out there doing it. We’re not pouting or feeling sorry for ourselves. Just go out there and do what they have to do. That’s part of the game: buying in to what the coach is preaching and the system. It gives you a better chance to win.”
Campbell understands the Jaguars have only won 11 games in the last three seasons. He knows the national media isn't surrounding the team with hype.
He also realizes that winning the AFC South could turn the Jaguars into championship contenders.
“I know history doesn’t say a lot of good things, but from what I see, all the pieces are in place and I’m going to go out there and do everything that I can to make sure I put myself and motivate my teammates to put them in position to get the job done," Campbell said.
"The biggest thing is just winning the division so you can get your opportunity. Like Malik [Jackson] knows, he’s won a Super Bowl, I’ve played in one, it’s really just getting to the playoffs, winning your division and getting that home game and then from there, anything is possible. We have some division games early, so the whole training camp is about focusing so we can start fast. If we can start fast, anything is possible.”
Campbell is learning a new position. He is playing strong-side defensive end in the Jaguars' 4-3 defense. While he has seen positive results early on, he admits there has been an adjustment period. Much like adapting to a new team and a new city, adjusting to a new position can take time.
“I feel very comfortable," Campbell said. "I had a good spring. We had some adjustments, but it’s something that I could have been good at my whole career. It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to play. I’m happy that I got the opportunity. Spring, I got my feet underneath me and was learning. It’s a different vision. It’s different. It’s all familiar in a sense. I feel like it came around pretty quick. Now, after some time off, I’m sure there’s going to be another adjustment period. It’s been great. It’s getting the guy in front of me and making sure that I’m knocking him back, setting the edge and get rid of him and chase the ball down. The d-line is the d-line.”
In order for the Jaguars to take the AFC South crown, Campbell will be counted on to be dominant at his new position. The start of training camp on Thursday will be his first test in mastering his new spot and motivating his teammates to push harder.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.