Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler has been able to gain a lot traction in his second year on the field.
The former third overall pick has taken a more mature approach to the game and his sights are set on lofty goals. In order to meet those self-imposed expectations, Fowler has changed his routine.
"Some things happened and I was able to look at myself in the mirror and just realize this is a job," Fowler said.
"This is my third year, second year on the field, and [I'm] just realizing my spot, my situation, so I've got to sacrifice some stuff, some things that I like to do, so I can be the professional player that I want to be. The elite player that I want to be. I think it's paying off with me taking notes and watching film in the film room and doing things off the field."
Fowler has already matched his production from last season in just six games. He is tied for second on the team with four sacks and two forced fumbles.
His coaches have seen a change. His teammates have noticed the difference. Fowler has become a professional.
"I'm very confident knowing that I have Calais [Campbell] and Malik [Jackson] on my side," Fowler said.
"Knowing [Yannick Ngakoue] is going to get his job done. Knowing the back end is going to jam [wide receivers] up so I can have enough time to get to the quarterback. I honestly feel the biggest part of me having a good season is because the back end is doing a really good job, Calais is doing a really good job at getting pressure. We've just got to stay consistent, keep that chemistry going and keep it going so we can achieve what we want to achieve."
Along with his newfound focus on the field, Fowler has stepped up as a father. The young player has spent a lot of his free time with his infant son.
"I'm hanging out with my little baby now, my 9-month-old boy," Fowler said with a smile. "So that's pretty cool. We get into a lot of stuff, so that's what I do most of the time. Controlling him, trying to get him out of lot of stuff, but I read, I watch film and just stay in the house."
Fowler's new overall outlook has led to success. He is hoping his stats and stock continue to climb as this season and his career move along.
A home game for Day
Second-year defensive tackle Sheldon Day will have his second NFL homecoming Sunday.
The former Notre Dame star is an Indianapolis native. He is looking forward to playing in front of his loved ones.
"It's all good to play in front of my family," Day said. "Getting friends and family to the game to see me play live."
The Jaguars' AFC South rivalry with the Colts allows Day to play in his hometown annually. In last year's season finale, Day played 33 snaps at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I wouldn't say it pushes me to make a play, but it makes me feel good when I make a play because I know I have people there just to support me," Day said.
Playing at home can lead to distractions. Day is working to manage those extracurricular expectations.
"Last year was pretty ridiculous," Day said. "I think I had like 40 people, so I'm trying to limit it this year because it can get expensive.
Overton returns to face his old team in Indy
Much like Day, Jaguars long snapper Matt Overton played during last year's season finale in Indianapolis. Overton was the Colts' long snapper last season.
The veteran long snapper is now looking to earn a win for Jacksonville. He also has mixed emotions about the return to Lucas Oil Stadium.
"It's a little bittersweet," Overton said. "Indy is home to me, so I'm excited to go back home, excited to be with my family and friends there. I'm excited to play in front of great fans, but again, part of me wants to get a little vengeance. Not really vengeance, but just it's an important game. Not just for me personally, for personal reasons, but it's a division game."
The Jaguars are 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the division. A win over the Colts could provide a big boost for the Jaguars' playoff aspirations.
"We understand that the easiest way to get into the playoffs is to win the division," Overton said. "This is huge for us. We've been playing really good on the road so that's a good thing. This is going to be a tough environment to play in."
Overton knows how challenging the Colts can be. The Jaguars aren't overlooking Indianapolis.
"The Colts are always a tough team to play at home," Overton said. "I'm very familiar with the team. I've played for them for the past five years. All the the same coaches [are still there]. We've really got to be prepared."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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