From the Locker Room: Campbell reflects on picking Jaguars in free agency, Cole on stepping up at WR

Jaguars beat writer Mike Kaye previews the Week 2 matchup against the Titans

Just a few days before his historic performance in the 29-7 win over the Houston Texans in Week 1, Uninterrupted released a documentary on Jaguars defensive end Calais Cambell's experiences in free agency.

The film documented Campbell's back-and-forth with his old team, the Arizona Cardinals, and his desire for a big deal elsewhere. For three days, Campbell mulled offers from the Cardinals, Jaguars and Denver Broncos.

Inevitably - as captured by "The Process" - he decided to sign a four-year, $60 million deal ($30 million guaranteed) with the Jaguars. The documentary offered a glimpse into the life of an NFL star during the most intense off-the-field hours of his career.

Campbell was happy with the finished product.

"It was pretty good," Campbell said. "It's all about impulse, impulse decisions is what they want. A lot of footage of more cerebral, thought out stuff. I think when you capture the emotion and what I was going through as far trust goes and just how it feels and ebbs and flows, it's a pretty intense moment for those three days. From when the tampering period starts to when you can sign, it was my first time going through it, so I didn't know what to expect and I'm glad it was captured." 

Since signing with the team on the first day of free agency, Campbell has established himself as a leader in the Jaguars' locker room.

In Week 1, Campbell revealed that he could also be a major difference-maker for Jacksonville. He produced a franchise-record four sacks and won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award in his Jaguars debut.

Reflecting on his decision to land in Jacksonville, Campbell is still as elated with the move as he was in March.

"Without a doubt," Campbell said. "What I saw and what I heard in talking to other people who gave me advice and know the game, what they were saying was 100 percent true. This team is young and hungry and very talented and I knew that my skill level could come here and really help these guys win. Right now, we're sitting at 1-0 and we have big goals going forward, but I feel like we're on pace to give ourselves a chance and that's all I really wanted to do, give myself a chance."

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Cole comfortable stepping up in Robinson's absence

With Allen Robinson out for the season with a torn ACL, the Jaguars need to find other wide receivers to step up in his place. Veterans Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee will be featured in Robinson's absence, but the team does need a third - and maybe even fourth - receiver to make up for his production.

Undrafted rookie Keelan Cole had an impressive training camp. He also shined in the early stages of the preseason. The Jaguars liked him enough to rest him during the preseason finale.

In Week 1, Cole was mostly meant to play special teams. After Robinson went down with the knee injury on the opening drive, the rookie was offered some playing time on offense.

"It was definitely tough seeing a teammate go down," Cole said. "That's never a good thing, regardless of what position he is or where he's at on the team, it's just always tough watching that. We always practice to be ready for that next step, so that's just what it was, just step in and you've got to do what you've got to do."

Cole and veteran wide receiver Arrelious Benn are likely to see increased snaps on offense moving forward. Both have experience playing in the slot and on the outside. Cole said the offseason helped him prepare for the task at hand.

"You prepare yourself all the time for any possible thing to happen," Cole said. "That's what you practice for, you practice to be ready for that next step, whether it's an injury or they just felt like putting you in because you were the best fit that spot. This whole time was a preparation for anything to happen, so I've always been ready to step in and be ready at any time, regardless of the situation."

With Hurns and Lee likely to play on the outside, the Jaguars will need to find a slot receiver in short time. Cole, Benn and newly signed Max McCaffrey will contend for the role. Cole said he is ready to produce from wherever the Jaguars want him to play.

"I'm comfortable anywhere," Cole said. "Shoot, if they hand me the ball off, I'm comfortable. I'm comfortable with wherever the coaches feel comfortable with me."

Smoot discusses NFL debut, Titans' offensive tackles

Third-round pick Dawuane Smoot made his NFL debut against the Texans in Week 1. While his performance didn't stick out on the stat sheet, Smoot did influence a big play in the fourth quarter.

Lined up as the strong side defensive end, Smoot bull rushed Texans right tackle Breno Giocomini into the pocket. Smoot's attack forced enough pressure to influence Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to make an ill-advised throw that was intercepted by safety Tashaun Gipson.

"It was just like I was back at childhood, honestly," Smoot said with a smile. "Just finally being able to be out there with all of those great athletes and being able to produce is great. It's a dream come true." 

Smoot did his best to block for Gipson, as the safety returned the ball deep into Texans territory. Unfortunately for Smoot, the block failed to hold long enough for Gipson to reach the end zone for a touchdown.

"Next time I'm going to bury him," Smoot said, regarding blocking on an interception. "During that time I was just thinking I was going to drive him out and then [Gipson] was going to cut it off, but honestly, it's whatever, I'm not going to pay to much attention to [blocking criticism]."

The rookie will face his next test against the Tennessee Titans in the team's home-opener at EverBank Field Sunday. As a college player at Illinois, Smoot went up against Titans tackles Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin. 

That pairing is among the best tackle duos in the NFL. Smoot has an understanding of why they've been so successful based off his time against them in the Big Ten Conference.

"I would say their feet, their hands, definitely," Smoot said. "They're really strong-handed guys, they're real athletic guys, so it's just kind of hard to get around them. You've just to work your technique and be able to stop their momentum and not let them get their hands on you."

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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