JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One year can make all the difference in the world. Just ask Jaguars starting cornerback Davon House.
The veteran defensive back is entering his sixth season in the NFL, but just his second in Jacksonville. Signed to a long-term deal last summer, House was projected to be the No. 1 cornerback on the roster, but his initial season with the Jaguars offered a lot of peaks and valleys.
House had a career year on paper, but at times looked out of place in the defense. He was constantly challenged with little help against some of the league's top receivers and his opponents won their fair share of matchups. At one point, House was benched for the man he had essentially replaced, Dwayne Gratz, only for him to be re-inserted into the starting lineup one game later.
The first season in Jacksonville was clearly an adjustment, but House has since moved past it. With a new defensive coordinator calling plays and a familiarity with his surroundings, House has looked like a star throughout the offseason.
Just four days into training camp, House has produced two interceptions and several pass breakups, despite rotating drills with rookie first round pick Jalen Ramsey and free agent signee Prince Amukamara. In a backfield full of competitors, including newly-signed Tashaun Gipson, House has stood out the most during the first week of camp.
“[The rotation is] going good,” House said last week.
“We’re just trying to create competition and find the best two or three [cornerbacks] and whoever it is will be the best men out there. Hopefully, there is no favoritism and the best players will play. If it’s Prince and Jalen or Prince, Gratz and me or me, Jalen and Prince – whatever it is – the best men should play.”
While it's very early in the training camp process, it's been clear that House has been one of the "best" of the cornerback group. He has clearly benefited from the adjustments made to the scheme by new defensive coordinator Todd Wash.
House said the adjustments were made to get the most out of the talent on the field.
“Communication is most definitely there,” House said. “The scheme helps us a lot with what Coach Wash has done. It’s playing to our strengths, so it’s a lot better now.”
House entered training camp with a lot of confidence. The veteran believes he is one of the best in the league at defending the deep ball.
In camp, he has been able to matchup against the Pro Bowl talent like wide receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Julius Thomas and come out on top frequently. Those matchups have also brought out the playmaker in House, who led the team in interceptions last season.
"I told him I think that he’s one of the more underrated cornerbacks in this league," Gipson said. "I think that he doesn’t get enough credit. I think the signing of Prince [Amukamara] and bringing in Jalen [Ramsey] and those guys, people tend to forget about Davon House and I think that he’s going to come up big for us this year most definitely."
House wants to come up big for his team. The former Green Bay Packer wants to not only be a starter for the Jaguars, but also wants to help in any other way he can.
Being a complete cornerback is important to House. Head coach Gus Bradley believes his attitude and willingness to work and learn will serve him well in becoming the most well-rounded player that he can be.
“Davon House wants to be a very, very, very good corner in this league and I think he is driven to be that," Bradley said. "In the past he was talking about coverage aspects. Now you are hearing him talk about what else he can do. I need to be a better tackler. I need to improve my game here. He has really challenged himself personally to try to his [expand] level of play.”
House has become well-aware of the opportunity the Jaguars have in front of them. Standing at his locker last week, House remarked that his side of the ball was "almost a new defense" with all the talent brought in this offseason.
With everything seemingly enhanced around him, House will continue to try improve himself. If the early days of training camp are any indication, that process has already begun.