JACKSONVILLE – His confidence is only as clear as his goals.
Outside linebacker Josh Allen is key entering the Jaguars’ 2022 training camp, as important as any story outside of quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars need the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to play well, to be a dominant player and the face of the franchise.
Allen expects that – and maybe more.
“I feel like I’ve been preparing this offseason and I’ve done everything,” Allen said Tuesday, the second day of ’22 training camp, which is being held at the Knight Sports Complex at The Episcopal School in Jacksonville. “I’ve learned. I grew up. I got stronger physically, I got stronger mentally.
“I feel like, ‘OK, nobody’s stopping me.’ I feel like I’m going to be the best player in the National Football League.”
Allen, a fourth-year veteran who led the Jaguars in sacks in 2019 and 2021, spoke to the media Tuesday after practice. He covered a number of topics, including his habit of working extensively with young Jaguars defensemen of all levels after many practices.
It’s an Allen trait that defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell talked about on Tuesday.
“It’s a sign that he’s a leader, a good teammate and the man he is,” Caldwell said. “However you got here, you’re here. You’re in Jacksonville now. You can help us. We’ll try to get all we can out of you.”
“He’s a guy who’s been through it. He understands it. He’s able to bring his knowledge to the young guys. They gravitate to him.”
Allen, who has 20.5 sacks in three NFL seasons, spent this offseason focused mostly on getting better and preparing for the season. Not only did he spend a lot of time in Arizona early in the offseason working with former Cardinals cornerback Bertrand Berry at Exos Athletic Training, but he also participated in All-Pro Von Miller’s Pass Rush Summit in June.
He then arranged for former Indianapolis Colts All-Pro pass rusher Robert Mathis to work with the Jaguars pass rush in the weeks leading up to training camp.
“This offseason has been a great offseason for me,” he said. “I got to be around a lot of different players, a lot of legends… a lot of guys that I could pick their brains and learn from. I’m in a phase now, I just have to prepare and prepare and think hard, get schedule and work every day.
“It’s about the things you do over and over again. That was the main message I got from all those guys. I appreciate them all and I can’t wait to show it on Sunday.”
Allen, a Pro Bowl selection after the 2019 season, enters this season eligible for a contract extension for the first time in his career. The Jaguars have exercised his five-year option through the 2023 season, and he is currently on a rookie contract.
“I’m ready to play football that speaks for itself,” Allen said Tuesday.
Allen said his main goal entering 2022 is to improve every day and focus on the details, and how he mentally approaches the game will determine his season. He also called the Jaguars’ talent around him this offseason “phenomenal,” laughing when asked last season about the difference this season under head coach Doug Pederson from Urban Meyer.
“It feels good to be part of a professional locker room — not just in the locker room, but when you talk to the coaches, it’s a professional atmosphere,” he said. “He doesn’t come down on you. He tells you what’s good and what’s not. He talks to us in a way that we can understand and grow. He doesn’t attack us. He lets us know what’s real and talks to us like adults. “
On Pederson’s background as the Super Bowl-winning coach of the Philadelphia Eagles following the 2017 season, Allen said:
And after a focused, dedicated offseason, Allen is confident he can reach just that point individually.
“I know the work I put in,” Allen said. “I know the sacrifice and the discipline I put in to get to that level. It’s really on me. I believe that and I’ll believe that until the end of the season and the postseason. I’m going to do it every day.”
Caldwell on being an elite defense: “That’s the goal. That’s what everybody works towards. You want to be elite. You come here every day in training camp and our message to them is, ‘You have to build and it’s a process. ‘ You build and you work every day and at the end of the day, what happens happens.”