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Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler expressed
little concern about his one-game suspension Carter
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 , his shoulder injury or his future with the
franchise.

The 23-year-old Fowler was equally nonchalant about the progress he seemingly
made in the past year.

”Did I go to jail?” he said following the team’s first training camp practice
Thursday. ”There we go.”

Fowler spoke publicly for the first time since the NFL suspended him without
pay for the season opener at the New York Giants, a one-game penalty for
attacking a man in a parking lot near his hometown in July 2017.

Fowler eventually pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of battery,
criminal mischief and petty theft. The case was closed in March, with Fowler
sentenced to a year of probation and 75 hours of community service.

The NFL handed down its punishment last week.

”We really already knew it was going to happen,” said Fowler, who will be
eligible to play Week 2 against New England. ”It’s a situation that happened
last year so the NFL finally took it into their hands this year. We talked and
they told me what it was going to be. I just appreciate them hearing me out,
hearing my side of the story. It could have always been worse Mason Crosby
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 , so I’m going to just take this game and be ready when we
come back for the Patriots.”

The suspension will cost him $214,000.

Missing additional games could cost him even more.

The Jaguars declined to exercise the fifth-year option in Fowler’s rookie
contract in May, likely meaning the third overall pick in the 2015 draft will
become a free agent after this season.

A career year could mean a lucrative deal elsewhere.

”Go out there and play as best as I can every Sunday,” he said. ”That’s
it.”

Fowler has 53 tackles and 12 sacks in two seasons. He missed his rookie year
after tearing a ligament in his left knee during the first day of a rookie
minicamp.

He played in every game since his return, but mostly as a backup to Pro
Bowler Yannick Ngakoue. The Jags apparently don’t view Fowler in the team’s
long-term plans, which is why they declined to pay him $14.2 million in
2019.

His off-filed troubles are partly to blame.

The former Florida standout was arrested last year after confronting a
55-year-old man who made a comment about his driving. St. Petersburg police said
Fowler exchanged words with the man before hitting him and knocking off his
glasses. Fowler then stepped on the glasses before taking the man’s grocery bag
and tossing it in a lake.

Fowler also was arrested in Miami Beach in March 2016 and charged with
misdemeanor counts of assault against a police officer and resisting arrest
without violence. The charges were later dropped. That arrest came a little more
than two weeks after a video surfaced showing Fowler refereeing a violent fight
between his girlfriend and an ex-girlfriend. He also has a long list of traffic
violations.

”It is something where you have to go out every day and you have to prove
(yourself) until you get to a level of consistency where there is trust,” coach
Doug Marrone said. ”I think it is a matter of doing the right things each and
every day Jimmy
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 , and we will see how it goes.”

Fowler’s health is his biggest concern these days.

He injured his left shoulder late last season and opened camp on the
physically unable to perform list. Incapable of lifting weights for part of the
offseason, Fowler lost some pounds. But much like everything else, he doesn’t
see it as a concern.

”Well, I’m actually big,” he said with a smile. ”I honestly think it won’t
matter. It doesn’t matter. Weight does not matter with this one. I’m a straight
dog. It don’t matter. Once I put on them pads, it’s a wrap. I’m just getting
stronger. Coaches are looking out for me and being concerned and looking out for
my health, so all I can do is just get stronger and you guys will know when I’m
out there again.”


Matt Ryan has had a pretty good connection with Julio Jones in recent
years Nathan
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 , even without full offseasons.

So the Falcons quarterback is understandably optimistic about the fact his
star wideout is available for a change.

鈥淚t鈥檚 huge when you get any player to be able to participate fully,鈥?Ryan
said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
鈥淭hat鈥檚 critical. But you never know, the offseason and seasons are different
every year. I think he came through the year, but I don鈥檛 want to speak for him,
but he came through the year fairly healthy.

鈥淲e鈥檒l see where he鈥檚 at. I haven鈥檛 been able to work with him up till this
point. But I will start next Monday. I鈥檓 excited about getting back to work not
only with him, but with all of our guys.鈥?/p>

Jones missed last year’s offseason program after surgery on his perpetually
problematic foot Phillip
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 , but continued to produce at a high level during
the season.

Ryan was also encouraged by the fact Jones has worked out with Hall of Fame
wideout Terrell Owens.

鈥淭.O. is one of the best workers of all time,鈥?Ryan said. 鈥淗e learned from
Jerry Rice and kind of modeled his stuff after that. I think the more you
surround yourself with guys with a work ethic like that it鈥檚 a good thing. Julio
has a great work ethic, too. He鈥檚 one of the best conditioned and best working
athletes that I鈥檝e ever been around.”

And when the Falcons open their offseason program next week, he’ll get a
chance to see that himself for a change.

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