‘Locked in’: Tyson Campbell encouraging new Jaguars DB coaches

The 2023 season didn’t go as planned for Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell.

Following his breakout 2022 campaign when he produced three interceptions, two fumble recoveries with one scoop-and-score, 15 defended passes and an allowed completion percentage of 54.2%, the Jaguars’ 2021 second-round NFL draft pick was expected to make another jump in his third pro season.

But multiple soft tissue injuries, including a nagging hurt hamstring first suffered in Week 6, limited Campbell to 11 appearances in 2023 and negatively impacted his play when he was available. He finished the year with one interception, five passes defended and a 69.4% completion rate given up.

“We don’t control every circumstance, right? But we do control our every thought,” Jacksonville defensive backs coach Kris Richard recapped Campbell’s last nine months, including his transition to a third pro defensive coaching staff, with Jaguars Wire on Wednesday.

“And so, these soft tissue injuries, whatever took place last year, all that stuff has to be wiped clean. It’s a clean slate.”

Taking over Jacksonville’s secondary this offseason under newly-hired defensive coordinator, Ryan Nielsen, Richard is offering all of Jacksonville’s defensive backs a fresh start, allowing them to prove their worth within the scheme Nielsen is installing.

Campbell has quickly risen to the occasion, participating in offseason team activities with his injuries seemingly behind him. At least athletically, Campbell appears to have regained full strength, and Richard has noticed.

“I think he’s one of the finer athletes that I’ve been around throughout my coaching career,” Richard proclaimed, noting his 100 and 200-meter state championship victories as a track star for Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage in high school.

“He’s able to run and transition. He’s got a bit of a perpetual motion thing … he’s got that proverbial ball-type movement where he’s not a hesitant, stiff type of guy. He’s just rolling, you know, he’s just rolling.”

Oct 1, 2023; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell (32) defends against Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drake London (5) in the first half during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nielsen shared similar praise for Campbell in May: “There’s nothing he can’t do athletically,” he said, adding Campbell’s been similarly quick to learn Nielsen’s defensive scheme. 

The Jaguars believe Campbell can return to form with his injuries behind him and new voices guiding him along his development track.

Jaguars assistant cornerbacks coach Cory Robinson, who was hired alongside Richard, commended Campbell for buying into the new staff’s vision for the defense.

Recalling what he put on tape over the first two seasons of his career, Robinson believes Campbell has proven himself to be a capable NFL cornerback, who still has room to grow into a star.

“He’s a pro’s pro. He’s locked in, he’s focused, has tremendous talent,” Robinson described Campbell. “His floor is really, really high. So I think the upside, the ceiling is gonna be pretty special for that player. He’s been everything that we could ask for at this point.”

Citing that the coaching points apply to Jacksonville’s entire secondary, Richard has emphasized eye discipline and aggression as he’s steered Campbell through their first offseason together, to hone in on the opposing wide receiver’s route direction and prevent quarterbacks from keying openings in coverage as a result.

With a reloaded secondary to support him — not only fresh coaches but also a new opposite starting cornerback in veteran Ronald Darby, a seasoned safety addition in Darnell Savage, and two draft pick corners in Jarrian Jones and Deantre Prince to pair with other returning talent — Jacksonville sees Campbell’s arrow pointing up entering 2024.

“You see the profile here, height, length, speed, size, all that type of stuff. Getting him at the line of scrimmage, how many guys can actually run past him?” Richard contemplated.

“So [I’m] just helping him, teaching him [to] utilize his skill set, keeping his eyes disciplined and staying true to his strength, and then watching him maximize it.”

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire