Jacksonville Jaguars players Josh Allen, Calais Campbell and DJ Chark were goofing around following a Pro Bowl practice last week, joking with each other, interviewing each other for TV cameras and posing for pictures.
At one point, after some needling from Allen, Campbell reached over, grabbed him, picked him up and threw him over his shoulder.
“Sometimes he thinks he can take me, so I had to let him know he’s still a little guy,” Campbell said.
It’s what an older brother would say about his younger brother who is starting to get a little scrappy as he gets bigger. That's essentially the relationship the 33-year-old Campbell and 22-year-old Allen have.
Allen was eager to soak up as much information as possible -- football and non-football -- from a successful player in his 12th NFL season. Campbell views it as his responsibility to help young players and was more than willing to share what he knew. Both say they benefited immensely and formed a bond that will last long past their time as teammates.
“That’s my big brother,” Allen said. “If I see him doing something right, if I see something that I want to do, or something that he’s saying that I can really learn from, I’m going to be there. He’s definitely getting me involved with different players and stuff [at the Pro Bowl], so, that’s real big for myself and just a confidence standard. And he’s definitely hyping me up to a lot of people so now I’ve got to fill the shoes that he made for myself.
“Just being with him, it’s just an awesome feeling.”
Allen credits Campbell for helping him have success as a rookie in 2019, when he had a team-high 10.5 sacks (most among rookies), two forced fumbles and 44 tackles. Allen and San Francisco’s Nick Bosa are the front-runners to win the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
“I always want to keep him motivated so I’m going to always push him to do better,” Campbell said. “He has a lot he can work on, but for a rookie he did very well. He’s going to continue to get better and I can’t wait to see how good he becomes.
“I’m always going to push him to be the best he can be, but he had an incredible year.”
Campbell’s tutoring pretty much started from the moment Allen arrived in Jacksonville as the seventh overall pick. Allen attached himself to Campbell, a five-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro with 88 career sacks. They worked out together, sat next to each other in meetings and ate together. Allen peppered Campbell with questions about football, finances, family ... really anything.
On the practice field, Allen would check in with Campbell after each rep in a drill. Same on the sideline after each possession during games. They were essentially joined at the hip; if you needed to find Allen inside the team’s facility, you just had to figure out where Campbell was.
“I’ve always tried to be a teacher and share knowledge and to help young guys, but it’s nice when a young guy wants to learn everything you have to offer,” Campbell said. “So it’s very flattering he respects my game and cares about my opinion and hopefully that bond we have will help both of us out. Keep me young and help him grow up faster.”
Much is expected out of Allen in his second season, but there’s a chance that he will have to do it without his mentor. Per ESPN’s Roster Management System, the Jaguars currently are only $2.4 million under the projected 2020 salary cap. Campbell is a potential cap casualty because of his $17.5 million cap figure ($15 million salary) in the final year of the four-year, $60 million contract he signed in March 2017.
Campbell said last week that he hasn’t had any discussions with the Jaguars about an extension, which could provide some cap relief in 2020 by possibly converting some of his 2020 salary to a signing bonus and spreading it over the length of the deal. There’s still plenty of time for that to happen, but the Jaguars could opt to move on from Campbell (whose 6.5 sacks in 2019 were the fewest he’s had since he had five in 2015) and only be hit with $2.5 million in dead money.
“He taught me so much and so much I can apply, so much I can carry on, and his legacy or his impact in my life will definitely be carried on,” Allen said. “If he’s here, if he’s somewhere else, I know he’s still going to be with me. I know we’re going to talk every day. We’re going to talk constantly.
“He’s always going to be a big impact on my life and hopefully I can be a big impact on his life.”