Newly acquired outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. feels like he has a fresh start in Los Angeles.
He said as much to reporters as they surrounded his locker following a walk-thru on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's just a blessing — a new chapter, that's how I look at it," Fowler said.
The Florida product told assembled media that he found out about the trade from a phone call with Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell.
"Me and Dave, we've always kind of had a real close bond," Fowler said. "He let me know when he wasn't going to pick up my fifth-year option, and we were understanding with that. And he was just letting me know what was going to happen, told me I was coming to L.A. So that's good news and bad news. But it really feels good out here. I love the locker room. I love the setting and the coaching staff is really good."
Fowler's professional career has likely not unfolded the way anyone envisioned when he was selected at No. 3 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. And that's gone on basically since the start, when Fowler suffered a season-ending knee injury on the first day of rookie minicamp back in May of that year.
He did ascend to becoming an important rotational piece on the Jaguars defensive line last season, recording 8.0 sacks in 16 games while playing 44.8 percent of Jacksonville's snaps. Plus, Fowler took down Patriots QB Tom Brady twice in the AFC Championship game.
But this year, his playing time has taken a dip — having lined up for only 31.8 percent of the Jaguars defensive reps before being traded to the Rams on Tuesday. And that's reflected in his numbers, as he's recorded only 2.0 sacks in 2018.
So how does he get back to that production?
"Just being out there a little bit more often," Fowler said. And that makes a lot of sense. "Just whenever my name is called, going out there and making plays. When it's time for me to execute, and I have an opportunity to get a sack or anything like that, I execute it and I get him down."
Fowler figures to be on the field sooner than later here in L.A. He passed his physical and was a part of the Wednesday walk-thru sessions. And Fowler said playing as an outside linebacker is natural for him, since it's the position he grew up playing and dominated at in college.
Head coach Sean McVay said Los Angeles is anticipating that the OLB will be available on Sunday to take on the Saints.
"[W]e'll see how he's able to adjust, how he's able to absorb that information," McVay said. "But we wanted to get him in here, and hopeful that he's a contributor for us as soon as this weekend against a tough team."
While Fowler knew outside linebacker Dominique Easley, who's on injured reserve with a knee injury, from when Easley hosted him on a college recruiting visit at Florida, Fowler said he's familiar with his lineman teammates Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers through their strong reputations.
"I've been looking at AD when he was at Pitt, and Brockers when he was at LSU dominating and stuff like that. And, of course, Suh when he was at Nebraska," Fowler said. "So these guys that I looked up to, I already know their style of game and the way that they play. I'm just ready to come in and show these guys that they can trust me and they know that I'm going to be able to come in here and I'm going to work and they can depend on me."
Being dependable has further implications than just this year, given that Fowler is slated to become a free agent after the season. That's why he feels there's plenty to still prove on the field. And he's also plenty motivated to get it done.
"Playing with a big chip on my shoulder, the edge," Fowler said. "I want to show guys that I'm not just an elite pass rusher — that I'm a full-time player, a first-down, second-down, can play the run, very smart. And I know I can help my defense achieve to where they want to go."