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De’Vondre Campbell, pulled into vocal role by circumstance, continues evolution as a Falcons leader


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https://theathletic.com/1003515/2019/05/30/devondre-campbells-evolution-as-a-falcons-defensive-leader-continues/

 

When De’Vondre Campbell speaks, his teammates listen.

Part of that is simply because Campbell rarely speaks. Therefore, when he does decide to speak up, it is usually out of necessity.

After linebacker Deion Jones suffered a serious foot injury and as the 2018 season started slipping away, Campbell took it upon himself step into an on-field leadership role. In doing so, he would tell his teammates to step up, run to the ball harder and change their attitude about how the season was going. In the meeting rooms, if teammates questioned what was being taught, Campbell lent his voice to put everyone on the same page.

While last season’s results turned into a longer offseason — meaning it was the first time Campbell didn’t reach the playoffs — the circumstances that arose from it might benefit the Falcons in 2019. Campbell has become a greater vocal presence for a team that missed its primary leaders a season ago.

“It was more something I felt I needed to put upon myself,” Campbell said. “I know I don’t talk a lot. But when I do talk, a lot of people listen to me. I just feel like I can speak up a lot more and be a lot more helpful in a lot of different situations.”

Before the beginning of the 2018 season, Campbell was hanging out a lot with Jones, Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, Duke Riley and Brian Poole. In three weeks, Allen (Achilles) and Neal (ACL) were lost for the season. Jones was out indefinitely. With Jones, Allen and Neal providing vital vocal roles, Campbell didn’t necessarily need to add his voice to the conversation. It was never anything asked of him, either.

Suddenly, with his good friends gone for either the season or an extended period, Campbell became the de facto elder statesman, even if he was entering only his third NFL season. He went from being a Sam linebacker to playing multiple positions, relaying the defensive calls and ensuring the young players stepping into extra playing time were up to speed with the playbook.

Campbell acknowledged it was a tough thing to go through. From afar, Allen could sense it was hard for Campbell, too.

“When three of your dudes you talk to on a daily basis don’t get to play with you for a whole year, and you have to take on the leadership from all that? That’s tough for anybody,” Allen said. “I don’t think that’s just tough for him, I think that’s tough for anybody you put that in that position.

“I feel like he did a good enough job, to me, looking on the outside. I think he did good enough, just going out there grinding, trying to get it, with everybody around him being new and foreign. He made the most of what he could do.”

Before, Campbell’s mindset was to use his preparation and performance as an example. As last season unfolded, he had to grow comfortable with being someone for others to turn to.

“It was different, but it was a great learning experience for me,” Campbell said. “I’m not going to lie, it was tough at first — trying to call the defense on top of doing your own responsibilities. It was a little tough because it wasn’t something I’d done at this level. It was a great learning experience. The more I was able to do it, the better I was getting at it.”

Soon, he saw teammates gravitating toward him. He saw they respected him. Campbell now knows that his voice holds a certain power in the locker room. While it didn’t feel natural initially, Campbell has embraced this leadership role.

“It comes from him being efficient and consistent,” linebacker Foye Oluokun said. “If he wasn’t doing it himself on the field, it would be harder to say that and have everybody listen to you. He leads by example first, and then when he finally has something to say, it’s worth listening to because he’s been in that situation where he’s seen things we haven’t.”

Said linebacker Jermaine Grace: “When it’s time to step up and the team needs him, he decides to do that, and everybody listens. There have been a few times he’s done that in the linebacker room. If we didn’t have a good practice, he’d let everybody know that tomorrow we better step it up and get it together.”

Grace added that it becomes a “whoa moment” when Campbell speaks up, due to the stature he holds among his teammates.

Campbell continues to be Atlanta’s defensive leader during organized team activities. Allen and Neal are still rehabbing their injuries, and Jones has chosen to train off-site for the time being. For those attending the voluntary workouts, Campbell is looking to lend his expertise and experience as a teaching tool.

From the sideline, he’s more often heard than he was a year ago.

“I’m just trying to grow daily in that role,” Campbell said. “Since I’ve been here, I haven’t been asked to be a vocal leader as much. That’s something I’m starting to become more comfortable with. That’s something that’s becoming expected of me. I’m trying to continue to grow. I’m going into that veteran role. A lot of guys do look up to me now. I just want to be able to help out as much as I can, honestly.”

 

 

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People act as if last year was bad for him because of his own doing .. he didn’t perform like we’re accustomed to because of the situations going on around him . I don’t see how people don’t understand that . Take Campbell, Allen & Neal away from Debo and see how he looks by himself . This is a team sport. I hope we keep him long term . Him & Debo are a legit tandem . Philly coaches gave them the nod as being the only unit that could give them fits . 

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11 minutes ago, GeorgiaBoyz said:

People act as if last year was bad for him because of his own doing .. he didn’t perform like we’re accustomed to because of the situations going on around him . I don’t see how people don’t understand that . Take Campbell, Allen & Neal away from Debo and see how he looks by himself . This is a team sport. I hope we keep him long term . Him & Debo are a legit tandem . Philly coaches gave them the nod as being the only unit that could give them fits . 

I agree to a degree.  But Debo’s game would still be elite without Campbell, Allen & Rico.  The great players elevate others.  Campbell isn’t that.  Debo is.  

Foye seemed to do fine in the situation.  Not great in coverage but solid all around

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Just now, Falconsin2012 said:

I agree to a degree.  But Debo’s game would still be elite without Campbell, Allen & Rico.  The great players elevate others.  Campbell isn’t that.

Foye seemed to do fine in the situation.  Not great in coverage but solid all around

Debo would not be elite being shuffled around from Sam, Will, Back to MLB . While also having to line up Duke Riley, Jordan Richardson & worry about an inconsistent Kazee on the backend . 

Nobody is gonna produce at a high level rather their “elite” with duds around them .. I’ve seen us cut Kuechly to shreds going on 2-3 seasons now do to the crap they have around him. Foye has a decent season .. he’s good depth, hopefully he continues to grow but he isn’t on par with 2016-17 Campbell . 

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11 minutes ago, GeorgiaBoyz said:

Debo would not be elite being shuffled around from Sam, Will, Back to MLB . While also having to line up Duke Riley, Jordan Richardson & worry about an inconsistent Kazee on the backend . 

Nobody is gonna produce at a high level rather their “elite” with duds around them .. I’ve seen us cut Kuechly to shreds going on 2-3 seasons now do to the crap they have around him. Foye has a decent season .. he’s good depth, hopefully he continues to grow but he isn’t on par with 2016-17 Campbell . 

We will agree to disagree.

Great players never look lost.  Dre did last season

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He's been slightly overvalued for a while now. He fits the strong side mold but he's definitely proven to not necessarily be a game-changer. Even with all the defensive starters on the field I've always noticed him leaving a lot of plays on the field. Outside of Beasley he's not only soft spoken but kinda a softer type of backer. For his length and speed he should be able to change some games but I've never seen that from him. We really need to stop settling at linebacker and find more guy's who are truly built to be great. Dre imo (just like Dook) is not one of them.

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21 minutes ago, Dr Long Shot said:

Campbell isn't a great player, but he isn't Duke Riley either. With all of the major pieces around him back this year he should get back to being a very good cover LBer.

Campbell can be relied upon to do his job, period.

He may not make flashy or impact plays like Debo, but he also won’t be lost in space like Duke. He is a solid starter now entering year 4 having grown as leader and a pro.

I wouldn’t bend over backwards to keep him but as long as he is here I’m happy 

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2 minutes ago, Flying Falcon said:

Learning experience.  

Yea.  On one hand, I appreciate deviating from the Dan Quinn cliche speak and being honest, on the other hand a true leader doesn't say that and then double down on twitter.  I follow him, and it's clear he just doesn't gaf, which I appreciate.  It just irritated me in the moment.

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5 hours ago, Hurry_Up_And_Buy said:

He's been slightly overvalued for a while now. He fits the strong side mold but he's definitely proven to not necessarily be a game-changer. Even with all the defensive starters on the field I've always noticed him leaving a lot of plays on the field. Outside of Beasley he's not only soft spoken but kinda a softer type of backer. For his length and speed he should be able to change some games but I've never seen that from him. We really need to stop settling at linebacker and find more guy's who are truly built to be great. Dre imo (just like Dook) is not one of them.

Couldn’t disagree more. Nothing soft about Dre at all period. Wrong linebacker try again. Bruh is a DOG 

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End of the day it’s all about consistency combinations and the guy next too you.I been saying this for ages.Its not just at LBer it’s oline dline secondary.When your chopping and changing parts out on a regular basis the combination can’t play as fast.

In Campbell’s situation he’s been playing in the nickel with DEbo consistently for the last 2 years and was one of thee best duos in the nfl when doing so.The reason for this is because his role remained the same and could do it because when playing next to DEbo the familiarity they had together meant in certain situations they don’t have to think they no where one another are supposed to be so they can play fast with new guys and combinations this slows down and the groups play is affected.

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9 hours ago, Falconsin2012 said:

I agree to a degree.  But Debo’s game would still be elite without Campbell, Allen & Rico.  The great players elevate others.  Campbell isn’t that.  Debo is.  

Foye seemed to do fine in the situation.  Not great in coverage but solid all around

Part of the reason foye did well was Campbell. Just like if you replaced Campbell with Riley. There’s a difference. 

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9 hours ago, Hurry_Up_And_Buy said:

He's been slightly overvalued for a while now. He fits the strong side mold but he's definitely proven to not necessarily be a game-changer. Even with all the defensive starters on the field I've always noticed him leaving a lot of plays on the field. Outside of Beasley he's not only soft spoken but kinda a softer type of backer. For his length and speed he should be able to change some games but I've never seen that from him. We really need to stop settling at linebacker and find more guy's who are truly built to be great. Dre imo (just like Dook) is not one of them.

You obviously don't know what you're watching if you say Campbell is a soft player. He is one of the best LBs at shedding Oliemen

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2 hours ago, youngbloodz said:

You obviously don't know what you're watching if you say Campbell is a soft player. He is one of the best LBs at shedding Oliemen

Ding Ding Ding .. a lot of people have Campbell fuvked up . 

He does everything well .. tackle, cover(**** near as important as being able to tackle for a LB in our scheme I’d say), sheds blocks very well & he’s rarely ever out of position .. yet everyone thinks he’s an “easy upgrade or buuuut Foye this & that..” I have all the faith in the world in Foye becoming a good player .. as good as Campbell possibly better but until that day comes I’m on paper as wanting to keep Debo & Campbell together as long as possible . Majority of the takes on Campbell are laughable . 

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12 hours ago, Hurry_Up_And_Buy said:

He's been slightly overvalued for a while now. He fits the strong side mold but he's definitely proven to not necessarily be a game-changer. Even with all the defensive starters on the field I've always noticed him leaving a lot of plays on the field. Outside of Beasley he's not only soft spoken but kinda a softer type of backer. For his length and speed he should be able to change some games but I've never seen that from him. We really need to stop settling at linebacker and find more guy's who are truly built to be great. Dre imo (just like Dook) is not one of them.

Campbell is nowhere near soft. I don’t think we settle at LB either. I think we have one of the best units in the nfl. For the past 2 years Campbell has had to move around because of injuries and he’s more than held his own. 2017 was supposed to soley play SLB but then duke got hurt and He had to move back to WLB and Beasley went to SLB. Last season Debo was hurt, Duke couldn’t handle taking over at MLB so he rotated between WLB and SLB when Duke was benched. We haven’t really seen how good the LB unit is because of injuries. This year if they remain healthy we should see. But Campbell def isn’t a soft LB. 

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53 minutes ago, GeorgiaBoyz said:

Ding Ding Ding .. a lot of people have Campbell fuvked up . 

He does everything well .. tackle, cover(**** near as important as being able to tackle for a LB in our scheme I’d say), sheds blocks very well & he’s rarely ever out of position .. yet everyone thinks he’s an “easy upgrade or buuuut Foye this & that..” I have all the faith in the world in Foye becoming a good player .. as good as Campbell possibly better but until that day comes I’m on paper as wanting to keep Debo & Campbell together as long as possible . Majority of the takes on Campbell are laughable . 

I love Campbell. I know we can't keep everyone,so I kinda expect the Falcons to not resign him. He could get a very nice contract from someone 

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4 hours ago, kiwifalcon said:

I’m still laughing that a lot think Campbell’s average Fark me he’s **** good and if we could I’d be doing my very best to try and keep Jones and the mentioned together for as longs as I could.

I hope we can too. I want to see this defense at full potential with everybody healthy and experience together. 

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11 hours ago, kiwifalcon said:

I’m still laughing that a lot think Campbell’s average Fark me he’s **** good and if we could I’d be doing my very best to try and keep Jones and the mentioned together for as longs as I could.

I really like him, but he took a step backwards last year. Much like VB/Takk, he really seemed out-of-synch last year. 

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