FRISCO, Texas - One would think that this weekend's return to Jacksonville for Cowboys' pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. would be a homecoming of sorts and hold some level of sentimental value. After all, the former No. 3 overall pick by the Jaguars back in 2015 out of the University of Florida was a big part of the infamous 'Sacksonville' team in 2017.
So, good vibes all around, right? Does it mean anything to the now seven-year veteran? Well maybe not so much.
"It used to, but not really," Fowler said on if his return means anything to him. "I know that was the place where I first got drafted at. But it'll be cool just to be back and see some of my old friends."
To be fair to Fowler, this isn't his first return to Jacksonville since the 2018 midseason trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Rams. Last season with the Falcons he showed the Jaguars what they were missing out on in Week 12 with 12 tackles and a sack of Trevor Lawrence, all of which helped lead to a win.
"He's been doing really [well] this year," Fowler said. "He's definitely been improving these past few weeks. He has a good head coach, I'm pretty sure they're developing him into a really good quarterback. But [we] just have to go out there and do what we do - play Dallas Cowboys' football."
Now he comes back a second time, this time with a defense that is well on its way to blow right past that 2017 Jags' mark of 55 sacks. Even with four games left in the regular season, the Cowboys already are at 48 sacks on the season as they jockey for the top spot with the Eagles.
Micah Parsons leads the way with 12 of those, followed by the breakout campaign of Dorance Armstrong with eight and the ever-steady DeMarcus Lawrence with six. Then comes Fowler with his five sacks.
While Fowler has been a pleasant surprise and sometimes has even been lost in the shuffle amidst all of the other key players on defense, he might just play a more pivotal role this weekend as some sort of poetic justice.
With Armstrong nursing an ankle injury he sustained at the tail end of the Texans' game last Sunday, Fowler's name is the logical choice to be called upon to fill the void if the former is on a limited snap count or misses the game altogether.
Though head coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday that Armstrong has a strong chance to play on Sunday, he did leave AT&T Stadium last weekend in a walking boot. Whatever the case may be, the one thing that is certain is that Fowler has proven to be a valuable piece for one of the best pass-rushing units in football this season.
As a guy who has been a part of deep playoff runs and Super Bowl runs, Fowler is no stranger to playoff pushes and intense December football for a group in Dallas that has a good chunk of young guys on the defensive side of the ball.
"December football is just about doing the right things, small things right," he said. "At this point I feel like the only way to beat us is if we beat ourselves. So, we just have to stay on the small things and all the little things don't have to take care of themselves."
Now with a playoff spot within reach with a win over the Jags this Sunday, Fowler admitted though the intensity picks up this time of the year, the chase for the playoffs makes it a welcomed sort of intensity.
He and the Cowboys could very well get the chance to put that to the test in Jacksonville, and just maybe help them reach another goal of theirs. Fortune favors the bold, at least.
"Now we're competing for seeding spots and stuff like that," Fowler said. "So, it'd be good if we can win out and all that, beat a couple of teams to be the No. 1 seed and maybe get a bye week."