Dante Fowler: Facing Patriots a great chance to prove I'm elite

Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler had two sacks, three quarterback hits and three tackles in the Jaguars' 24-20 loss in last season's AFC title game. AP Photo/Steven Senne

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler, this week can't go by fast enough.

Not just because he'll finally be able to make his season debut after sitting out Week 1 for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. Playing the New England Patriots also gives Fowler the chance to do what he said he wanted to do this season: Prove he's a franchise player.

"I say I want to be this elite type of guy and this professional guy, and I feel like this is a perfect week to do it, against possibly the best quarterback to ever do it," Fowler said. "Go out there, prepare and execute on Sunday and we'll see how it turns out."

Because he missed the Jaguars' 20-15 victory this past weekend at the New York Giants, Sunday's contest at TIAA Bank Field will be his first game action since the Jaguars faced the Patriots in January's AFC Championship Game. Fowler had two sacks, three quarterback hits and three tackles in the Jaguars' 24-20 loss at Gillette Stadium that day and said it was the best game of his three-year career.

It also capped the best season of his career: 8.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble return for a touchdown in the regular season. He didn't register a sack and had only two tackles in the Jaguars' playoff victories against the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers, but he had two of the Jaguars' three sacks of Tom Brady.

"I honestly think that was my come-out game, me putting it all together," said Fowler, who will be added to the active roster early this week.

"I actually expect myself to go out there [and] be that same consistent player and start where I left off."

Fowler said it was hard for him to sit and watch the Jaguars beat the Giants, but added he did enjoy seeing the defense limit the Giants to just 15 points and -- other than Saquon Barkley's 68-yard touchdown -- keep their offense from getting into a rhythm.

He said his return will only make the unit better.

"To see how we ended up holding our own and see how it easy it just was, see how fast we were, I'm just like, 'Man, if I'm out there, that just adds an extra little more firepower to what we've got,'" Fowler said. "Just to be able to look out and really see the type of key role that I play and the type of importance that I have in this defense, it just makes me want to be on board and just ready to go at all time."