Calais Campbell is not the typical NFL player, and he still feels plenty young enough to show it.
Having already played 186 games in his career, Campbell isn't worried about the physical toll on his body as he prepares to play for the Ravens after the trade that brought him to Baltimore. The veteran defensive tackle is a realist, knowing that all players eventually succumb to the aging process. But Campbell still believes he's in his prime, and his stats back that up.
Two of Campbell's three highest sack totals have come within the last three years. He had a career-high 14 ½ sacks in 2017, and 10 ½ sacks in 2018. He also equaled his career high in tackles with 72 in 2018, and Campbell has made the Pro Bowl the past three seasons.
As people say, age is just a number, Campbell feels that anyone who's worried about his age should watch his tape as closely as he does.
"I'm always honest with myself," Campbell said. "I reflect and I study every year. I'm always studying my career and studying what I did last year, evaluating where I'm at as far as all the different strengths and weaknesses of my game.
"Looking at the tape, I look so much better now than I did when I was younger overall, as far as anticipating things, working moves, being more technically sound, playing with a lower pad level, just making differences in games. I was more athletic when I was younger, (but) I didn't have the same learning curve or the same understanding of the game."
Taking care of his body has always been a priority for Campbell, who has not missed a game since 2014, and who has only missed six games in his entire 12-year career. Keeping in top shape during the coronavirus pandemic is a new challenge for all athletes, and Campbell has been forced to adjust his routine like everyone else. However, he is not worried about falling too far behind with his conditioning this offseason, as the years of keeping himself in excellent shape continue to pay off.
"I can still do everything I want to do, and I can come away or do something in a game situation that nobody does," Campbell said. "That's when I'll start worrying, when I can't do what I want to do. Your prime is when you have the athleticism to take over a game, and the mentality to take over a game and the understanding of how to do both at a high level. So, for me, my mindset has never been better; my understanding of the game and my matchup and how to win is at an all-time high, and my body can still do it. I'm pretty confident that as long as I can take care of my body, and God is good to me as far as health-wise goes, I should be able to be dominant."
The Ravens have a history of acquiring veterans who have produced stellar seasons beyond the age of 30 like Steve Smith Sr., Eric Weddle and Rod Woodson. General Manager Eric DeCosta expects the same results from Campbell.
"We've had a lot of success with players like this," DeCosta said on "The Lounge" podcast. "People say, 'Well that's a Ravens type of move.' That goes back to Ozzie (Newsome) and all the success he had as general manager. I had a chance to witness that firsthand many times. "Guys like Rod Woodson, Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, Mike McCrary and those types of guys. Trying to find players that really just care about one thing – and that's winning. They are at the stage of their career where they're playing for the ring.
"Because of (Head Coach) John (Harbaugh), he's been able to create this unbelievable culture for veteran players and that spreads like wildfire. They want to be here because of that."
Campbell has signed a contract extension through 2021, with aspirations of winning a Super Bowl in Baltimore. He has performed at a Pro Bowl level the past three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he expects to do the same with Baltimore.
"I'm really happy that Baltimore still thinks I can do it at a high level, and they made a big investment in me thinking that I can still do it at a high level. So, I want to go out there and prove them right and show the whole world that they are geniuses. I never want anybody to think anything else."