In need of a hug

Let's get to it . . . Brian from Atlanta, GA:
William Middleton. He played very well when filling holes last season, but I heard nothing about him during organized team activities and early camp. When he got inserted into the game, he just started breaking up passes each drive. Why haven't I heard more about him this year?
John: You don't hear about Will Middleton because each year in training camp, there are guys you don't hear about because they're not big stars and all they're doing is playing very, very well and making their position group deeper. That's Middleton this season so far.
Randy from Jacksonville:
I've been thinking about this for a long time and I think it all boils down to MJD wanting more money.
John: I've considered your question carefully and I think Maurice Jones-Drew wants more money.
Josh from Middleburg, FL:
I caught myself watching Oklahoma State the past few years just to watch Justin Blackmon. The man was a superstar, unstoppable. It is something to win the Biletnikoff Award once, but twice is impressive. I feel like now that he is a Jaguar I'm taking it for granted. How productive do you expect him to be?
John: I am as fascinated to watch Blackmon this season as I have been to watch any rookie I ever have covered. That includes Blaine Gabbert, because I believed entering last season there would be a learning curve for him and that it might not be until this season that we saw him develop. Blackmon is interesting, because there is part of me that knows rookie wide receivers struggle to learn offenses and to master the nuances of a very difficult position. At the same time, I watch him practice – even in shorts – and see a player who seems to get open easier than other receivers and who seems to expect to make difficult catches. There are those who believe this guy is just a special big-time playmaker. I'm anxious to find out.
James from Orange Park, FL:
Clearly, Khan and Smith are not budging in their stance, so when do you think MJD will be back? Third preseason game? Fourth preseason game? Who knows but MJD? (Please don't pick the last one.)
John: I'd love to pick either of the first two, and it's hard to believe he wouldn't be in by the fourth preseason game, but I'm afraid the last one is the only truthful one.
Dave from Los Angeles, CA:
If the tarps aren't going away any time soon, they ought to be used as ad space. The revenue can fund game-day enhancements for ticket buyers, hopefully creating more ticket buyers.
John: Most of them are used for ad space.
Manuel from Jacksonville and Section 215:
Not too much has been said about how Gene Smith allowing a new free-agent player to skip practice and attend the Olympics made an impact and turned out to be an excellent team-building exercise for the Jaguars and management. Not to mention the good timing: new owner, new coaching personnel, new players, absence of the face of the franchise, a few days before the first game. And Gene probably didn't even know who Sanya was and how good she was when he agreed with Aaron's absence. The video of Sanya was also a brilliant idea, and I hope it is shown in the first regular-season game.
John: Smith and Mike Mularkey agreed to have Ross go pretty much because it was the right thing to do. That it turned into all of things you mention stemmed from it being the right thing to do. That works sometimes.
Jensen from Huntsville, TX:
Congrats on one year, John! Thank you for all the humor, sarcasm and useful information that you pass on to us all. Here is to another year of the streak!
John: One year at a time, I always say.
Taylor from Baltimore, MD:
MONTELL OWENS! I would like to begin the clamor for him to receive more touches. In my memory, he's never looked bad - carrying the ball or otherwise.
John: If Montell Owens puts another safety or two on their back at another goal line or two in another preseason game or two I bet he gets another carry or two come the regular season.
David from Durban, South Africa:
I am concerned about the recovery of Tyson Alualu from his offseason knee surgery. Am I being too concerned at his non-appearance in the preseason or is the coaching staff merely being cautious in his return?
John: I wouldn't be concerned about his absence in the first preseason game. That's not abnormal for a player who had offseason knee surgery. As I've said, I don't think Alualu has played with 100 percent confidence in the knee yet in practice. Again, I'm not sure that's abnormal. It remains an area to watch. Some things take time, and sometimes returning to 100 percent from knee surgery is one of those things.
Mike from Section 218:
I think everyone understands that Mojo wants more money now. But do Gene and Mr. Khan feel like they should pay him more money?
John: I do not think Gene Smith and Shad Khan plan to pay Maurice Jones-Drew more money.
Corey from Orange Park, FL:
On that play where Gabbert "ducked," I saw something different. I think Gabbert was throwing the ball away to play another down. That's a veteran move and showed me everything I wanted to see. It's only one drive, but Gabbert had tremendous confidence. He looked far from scared. He looked like a young player sometimes, but those times were few and far between. That's all I could ask for from a second-year quarterback and I'm excited for this season. If we make the playoffs I'll buy you a six pack of Magic Hat. You just tell me where to drop it off.
John: I had a really good answer worked up and then I read "I'll buy you a six pack." And then I was so happy and distracted and happy and happy that I forgot my answer.
Carol from Jacksonville:
I betcha MJD never plays another game as a Jaguar. He is so selfish!! Rashad Jennings is going to a great job for us. GO JAGS!!!!
John: I betcha he plays this season.
Chris from Omaha, NE:
I have always been a proud Jags fan from the state of Nebraska. Not many of us here. You say that many of the other quarterbacks in the league would have ducked on the chuck and duck play that Gabbert had on Friday. I have to partly disagree when talking about the elite quarterbacks in the league. What makes Matt Ryan, Rodgers, Brady and Brees so special is they will stand in the pocket and take a vicious hit to deliver a good pass. I cannot blame Gabbert because I would duck too but is this something that will ever improve with him? Is it coachable or do you just have to be born with it?
John: I guess we can agree to disagree. I've seen Brady chuck and duck when protecting himself. I have seen the others do the same. You pick your spots to do it and you protect yourself when you can. He could have made a better throw, but I wonder if the others who have asked questions along these lines saw the first play of the game. He stood in the pocket and took a vicious hit. I don't know if he was coached with that or born with it, but I do know he did it.
Maurice from Germantown, MD:
I saw the first half of the preseason game and we looked pretty solid despite a few BAD calls and penalties, but it's the first preseason game – rust is expected. So my question is, "What's the biggest area you think Gabbert has improved on this offeason? I can tell the kid has been working his tall off. Yes, he still has a long way to go, but I like what I saw Friday for sure – especially with his footwork, accuracy, confidence, and accuracy. But what's your take?
John: I thought a bit after reading your email and what I found the most interesting was that you're right: you can tell Gabbert has been working his tail off. And that's probably what has impressed me the most. Everybody has seen examples of quarterbacks who haven't worked their tails off in the offseason – either that, or whatever work they do has very little effect on how they play. Gabbert worked in the offseason and you saw the benefit of that. That means he not only has the willingness to do the work but the talent and the capacity to have that work turn into results. I don't know that there could be a better sign for a quarterback than that.
Laurie from Neptune Beach, FL:
Y'all got it wrong about MJD. It only seems like he wants more money. He really just wants a big hug.
John: I think he wants a hug. And I think he wants more money.

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