And so, we move on.
Maurice Jones-Drew is back, at last, which means at long last the offseason storylines are all tied up. The Jaguars practice Monday, with a day off Tuesday and then Wednesday it's full preparation for the regular season. Again, at last.
Is there a better time of year than this? This is exciting stuff. So, finally and really . . .
Let's get to it . . . Tyler from Rochester, NY:
I'm more than happy to see MJD back, but when can we expect him on the field? Also, what happens to Rashad Jennings? I feel like a lot of the success MJD has had over the years is because of our offensive line. Should we just shove Jennings back until MJD is gone? I feel he is worth more to us than we seem to admit now that MoJo is back.
John: It's too early to know when Jones-Drew will play, but I'd guess he plays a backup role Sunday, and for a week or so after that. I don't believe Jennings will be shoved to the side. More likely he will play a backup role and play in a lot of third-down situations. He has earned that, but more than him earning it, the Jaguars need his strengths on the field.
Jonathan from Lawrence, KS:
I am an official and the question from Trace absolutely offended me. As an official I view myself as a part of the game. No basketball player goes into a game intentionally trying to miss as many shots as possible, or no football player goes into a game trying to drop as many passes as possible. It is an absolute slap in the face to even suggest that I or any other official would intentionally try to miss a call.
John: I agree. Say what you want about any referee, but most of the ones I have known have been passionate to the point of maybe being a little overboard about it. I've not known any that I thought would miss a call on purpose.
Malachi from Santa Clarita, CA:
With defensive end being so thin to start the season, do you think it's possible we see a snap or two with four defensive tackles up front? I think I already know the answer is no. It's completely impractical and doesn't help the team. But it would be so cool to see Alualu, Knighton, Mosley, and Smith all lined up together anyway!
John: You probably won't see it, but I imagine you'll see some formations in which three of those guys are on the field at one. Alualu and Smith can play end, and with the position as thin as it is right now, I imagine they'll be called on to do so.
Mike from Jagsonville:
Does the team MJD plays for get anything from the league for playing overseas?
John: No. The team will benefit from exposure, and the league certainly will help promote the game. But in terms of compensation, no, the Jaguars won't "get" anything from the league.
Gary from Broken Arrow, OK:
Am I wrong or does it look like the offensive line is blocking pretty good? I think I could get five yards with this line.
John: I could get six yards, but then I'm shiftier and craftier than you might think. But your point is correct. The line has played well, particularly in the last two weeks. It needs to stay healthy, but the starting line so far looks as if it could be a real strength.
Bill from Connersville, IN:
I fear some fans will come down pretty hard on Jones-Drew for his holdout, which could alienate the team chemistry. Any wise words to the fan base that could put this in perspective?
John: If Jones-Drew performs – as I suspect he will – the fans will forgive. If there are a few fans who do not, that's up to them. Jones-Drew, I think, grasps that some will not and he certainly is wise and experienced enough to handle it. Whatever the reaction of fans, it won't hurt team chemistry. Players won't really care how fans feel about Jones-Drew, certainly not to the point of it hurting anything going on on the field.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
The problem with replacement referees is billions are wagered on those games. No matter how well they do their jobs there will be problems. There is no excuse for the NFL to be in this situation. Every fan of the NFL, every sponsor, and all the players and the coaches should be outraged!
John: You lost me at "billions are wagered . . ." While gambling is a reality, you can't really think the league is going to base its negotiations with the officials on that.
Steve from Waukee, IA:
Let's not forget the new rule under which you can bring one guy off the IR after a certain week. Depending on Rackley's injury, he might be a candidate for this.
John: He is not a candidate. Only players who are on the original 53-man roster are eligible to be brought off injured reserve.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
REALLYGOOD GUARD ... Really good guards aren't possibly backup guards. You're an idiot; you realize that right?
John: Mike, I don't need you to remind me I'm an idiot. I have a wife for that.
Keith from Lakewood, PA:
Hey John, it seems as though Mike Mularkey went with what he felt was the best 53 players as opposed to a certain number of players per position. Is this an accurate observation?
John: I'd say the breakdown per position is pretty close to standard, meaning I didn't see any spots where I thought the Jaguars did anything unusual. The Jaguars had to do a few things based on injuries. For instance, they placed Will Rackley on injured reserve, but overall each spot has a pretty typical number.
Nicholas from Anchorage, AK:
Even though it looks like MJD won't start, how soon do you think fans will forget about the hold out if MJD's first run is an 80-yard TD scamper?
Charles from MASH 4077:
Do you get the sense that Maurice enjoys patronizing Vito, treating him like some looney old guy, but in a somewhat endearing sort of way?
John: Vito Stellino from the Florida Times-Union and Jones-Drew often enjoy a playful give and take, but I don't get the idea Jones-Drew is patronizing him. It's really just part of the day-to-day on a professional beat. Stellino, like all beat writers, has his quirks, but he also is a respected journalist – and with reason. He's very good at what he does, and I'm certain Jones-Drew knows that.
Johnny from Drewval, FL:
MJD, I take back all the bad things I said about you. I love you, man.
John: I don't think you're alone.
Dan from Orange Park, FL:
Are the Jaguars going to pick up another fullback or is Montell Owens going to be the backup at FB? I know Greg Jones is invincible but what if I'm wrong?
John: I see Owens as the backup, particularly with Jones-Drew having returned. If something would happen to either Jones or Owens, the Jaguars likely would turn to Will Ta'ufo'ou. He played very well at the position during the preseason and is on the practice squad. It wouldn't be surprising if he was around here for a while.
Pete from Naha, Okinawa:
So how has Marcedes Lewis looked in practice? Do you think he will be productive this season?
John: Lewis has looked good at times, and OK at other times – like most NFL players in training camp, actually. Mike Mularkey has talked about him needing to get his conditioning up and he seems to be taking strides there. I expect Lewis to have a better season than last season and as he and this offense get more comfortable with one another, I expect we'll see big plays from him.
Miguel from Section 145 and Jacksonville:
Now that Jones-Drew is back do you think the Jaguars would be more apt to renegotiate next year when there is only one year left on his contract? I thought renegotiating a contract with two years left on it was a bit unprecedented.
John: Jones-Drew was asked about this Sunday and he said it wasn't something he was really thinking about. While he almost certainly has thought about it a little, there really isn't any way to know this far out. The issue will certainly come up, but the Jaguars didn't negotiate with Daryl Smith this offseason, either, and he had one year left. I get the impression the Jaguars are leaning pretty heavily toward not renegotiating with older players until the end of the contract, which is a stance many, many franchises in the NFL take. We'll see.
Michael from Tallahassee, FL:
I was going to run the statistics for Omar question about preseason, but I decided I was too lazy to do it. I think I might be your successor, O-man!
John: You certainly are more interested in the position than Mike from St. Mary's.