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O-Zone: A man of privilege

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Lane from Ocoee, FL:
O-man, I know it's only one preseason game but I'm concerned about the lack of pass rush from the Jaguars. Is this an area of concern this year?
John: The Jaguars' pass rush absolutely is an area to watch this season. It was a strength last season, but the Jaguars got their sacks from a lot of different sources. That can be more difficult to replicate than if you're relying on an "elite" pass rusher or two. If the Jaguars are to match their 45 sacks from last season it will take some heavy lifting from a lot of different players. It can be done, but it will take the line playing as well as a group as it did last season. I wouldn't read too much into the performance Friday against the Steelers, though. The Jaguars were playing without Jared Odrick, Roy Miller, Sen'Derrick Marks and Chris Clemons. At some point, those are the players the Jaguars want starting on the defensive line.
Bo from Dresden, NC:
I really like the thought of a three-headed monster in the backfield. Toby Gerhart, T.J. Yeldon and Bernard Pierce seem like a formidable trio.
John: Add Denard Robinson in there and you have a decent four-headed monster, too.
Guy from San Antonio, TX:
O-man, we are constantly being told that T.J. Yeldon will most likely be the workhorse running back for this team. From what we saw last year and the preseason so far, what are the odds that Denard is the starter?
John: I'd say there's a very good chance Denard Robinson starts the season at running back. That's because it appears Yeldon may not play in either of the first two preseason games. But running back absolutely is a position where I wouldn't get too concerned with who starts. The backs on this team are going to rotate pretty extensively, though I don't think it will be long before Yeldon is getting the majority of the carries.
Dave from Section 410:
I'm not on the Joeckel Rots bandwagon because I think he and the O-line played well, but he was beaten badly on two plays. There was the one against Harrison and on the four-yard scramble for a touchdown he was bailed out by the quarterback.
John: OK.
Eric from Chesapeake:
Would it be a smart move for the Jags to pick up Evan Mathis to bring in more depth and veteran leadership for the OL?
John: The Jaguars right now are pretty healthy on the offensive line, though that obviously can change at any time. They also like at least nine-to-10 offensive linemen currently on the roster enough that they could have to release a pretty good player. That's a two-sentence way of saying I don't see them signing or particularly needing to sign Evan Mathis for depth. And I certainly wouldn't advocate signing Mathis or anyone else for leadership; if you're going to sign someone, sign them because they can play.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
How good can the Jaguars' run offense be in 2015?
John: The first step is to be better than last season. The second step is to be effective enough to keep defenses honest, which in turn would lead to less pressure on Blake Bortles. It appears the run offense has a chance to take both steps. The running game looked better on Friday against the Steelers. That allowed the offense to play how Gus Bradley wants it to play – running effectively enough to set up play-action passes. If the Jaguars can do that consistently, that's a good start to making this offense a lot more effective.
Hunter from Orlando, FL:
It sounds as though some folks believe players who get a veterans day off are sitting around getting mani's and pedi's while drinking mimosas. My guess is their day "off" is still filled with meetings, game film study and treatment. Unless you are sitting at home in your underwear watching Netflix, you're really not "off."
John: You're exactly right, though I'm more than a little uncomfortable with how familiar you are with my down time.
Kamal from San Francisco, CA:
What have your eyes and ears told you about Andre Branch's performance this camp and early preseason? It seems as if Clemons missing time should have given him plenty opportunity to shine but I have not seen his name popping up in reports or analysis.
John: It's sometimes difficult for a pass rusher – or any defensive player to stand out in practice. Branch has done fine in the offseason and training camp. He was solid last season when he played and there's no indication he won't be as effective again.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
I want to hear back from every one of these Clemons haters after the season ends, when he has like 10-12 sacks on the year. Anybody can talk smack in preseason. If the guy produces on the field between September and January, who cares about a stupid voluntary workout?
John: Yeah, pretty much.
Jeremy from Miles City, MT:
Count me as someone who thinks Clemons is a known quantity and I don't really care how many OTAs or practices he is in. In fact, the less he is in the more reps for younger LEOs who haven't hit their ceilings yet.
John: The teeth-gnashing over offseason attendance indeed is a bit curious. I wonder if it would have been as big a deal if we didn't live in a 24-7, 365-day-a-year, Twitter/Internet world. I wonder if it would have mattered in 1985. If Clemons isn't productive when the season begins, then there's a problem. If he gets 12-to-14 sacks, I, too, wonder how many people will be bothered by his offseason absences.
Arianna from Pooler, GA:
Corey Grant or Storm Johnson?
John: Right now you almost have to take Grant because of what he potentially can give you as a kick returner.
Mark from High Springs:
I loved the third-down play where Tyson Alualu subbed in at fullback allowing Toby Gerhart to get the first down. I get the feeling that combination would work well for short yardage and two-point conversions. My question is, are they going to announce on the loudspeaker 'No. 93 is eligible' every time the try this? Seems like a bit of a giveaway.
John: Yes, they will announce Alualu whenever he checks in at fullback. It does tip the defense off that he's in the game, but 'dem's the rules.
Rob from Fleming Island, FL:
John, We Want More ... We want more of your video Shtick … Both informative and quite humorous … Most of the time …
John: You wrote this as sort of a bizarre, aimless haiku poem-type thing. Haiku poem-type things don't translate too well into our O-Zone format. The videos will return soon enough. Maybe. We'll see. Yeah, probably. Whatever.
David from Island:
Blake is going to bite the end of his tongue off one day. Anyone ever been on the injury report for a tongue injury?
John: To my knowledge no athlete ever has bitten his tongue off. Worry about other things. Not this. I used to shoot with my tongue out while playing high school basketball. I never bit my tongue off, but now that I think of it, I didn't make all that many shots, either.
Brian from New Hampshire:
Would you say Paul Posluszny's replacement is on the current roster? I'm not saying this year or next year – more for the future.
John: Likely not.
Paul from Duval:
Better chance this season: Clemons goes for eight sacks or Clemons is cut before the regular season is over?
John: Eight sacks. There's a perception for some reason that the Jaguars are in some sort of hurry to find a reason to release Chris Clemons. That perception isn't reality.
Mr. Tekin from Cowford:
These players are doing nothing most people couldn't do given the opportunity. Most could make an NFL roster with coaching, scholarships, money, and someone to keep pushing you. You saying these guys are special is complete arrogance. Well, what do you expect from a doughy spoiled kid from a crappy private school turned joke of a sportswriter? Some people are just better than others and some just get better opportunities.
John: Now that you mention it, you're right … I am awesome.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if there were no table at all in your round-table videos. At first I thought there might be mass hysteria in the streets, then I realized that would never happen because after seeing the video people would probably just slip into a coma from the shear shock and mental anguish. Promise you'll keep the table?
John: I'll do what I can. A word of warning, though: the budget is very small. One swiped stage prop or two and we're looking at a bleak existence. I must admit, though: monetary concerns are odd to me. Then again, they're obviously something I was far, far above ever worrying about growing up.

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