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O-Zone: A thousand words

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Dennis from Salt Water/Jacksonville Beach:
What are your thoughts on Gabbert? What are your eyes telling you so far? Do you see improvement? Do you see someone growing with the offensive system? Do you see Gabbert developing a relationship with the weapons around him?
John: When I look at Gabbert so far this training camp, I see basically what I expected to see a week into his first camp under a first-year offensive coordinator. I see a learning process, and with both he and Chad Henne, I see quarterbacks working through the process of installation and learning the system. As has been the case with Gabbert since he was drafted, there have been plays when you see real talent, and on those plays he looks better than any quarterback in camp. You also see plays that are, well, not as good. He has not yet "separated" himself from Henne, which is a minor concern, but again not unexpected. I don't know that the coaches expected Gabbert or Henne to separate in practice. I think they want to have each player prepared so that when the preseason games start, the separating can begin one way or the other.
David from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
John: #Moodachay
Tyler from A slice of heaven called the Jacksonville Westside:
The NFL is designed to be a passing league, according to most "experts." This has inevitably led to a change in defensive philosophy that covets speed over size. What if I were to tell you that an NFL that truly committed to the running game could easily dominate the league. I am talking extreme commitment here, John. I am saying NO WIDE RECEIVERS EVER. No need to draft them – or quarterbacks, for that matter. Imagine a modern NFL defense playing a team running a package of eight offensive linemen, two fullbacks, and a halfback every play. Imagine the personnel groupings defenses would have to put in to stop it; there just wouldn't be enough big men to go around.
John: You deserve credit for giving this some thought. The problem would be that enough defenses could get your team stopped often enough that more teams than not would get a lead on your team. At that point, without a quarterback, your team would have a difficult time coming back. That's the first problem. There are obviously many others, but it's time to move on. That shouldn't worry you, though. With what you're drinking, you won't know the difference.
Antony from Columbia, SC:
I am a University of South Carolina alum and watched Ace Sanders very closely his last season with the Gamecocks. Because of the importance of quickness in route-running, I wondered why "experts" thought he'd find his niche in the NFL more as a punt returner than a receiver. When teams played "man" against him, it seemed he always was able to get separation. Now, I see that he's seen as a "slot" receiver as many smaller quicker receivers are. What is at about Massaquoi's size/abilities that make him better suited to be split out wide than Ace?
John: Massaquoi is bigger. That's the obvious answer, and Sanders also has more quickness, which is traditionally associated with slot receivers. There's not too much of a comparison, mainly because it's hard to compare Sanders to any of the others Jaguars receiver. He is significantly smaller than the others. That's not a knock, just a fact. He's also significantly quicker than the others and the more you watch him practice the more you believe he's going to be a factor.
Bruce from J-Ville:
Can you explain the difference between the seven-on-seven and the 11-on-11 drills? And thanks for all the great work!
John: Seven-on-seven is the quarterback and center, with five skill position guys against linebackers and defensive backs, while 11-on-11 is the entire team. As a result, seven-on-seven is typically more pass-oriented.
Logan from Jacksonville:
John, any chance you can give us a play-by-play of training camp similar to what is done during games? I know you're lazy and all, but maybe it's time to turn a new leaf?
John: Awesome idea. Tell you what: next offseason, we at will spend part of the offseason planning coverage, and maybe if we do, we'll come up with an idea such as yours to cover camp on a daily basis. Then, maybe we'll put the staff's manpower and resources into it to give fans an idea of what's going on at camp. I'll write this down so I don't forget.
Redmond from Jacksonville:
I love CS3 but this talk of him being an elite wide receiver is unwarranted. By no means am I saying he isn't a very good wide receiver, but compared to Julio Jones or A.J. Green or the rest of the Top 10, he doesn't stack up. I'll give him the elite title once he has had a 1,200-yard-receiving, 10-touchdown year – that's not too much to ask from an elite wide receiver.
John: No, it's not too much to ask. And it's not too much to ask people to read what you write. I've written that Cecil Shorts III has a chance to be elite if he plays as he has practiced this offseason and if he builds on last season. I haven't written or said he was elite, and hasn't said he is, either. He has a chance, and he looks as if he could do it this season. That's all that has been written here.
Jeff from Starke, FL:
Is it fair to say Joeckel hasn't "stood out" because he doesn't have anyone to stand out against? Is he making it look easy because of the competition level? If he were going against a top-tier defensive end, maybe everyone would be doing cartwheels over his performance. I like that he seems to just be quietly getting it done.
John: That may be part of it. Certainly, if the Jaguars had a perennial Pro Bowl defensive end rushing the passer against Joeckel in practice it would be a more obvious storyline. But more than that, when people talk about Joeckel not standing out it generally is in a more positive way. When football people talk about offensive linemen not standing out they mean the player isn't making mistakes or getting beat, which means the player is doing his job. Joeckel is quietly doing his job right now, and if he keeps doing that, the Jaguars will be very happy.
Arnie from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Glancing at the schedule on the header of, I noticed that we play the Texans twice in a 12-day span. That's odd and rare isn't it, or just me?
John: It's unusual, but not unprecedented. The NFL doesn't schedule teams to play regular-season games back to back, but it will periodically schedule division teams to play in a three-week period. The percentages work out so that occasionally the second meeting in that scenario is in a Thursday, which is the case when the Jaguars and Texans play on December 5. It actually means they play in an 11-day span.
Dan from Jacksonville:
I was at practice twice and Paul Hazel had plays that were attention-grabbing. I saw a blurb about him today on the First off the Field. Any word on him?
John: Hazel, a free-agent rookie from Western Michigan, is not unlike many free-agent rookies at his position. He is a bit undersized, though he has obvious athleticism. I expect Hazel to have a good chance at getting a spot on the practice squad. At that point, it would be a matter of him adding bulk to go with the athleticism.
Mark from High Springs:
I'm only going off of your updates. I didn't see the play, but what should we take away from the CS3 fumble/pick-six Thursday? Plays like that in "extremely competitive" practices can be make or break. Was it a freak occurrence our star wide receiver dropped the ball, or is Gabbert making it difficult for our guys to catch even when he hits the numbers? Or was this a case where Prosinski just had a step-it-up moment? I can only imagine how crazy it is for our coaches evaluating the talent.
John: Don't overthink it. Take a breath. OK. First, I don't know that I agree that single plays in extremely competitive practices necessarily make or break. They're good gauges, but one play isn't going to tell the story of a particular player. On the play you're asking about, Shorts caught a well-thrown short ball and ran across the field before fumbling just before he was tackled. Even the most tried-and-true Gabbert-basher would have had a difficult time blaming Gabbert for the play. As for Prosinski, I think it was more of a pick-it-up moment. The ball was there. He picked it up. And then he scored.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
What's the word on Cyprien's hammy? I keep seeing he's not practicing but haven't heard if it's a concern or if they're just bringing him along really slowly cuz they know what they've got in him.
John: The Jaguars hope to have Cyprien back next week. They are being smart with Cyprien because there's no reason to not be smart with a hamstring at this stage of the season.
George from Savannah, GA:
John, thanks to you and JP for the video work for those of us out of town that can't make training camp. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!
John: Yes, they say that. Here's one reason why.

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