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O-Zone: Absolutely shocking

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Dave from Jacksonville:
It seems to me Blake Bortles is going to do whatever it takes to maximize his ability. I don't know what his ceiling is, but I feel fairly confident (barring injury) he will reach it. So, when you say "I think he can be elite," that gets me pretty excited. Please tell me this is your real opinion and not Jags hype. If so, the future is quite bright indeed!
John: It's my opinion, and I agree – and have written often – that it appears Bortles will do whatever it takes to maximize his potential. His work ethic and approach gave the Jaguars confidence to draft him in 2014 knowing he still needed significant developing. Now, remember: just because a player is willing to work to maximize his ability doesn't mean he will be elite; there's always a chance a player just doesn't have it and there's a chance the team/organization around him doesn't come together in a way that allows a player to maximize his potential. A lot goes into being an NFL quarterback. But I said recently and I'll say again that I wondered about Bortles entering the offseason and that I'm more confident now that he can develop into an elite player. There's still no guarantee he will reach that status, but if he doesn't, I can't believe it will be because he didn't work as hard as possible to get there.
Dee Jax from Jacksonville:
Better fantasy pick: Denard Robinson or Allen Hurns?
John: I haven't the first clue.
Brent from Clearwater, FL:
It's third-and-long against the Panthers next Sunday … if you had to project, who are our four d-linemen?
John: I think the Jaguars will rotate the defensive line a lot in this situation – and a lot of other situations not only on Sunday but early in the season. I think the best four Jaguars defensive linemen for this situation might be Jared Odrick, Chris Smith, Ryan Davis and Chris Clemons with a dose of Dan Skuta in the mix.
Devin from Norfolk, VA:
Not Jags-related, but Sanchez better than Tebow? Don't want Tebow in J-ville but, c'mon man …
John: Very, very few NFL executives would agree with you … nor would I.
Adam from Sachse, TX:
O-Man, long snappers get their own roster spot because long-snapping is a highly-specialized and difficult task. Aside from the difficulty of the act itself – literally shooting a ball 15 yards or so between your legs – it needs to be fast and accurate. The NFL standard is 0.6-0.7 seconds from snapper to punter/kicker. My brother had several scholarship offers out of community college to DI schools just to long snap for them. A couple even promised NFL tryouts. Ultimately, he decided becoming a U.S. Marine Corps Officer was the path he wanted but long snapping is far more difficult than the average fan realizes.
John: There's no question long snapping is an underappreciated skill – and, as always, thank you for writing in, Mr. Tinker.
Tim from St. Petersburg, FL:
Hey O-Man … I get most of the roster selections, but the one that puzzles me is Nick Franklin. He has limited value as a cornerback this season. Is he that valuable as a special teamer or are the Jags concerned that he would be snatched up as a free agent? In that vein, why would any team sign a quarterback converting to a defensive back to their active roster?
John: I'll assume we're discussing Nick Marshall, and if so, this is a subject David Caldwell explained pretty thoroughly after making roster moves Saturday. He said the Jaguars were fine with the fifth cornerback being mostly a special teams/developmental player, with one reason being if you're down to your fifth cornerback you're probably in trouble anyway. Marshall indeed can contribute on special teams, and yes, there was concern he would be signed by another team if placed on the practice squad. As for the reason the Jaguars or any other team would sign a quarterback converting to cornerback, that's pretty simple: they would do so believing Marshall at some point in the relatively near future has the potential to be a good cornerback.
Cole from St. Johns, FL:
John, I understand the cuts completely. My only worry is Neal Sterling will be stolen off of the practice squad at some point this season. Sure, he didn't fit into our wide receiver rotation on the 53. And of course, the Jaguars want to retain him on the practice squad to develop him for future contribution. Players don't get stolen off practice squads often, but I could definitely see this happening with Sterling. A team bugged with wide-receiver injuries could target this 6'3 Jaguars prospect and elevate him to their active roster.
John: You're right. Sometimes, teams have to take risks with players they place on practice squads. This is one of those times. Remember, though, just because a player starts off on a practice squad doesn't mean they stay there. I'd guess the Jaguars could try to re-sign Sterling to their active roster when injuries and players returning to health around the roster allow it.
Al from Fruit Cove, FL:
When players are released, do they all have to clear waivers through which other teams can claim them? Or are there circumstances when a released player can sign wherever he likes, just as undrafted players coming out of college are allowed to do?
John: A player with less than four seasons service in the NFL is subject to the waiver process. A player with four seasons accrued service becomes a free agent when released and can sign with any team.
David from Broward County:
I'm optimistic regarding the regular season. I am very concerned about Bortles' blind side. I've been critical of Joeckel, due to his poor performance relative to his draft pick spot. When you take an offensive tackle second overall, you have every reason to expect in Year Three this left offensive tackle spot to be locked down for sure. You've told us repeatedly the Jags are still high on him and his potential. ESPN's Mike DiRocco has told us the Jags just want him to be average. As a second overall pick, he is a major disappointment, not yet a bust. I don't believe he is average yet. Also, if he is just average this year, I'd be disappointed in Caldwell if he didn't draft a new left offensive tackle next year or sign one in free agency. In no way has he played good enough to earn a second/extended contract. What do you think he has to do to solidify his spot? Just be average? That's not the competitive environment that Bradley preaches.
John: I suppose I'm a little worn out for now trying to discuss/dissect the details of just where Joeckel is in his development and how the Jaguars feel about him. They believe he is improving and that he still must develop. They like the work he has done in the offseason/preseason and haven't remotely given up on him. They're not entering the season thinking they need to "fix" left tackle. They believe the offensive line can be good with Joeckel playing left tackle, and during the three preseason games when the first-team line played, that unit performed well. Joeckel gave up a sack and had a couple of rough plays, but I can tell you the Jaguars are far less concerned about the Joeckel Issue than fans and observers. The regular season begins next Sunday. We'll find out more then.
Keith from Jacksonville:
Hey, don't you think we should get DT Darnell Dockett or Bengal Devon Still?
John: They got released, right?
Keith from Maryland:
First, the wife and I just wanted to say it was a pleasure meeting you at the 'Skins game. Second, I couldn't help but notice the major "tarp" situation going on at FedEx Field. How does that not grab national headlines as much as Jax did?
John: The national media has written and spoken about the Redskins' blocking off seats, but it obviously isn't mentioned nearly as much as the Jaguars' tarps. The reason is pretty simple. Jacksonville and the Jaguars are an easy target for humor for the uninformed. Winning should help change that.
Jesse from Panama City, FL:
John, I just heard Stephen Morris was released along with Storm Johnson. What is Caldwell thinking???? Morris was pretty much pushing Blake for the starting job, and had won it in my eyes. Johnson was our bell cow and looked to be a 20-touch-a-game back. I think those two with a wide receiver like Washington could have formed a "big three" we've only dreamed of. I won't be renewing my season tickets; this regime has no clue how to when football games. Maybe we'll trade for Gabbert; he has thrown for 80 percent completion in preseason and would look great in our system. Thoughts?
John: Shad Khan … hire this man!!
Al from Orange Park, FL:
I'm often surprised by roster moves because I think with my heart instead of my head. I'd make a horrible general manager. But you, O Wise One, anything that surprised you?
John: I was a little surprised the Jaguars kept John Lotulelei over Jeremiah George and that the team decided to release wide receiver Neal Sterling. But mostly, I suppose I'm just flat-out shocked to learn there's an O-Zone reader who doesn't think he would be a pretty good general manager.

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