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O-Zone: Always

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Andy from Canmore, Alberta

Hey, O. What is happening in the kicker room? I know Doug's history shows him doing similar things of signing/releasing frequently in Philly, but for such an important position, this seems like there's no real plan. What is he seeking that he hasn't quite found yet? Because I thought McCourt was doing just fine from my perch way up north here. Thanks, Andy.

This confusion is understandable, but Jaguars special teams coordinator Heath Farwell's media availability Wednesday may help people understand better. The Jaguars have had six kickers on the roster since the start of 2022 Training Camp, beginning with Chad Mevis (one) and Ryan Santoso (two). Elliot Fry (three) was here for a short time. The Jaguars entered Tuesday with two kickers, Jake Verity (four) and James McCourt (five), then waived both and claimed Riley Patterson (six) off waivers from the Detroit Lions Monday Tuesday morning. While observers may have believed the Jaguars/Head Coach Doug Pederson had no plan, this seems more a case of the Jaguars waiting for several preseason kicker competitions around the NFL to play out. Farwell during his media availability Tuesday said they had liked Patterson for a while and Farwell very much sounded like he believes Patterson – who converted 13 of 14 field goals for the Lions last season – should be the Jaguars' "permanent" kicker. "Permanent" is often relative when it comes to NFL kickers, but it certainly seems the Jaguars hoped one of the first five kickers would wow them and win the job while remaining confident a solution likely would be available at the NFL's cutdown day.

KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF - A sixth- and seventh-round selection for Laviska? Why didn't we just hold on to him and at least get a higher-rated compensatory pick? The Carolina Panthers and the rest of the league love to come to the Jacksonville Bargain Basement! I sure hope that they do not regret this move.

Your question assumes several points that may or may not be safe to assume. One is that former Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. would have drawn a better compensatory draft selection than a sixth-and seventh-round selection had the Jaguars kept him this season. Another is that the Jaguars would have wanted to keep Shenault for another season had they not found a trade partner. Another is that the Panthers received a bargain in the deal. Still another is that Shenault will play much better and be an explosive weapon with the Panthers after never doing so with the Jaguars. I hope for Shenault's sake he does well. He's a likeable kid. But I don't know that he has the ability as a receiver or the speed as a "weapon" to be consistently productive professionally. Maybe he does. We'll see.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Pete Prisco and Tony Boselli made a solid point. The fact that we have only one player (guard Brandon Scherff) on our team that is Top 5 at their position is a reason we are not likely competing for postseason.

Good eye(s).

Rizzle Dizzle fo Shizzle from Jacksonville

Do players on the practice squad all get paid the same? Can the players negotiate their own terms? Are their contracts guaranteed?

Practice squad players can negotiate their own salaries and it happens on occasion. Most earn the practice-squad minimum, which in 2022 is $11,500 per week for first- and second-year veterans and $14,500 for more experienced players. Practice-squad contracts are not guaranteed unless specifically stated as such.

Marcus from Jacksonville

I realize that life in NFL is not fair, especially for the bottom-of-the-roster guys, but I can't help but think that the Jaguars did running back Mekhi Sargent a little extra dirty Tuesday. They cut down to 54 players, had him come to practice, then cut him afterward. Maybe it doesn't matter whether you're cut in the morning or the afternoon, but if you had me come to practice after cuts have already been made, and have two kickers on the roster still, I'm probably going to assume I made the roster and that one of those guys will be the final cut. Maybe he knew the deal beforehand, but it just seems a little unnecessary to me.

Life in the NFL indeed isn't fair, and I'm not going to say Sargent wasn't disappointed to be waived Tuesday. But the Jaguars brought Sargent back to the practice squad Wednesday and he seems to figure into their plans – at least in their practice-squad plans – for 2022. This was more about managing the roster and keeping the player involved than doing a player wrong by forcing extra work.

Julian from Brooklyn

What makes a good special teams player? Aside from the returner who can be easily singled out, it's hard for the average fan to tell who's doing what or what they're even doing. So what are guys asked to do and how are they evaluated?

Traits of a good special teams player: Willingness, versality, toughness and ability to adapt quickly – with an emphasis on willingness. Most NFL special teams players were standouts – or at least starters – in college. Special teams is a new – and sometimes, humbling – experience. Those who embrace it as a way to play professional football often can excel and carve out a career. Not all players can do this.

Chris from San Diego, CA

When a top draft pick like Shenault is traded for peanuts, do you think most coaches hope that player finds success elsewhere or is the hope he flames out in a season or two, therefore justifying the decision to trade while value can still be recouped? I'd imagine the only thing worse than drafting the wrong player is not recognizing talent and seeing him dominate elsewhere.

Most coaches are like most human beings in that they want to see good people do well and care a bit less how "difficult" people fare. If a player was a hard worker/likeable person for a coach and it just didn't work out, most coaches like seeing that player succeed at his next stop. If the player was less likeable, former coaches typically spend little time thinking about that player. Insider tip: Most coaches are worried first about keeping their jobs. They therefore focused much more on winning the next game than on how former players fare.

Bill from PVB

_How can this team score some friggin' points already?  _

The Jaguars can score more in 2022 by continuing to improve in areas in which they showed significant improvement in the preseason – i.e., making "chunk plays" downfield, converting on third down, having receivers getting open and completing intermediate routes. They also should be helped in this area by the return of running back James Robinson and the continued development of quarterback Trevor Lawrence. I expect the offense to improve in 2022, and not just because it's relatively easy to improve from "worst in the NFL." The receivers' ability to get open reliably on third down gives the offense a real chance to be much better. I expect consistency to be an issue because of Lawrence's inexperience and because this is the first season in a new offense. That could mean some ups and downs, which would be an improvement over recent seasons around here when it was pretty much all "downs."

Mario from Kelowna, British Columbia

Zone. Fans are going to fan and it's super-annoying but I can't believe someone had the nerve to underestimate the long snapper position.

It's something, isn't it?

Fred from Naples, FL

Your readers want you to commit to the Jaguars making the playoffs this year. Just do it; say it and be resolute!

It's true that many readers want me to say the Jaguars will be a postseason team in 2022. I just don't see it. I expect improvement and some frustratingly inconsistent moments. I don't know that the Jaguars' offense will be consistent enough to win shootouts. I expect the Jaguars to be better enough by season's end that the postseason in 2023 will seem very possible.

Matt from Jacksonville

Not really a question, but a while back I noted that many of last year's starters are going to be this year's backups. That looks like progress to me. Now it looks like some of last year's starters can't even make the team. That looks even better, provided the staff has accurately evaluated the talent. Hopefully some of this year's starters won't be good enough to make the team next year.

I constantly caution against predicting a team's record based on the preseason, and success/failure in the preseason truly guarantee nothing. But you can get a general idea about talent level – size, speed, athleticism – based on the preseason "eye test." This looks like a bigger, stronger, faster – better – roster. That seemed reflected in some of the roster decisions this week.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ

Zone. So, what you're saying is that it's sometimes coaching ...?

Only always.