JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Brendan from Yulee
The young guys from last season look to be up and coming. Who are you excited to see against Dallas?
"Excited" is a strong word when it comes to NFL preseason games, and I'm not sure at all it applies – even to the Jaguars' 2023 preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium Saturday. I will be watching multiple young Jaguars players with interest, including several who were rookies last season. Linebacker Chad Muma and tight end Gerrit Prince would be chief among those players. I also will watch left tackle Walker Little closely, as well as pretty much every member of the Jaguars' 2023 draft class – particularly right tackle Anton Harrison, tight end Brenton Strange, running back Tank Bigsby and wide receiver Parker Washington. Also: Keep an eye on the receivers and cornerbacks after the front-line players leave the game. The wide receiver group is really talented beyond the starters, and the Jaguars need a few cornerbacks to step up and show they are ready to be key reserves/special teams players in 2023.
Conner from Jacksonville
Opinion on Chad Muma?
He's a nice second-year player who gives the Jaguars very good depth at linebacker. If either Devin Lloyd or Foye Oluokun were to miss significant time, you would feel very good about him playing for long stretch. That sort of depth isn't something observers think much about from March-August. It's something that often matters very much from September-February.
Chris from Fleming Island
O-Zone, does the team ever update a player's height and weight, or do they just go with the combine measurements? I keep reading center Luke Fortner is bigger and stronger (muscle weighs more than fat), so will they update his stats?
NFL teams rarely update a player's height because players enter the NFL in their early 20s and it usually takes until old age – i.e., 57 and a few weeks – for people to start shrinking. NFL teams sometimes update weights, but not usually. Why? Because there's no rule that they must do so. That's usually why teams do things. It's why most people do things, come to think of it.
Rich from Twin Falls, ID
Why is the stadium so empty? You can buy tickets for much less than the season-tickets holder pay.
I don't anticipate Jaguars regular-season games being "so empty" in 2023. Season-ticket sales for '23 season are significantly ahead of recent seasons.
Rib from PV
Can you please shed more light on Shat? Is this a new condition or something he has always dealt with? Did he have a procedure done? What is his timetable for return? Why are people still trying to get rid of our best offensive lineman in Cam Robinson? Why would it be better to start Walker Little next year IF Cam is still the better player? Isn't the goal to have the best players and not be the best bargain shoppers? What if Cam restructures? We finally have good players and everyone wants to trade them for unknown draft picks. I don't get it.
Jaguars guard/center Tyler Shatley had an atrial fibrillation last Wednesday. He said shortly thereafter that he had experienced similar symptoms at times but that this was the first time he had mentioned it – and the first time he had had it checked by physicians. He is expected to continue working on the side for some time because he's on blood thinners and it's risky to sustain contact to the head while that's the case. I get the sense there's a very good chance he will return before the end of the preseason. As for Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson, I agree that observers are often too quick to want to trade good players. Robinson is an important leader for this team and absolutely one of its best five offensive linemen. That's the case for keeping him on the roster this season – and my thought as of now is the Jaguars will keep him on the roster after he returns from a four-game, season-opening suspension no matter how well Little plays in his absence. The issue will be more difficult next season because of Robinson's salary-cap figure. Yes, the idea is to keep good players. But parting ways with players isn't always about "bargain shopping." Sometimes it's about managing the cap so you can compete for the long-term. That very well could be the case with Robinson next season and the Jaguars knew as much when they signed him to a contract extension in the 2022 offseason.
P Funk from Murray Hill
As a fan wanting to understand special teams better, what should one watch for besides the guys kicking/receiving the ball? And with a crowded wide receiver and linebacker room needing the depth players at those positions to make an impact on special teams to make the roster, who should I be keeping an eye on this Saturday?
This question is a little broad, so I'll do my best. While special teams could be deemphasized a bit with the NFL passing rules to reduce kickoff returns, teams still need good special teams players for that area and punt returns. That means speed and athleticism at positions such as wide receiver, cornerback, safety and linebacker – and sometimes along the defensive line – are valued at the "bottom of the roster" when roster cuts are made in late August. Keep an eye on those positions in the second half Saturday. Also: Watch for who lines up on kickoff returns, particularly in the final preseason games. It's often a lot of young, lesser-known players. It's also often a lot of guys who will be on the roster come the regular season.
Dave from Jacksonville
Zone, is this a must have preseason for Jaguars outside linebacker Jordan Smith? Now, listed third on the depth chart behind a rookie. He looks bigger this year and healthy. Is there a way for him to fill the Arden Key position or is it too late?
It's not too late, but he needs to produce.
Sean from Jacksonville
Can you imagine if we had cost overruns of $300 million like the Buffalo Bills have right now? That is going to get someone fired, ya think?
Your referencing reports that the Buffalo Bills' future stadium could cost $300 million more than originally projected. I don't know enough about that situation to know the accuracy of the reports. I also don't know enough about stadium construction to be an expert. I do know that such a project is insanely expensive. In an economy in which costs for everything are rapidly rising what is projected one year can be much – much – more expensive when the projections become reality a year or two later.
Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL
I keep hearing all the worries about the defense. From my perspective, this will be very similar to the Peyton Manning Colts. The premise was simple, they were built to put you behind and make you play catch up all game. That tends to help the defense a LOT. I see that being the approach going forward: Get a lead and make the other team panic to pursue. My only concern is this team tends to get conservative in these cases instead of keeping the foot on the gas as it were. The only way you compete against teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills is that approach. One final thing: All these cretins that say you suck. They are dead wrong, even if in jest, I wanted to let you know that you in fact don't suck. Tell Shad I said that.
While this team must prove it deserves comparison to the Indianapolis Colts teams – and offenses – from the era in which Manning played quarterback, I agree there is the potential for this team to play the style you cite. But the idea that this team doesn't keep "the foot on the gas" has little merit. Head Coach Doug Pederson is hardly passive, and the team won all four games in which it led by double digits in the second half last season. Any tendency before Pederson became the head coach doesn't belong in this conversation.
JagSec206 from Saint Johns
I was at practice Monday - the Miller Electric Center is beautiful. They handed me a roster when I entered - nice touch. I noticed there were 91 players on the roster at camp. I thought the limit was 90. What do I have wrong?
Safety Ayo Oyelola is on the Jaguars roster through the NFL's International Pathway Program. A player on that program is on the roster and a team gets an extra roster spot.
Jessie from HENRICO
Hey, O'man, you that dedicated to covering this team throughout, or was that not you I saw jumping up and down outside the Neptune Beach Publix?
A $1.58 billion lottery ticket was purchased at the Neptune Beach Publix. That announcement was made Wednesday. That there was an O-Zone to read Thursday is all the evidence you need that I did not purchase that ticket.