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O-Zone: Can't you smell that smell

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Rusty from New Iberia, LA

How did Jordan Smith sustain his injury? It reminds me of Dante Fowler's injury in underwear. Seems like maybe some of these guys running around without pads maybe trying to avoid contact is just as dangerous as the padded practices.

Jaguars defensive end/linebacker Jordan Smith, a fourth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, sustained a knee injury during a 2022 Organized Team Activities practice – and he will miss the 2022 season. Fowler, the No. 3 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2015 NFL Draft, sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury in his first rookie minicamp practice. That injury cost Fowler his rookie season. Fowler's injury was sustained in more of a live situation than Smith's because Fowler was being blocked at the time. But both were in non-padded work. As far as the level of danger of practices, padded work is more dangerous than non-padded, because full contact work is harder to control. Either way, this is part of the deal with sports – particularly professional football. Sometimes players get injured in violent, contact situations. Other times – less often, but not rarely – they get injured in non-contact, controlled situations. Teams wisely try to minimize injuries with non-contact practices, but you can't eliminate them. NFL players are big, strong people. Anytime they move at high speeds there's a risk they can move in a way in which ligaments can be torn or other injuries can be sustained. It's just how it is. It's not a matter of them trying to avoid contact. It's a matter of them being human beings.

Kinzie from Asheville, NC

Hey O! So will you be wearing a helmet during all your daily runs from now on. Hearing that about Travon Walker during your podcast really struck me. This kid really does want to be great! Thanks for all you do putting up with us fans, surely.

Jaguars rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker was the guest on the O-Zone Podcast this week. He indeed told this story about wearing his football helmet while mowing lawns when he was in high school to get acclimated to the heat, something he said he did for four summers. It was a cool story. There were other cool stories. It's worth a listen. You can do that by clicking here.

Crash from Glen St. Mary, FL

O Man! So, the knock on former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli is that he only played seven seasons? So did Gale Sayers.


Definitely Tony Boselli

What's an Instagram?

Like you don't know.

Don from Marshall, NC

How can any fan not like Travon Walker? Go Jaguars!

Walker, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, seems like a good kid. He's likeable and seems to have the work ethic, drive and approach to maximize his potential – which is unlimited. He has a good foundation and fans should like him more the more they learn about him.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

I've asked you this for, I believe, the last three summers. All three times you gave a different answer, which was appreciated. As a high school English teacher, I'd like to ask - what are some of your favorite/most notable/MVPieces of sports journalism? I'd love to incorporate more into my classroom

It's possible after the three previous summers I'm repeating myself, and I must admit most of the ones that stand out are from the 1990s and 2000s when longform sports writing was still encouraged. The late William Nack's piece on the life and death of Secretariat always stands out. Anything by Gary Smith in Sports Illustrated is next-level stuff. The old man in me will tell you great sports writing isn't as common as it once was. Maybe I just don't look for it anymore. Talk to you next year.

Don from Marshall, NC

Chronic heat exhaustion, sleep disturbances and susceptibility to minor injuries and sicknesses have all been attributed to the possible effects of prolonged exposure to heat. Is it worth it? Maybe you have an advantage in the early one o'clock games, but what about the rest of the season. It's not worth it and it's not healthy long term. Go Jaguars!

Cool. Or actually not.

Matt from Jacksonville

I've been dealing with this heat for 54 years now. When should I expect to become acclimated?

Never, evidently.

William the Contemplator from Jax

Mr. Zone, if Little is unable to secure a starting OL position, would you consider him a bust? After all, guys like Taylor and Bartch have been barely serviceable.

I'm not as quick to write players off as busts or "barely serviceable" as many others. Jawaan Taylor has been a three-year starter for the Jaguars. He hasn't been good enough, particularly in some key moments, but I would call him OK and far from terrible. Guard Ben Bartch played pretty well in his first extensive season as a starter last season – far too well to be dismissed as "barely" anything. Would Little be a bust if he doesn't start? To me, a bust is a player who finishes his career having not fulfilled his draft position and obviously disappointing. If Walker – a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft –doesn't start this season, it would mean he didn't beat out a second-round selection (Taylor) who has started 49 NFL games. If he never starts, Little would be a bust. But if he doesn't start next year? No, we're not there yet.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

To be fair, the Eagles went into Doug Pederson's tenure with Alshon Jeffrey, who was paid to be the number one receiver in December 2017. It didn't quite work out the way they hoped, but I suppose when you win a Super Bowl everything else is just whatever.

To be fair, paying a player to be a No. 1 receiver isn't the same as having a No. 1 receiver.

Josh from Green Bay, WI

All of this Hall of Fame talk has me so excited for the Hall of Fame Game. Do you think we'll see much of the starters that game?

My guess is you'll see Jaguars starters for a series when they play the Las Vegas Raiders in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on August 4 – if that. It's an exciting moment for fans, but it's still the first preseason game.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

So, OTAs and minicamp are over and now it's the dead zone for weeks on end and you still suck.

This doesn't feel like a compliment.

Charles from Riverside

Hello, John. Back in the day there was a time when middle linebacker was the most important position on the D. And while that has changed to pass rusher and possibly cornerback, linebacker is still a pretty important position for sure. Interestingly the Jaguars always seem to have had a respectable linebacker core over the years. Even with the loss of Myles Jack, I am excited to see Devin Lloyd and Foye Oluokun on the field together. Hasn't been a lot of talk in this regard, but the linebackers could steal the spotlight on defense this year?

Jack was a good player for this franchise for a long time. Given the additions on defense, it seems possible – even probable – that the Jaguars have replaced him to the point where it may not feel like a huge loss. I do expect Lloyd and Oluokun to be strong players and be a focus of the defense, perhaps particularly Lloyd considering his big-play potential as a blitzer and in coverage.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

Who do you think will be the Jaguars' most-improved player?

Let's go with defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris. He played well at the end of last season. He already was good, but I expect his impact could be more noticeable next season.

Levi from Cd'A, Idaho

If previous Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew had the opportunity to lead another offense with this year's current rosters across the NFL, which team do you think he would have the most success on? Which team would you like to see him under center? If you'd be so bold, what about Bortles?

I don't know that Minshew would have significantly different results on any roster than he had with the Jaguars, though I could be wrong about that. I don't care enough about Minshew to care where he plays. I hope former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles gets an opportunity to remain in the NFL. If he does, it will almost certainly be as a reserve. Where would I like to see it? Wherever he gets an opportunity, I suppose.

Earl from Middleburg, FL

Does this mean that me obviously being the KOAF, that a few good swipes by Senior Something would put himself in the same class? I've worn my Funk jacket for quite some time (maybe a little too long). My sources tell me you've been either bathing or carrying excessive amounts of lavender bath balls in your pockets. Smell you later alligator.

Hey wow.