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O-Zone: Downhill descent

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Kinzie from Asheville, NC

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson recently said every year a few players flash that he didn't expect and make it very hard come cutdown day. What position group do you see the coaches having the toughest time keeping all the players they actually want on the final squad? Thanks for all you do.

This is tricky because the answer may not necessarily be the position with the most front-line talent – and once you reach the bottom of the roster, special teams can be a bigger factor in a player making a roster than how he plays a position. Numbers also get involved, with an injury at one position sometimes prompting a team to keep to an extra player there and forcing the release of a player at another position. A final factor that teams consider when making bubble decisions is whether a released player could be signed to the practice squad – or if the player is likely to be signed by another team if released. I expect running back to be a difficult decision, with a player such as Ryquell Armstead very capable of playing in the NFL and currently looking like the fourth back on the roster. Tight end could get tight at cutdown time, with multiple young "bubble" players there possibly being capable of signing to other active rosters. As Pederson said when discussing this subject this week: The players who make bubble decisions the toughest are often young "flashing" players who surprise coaches. That means this answer will play out over the next few weeks.

P Funk from Murray Hill

What exactly does Press mean when he says the offense has been installed?

When coaches speak of installing an offense, they mean they introducing plays, formations and personnel packages to players in a meeting environment. This typically is done at least twice – during the offseason program and during training camp. It is done every year. The Jaguars installed the offense during the offseason. As of Wednesday, offensive coordinator Press Taylor said coaches had installed about 30 percent of the offense during this training-camp installation phase. That's a pretty typical pace and approach.

Sean from Jacksonville

My best guess, you ask? I think we will win a few and lose a few.

Good eye.

Sam from Orlando, FL

Is it true Eugene "Thunderbolt" Frenette took his shirt off and challenged Travon Walker to pin him at midfield at the opening of camp? What's Festivus like around there?

Jaguars rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker is as impressive physically as any rookie I've been around. That does not mean he wants any part of a shirtless longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette. Then again, who does?

Alan from Jacksonville

Señor Jozone, Will fans be able to attend any of the practices this year?

No. Jaguars 2022 Training Camp is being held at Episcopal School of Jacksonville because of ongoing construction on the Miller Electric Center adjacent to TIAA Bank Field. Space does not permit fans attending. Training camp is expected to be open to fans in 2023.

Ronnie from Jax Beach

Regarding the battle for starting right Tackle between Walker Little and Jawaan Taylor, shouldn't the loser become the swing tackle? Shouldn't we see Taylor take some left tackle snaps? Biggest question: Would being able to play left tackle actually be a detriment to Walker in this competition given his value as the swing?

We're a ways off from a hard, fast answer about this because the Little/Taylor competition has only just begun. For that reason, there hasn't been much swing-tackle discussion. I do expect whoever doesn't start at right tackle between Taylor and Little to be the swing tackle. Little almost certainly would be swing tackle if Taylor starts. If Little starts, you could always move him to left tackle and start Taylor at right tackle in the event of an injury to left tackle Cam Robinson. I don't expect left-tackle experience to hurt Little's chances. I expect the Jaguars to start the best player and worry about swing tackle if/when necessary.

Rick from Mandarin

O-Man, can you look at your Magic 8 ball and tell us your potential starting five offensive linemen?

I expect the starting Week 1 offensive line to be: Little, right guard Brandon Scherff, center Luke Fortner, left guard Tyler Shatley and Robinson.

Nick from London

KOAF - as a lowly UK follower, who should I be looking to draft in my fantasy team this year (Jags based obviously). I'm thinking Etienne is a good choice.

I've played fantasy football twice. Once was in a Florida Times-Union sports department league pre-internet, a league in which the league's commissioner had to tally up the scores by hand each week. You also had to call in or hand in lineup changes. Matt Hayes, now of 1010XL, and myself drafted a team. Henry Ellard was on it. That's the only player I remember. The team was terrible. We stopped handing lineup changes in around Week 2-ish. My other fantasy football experience was a couple of years ago in Mike Dempsey's Jaguars Today. I had Russell Wilson at quarterback. When he was good, the team was good. When he wasn't, it wasn't. This is a longwinded and self-indulgent way of saying I'm not a fantasy football guru. Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. probably would be a good fantasy player. He should get a lot of touches as a runner and receiver. He figures to be integral to the offense. If those are good things in fantasy football, Etienne's a good choice.

Joe from Hall of Fame City, OH

His side of the field is closed like Chick-fil-A on Sunday?? That might be the case come every Sunday. Hopefully, this one's back doesn't give him problems. We need a shutdown corner, who's it gonna be Almighty O???? Who in our cornerback room is gonna shut it down on Sundays?

You're referencing second-year cornerback Tyson Campbell saying his side of the field was closed "like Chick-fil-A on a Sunday" after defending a pass in practice this week. It's premature to say Campbell is a lockdown corner. It's not premature to say he has a chance to be such a player. His transformation/development since struggling early last season has been remarkable. He seems almost certain to be a very good player. A shutdown corner? Maybe.

TN Hillbilly from Celina

How much, if any, game-planning will be done for the HOF and preseason games? Will the coaching staff simply run plays they feel will enable them to evaluate the playbook knowledge and mechanics of their younger players regardless of trying to anticipate their opponents play calls?

I would expect no game-planning for the Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Las Vegas Raiders Thursday and I would expect little-to-none the following week at home against the Cleveland Browns. You likely will see some game planning for one or both of the final two preseason games – home against the Pittsburgh Steelers and at the Atlanta Falcons.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

The defense had a big day Thursday. Looks like all the praise for the offense and T-Law was premature, after all.

I will not get sucked into the vortex. I will not get sucked into the vortex. I will not get sucked into the vortex. I will not get …

John from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: I grew up when training camps were tough and filled with – possibly – excessive contact. Have you found that teams today are more unprepared for the contact in Week 1 than in the past? Also, have you noticed more injuries early in the season than in times gone by?

One theory you hear often that tackling isn't as good in the NFL early in the season as it late in the season. That's because of the lack of tackling in preseason and training camp. I agree with that theory, though I have no statistical evidence. I don't sense more early-season injuries in recent seasons. Players get hurt in the NFL. It's a violent, physical game. That's true however much players hit in training camp.

Joe from Jacksonville

John: I went to high school (Ridgeview) and college (FSU) as well. I dropped out of Florida State my final semester for a very lucrative opportunity that I don't regret. I thought you would like to know.

Now we know.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, given the players have all been pretty much playing football their entire lives, is it really even possible for them to still be getting better by the day?

If you're not getting better, you're getting worse. I, for example, stopped getting better on July 4, 1976. This has connection to the bicentennial that I'm not at liberty to discuss. It has been a steady downhill descent since. Hell … I don't have to tell you that.  You've been reading this column a minute.

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