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O-Zone: Gazelles in the Sahara

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Trae from Jacksonville:
Hey John, if you had to choose the best pure athlete currently on the Jaguars' roster, who would it be?
John: This is a timely and intriguing question because there are far more possible correct answers than would have been the case a year and a half or two years ago. I would put Dante Fowler Jr. and Marqise Lee in the mix. I'm also assuming both Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey would be in the mix – although neither participated in OTAs. My guess is Jack is the most athletic player on the roster, but I imagine we'll get a better handle on this as time goes on. The good news for the Jaguars? Not only is it a tougher call than it would have been a few years back, but the most athletic player on this roster is pretty much off the charts athletically. Whoever that player may be.
Fabian from the Dominican Republic:
Sup Johnny Boy, 7:38 pm, 11:38 pm … then I wake up in the morning and boom there it is again: 9:38 am. I think it's all coincidence until I find myself staring at my microwave clock reading "0:38" seconds left for my food to heat up. Am I falling in love with Jalen Ramsey's number?? How do you personally feel about his number?
John: It's all right.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
I just wanted to say I'm still giddy about getting bout Ramsey and Jack. That is all.
John: As well you should be. But don't forget about Fowler. He's looking every bit as potent and explosive as Ramsey and Jack.
Brian from New Hampshire:
The closer we get to the season, we hear about Lee doing really well and Tashaun Gipson doing well and helping the defense get faster. Knowing Jack and Ramsey are not even there yet gets me more and more excited for this season. Adding Lee's explosiveness to this offense could make it that much more dangerous. Having even just a respectable defense until it gels, this should be a fun season.
John: So you're saying football is fun?
Tucker from Nashville, TN:
John, can you tell the Jags have been losing for too long? Fans are worried about players and we haven't started winning yet. How 'bout one for preseason? It's been a long time since there has been a reason to get excited about preseason. I want to see Holmes, Day, Bennett and Ngakoue on the field. Jack and Ramsey behind them, I'm really excited about the future.
John: That's absolutely something that will strike fans who attend Jaguars 2016 minicamp this week – that there is far more talent about which to be excited than there has been in recent seasons. You listed five players from the rookie class and a second-year player, so you're talking about a lot of unproven talent, but there's no question it's going to be an intriguing time to watch this defense.
Conner from Albuquerque, NM:
I've read some articles that Josh Evans is on the roster bubble due to the addition of Tashaun Gipson. My question is if that is truly the case, then who would be the backup free safety? I figure Johnathan Cyprien and James Sample will stay at strong, so I couldn't see it being one of them.
John: Right now I'd say the backup safety next season will be either Josh Evans or Peyton Thompson.
J. Hooks from Orange Park, FL:
John, as it relates to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, are meetings with coordinators and extra time players choose to put in at the 'Bank governed as strictly as on-field time allowed? For example, if Blake and some guys want to put in a marathon week of film study munching on treats and drinking cold beer after OTAs and minicamps are over, is that allowed? If so … how much time are they allowed in the building?
John: Players can watch film on their own away from the facility pretty much when and how often they want. It's communication with coaches and on-field practice time that is restricted under the rules of the 2011 CBA.
Bryan from Reston, VA:
For the record, it costs all of about $8 from Radio Shack or Amazon to get the cords that will allow you to watch your streaming mobile device on a full-screen television of your choice. Just sayin'.
John: Yeah, there's that.
Charles from Midlothian, VA and Section 35:
And here I thought you were a black sock and flip flop sort of guy. I know I saw you with a fanny pack in London last year.
John: I'm not a black socks guy, though my wife and son had to shame me off a disturbing white-ankle-socks-in-blue-canvas-Bass-boat-shoes habit into which I slipped a few years back. As for a fanny pack … well, evidence suggests I'm not the King of Cool, but I've never gone there. Sexton on the other hand …
Dale from Jacksonville:
Hi John, I would like to know why they call the offensive tackle a tackle since he never tackles??????
John: The term "tackle" as it relates to "offensive tackle" is a holdover from the days of one-platoon football when players commonly played offensive and defensive "tackle." When football shifted to the two-platoon system with players specializing on offense or defense, the term "offensive tackle" stuck – quite possibly for want of a better alternative.
Arnie from Fernandina Beach, FL:
O, would you please explain the difference in OTAs versus minicamp or training camp: how mandatory is it, what's the nature of it and differences versus the other camps? That all confuses me a little. Thank you, sir!
John: There is almost no difference on the field between organized team activities and minicamps, with teams essentially being able to work in a non-padded, non-contact environment for four weeks in May and June. The primary difference in OTAs and minicamps is that minicamps are mandatory and OTAs are voluntary. Training camp also is mandatory and includes full-contact work.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
"Some of us don't stream on devices" – yeah, and some of you still use fax machines. We get it: change is scary to you. Is this what it was like when they invented the phone? Streaming is just another option available to NFL fans … you know the ones that live in the 21st century.
John: I'm not trying to pile on 'ol Steve from Ponte Vedra, but the line "is this what it was like when they invented the phone?" made me laugh.
Brian from Duval County:
I understand they play different positions, but who has more of a wow factor so far this offseason? Lee or Fowler?
John: Both.
Kevin from Bakersfield, CA:
Any Nick Marshall sightings lately? Are we still excited about his potential?
John: Nick Marshall has been participating in OTAs and he still looks fast and athletic. Training camp and preseason will be important for Marshall. He's at a deep position and needs to play well.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Have Jack and Ramsey missed so much time that they will be playing catchup throughout the year? Or by the end of the preseason should they be operating at a good level?
John: You asked two different questions. No, Jack and Ramsey have not missed so much time that they will be playing catch-up throughout the year – although most players play catch-up to at least some degree throughout their rookie seasons. As for Ramsey and Jack operating at a good level by the end of preseason … we'll see. They're special athletes with the chance to be special players. Sometimes special players outperform normal expectations.
Dalton from UCF:
Have there been any no-shows throughout OTAs? Besides Jackson and Jack kind of situations.
John: There were veterans who miss a day of OTAs here and there, but no players missed an extended period. If there indeed had been players missing extended periods, it would have been OK because OTAs are voluntary and voluntary means not mandatory – perception this time of year is to the contrary.
Mike from Des Moines, IA:
You mean you actively make an effort to avoid the soft-serve machine? If I worked there, I would frequent that machine so often that if you were there and didn't see me, you would ponder "Where is Mike?" with the same bewilderment that you ponder the meaning of life. I picture myself at every opportunity bounding across the cafeteria floor like a cheetah chasing a gazelle, with the unbridled gusto of a puppy running toward his owner after his first day alone as I hear whispers of "run big fella, run." I would stick my face to the machine and suckle from the nozzle with the urgency and vigor of a camel drinking water after weeks in the Sahara. You would have the same level of difficulty removing me from the machine as you would removing barnacle from the bottom of a ship.
John: That's all great, but you still would have to wait in line behind Shadrick.

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