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O-Zone: Getting fit

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Greg from Mandarin


I assume this references the Jaguars re-signing defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot Friday morning. The signing is popular with fans, as it should be, and it's popular with me as well. Smoot, a third-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2017 NFL Draft, long has been one of my favorite Jaguars players to interview. I also respect a great deal how he has approached his career and what he has overcome to become a productive player. He struggled early in his career and was inactive half of his second season. Signs at the time pointed to him playing three or four seasons and being out of the league. He pushed through that to become one of the Jaguars' most-consistent and disruptive defensive lineman the past four seasons. Smoot, who became an unrestricted free agent following last season, faced a difficult circumstance this offseason. He sustained a torn Achilles late last season, which sapped his value as a free agent and was the reason he remained unsigned until Friday. It's difficult to return to 100 percent following that injury. Smoot still must continue to work and show he can move effectively beyond it. Good for him that he's getting that chance. Good for all involved that the opportunity's coming in Jacksonville.

David from Maplewood, NJ

Smoot is back. We're getting the band back together!

One fer Smoot.

Johnny from Westside Section 408 I think but maybe 428 I gotta check hang on

I am psyched about the new Miller Electric Center. I already got my spot for the Friday sesh. Anyways, I've only been to a couple and they were always a little … well, hot and miserable and of brief duration. Given the relative comfort now, what should I watch for besides the obvious Trevor Lawrence stuff? I mean, should I watch how low a defensive lineman gets in his stance? How can I watch so that I learn something about the team? What do pros like Mr. Frenette (may I call him 'mister'?) and or amateurs like you look for or at?

I can't speak for longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette on this topic. He possesses a football knowledge and eye that few can hope to rival. Padded practices begin Monday, July 31. Those practices matter the most. At those sessions, I suggest focusing on one-on-one pass rush drills and 11-on-11 sessions. Those are where the average fan – i.e., not Gene – can get a feel for what linemen are playing well, and of how the offense and defense are functioning.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

This has always bothered me. You often say, "I would be stunned." When is the last time you could admit you were stunned?

Thursday afternoon.

David from Oviedo, FL

KOAF – It's not uncommon for dogs to resemble their owners. Is there a resemblance with you and Rat Dog?

Yes. She's graying quickly, walks sideways and looks as if she has the wrong legs for her body. She also spins around when someone knocks at the door and drools prodigiously when someone eats in her vicinity. I tend to do the same, particularly on the weekends.

Sue from Omaha, NE

I enjoy reading and watching the work of J.P. Shadrick, Brian Sexton and Kainani Stevens – not to mention Tony Boselli. And of course, I look forward to reading the O-Zone every day. John, do you shake your head and thank your lucky stars that you get to work with such a talented group of people? I know I would!

Boy, do I.

Anita from Springfield

Glad that Coach Maxen felt comfortable and supported. Gladder that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan publicly offered confirmation of that support. I hope his personal mental strength is only surpassed by his players' physical strength, and that he continues to excel as a coach for our organization.

Jaguars assistant strength coach Kevin Maxen on Thursday indeed became the first male coach in any of the four major professional sports to come out as gay, doing so in an interview with Outsports and saying "I don't want to feel like I have to think about it anymore. … I want to be vocal in support of people living how they want to live, but I also want to just live and not feel fear about how people will react." Khan in a statement said, "Kevin is a Jacksonville Jaguar, through and through, and a key member of our team and community. I look forward to seeing Kevin next week at training camp, and hope that he comes to work each day during camp and through the season feeling confident, free and at peace. I know our players and staff feel the same."

Richard from Jacksonville

How about one for the Jaguars Strength and Conditioning staff for showing what it really looks like to be strong.


Michael from the mean streets of Arlington

Congrats to Kevin Maxen. There's never any reason to hide who you love.

One fer Maxen.


It surprises me that leagues have maintain the draft system this long, it seems at some point somebody is going to successfully sue a league as unfair labor practice. I think fairest with tweak to current system that players should push for is higher rookie wage with shorter contracts. Two years with option for first round, two for all other rookie contracts.

When labor agreements are collectively bargained, it removes the ability to sue or pursue litigation within the agreement. Or something to that effect. I'm no lawyer, but I fake it on the interweb. And I'd be surprised if the NFL Players Association pushes too hard for shorter initial contracts. There is value to stability at the start of players' careers. Without it, you would have players changing teams on a whim every season with no ability to know where players will be from one year to the next. It could get pretty ridiculous, sort of like what college football is leaning toward these days.

Kinzie from Asheville, NC

One fer Kevin Maxen! I'm actually shocked that it has taken this long for a coach to come out in all of U.S. professional sports. I am confident that the organization will wholeheartedly support this news and that coaches and players are proud to be in an organization that creates an environment where their staff feels comfortable enough to express their authentic selves. A tremendous sign that the culture is strong in JAX.

I had the same reaction of being a little surprised that Maxen was the first male coach to come out as gay. It seems like something that's long overdue. I have no doubt that the organization will support this. One fer Maxen? Absolutely.

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

Great article on Travon Walker. I enjoyed learning more about him, his family and his upbringing. Travon is another example of the current decision-makers adding good people with talent to the roster. I am pulling for Travon even more now to become a top-tier player in the NFL.

We at Jaguars Media visited Jaguars outside linebacker Travon Walker's hometown of Thomaston, Ga., on May 19 when his high school – Upson-Lee – retired his number. Here is the video. Here is my story.

Robert City of the Hills

Duval is going to pay the Jaguars close to a billion dollars to go pound salt in another city for a couple of years. This is how desperate Jax is to get rid of the team. Too bad President Mark Lamping and Owner Shad Khan are too full of ego, always looking for taxpayer charity, to see things as they actually are. Do you realize how much money Jax would have to work on our community without you clowns? The City can never recoup Jaguars-generated tax loses. It is all bad business. The Jags are not economically good for the county. Their hand is out way too often, for way too much, for us to prosper. London alone shows how insensitive the Jags are. Home games are how Jax makes money. The Jags are always eager to prevent Duval from prospering. The team goes out of its way to make sure they are the most painful entity in our budget. BTW, it is sad the Jags could not get the training center correct the first time. Is this how it is going to go with the stadium? Less than 10 years after completion they will need a new one?     

Miller Electric Center is the first training facility the team has built in its 29 seasons. If and when the Jaguars' Stadium of the Future is completed, I would expect the Jaguars to need a new stadium about 25-to-30 years later. That historically has pretty much been the shelf life of stadiums.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, have you been working out in preparation for camp to finally begin?

Yes. I'm huge.