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O-Zone: Glimpse of the future

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it... Robert from Moorpark, CA:
We've heard lots of praise for Cyp, Gratz, Joeckel, and even Josh Evans. But what about our offensive weapons? D Rob and Ace Sanders? Robinson seems like the perfect role model for younger athletes. Thoughts?
John: I've written quite a bit about Sanders and Robinson, but yes, it appeared during organized team activities and minicamp that the duo could make an impact this season. Sanders returned from an early offseason injury to get progressively healthier, and toward the end of OTAs he made significant plays. He was working in the slot with the first team on the final day of minicamp, which indicates he has a chance to be in the rotation early in the season. That's more than what many observers anticipated on draft day, but it's in keeping with what the Jaguars repeatedly have said about his opportunity to contribute offensively. As far as Robinson, I'm not a big "role model" guy, so I don't have much to say along those lines. The Jaguars very much want him to have a role in the offense. Just what that role is will depend on what he shows he can effectively do in training camp and preseason. There's an adjustment period for all rookies, and that's particularly true of Robinson, because he also is making the adjustment from quarterback to multi-positional offensive weapon. That's a process.
Bryant from White Plains, NY:
If you had to write a book about the Jaguars, and begin with today, how would you start the book?
John: Chapter 1...
Logan from Dickinson, ND:
A lot of talk about the quarterback competition and the wide receivers. What I want to know is how has the offensive line looked so far? I know the pads haven't come on but how has Luke Joeckel looked against some of the vets? Is Will Rackley likely to start at left guard? And how has he been holding up? Are the players as a whole making a smooth transition into this new zone-blocking scheme?
John: The reason there's a lot of quarterback/receiver talk in the offseason is you can glean a little more about what they can do without pads than you can some other positions. That's exceedingly difficult with the offensive line for obvious reasons. Still, you can tell about athleticism, which is where Joeckel has looked impressive – every bit the part of the No. 2 selection in the draft. He has looked fine against the veterans, and I expect him to be a very good player for a long time. I do expect Rackley to start, and I expect him to still be in something of a transition phase not having worked much in pads since 2011. The linemen said throughout the offseason they like the zone-blocking scheme a lot. It fits what they do. We'll know a lot more soon, but so far, so good.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Wow. 1995 since you went as a fan, huh? Since then have you ever cheered in the press box? Maybe just let a quick yelp or, "YES," slip out to the dismay of the other reporters? Just curious.
John: I really like the crab cakes in Baltimore. When I hear they've been put out pre-game, I often remove my shirt, wrap it around my head like a bandana and let out a loud, "Whoop." Other than that, no.
Mark from High Springs, FL:
Will Tony Boselli be at the Gainesville Caravan? I have a poster I forgot to get him to sign last year!
John: Yes, Boselli is at all the caravans. He usually stands to the side waiting for someone to tell him how great he was, and when – as is typically the case – that doesn't happen, he rushes the stage and angrily tells the guy running video, "Put in the Bruce Smith game, put in the Bruce Smith game!!!!" It's a spectacle. All that said, yeah, he'll be in Gainesville.
Andy from St. Augustine, FL:
The Rams may have improved from 1997 (5-11) to 1998 (4-12) to 1999 (13-3), but they made a pretty significant change during that time. QB in 1997-Tony Banks, QB in 1998-Tony Banks, QB in 1999-Kurt Warner. Without a major upgrade at the quarterback position (either improved play or improved personnel), I don't see the Jags making that same jump this season. I would love to be wrong.....but we'll see soon enough.
John: Indeed we will. What's sometimes forgotten was the Rams had signed Trent Green as an unrestricted free agent at quarterback, and that's what had given the organization confidence that it could have a turnaround season that year. Green tore an anterior cruciate ligament during the preseason, opening up the opportunity for Warner. That's how unexpected some improvements can be, and that's why you never know from season to season in the NFL.
Tym from the Southside:
If J.P. Shadrick wrote your column, it would be called the "Whoa!-zone"
John: Yeah, but who would read it? WHOA!
Chet from Jacksonville:
Glad to see the Cyprien and Gratz signings, but what is the deal with everyone freaking out about getting them all signed right now? It's not like they can sign anywhere else. Them being signed before camp starts is all that matters. I just don't get the urgency.
John: There seems to be a tendency in this 24-7, news-now internet era to believe that everything is a race. Perhaps when people read about other teams signing draft picks they assume that there is some level of importance to this that doesn't exist. The rookies were all in organized team activities and minicamp, and they all will be participate fully in the offseason until it's time for rookies to leave town. There is nothing to indicate they won't sign before training camp, and if that happens, there is literally absolutely nothing lost.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Never played football in an organized league and yet to see the helmets used in actual play on the field, but do you think the dual colors of the helmets can throw off the quarterback in making a split-second decision? Especially if the opposing team has gold or black helmets? Just curious.
John: Anything is possible, but this is unlikely on a pretty extreme level. Teams with white helmets – the Colts and Dolphins, for example – play each other all the time and it doesn't seem to be an issue.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
How about a "Reverse Ozone?" You could ask 10 questions, give readers a week to respond to them, and then post your favorite answers?
John: Yes, I could.
Dennis from Duval 'Til We Die:
A friendly PSA to all my Jag-Nation brethren: stop with the has-been quarterback questions. Do people really think it's a good idea to sign quarterbacks who are out of the league? There's a reason JaMarcus Russell, Vince Young, and others remain unsigned. Signing one of these guys will not address our quarterback battle this year, or the future. The answer will be either Gabbert, or next year's draft, or both.
John: Well done, Dennis, and it is indeed a noble task you have undertaken. But while your effort is indeed a fine one, there indeed will be Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell questions to answer tomorrow, the next day and beyond. This is my calling – yay, my fate – and as such, I will march on, bloodied perhaps, but unbowed.
Tom from Jacksonville:
RE: Rick from J'ville. Are you sure you didn't make that up? Did someone really send that in?
John: Yes, I'm sure. And yes, someone sent it in.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
After seeing Jason Kidd signed as a head coach just a few weeks after retiring as a player, do you think we'll ever see an NFL player hired as a head coach or even a coordinator immediately after retiring? Could you see a player like Peyton Manning getting hired as an offensive coordinator immediately after retiring as a player?
John: Players do get hired immediately as assistants, though rarely – if ever – as coordinators, and never as head coaches. NFL staffs are so large and there are enough logistics and lines of communications involved that it's a transition that takes some time. Another obstacle is the time involved. The NFL is pretty much a year-round proposition for a coach these days. A lot of high-profile players really don't have that much interest in getting involved as a coach for that reason, particularly an elite player who has earned money on the level of Manning.
Dane from Jacksonville:
If you were from New Jersey, wore tank tops, and worked out at the gym all day, you could call it the Bro-Zone.
John: If I was Dr. J., I could call it the Fro-Zone.
Brad from North Florida:
Not to downplay Austen Lane's talent, but he was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs – our Week 1 opponent. The Chiefs might have picked him up for more reasons than his talent!
John: Yeah, maybe, but I never lose a lot of sleep about that storyline. Teams might glean a bit from such an acquisition, but not as much as some people might believe.
Eric from Treasure Island, NM:
Have you ever been homeless?
John: Not yet. There's time.

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