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O-Zone: Good plan

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Johnny B from Howey In The Hills, Fl

I know that after the San Francisco 49ers lost three quarterbacks in the postseason last season, the NFL made some conditional rule mandating three quarterbacks on the active roster. Did that effectively open up 54 final positions or did it just force one other position other than quarterback out? What is the true story here? Plus, I hope the Jags keep three quarterbacks. Rourke is really a great find and could be a huge, young backup. I have some neighbors that are Canadian that have followed him and they say he played equivalent to Warren Moon in his Canadian Football League heyday. What say you on the NFL quarterback rule and Rourke?

The NFL's new third quarterback rule for 2023 states that a team carrying three quarterbacks on the 53-player regular-season roster can make the third quarterback inactive and still have that player available if the first two quarterbacks are unavailable because of injury. It does not mandate that teams keep three quarterbacks on the 53. It also does not create a "54th spot," so teams must still use three of 53 roster spots if they want three quarterbacks on the regular-season roster. As for Jaguars rookie and former CFL standout quarterback Nathan Rourke … I think he has had some impressive plays and solid production in two 2023 preseason games. That in no way guarantees the Jaguars will keep him on the active roster.

Bill from Bostwick

You mentioned Wednesday to keep an eye on the nickel spot during Saturday's game. It seems pretty clear so far Herdon is the starter and Gregory the clear backup. To me, both kind of look like the same and best fit in the slot rather than an outside cornerback spot. My question is who does the O-Zone think is battling for the third-string spot at nickel in the event of injury to one of the top two nickel cornerbacks? Braswell? Antonio Johnson (I know he's out with a hammy for several weeks, but surely makes the team)? Another player who can hold his own on the outside and in the slot?

I think rookie Christian Braswell will make the team with a chance to be the third nickel cornerback. I think rookie safety Antonio Johnson will make the team and have a role as the "big" nickel when the team wants a safety as the third nickel, but I don't know that Johnson will be a cover-oriented nickel in the sense that cornerbacks such as Tre Herndon and Gregory Junior fit the position.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

Regarding Rourke, is it fair to say about his NFL experience that he's only played high school offensive schemes against high school defensive schemes against the worst players in the NFL?

Relatively close.

McMike from Saint Augustine, FL

Hey O, When will the Irish kicking competition be over?

The Jaguars signed kicker Brandon McManus in late May after his release from the Denver Broncos. That was when the Jaguars' kicking competition ended.

Daniel from Geneva, Switzerland

O-man, I was in a local pub watching rugby, and wow those guys are tough and I'm not sure how they make it through a season. All the helmet talk lately in the Zone made me wonder: perhaps if there weren't helmets and pads, players would be less likely to get hurt given they would risk their bodies as much knowing helmets weren't there to protect them?

Most likely.

Rob from Jacksonville

Do opposing head coaches collaborate in the preseason to get certain looks and situations so as to better evaluate the roster?

It's risky to say something "never" happens because there's always a chance – however remote – something could happen. But this is not close to common practice and I've never heard of it. If a head coach wants to evaluate a roster in specific preseason situations, the head coach can create plays/periods to address those situations in practice. Preseason games are for evaluating how players react and perform games, which means evaluating players in unknown situations created by the opponent.

Hunter from Orlando, FL

After a few decades of watching sports, here's what I think of preseason lists.

Good eye.

Sean from Jacksonville

Top three storylines to watch all season long. And... go.

Playoff scenarios. Division-title scenarios. Health entering the postseason. Those are the objectives. All else is secondary.

Brad from The Avenues

Point number one, I don't get the feeling that Nathan Rourke left the Canadian Football League, where he was kind of a stud, to play back up in the NFL. My gut tells me that his sights are set a bit higher. Point number two, aside from being a strong veteran presence for quarterback Trevor Lawrence's development, C.J. Beathard is a competent, reliable quarterback who knows he is a backup. Final point, if we find ourselves in a position where we have to lean heavily on a backup quarterback, we're pretty much screwed anyway.


Marlin from Greenway Palms, FL

Hi, Zone, when is cut day? Can you give us a timeline for the roster moves? Thankee sa!

NFL teams must reduce rosters to 53 players by Tuesday, August 29, at 4 p.m. EST. There might be a few releases trades or players placed on injured reserves Sunday or Monday following the preseason finale against the Miami Dolphins Saturday, but the Jaguars' major "list" of cutdown moves likely will become known later Tuesday afternoon right around 4 p.m.

Michael from Scranton, PA

Would you rather be feared or loved?

I'm a sad combination of neither.

Mike from Azores

Hey, John. Why all the fan worries about who is QB2 and QB3? If QB1 goes down for the season than the season is over and it's wait till next year again!

I'll paraphrase the words of a longtime NFL coach here. When asked why his team didn't practice much – if at all – with the reserve quarterback, he replied: "If [the starter] isn't playing, we're [in trouble]. We don't practice being [in trouble]."

Zac from Austin, Tejas

What was the last take you had that was so opposite from what happened that you "were stunned?"

I thought I might like the Barbie movie and the last Taylor Swift album. Imagine.

Romeo from San Diego, CA

Now that defensive lineman DaVon Hamilton is out with a back injury, what about signing a free agent like Akeem Hicks?

I don't expect the Jaguars to sign a high-profile free agent at defensive tackle. Perhaps they would consider it if Hamilton was lost for the season. I have received no indication that that's the case.

Bill from Bostwick, FL

There's much chatter about the talented wide receiver group and the tough decision it will be to choose a sixth wide receiver. This is a receiver who would rarely see the field as a receiver but a regular special teams contributor. Why not just keep five receivers in order to keep an extra, much-needed cornerback who can be the special teams starter instead of the sixth receiver? It's apparent depth and competition behind the starting cornerbacks is more needed now than at receiver.

I don't know that it's apparent that the Jaguars are weak at cornerback. Either way, the Jaguars could opt to retain five wide receivers rather than six on the 53. The reason you wouldn't do this is you want to ensure you retain as many good players as possible and maintain a balanced roster. Remember, too: You don't always remain as healthy as the Jaguars were at receiver last season. If there's a receiver among the position's "bubble" players that they believe can play at decent level in the event of injury, you don't want to casually allow that player to sign elsewhere.

John from Jacksonville

Hi, KOAGF.  On one side of the coin, I hear how important the preseason games are to evaluate players who are competing for roster spots and to move up on the depth charts. On the other side, and we aren't talking about a controversy on our starting quarterback, why would the coach basically state that it doesn't matter what Rourke does, he won't be the backup. I think they seem to be more about defending their decision to give Beathard a contract than to say this other guy might be a number 2. There's a team out there ready to grab him and we'll be sorry.

Pederson came out after last Saturday's Preseason Week 2 victory over the Detroit Lions and said Beathard is the backup because the Jaguars consider Beathard clearly the right choice to be the backup. "Defending the decision" to give Beathard a contract isn't on Pederson's list of concerns. To clarify here: This is a far louder, more intense debate outside the team than within. Within the team, it's not a debate.

Trey from Franklin TN

John, if we ever cross paths … I'm buying you a drink.