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O-Zone: Good riddance

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Dave from Jacksonville

Now that you have seen a few of the padded practices, can you give us an update on Luke Fortner's start to his second season? I am most hopeful he has the greatest leap, the better to match up long-term with Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. We had such a young nucleus for so long, it would be nice to see it mature together.

The Jaguars have had two padded practices in 2023 Training Camp. It would be disingenuous to tell you I had gleaned much about second-year center Luke Fortner's progress from those practices. He appears to have added some bulk, which is what coaches wanted from him this offseason. His knowledge of the offense progressed as last season continued, and he improved late last season. I've heard and seen nothing to indicate that improvement won't continue.

Bill from Bostwick

With the running back position a hot topic of conversation this past NFL offseason, I recently ran across a quote from former Carolina Panthers Head Coach Matt Rhule about Christian McCaffrey (the NFL's highest-paid running back) prior to last season and his trade to the San Francisco 49ers. Rhule was quoted as saying, "I don't look at Christian as just a running back. We see him as a weapon. We see him as a person that can be a receiver, a running back, can be a returner. As important as anything else is the true leader [McCaffrey is] on the team and he does everything the right way." That quote very well could be describing Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. based on his first NFL season and hearing how his repertoire will likely expand during his second season of action. Does the almighty O-Zone see any comparisons between a well-seasoned McCaffrey and a young ETN looking ahead to the 2023-24 NFL season?

There are some similar traits. Etienne has breakaway ability, and he has the ability to be a good receiver. His toughness and between-the-tackles-ability also are underrated. But Etienne never has returned punts or kicks in the NFL, and – though capable – he hasn't yet proven to be a major weapon as a receiver. Remember, too: McCaffrey at his best when healthy is one of the elite offensive players of the last decade. Etienne is good, but he hasn't approached that level.

John from Jags Town

What a likable young man Jaguars tight end Josh Pederson is after seeing his interviews. Here's hoping there is a practice squad opportunity at least for him.

One fer Josh Pederson.

Luke from Brisbane, Australia

G'day O, would General Manager Trent Baalke or the coaching staff be consulting Lawrence on which wide receivers or cornerbacks get first/second team reps or ultimately make the 53? Seems like he would have a good feel for both positions that might not necessarily show up on tape. Thanks!

Conversations such as this aren't meetings in which Lawrence goes down a checklist and grades each player, but Baalke and Pederson and Lawrence – and a lot of other people important to the Jaguars – are around one anther constantly once training camp begins. Conversations happen. Thoughts are exchanged. Lawrence presumably wouldn't say too, too much about the secondary. His thoughts on the wide receivers and running backs would be well-known – and voiced from time to time. And he wouldn't assign "first-team" repetitions. That's the responsibility of coaches.

John from Jacksonville

Hi, KOAGF. What is considered the sweet spot on the farthest a football should travel in the air, from quarterback to wide receiver, for an accurate and successful long pass? Do you know how far Lawrence is able to throw the ball in the air and to be accurate, as well? Do you think his arm strength is average among quarterbacks or do you think he is in the top 25 percent or even the top 10 percent regarding distance/accuracy?

It was my understanding there would be no math.

Tom from Cairo, Egypt

David from Chuluota's question about the egos of wide receivers and running backs omits one key factor. Is the team winning or not. Sure Calvin Ridley, or any other offensive skill player, might be annoyed if he feels he's not getting the ball enough. If the team is winning, though, complaining about it will make him look really stupid. If the team is losing, look out.

Winning indeed cures a lot of ills. But let's not assume Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley will complain about targets until he, you know … complains about targets. The NFL season is long. A lot goes right and a lot goes wrong. There may be issues and controversy to some degree. There's no reason to create them before they arise.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

When Denver Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton commented that the NFL gambling rules were too complicated for his players, I figured it would be a few months before we heard another comment from a head coach that rose to such an asinine level but then a couple days later, he did it again with his disparaging words describing New York Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Head Coach Robert Saleh. What's next from this pathetic rubbish of a man? He deserves to get stranded on his house elevator.

The NFL's gambling rules are complex and perhaps outdated, as evidenced by an increasing number of players arrested for gambling violations in recent seasons. Payton's recent comments about Hackett and Salah were surprising and unnecessary. I'm guessing if Payton could go back in time and undo that one, he would do so.

P Funk from Murray Hill

When players are handed a water bottle on the sideline or in-between plays, why do they squirt it in their mouth then spit it out? Any other observations from camp?

To look cool. No.

Eric in Jax Beach from Jacksonville

First, Tony Boselli predicting 25 sacks combined for Josh Allen and Travon Walker and now Pederson saying 1,690-1,700 yards for Etienne. If either of those predictions is in the ballpark this year, we're going to be tough to handle!

I expect Allen and Walker to push for 20 sacks combined – and 25 certainly is possible. I would be surprised if Etienne rushes for 1,600 yards. While he's capable of such a season, I expect rookie running back Tank Bigsby to get significant repetitions and rushing yards this season. This could be far more of a rotation in the backfield than was the case for the Jaguars last season. Either way, the Jaguars should be tough to handle if they remain injury-free.

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

Two thoughts: 1. Josh Pederson being on the 90-man roster is only a distraction for those fans who want it to be. 2. There are dozens (hundreds?) of running backs who are fighting to make an NFL roster who are thankful for the chance to make the rookie minimum annual salary of $750,000 or even higher for those with a year or more of NFL roster tenure. There are very few opportunities outside of professional sports to make this kind of money as a 20-something year old. There is no reason to ask for as much as you can, but to threaten to sit out and not accept millions of dollars in annual salary? Next in line, please.

1.Fair. 2. Fair.

Anita from Springfield

Our current offense, or the 2017 defense. Who are you taking with the game on the line, two minutes to go, and the offense needs to go 75 yards and get eight points to win - so a touchdown and the two-point conversion. What if it was just a four-point lead to beat?

I would take the defense in the eight-point scenario because that was a very good defense and it's hard to score touchdowns on two consecutive plays against a very good defense. I would take the offense in the four-point scenario. Remember, too: The Jaguars' defense of that era was a Top Six defense in three consecutive seasons, 2016-2018. The offense of this era has been a Top 10 defense once. This era still has some going to do to be as good as people expect.

Sal from Austin, TX

I'm from Texas and I couldn't care less. If Pedersen wants his son around, that's great. He'll make the team or he won't. The Jaguars aren't going to tank because of some fourth-string guy for goodness' sake.

Good eye.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

Can you explain how the logistics are going to work for Cam Robinson playing in Week 5 while the team is in the middle of a UK road trip since he won't be allowed to travel with the team in week 4?

Unless they cancel airflights between the United States and the United Kingdon between now and then, I think it can be worked out.

MrMakersMark from 408 row A

I read the O-Zone everyday but don't always watch the player Q&A videos. A tip of the cap to your team for setting up mics to catch the questions.

This was a topic a few days back. Thank goodness it's not anymore.