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O-Zone: Hanging in there

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jason from North Pole, AK

Do you think Meyer took the pads off for the scrimmage Sunday because it would be easier for Trevor Lawrence to put on a show for the crowd?

Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer opted for lighter pads in Sunday's mock game inside TIAA Bank Field Sunday because the Jaguars had perhaps their heaviest-hitting day of 2021 Training Camp on Saturday. That day was as close to a full-contact scrimmage as you see in the NFL these days – and you don't want to have such practices on consecutive days. Lawrence did play well Sunday, but he also played well Saturday. Either way: I've only been around Meyer a few months, but nothing he has done gives me the impression he would change a practice – or do much of anything – to make it easier on a player. If anything, it strikes me his instinct always would be in the other direction.

Dave from Jacksonville

I missed his Hall of Fame induction speech, tuned in a little later. Can you provide us any Hall of Fame insight from your years as a writer for the Colts?

I'm not sure if you're referencing running back Edgerrin James or quarterback Peyton Manning. I covered both during my time with the Indianapolis Colts – James from 2001-2005 and Manning from 2001-2010. I was a bit closer to Manning than James, primarily because Manning was around more during the offseason; James, remember, famously opted not to attend the voluntary offseason program because "I may not have graduated from Miami, but I know what voluntary means." That's a paraphrasing of that quote, but the spirit of it defines James. He was a joy to cover. He was intelligent, honest, insightful and entertaining. I liked him very much and was glad he was enshrined into the Hall of Fame. While I knew Manning better than James, I wasn't overly close to him. I covered him at the height of his career – he was NFL Most Valuable Player four times during my 2001-2010 time covering him. Demands on his time therefore made it a little tricky to know him all that well off the field. But I learned a great deal covering Manning, particularly the work ethic and tireless drive – and preparation – necessary to master the position to the level he mastered it. He wasn't the most physically gifted quarterback in NFL history, though he certainly was talented. But if ever a player drove himself and made himself great – and maximized his ability – it was Manning. If ever a player deserved Hall enshrinement, it was him.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

I don't follow college ball much. Are there currently any elite players that Coach Meyer coached?

Zeke Elliott's pretty good. Mike and Maurkice Pouncey weren't bad. Joey Bosa is "OK." Joe Haden and Eric Weddle got by.

WTF from Reality

WTF Edgerrin James is in the HOF. Fred Taylor isn't?

I believe former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor absolutely should be in the Hall of Fame. I also have said many times that I believe Taylor throughout the course of his career was better than James; if I had to choose between one of the other in his prime, I would take Taylor – though James before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in 2001 was really, really special. But though I would choose Taylor, I can't say it's off-the-charts wrong that James was enshrined before Taylor. James had six 1,200-yard rushing seasons in his career and four 1,500-yard seasons. He also led the NFL in rushing twice and was a really important piece of teams that made six playoff appearances in seven seasons. He's a legitimate Hall of Famer.

WJBIII from Yulee, FL

I noticed our Jagz have six – count 'em, six – ex-Gators on the roster. Is that the most of any NFL team? Do you think this helps with ticket sales somewhat? Keep up the good KOAF work!

The Jaguars do have six former University of Florida football players on the roster. This is a lot. I don't know if it's the most Florida players currently on any NFL team. I thought for a moment to look it up. Then I thought, "Hey … WJBIII from YULEE emailed me. That means he has internet access. That means he could look it up if it was important to him." As for ticket sales, I'm sure ex-Florida players on the roster don't hurt that in this area. Florida is, after all, quite popular in Jacksonville. Still, I sense the impact of former Gators players is minimal on ticket sales. Except for maybe one player. Maybe.

Jason from North Pole, AK

I asked last week about C.J. Henderson. Continuing to read tea leaves, it seems something is off with him and this regime. Where there's smoke there's fire or am I worried about nothing?

Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson – the No. 9 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft – missed practice Sunday after returning Saturday. He had spent the first eight days of 2021 Training Camp on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Meyer on Sunday said Henderson's absence Sunday was "personal reasons." He also was asked if it would be "difficult for CJ Henderson to overcome this." "I don't know," Meyer said.

Wangus from Duval

You're my dream finder.

I get this a lot.

Mark C from Archer, FL

Zone, I have been a Jags fan since I moved to Jacksonville in 1998. But I have never bought a jersey – even when I had season tickets in 2007. I think I might get me a Lawrence jersey, though. The kid looks like he is going to be a star. I hope he leads the team for a decade or more. You think it's safe to get a Lawrence jersey, or is the kid not gonna stick around long enough to warrant getting it?

Ring it up.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Is cutdown day a difficult one for coaches and personnel staff and senior writers or is it just part of the business of the NFL that everyone has become hardened to? I would think Urban wants to keep everyone on the team like he did when coaching at the college level?

No one around the NFL likes cutdown day – not even senior writers. While I may be a jaded old man, even jaded old men don't like seeing dreams of young people end. It's also a difficult day for the personnel staff, but my experience is that releasing players is particularly difficult for coaches. It's the coaches who deal with players essentially every day from the start of the offseason program until cut day. It's the coaches who ask players to give maximum effort in a violent, painful game. It's the coaches who connect most with players. As such, I've never been around an NFL head coach who doesn't find the process of releasing players very emotional and difficult. Meyer never has gone through it because there's no cutdown day in college football. He has talked about it already, though. And I imagine he will dread it and find it difficult. I see no reason that wouldn't be the case.

Kent from Corpus Christi, TX

John, I am certain that many of us longtime readers – as well as a large assortment of newer readers –will send well-wishes and thank yous for keeping the ten-year streak of O-Zone columns. Please let me add my congratulations on the milestone and a sincere Thank You for all the insight, introspection and entertainment through the years. It's a lot of work and we do thank you for it. Well done.

No worries.

Steve from Yulee, FL

OK. Let's get to it: Watching practice every day have you seen that one receiver that stands out with that breakaway, Tyreek-Hill kind of speed … you know that one step on the cornerback and he is uncatchable on a flatline? I know you need more than speed. I'm hoping Urb being a stickler for details is staying right on top of precise route running, so tell us great o, what's it look like?

No, I have not seen a Jaguars receiver whose speed stands out in the vein of Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Jamal Agnew has stood out the last couple of days as both a receiver and a punt returner, though. He may not be "Tyreek Hill fast," but he's fast. The Jaguars' receivers as a whole absolutely look like they can play fast this season. Again … perhaps not "Hill fast," but fast. But make no mistake: Meyer absolutely is a stickler for detail. He's a former wide receivers coach and can be seen working with that position before practice and during practice pretty much daily.

Dave from Jacksonville

Zone how are you holding up to the grind of camp? The players legs are looking a little tired. I'm sure you, my friend, are ready for the long haul with all your training.

I'm a-ight.