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O-Zone: Hating and dreading

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Nate from Golden, CO:
Hey, John! Ace Sanders getting cut doesn't surprise me, but I find the timing of it kind of peculiar. What's the rationale here?
John: Ace Sanders, a fourth-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2013 NFL Draft, indeed was released Friday afternoon. As training camps draw near, you sometimes see teams release players with little chance to make the roster in an effort to allow them to sign with another team. The Jaguars signed Tandon Doss last offseason as a punt returner and Bryan Walters to compete for the role this offseason. Sanders also had been passed on the depth chart at wide receiver by many young players including Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. While he had performed well in the offseason program, there's enough of a crowd at each of his positions that the decision was made to release him. One positive here is Sanders seemed in a very good place mentally during the offseason program. He appeared to know he wasn't guaranteed a roster spot and seemed to be on the right track of continuing to move on from his four-game suspension at the beginning of last season. I hope I'm reading that right. Sanders always was professional in my dealings with him even in some difficult times. I liked him. Here's wishing him the best.
Michael K from Jackson de Ville:
O-Man, might be a bit of stretch for a sports movie, but "Raging Bull" has gotta be up there right? Doesn't get much grittier than that.
John: It's not a stretch and it doesn't get much grittier than that. Or better, for that matter.
Sunil from Jacksonville:
Hey, O! Making the Packers the London game (in 2016) would be a punch to the gut of many long-time Jags season-ticket holders. Part of the experience of being a season-ticket holder is to see superstars play in your hometown stadium. We lost the Cowboys game to London in 2014 and now the Packers (Aaron Rodgers) in 2016? We have suffered with an inferior on-field product for most of this century and then we lose marquee home games to London, too? Take the Vikings game ... not the Pack. Please!
John: I always seem to alienate some people with my opinion on this, but here goes: I just don't relate well to the idea of fans buying tickets for – or getting upset about – the Jaguars' home opponents. When I was a kid and a diehard Redskins fan, it just didn't matter to me who they were playing. The juices flowed when they played the Dallas Cowboys, particularly in the Roger Staubach era, but I certainly never got worked up to see the stars on the other team. I wasn't a season-ticket holder, of course, but I can't imagine I would have felt much differently had I been going to the games and sitting in the stands. I long ago learned I am in the minority on this, but I always am struck by the disconnect. As far as the Packers-Jaguars game potentially being in London in 2016, it's important to note that this is not remotely official yet. All of the "news" stories you are reading are based on a speculative half-sentence written by Jaguars beat reporter Ryan O'Halloran in last Sunday's Florida Times-Union. I happen to agree with O'Halloran that the Packers are a likely choice for the 2016 London opponent, but let's just wait a while – or at least until it's announced officially – before we lose our collective cool over the issue.
Jax G-Man from Jacksonville:
Love the O-Zone - read it every day. What is "the app" you speak of? What does it do? Do I need it? Do I want it? Should I want it? Never mind, too much trouble.
John: How can you not know what an app does? It's one of those things that comes in a basket with your beer before the meal … never mind: just ask Shadrick. Apps are sort of his thing.
Andrew from Jacksonville:
Why is Michael Bennett flying under the radar? From what I saw, he has huge potential – like another Marks prototype.
John: I don't know if Bennett is under, over or somewhere else on the radar. He was written about a lot around the draft – as should have been the case. With many analysts projecting him as a second- or third-round selection, his selection by the Jaguars in the sixth round made him the definition of a draft-day steal. Since then, he hasn't been discussed too much because there's not a whole lot more to say right now. He's a defensive tackle whose effectiveness will be determined by how well he can penetrate and pass rush against NFL offensive linemen. There won't be much to see on that front until training camp – or actually, until the preseason.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Isn't it frustrating to see the same "Blake had a bad rookie season so he'll be bad this year" over and over? From media and fans alike. I suspect Blake will show marked improvement this year, both from his own efforts and the upgrades around him. And history shows that many quarterbacks who had bad-to-terrible rookie years ended up being pretty decent quarterbacks. One need only look at first-year statistics for quarterbacks like Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning, Fran Tarkenton, or Steve Young to see that there is always hope.
John: I suppose it could be frustrating if it wasn't so expected – and if it hadn't been going on since the end of last season. Bortles did struggle last season and his statistics were among the league's worst. Anyone who watched the Jaguars and anyone who looks at statistics from last season can see that. The easy thing at that point is to predict he will continue to struggle. The Jaguars and many other people who look a bit deeper than that see Bortles' potential. They also see legitimate reasons Bortles struggled last season and legitimate reasons he can improve. He still has to do it on the field, and while there's no guarantee that will happen, he has done a lot in the offseason to give himself the best chance.
Matt from Jacksonville:
O-man, I'm not sure the exact number but I recall quite a few special-teams blocking gaffes that resulted in block punts and extra points. Haven't heard much about it, but during the season us fans were furious. What has been addressed and in your opinion is the problem fixed?
John: The Jaguars' coaches and players weren't any happier with the situation than the fans. As far as addressing the issue, the addition of bigger, more-physical offensive linemen – and adding size and bulk to the ones already here – sure won't hurt.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
Pertaining to the Colvin-playing-nickel discussion, go out and listen to the PFF podcast on the league's best corners. They describe how some of the best corners play in the slot because that wide receiver can break inside or outside and it's a harder position to defend. When opposing teams take their slot wide receiver off the field, those corners bump outside. No reason Colvin can't do exactly this. You agree?
John: Yes.
Austin from Jacksonville:
Seems as though we are beginning to have extraordinary competition at Corner. Between McCray, Gratz, and Colvin who do you see being our CB1 and CB2?
John: I'd say Davon House and Demetrius McCray, with Colvin playing a major role as a nickel and making a strong push for one of the outside positions.
Mac from Neptune Beach, FL:
My question is this: with Austin Pasztor moving from tackle to guard, who is he technically behind? I feel like it would take a lot to beat out Linder. So then does he change both positions AND sides to back up Beadles?
John: Pasztor will enter training camp as a reserve guard. For right now, it's probably more accurate to say he is "behind" Brandon Linder at right guard, but the likely best-case scenario for Pasztor is to play well enough that the Jaguars keep him as a swing player who can play both guard and tackle positions. That sort of versatility is valuable.
Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
Can we keep the streak going until the Jags win the Super Bowl? If you keep typin', I'll keep readin'.
John: There are no plans to end the streak, and I can assure you it won't end for anything less than a pretty significant reason. For now, just take it one day at a time.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
I just drove nine straight hours in the same car as my mother-in-law. What did you do to get ready for training camp? (Please don't say jogging; we are talking mental toughness here.)
John: If you've ever seen me jog – or if you were inside my head to know the awful, hate-filled agony with which I hate and dread every step – you might think my version of jogging took a little more mental toughness than you currently believe.

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