JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tommy from Jacksonville:
I'm intrigued by this Opportunity Period. I understand the idea behind it in giving an opportunity to players. Can you explain what it looks like, and how the players get that opportunity, a little more for those of us who haven't seen it?
John: It's actually probably simpler than it sounds. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley wanted to make sure young players who might not be working extensively with the first- or second-team had a … wait for it … "opportunity" to get quality repetitions in practice. The idea stemmed from conversations the team was having about how to get rookie quarterback Blake Bortles enough quality reps in practice to develop. The Jaguars want to get Bortles extra repetitions; Bradley said the more he thought about it, the more he figured, "Why not get a lot of young guys extra quality reps?" As far as how the Opportunity Period really looks, it's very much like a normal practice period: in OTAs, it's run under OTA rules; in training camp, contact and pads will be permitted. Maybe the way it will look most different is veteran, front-line players will crowd around and encouraging the reserves during the drills. There's sometimes not a whole lot of opportunity for that to happen in a "normal" practice.
Paul from Jacksonville:
No question, just a request to let coach Yarno know we're pulling for him and his family.
John: We have gotten many, many such emails since the news Thursday that Jaguars offensive line coach George Yarno has been diagnosed with cancer. We won't run them all because to do so would mean answering nothing else, but yes: the fan base is pulling for Yarno. No doubt.
Nick from Jacksonville:
How do you see Dave Caldwell addressing Cecil Shorts' contract this year? Do you think we will see this year as a prove-it year for him, or could we see a surprise cap-friendly extension in the middle of the season?
John: Caldwell has said in recent weeks that the Jaguars want Shorts here long-term and that the sides have talked about a long-term contract. This sort of statement understandably starts rounds of stories and questions about just what it means and what sort of contract Shorts might sign. The fact that the sides are talking probably means it won't be a prove-it year or a surprise extension. Probably it would be No. 2 receiver-type money for a four- or five-year deal. You need three quality receivers and Shorts is the kind of player teams want around – reliable, hard-working, productive, exemplary – so I doubt this is contentious.
Armand from Jacksonville:
Which position battle most intrigues you in training camp this year?
John: There are three, and they're the same three most are watching – right guard, Leo and fifth receiver. Those were the ones discussed in Week One of OTAs for a reason. Rookie Brandon Linder would appear to have a chance to start at right guard, but that's a competition with veteran Jacques McClendon. At Leo, Chris Clemons, Jason Babin, Andre Branch, Ryan Davis and Chris Smith figure to be battling for three or maybe four spots. Then there's receiver, where Mike Brown and Tandon Doss lead a group fighting for either one of two spots outside the top four. All three of those have a chance to be storylines deep into training camp.
Michael from Jacksonville:
Do you seriously think "Hard Knocks" would choose the Jaguars? I think you have a better chance of seeing God today.
John: I'm not sure what the chances are of the second part of your question happening; pretty slim – but, "Prepare for Anything," I say. As for the chances of Hard Knocks choosing the Jaguars, I don't think they're slim at all. A lot of teams don't want to do it, and if you're looking for entertaining viewing, there are worse places to look than this franchise and a head coach who's a national star waiting to happen.
Mike from White Plains, GA:
Why can't reporters just speak into a pool mic or something when asking questions at a press conference? It's just a minor thing to ask. I know it doesn't help them any, but can't they do it for the fans/viewers?
John: You answered your own question as sort of an aside. "I know it doesn't help them any." Reporters are working press conferences to gather their own information. They are sometimes rushing in and out of the locker room or – when interviews are being conducted after practice – to various places on the practice field. They're job is to work for their publications and/or news outlets; not to work for jaguars.com. Had another news outlet or team outlet asked me while working for a newspaper to ask questions into a microphone for their benefit I would have laughed and certainly wouldn't often have done it. I'm admittedly unlikable enough that this could be perceived as merely Ozone being Ozone, but it's just not something that's done.
Justin from Jacksonville:
Clemons? Clemons? Where are thou Clemons?
John: This is a story because there must be stories year-round in the NFL these days, but remember: OTAs are "VOLUNTARY" – and, as former Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James once said when working out in the offseason in Miami rather than Indianapolis, "I only went to college for two-and-a-half years, but I think I know the meaning of the word voluntary." Clemons doesn't have to be in Jacksonville. He's not doing anything wrong by not being in Jacksonville. He's a veteran and Bradley said this week he's confident that Clemons will report in-shape and prepared. Now, that being said, Bradley would like him in Jacksonville and to hear Bradley talk late this past week, he believeth Clemons shalt be here on Monday.
Jeremy from Section 433:
WOW … $2 billion for the 'other' NBA team in LA. Does this raise the value of an NFL team in LA? I admit I do not see a path currently to make it happen, only a few billion reasons that it could.
John: The value of the Clippers doesn't hurt the value of a potential NFL team, but money has never been a gray area in the NFL's Los Angeles dilemma. A franchise there obviously would have astronomical value, but the logistics and process of making it work have proven difficult obstacles for two decades.
Craig from Holly Springs, NC:
Tell John from Elizabeth City the Jags have plenty of loyal fans. Try not to listen to ESPN too much. We have ranked 21/32 in attendance since 2008. Our attendance problem isn't as bad as perceived by national media. Second, teams are relocated for outdated stadium issues such as San Diego or Oakland. Khan is doing one heck of a job to make sure our stadium is getting state of the art facilities. Relax people, the Jags are not going anywhere.
John: Don't be too hard on John. Some people are worriers, and there's nothing wrong with that, but the points you make … well, they're right.
Mike from Section 238:
The only way to avoid injury anxiety is to build a deeper team. We're getting there as fast as responsibly we can without making silly investments. This isn't baseball where we can just buy All Pros at every position and their backups in one offseason.
John: True that, and in reality, every NFL team and every NFL fan base has injury anxiety. Outside of perhaps the quarterback position, injuries are often the biggest difference in good, playoff teams and great, Super Bowl contenders. Once you get to a certain level – and the Jaguars are still working toward this level – an NFL season is very much about attrition and you often see two or three very good teams fall by the wayside each season because of injuries. It's sometimes not discussed much because coaches and teams try to not use injuries as an excuse, but it's as real a factor as there is.
JagFan from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Are Red Bryant and Chris Clemons really considered starters going in to camp? If so, why? Is it because they played for Seattle? I think they're both good additions to the defense but neither appears better than the starters we already have.
John: Time will tell. Right now, Bryant and Clemons appear to have the edge to start, reason being that Bryant brings the added size the Jaguars want and Clemons is historically a double-digit sack player. All of that is on paper heading into camp. The competition will play out as it plays out.
Ed from Danvers, MA:
Tony Boselli is a big, tough, guy. Aren't you worried that he might either come knocking at your door or have his wife call Turner Pest Control?
John: Angi Boselli is a class person and always has been.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
"His name is Oehser and he dances on the sand. Just like that river twisting through a dusty land. And when he shines he really shows you all he can. Oh Oehser, Oehser dance across the Rio Grande". So this is stuck in my head now.... Thanks! #nightmares
John: Darken the city, night is a wire. Steam in the subway, earth is afire.
O-Zone: His name is ...?
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tommy from Jacksonville: