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O-Zone: If you're ever in Raleigh

JACKSONVILLE -- Let's get to it . . . Blake from Jacksonville:
Do you see any comparisons between Johnathan Cyprien and Cecil Shorts III as rookies? I watched Cecil in training camp his rookie year, and unlike most, I still felt strongly about his potential even after he was buried on the depth chart. Could we see an adjustment period where it takes some time for Cyprien to realize his potential and many outsiders lose faith while the insiders still have a good feeling about what he will be as a player?
John: There's not much comparison. Johnathan Cyprien was projected as a first-round selection, and though he played at Florida International, he played against a pretty representative schedule in college. Cecil Shorts III played at Division-III Mount Union, and there usually is an adjustment period for small-school players. Shorts also plays wide receiver, and there often is a significantly steeper learning curve for wide receivers than safeties entering the NFL. You say, "Could we see?" Sure, we could see it, but I don't think it's a huge concern.
Gary from Broken Arrow, OK:
Julian Periwinkle?
John: Juvenile prankster?
Keith from Palatka, FL:
What areas of our team do you think we still could or would need to address for depth/competition?
John: This may be a more general answer than you want, but there aren't really any areas that couldn't or wouldn't be addressed. You could see depth pursued at running back, wide receiver and offensive line, and in addition to the recent transactions on the defensive line, it's possible there will be players who play key roles at outside linebacker and cornerback who aren't yet on the roster. Those last two positions are two that come to mind most prominently, but with the Jaguars' approach this season there isn't a position on the roster that a transaction would be shocking.
Mike from St. Mary's, GA:
There is probably no good answer to this, but I have a question about Cecil Shorts III. After watching Laurent Robinson's career be likely ended by concussions, and after missing time last year due to concussions, it seems like Shorts should put a priority on avoiding concussions somehow. My question is, how?
John: There may not be a good answer, but it's a good question.
Mike from Brunswick, GA:
Whoa, whoa, whoa: Mark Brunell wasn't top-tier? Maybe he didn't do it for a decade, but the man was top-tier for at least a little while. Maybe 1996 was too long ago for Bill to remember, but Brunell LED the league in passing yards 4300 , yards per attempt (7.8), and rushing for a quarterback with almost 400 yards all while getting sacked a league-most 50 times. The man was tied for first with four comeback wins that year leading four game-winning drives and had the third-best completion percentage at 63 percent. This was all way before the emphasis on the no-chuck rule. Later, Brunell got hurt and that lessened him as a mobile quarterback, but he wasn't mediocre all those other years. If we could find another quarterback of Brunell's level or if one of the current guys could elevate to his level, then this franchise would be set.
John: You are a big supporter of Brunell, and he indeed deserves to be remembered by Jaguars fan as the best quarterback the team has had in its first 18 seasons. A lot depends on your definition of top-tier. If it means one of the best in the league – a Pro Bowl-level player – then Brunell no doubt was a top-tier guy. If it means the level of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, then Brunell wasn't there. Absolutely, for a three-or four-year period in the late 1990s Brunell was the best quarterback the Jaguars have had. It was a special time.
Manning from Calgary, AB:
Not to say Matt Scott should or will start, but I'd be curious to know what Bradley's plan for him is. Regardless of his not being drafted, this is a kid many, many people had as a high third-round talent. Do you expect to see him get some time with the ones before training camp and/or preseason?
John: If he deserves it, yes, I do. Whether he does or not remains to be seen.
Chris from Jacksonville:
Your answer to Tommy about running backs included "...should be able to pick up a veteran late in training camp and/or early in the season and get production, so it's not a crisis, just a concern." The Jags showed last year that that works really well.
John: I said, "should," Chris. I never said it was a rock-solid guarantee that it would happen. If the rest of the offense is functioning at a productive level, history shows you should be able to run at least somewhat effectively with a veteran acquired once the season begins. If you're depending on that player to be the majority of your offense, then obviously that's different.
Cameron from Kearney, NE:
When a player (such as Palmer) is hurt during OTAs, etc., who pays for medical care? Players under contract, not under contract? Just curious.
John: In general, the team handles the costs for medical care for players. Palmer was under contract when he was injured in minicamp. He had signed as a college free agent.
Steve from Denver, CO:
"I spoke with Brad Meester and Uche Nwaneri about the blocking scheme, and each still believes the most to a zone-blocking scheme will be a good one ". No comprende amigo!
John: Ah, yes, well, uh . . . actually, that should have read "move" to a zone-blocking scheme. Either way, the point remains the same – the Jaguars' offensive linemen feel good about moving to a more zone-blocking oriented scheme, and they believe it will play to their strengths.
Anthony from Madison, WI:
This maximum-time-allowed thing seems ridiculous to me. It diminishes what hard work can accomplish. I also don't understand why players think they would benefit from it (I'm guessing that a lot of these restrictions were created for the CBA in "favor" of the players). Alright, so there is less chance for injury. Instead of restricting players, however, a precedent should just be set for what's expected versus what's extra, and if a player provides extra, that's their problem if: one, they get injured, or two, they become better players and end up getting a few extra million a year when they reach superstar status. I'm sure it's more complicated, but logically it seems to me that at a base level these restrictions hurt a player's flexibility to move up or down the success ladder.
John: The problem with your theory is parameters must be set. If there were no restrictions, some coach would imply strongly enough that players should be at the facility year-round. If one team did that, others would follow, and pretty soon the entire league would be year-round. This is a competitive league and if you don't set certain times players can't work, the implied pressure to do so would be too much to withstand.
Hunter from Orlando, FL:
So Shorts is getting "open even more consistently than last offseason." With the detritus currently littering the secondary, is that really shocking?
John: I never said I was shocked, Hunter. I just said Shorts looks significantly better than he did last offseason. That's not just getting open. It's about route-running, sureness of hands and the consistency with which he is making plays. But before we jump on this year's secondary too, too much, let's not start enshrining last year's in Canton just yet. Last year's secondary was more experienced and better-known, but I'm not sure just yet there's going to me a dramatic drop off.
Alan from Vernon, CT:
Do you think shorter running backs like MJD are going to have more of a problem with the new rule of hitting with the crown of the helmet?
John: No. I've said since the passing of the new rule that I think backs are going to have far less of a problem with the rule than many believe. Players adapt to rules, and suspect backs will adapt to this one.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
John, I can't go for that.
John: No can do.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
I think the Jags are missing a Vinny Manuwai-type guard to be the road grader for the running backs. Or do the Jags have a guard of his power and experience already?
John: The Jaguars don't really have a Manuwai-type guard, but most teams don't have quite that sort of power at the position. He was special as a run-blocker and keyed a lot of those great Jaguars run offenses with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Uche Nwaneri can play at a high level when healthy, and the Jaguars are hoping Will Rackley develops this season. To say they have a run-blocker such as Manuwai – no, it's not yet fair to say that.
Jimmy from Raleigh, NC:
Hey Oehser, I just got a job at Waffle House today. Do you think this means good things for the season?
John: It does if I'm in Raleigh looking for a free waffle. At least it better.

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