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O-Zone: Lucid dreaming

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Marc from Oceanway

Our receiving group is talented. I anticipate that trimming the receivers down to six will be T.C. and Company’s most difficult choice. Are there any realistic circumstances where you could see us keeping a seventh receiver?

This is a tough one. Through a little more than a week of Jaguars 2018 Training Camp, the wide receivers are as advertised – which means it’s a deep group with at least six or seven players who look legitimately good. There seems little question there are five locks to make the team at the position: Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and DJ Chark Jr. I believe either Rashad Greene Sr. or Jaydon Mickens will make the team. If Westbrook or Greene win the punt returner job, I think Greene will make the team. If Mickens wins the punt returner job, I think he will make the team. Two players who also have impressed at wide receiver are rookie Allen Lazard and veteran Shane Wynn, each of whom have shown up well at times in camp. That’s eight quality players at the position. Could the Jaguars keep seven on the regular-season roster? Maybe, but it would take nearly complete health at every other position. It’s a long shot. At best.

Shane from Atlanta, GA

I don't see what's so hard about not hitting the enter key until your message ...

Wait for it …

Shane from Atlanta, GA

Disregard...

… good one, Shane.

Red from Duuuuuvalllll

Mighty O, the closer it gets to the start of the season, the more excited I'm getting about the Jags’ defense. This defense is looking like it's going to fulfill the promise that Jax was going to become "Seattle South.” Think this defense has the potential to match the performance of the 2013-2015 Seahawks D? That crew only led the NFL in scoring defense for three years in a row.

I can’t say what the Jaguars’ defense will do in 2019; that’s a long way off in the NFL these days. I can say I think this season’s defense has a chance to be better than last season, when it was second in the NFL in total defense, turnovers, interceptions and sacks – and third in scoring defense. Statistics aside, the Jaguars’ defense in 2017 was as good if not better than any other NFL defense. It can be that again, and it appears capable of being good for an extended period. As good as Seattle’s from 2013-2015? Potentially, though that bar is as high as it gets.

Jon from The Internet

Wait, this isn't a vacuum?

WHAT!!?

Tyler from Jacksonville

So, Donte Moncrief flashed before injury. Lee has looked his normal flashy self. Keelan Cole has looked outstandingly flashy. Dede Westbrook has flashed every practice. DJ Chark Jr. flashed on Jalen. Rashad Greene has flashed since OTAs. Heard good flashes were seen from Jaydon Mickens and Shane Wynn and Allen Lazard, too. Should we be worried about the secondary or about which hotel to book in Atlanta in February?

Receivers flash. It’s what they do. It’s cool when they do it. Coaches like it. Donte Moncrief did flash during the offseason, and though Marqise Lee actually hasn’t flashed a whole lot yet, that’s not a big concern because the team knows what he can do when healthy. Cole has been more consistent than flashy, and Westbrook’s starting to flash consistently enough that he might contribute a lot more this season than originally thought. Chark’s flashes are encouraging because it’s starting to look like he might be adapting to the NFL far more quickly than originally expected. I still like Greene’s chances to make the roster, and Mickens/Wynn/Lazard are longer shots. I wouldn’t worry much about the secondary. That group is making plenty of plays, and it has the look of an elite group. The positive here is this offense doesn’t look remotely overmatched against this defense. Both sides are making plays in stretches. And yeah … that’s one reason to feel a lot better about this team than was the case last August.

Scott from Fernandina Beach, FL

Good morning King: “The early practices of ’18 camp haven’t featured a slew of one-handed catches.” Hopefully that’s because the receivers are running good routes, are where they are supposed to be and Blake is delivering the ball where it’s supposed to be.

Fair point, though the point I was making in the recent O-Zone answer to which you refer was that this offense appears likely to be efficient and patient more than spectacular and flashy – and that’s OK.

Tyler from Jacksonville

You mention not streaming the scrimmage because other teams will be able to watch. What prevents other teams from sending a spy/"fan" into the practice?

Very little.

Zain from Orlando, FL

Zone - is the defensive line potentially deep or actually deep? We had a lot of top-line defensive end talent last year, but depth? Depth that could come in to give top end players a breather or actually take the place of and injured player? Especially at the small end position, I really only see Yannick Ngakoue and an injured Dante Fowler Jr. - after that, it's a few late/undrafted young players with no experience. Here's to hoping Yannick doesn't turn a high ankle ...

This is a little like an Atlanta Braves fan in the 1990s saying, “Well, we feel good about Smoltz and Glavine and Maddux, but what about the fifth starter?” How deep do you expect to go? The Jaguars have four Pro Bowl defensive linemen: Calais Campbell and Ngakoue at end and Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus at tackle. They have a 10-sack player/No. 3 overall selection in Fowler backing up Ngakoue, and a first-round player with a ton of potential in Taven Bryan backing up Campbell. They have a third-round selection from 2017 that they like a lot in Dawuane Smoot at strong-side end, and any one of a number of players – Smoot, Campbell and Bryan – can kick inside to the three-technique tackle. They also have nose tackle Abry Jones, who could start for a lot of teams. No, they don’t have a 10-sack guy as the third-team rush end, but no one else in the NFL has that sort of depth. If you don’t like this defensive line – either its starting unit or its depth – I advise you find another sport to follow. This is as deep as it gets. This is as good as it gets.

Shane from Washington, DC

Just woke up from a post-lunch nap at my desk. Had a dream of DJ Chark, Keenan Cole and Fonte Moncrief at receiver and Corey Grant in the backfield. That’s a lot of speed – like, a lot. Are there any other offenses with as much pure speed? That’s quite a difference in a few short years.

There are a lot of teams with speed at the skill positions. The Jaguars look really fast – certainly fast enough to turn that speed into big plays. Especially this guy Fonte Moncrief. Overlook him at your peril.

Mason from Palm Bay, FL

Ironically, the day you posted about Tom Coughlin's disdain for your ponytail back in the 90s, Pete Prisco was on Barstool's Pardon My Take and he talked about Tom giving you the look when he saw it. Here I was thinking that was just a joke. Is "no pony tails" on TC's preseason rulebook now?

It was no joke. Actually, it might be better defined as a bad joke. And a bad look. As for Coughlin, I think he sort secretly envied the ponytail. Or perhaps not.

Amar from Jacksonville

If Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles can add another season (16 games) of starts to his current streak, he'll be already in the top 20 for quarterback starting streaks at age 26.

Bortles’ toughness, resiliency and durability – all traits that are easy to overlook – all are major reasons the Jaguars believe in him so strongly as their quarterback. There have been times during four NFL seasons he could have left games. There have been times he could have complained or blamed others for things that had gone wrong. That’s not his way. Those are intangible traits for an NFL quarterback, but they’re all traits that matter a lot when assessing Bortles’ worth to this team.

Bruce from Surf City, USA

Taj Mahal? The question is have you seen Clean Gene at the practice field and did he have his clarinet or his surfboard?

I indeed saw longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. “Gene” Frenette at the first practice of Jaguars 2018 Training Camp. It was an emotional moment for both of us as it always is when I see Gene. He shared some thoughts he had had while visiting Tibetan Yogis this summer, and talked of how the benefits of lucid dreaming are too often overlooked in our me-first, materialistic, electronic society – and how we as a people would never find inner peace and meaning without moving back into our souls/inner beings and away from the digital demons. I agreed and tweeted as much.

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