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O-Zone: New crew

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Pradeep from Bangalore, India:
Hey, John, why is Coach Marrone is making Brandon Linder take snaps at left guard? Most people outside Jaguars called Linder the only bright spot in last year's porous offensive line. If players are toggled between two positions every year, doesn't it send a wrong message to the players and confuse them? For me, it appears a lack of vision or trust. We aren't allowing players to master the art for excelling in one position.
John: The Jaguars are working Linder at guard and center for the same reason they're working Luke Bowanko, A.J. Cann, Patrick Omameh and Tyler Shatley at multiple positions along the offensive line during organized team activities: they're trying to ensure they have the best five players starting there next season. As far as sending a wrong message or confusing Linder, I wouldn't worry about that. Marrone on Friday said the positive about Linder is he was one of the best guards in the NFL when he played there and one of the best centers in the NFL when he played there. Linder's a really good player at both positions. A few days working at different positions without pads won't derail that.
C.C. from Duval:
Hey, O! Did Malik Jackson switch to his old number, 97? If that's so, how does it work with all the fans who purchased his No. 90 jersey? Do they get a chance to exchange them for free? My wife asked me and I honestly didn't know the answer. I feel like I should know this answer already.
John: Um …
Micky from Jacksonville:
Stronger position group: Defensive line or wide receiver? Should secondary be in the conversation?
John: Defensive line and wide receiver are close, and I'd give the edge to defensive line because of experience – and because players such as Calais Campbell and Jackson have had multiple seasons playing at a high level whereas none of the Jaguars' wide receivers has had more than one really, really good season. Secondary has the potential to be in the conversation and it could clearly be the best position on the team by midseason. I want to see the group play together before anointing it the best, but it has a chance.
Joe from Hall of Fame City, OH:
What's up, Mr. O? DM said it best. We are here to play WINNING FOOTBALL!!!!! It's about time someone said it. I'm really excited about this year. Can't you tell with the whole capital letters and exclamation point thing!!
John: YES!!!
Rob from Palm Bay, FL:
Big O, why is it so hard for the majority of this fan base to realize that A, Brandon Albert is a professional and seeking to renegotiate his contract so he is obviously going to show up in shape and ready to go; otherwise he has no validation for a better contract; B, the NFL is a business and has a Player's Association; players don't always necessarily hold out because THEY want to be paid more, but also to raise the benchmark of salary for the entire POSITION; C, at this point, everything is VOLUNTARY; this man is hated for no reason before he even has played a down of football for the team.
John: I can't honestly say Albert is doing what he's doing for the good of the entire players' association. I can say that a NFL player who opts not to attend voluntary activities because he wants a new contract is well within his rights. Is Albert hated by Jaguars fans? I don't know about that. Fans are annoyed now. If he attends all mandatory activities and plays well at left tackle next season, that feeling will change in a hurry.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
To be fair, I said Dante Fowler Jr. "at this point" is a bust. That doesn't mean he is cemented as a bust in my mind. If he improves and eliminates bone-headed plays, he can be a superstar. But as far as his sack numbers last season ... even a blind squirrel can find a nut. His sacks were three on plays that the quarterback was in the pocket for at least 20 seconds (anyone in the NFL can get a coverage sack if given that long to run around) and his one lone good sack is my point of even a blind squirrel can find a nut. Don't get me wrong. I really, really like Fowler and want him to be a cornerstone of our defense, but right now he simply isn't there and it's a big disappointment.
John: Fowler struggled for sacks in his first NFL season on the field. Many, many, many pass rushers have struggled similarly in their first NFL seasons. If Fowler doesn't improve, he's a disappointment. Right now, he's a pretty typical young player.
Chris from Jacksonville:
What time do the players have practice? Just curious.
John: OTA practices begin at 11 a.m. and are closed to the public.
Cliff from Las Vegas, NV:
I get that the Jaguars see Marqise Lee as an outside receiver. However, shouldn't the goal be to have the best football players on the field? Over the last ten years, touchdowns from the slot have doubled, and we are watching outside guys move in like Doug Baldwin, Larry Fitzgerald – and even Calvin Johnson did it. I like the speedy little guys like Greene and Westbrook, but I gladly take Lee over them.
John: Lee has the skill set to play the slot, but I see him better suited to the outside. He has smooth, sleek speed and athleticism and the ability to separate on the outside. He could do either inside or outside, but I'd like to see what Lee can do for a full season healthy starting predominantly on the outside before I move him inside.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
Would you rather have a quarterback who experiences mental lapses with decisions and pocket presence, but has superb arm talent (strength, accuracy, touch) or someone with superb mental acuity and average arm talent?
John: The latter – and it's not close.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
I understand the logic to not taking chances with injuries in May, June, or any time of year. It's how the Jags have done things for the last several years. My point is we aren't good enough to do that yet and expect to improve six or seven games this year. We only take big steps forward with a lot more grit and yes, maybe even taking some risks with minor injuries not getting worse. It's difficult to believe that four out of the five starters in our nickel secondary all had significant injuries to start OTAs. My optimism is well in check knowing we cannot catch and pass the other three teams in our division if we aren't fully committed right now and every day going forward. Maybe we can still improve three games and call it a move in the right direction. Agreed?
John: I'm sorry you find the Jaguars' injury situation difficult to believe, but the players in the secondary are here for the offseason program; they're just not practicing. I can't for the life of me figure why they would be here at the facility, meeting and going through all other activities and not practicing if there wasn't legitimate reason they weren't practicing. But sure … maybe they're all collectively lying. As for your expectations for the season, I have no idea what the Jaguars' record will be. I do know that if they don't improve by more than three games, it won't be because Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church missed some non-padded practices in May and June.
Jeff from Orange, CA:
Are there any particular signs we should look for from Blake Bortles in preseason games that would indicate progress, or do we basically need to wait for the regular season? As I remember it, Bortles had a pretty solid showing in last year's preseason that had many believing he was going to take the next step.
John: Bortles in a no-win situation in preseason. If he looks bad, that will be a bad sign. If he looks good, it honestly won't matter much until the regular season. It all about what happens in the regular season for Bortles. That's all that matters.
Otto from Ponte Vedra, FL:
John, I'm still somewhat skeptical about our O line. I am getting the impression the powers that be seem to feel we are somewhat set. I'm looking at the same crew from last year. It was an obvious mistake not to go after Osemele or Mack last year. Could have had Feeney this year in draft. What about Mangold on a one-year deal? I do trust in TC. We shall see.
John: You're looking at a different crew on the offensive line than I see. I see Brandon Albert, Cam Robinson, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell as the likely starters. Albert and Robinson did not start for the Jaguars last season, so that's a 40 percent turnover. That's not a 100 percent overhaul, but it is by no means the "same old crew."

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