O-Zone: No can do

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it ….

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

What are the odds that both Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Fournette show up for minicamp? Neither one of these guys could be bothered to make it so far.

I would be shocked if attendance at Jaguars 2019 mandatory minicamp this week is an issue, with the reason for that being the word “mandatory.” Players get fined for missing mandatory offseason work – and for that reason, I would expect all Jaguars players whose absences have caused handwringing, nervous nights and Twitter angst for Jaguars fans in recent weeks – cornerback Jalen Ramsey, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and running back Leonard Fournette chief among them – to attend. The work those players have missed this offseason has been voluntary, and there has been no indication they won’t show up for mandatory work this week. The only Jaguars player I expect to not attend this week is linebacker Telvin Smith, who announced early this offseason he didn’t plan to play this season but remains on the roster. His teammates haven’t given up on him playing in 2019, but it seems doubtful he will – and I don’t remotely expect him to attend this week. The rest of the players almost certainly will be here, after which we can thankfully – hopefully – put this topic to rest.

Steve from Cancun in August                             

Where is a good spot to watch Jags games here on the fun side of Trump's wall?

Stop bragging. It’s a bad look.

Seamus from Vancouver, BC

This talk about going from 16 to 18 games for the regular season was a big topic shortly after the last CBA, went quiet for the last few years, and now seems to be back leading into the next CBA talks. Can the NFL make the season change unilaterally or must that be collectively bargained?

It essentially must be collectively bargained because additional games mean additional revenue, and the NFL Players Association and NFL owners would need to negotiate how the two additional games’ worth of revenue would be treated regarding compensation. That doesn’t mean the league can only expand the schedule when negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. The league theoretically could expand the schedule in any year and negotiate with players to make it work separate of CBA talks. But the topic always gets discussed as new CBA talks heighten because many believe moving to 18 games is something owners want – and that therefore players could use it to bargain for something they want.

Paul from Orlando, FL

What’s the difference between an OTA and a minicamp?

The only difference between OTAs and this week’s minicamp is that teams can make minicamp practices mandatory – and that players therefore can be fined for not participating. Other than that, the rules for the practices are the same – that all work is non-padded and non-contact. So, realistically the primary difference that fans will see this week is that Ramsey will attend and therefore be interviewed. Aside from that, it’s just another three days of players running around in June.

Harry from Port Orange, FL

How do you live with yourself?

It’s not easy.

Harry from Port Orange, FL

How does Shadrick live with himself?

It’s really not easy.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

While I don’t pretend to know how NFL players think about things, I can imagine this regarding a possible 18-game season: a 21-year-old player might think, “Yeah, two more games, more time in the limelight, more money.” A 31-year-old player might think “No way, I’m already worn out after 16 games, and more games just raises the risk of a career-ending injury.” Realistic?

You’re in the right ballpark – though the 21-year-old’s probably thinking more about the money than the limelight. I’ve never sensed much disagreement within the players’ union on this topic, though. The union leaders and spokespeople are typically veteran players with a firm grasp of what issues matter to players. They therefore place high value on player safety and longevity – and therefore generally lean in against expanding the schedule to 18 games.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Are there so few quarterbacks with NFL arms that a team has to draft a quarterback that does not have all the necessary tools to play in the NFL?

There are so few people on the planet with the entire quarterback package of arm strength, size, decision-making, pocket presence, leadership, etc., that most quarterbacks drafted into the NFL lack something. Perfect quarterbacks are rare. So, teams keep trying until they get it right. As for the specifics of your question, I’m assuming you’re referencing the Jaguars selecting Gardner Minshew this offseason. Remember: The Jaguars selected Minshew in Round 6, which is essentially the perfect place to draft imperfect prospects. No player selected so late is a guaranteed lock. The Jaguars saw some traits in Minshew they liked. They didn’t see a perfect player, but that’s OK. They didn’t spend a lot of draft capital obtaining him.

Steven from Duval

What’s the scoop on Yannick’s contract? Are they negotiating? Have you heard what he is asking for? I was thinking it would be better to give him a little more guaranteed and maybe less overall.

I don’t know that there’s a current “scoop” of Ngakoue’s contract because as of several weeks ago – when OTAs began – Ngakoue didn’t sound as if there had been any serious discussions between his representation and the team. It seems the negotiation is where many NFL negotiations stay for a while – that both sides know the players wants a top-of-the-market contract and it will be up to the team to decide if it wants to pay somewhere in that range. When the team decides that, negotiations likely will begin. As for your last sentence, my sense is this won’t be a matter of “a little more guaranteed” and a “little less” of anything getting it done. I would imagine Ngakoue is going to want a lot – something in the range of the NFL’s recently highly-paid pass rushers. That means he likely wants in the $20 million-per-year range. The Jaguars must decide if that’s palpable and my sense is it may take a while before they get there – if they get there.

CD from Fleming Island, FL

In a recent question about Minshew's arm strength, you seemed to imply that it could be an issue. I know we knew that going into OTAs, but after seeing him, was it something that was notably subpar and/or leave you concerned? Or was it about as expected and it's still something to watch during camp?

I wasn’t implying anything about Minshew. I was simply writing what is fact – that the sixth-round selection from Washington State doesn’t have an arm that’s as strong as many NFL quarterbacks. Minshew has enough other strong quarterbacking traits – field vision, accuracy, decision-making, pocket poise – that if he did have a strong arm and prototypical height he would have been drafted far earlier. He’s not going to get taller and it’s unlikely his arm will get much stronger. So yes … his arm strength is noticeable, and it will be a topic until he shows in live situations he is good enough to overcome it. It will absolutely be something to watch during training camp.

Big Moon from Murrieta Valley High

Danger Zone, I knew you were a Sterling man. Was it Gill from Scottsdale? No, it was Scott from Gilbert. And none of that question nor response will be relevant once the cream rises to the top in the quarterback battle and Minshew gets the proverbial nod. What say you, turtle neck of a slightly darker black? Will Gardner, don't call me Manning nor Marino, Minshew start for the Jaguars this year?

I never know what’s going on, but it seems you’re asking if Minshew will start at quarterback for the Jaguars. Why would you ask that?

Nick from Palatka, FL

Z: I love it when you kick the hornet's nest. I wish you'd do it more often.

I never know what’s going on.

Marc from the Southside

Any off-radar receivers or defensive backs showing notable "flashes" to you at this way-too-early stage?

Wide receiver Tyre Brady, an undrafted rookie free agent from Marshall, has flashed a couple of times; he has impressive size at 6-feet-3, 211 pounds. Undrafted wide receiver Dredrick Snelson from Central Florida also has looked good at times. And don’t rule out undrafted wide receiver Michael Walker from Boston College making the roster; he has skills and a resume as a returner. I haven’t noticed the undrafted rookie defensive backs as much, though second-year veteran cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Tre Herndon – both of whom made the Jaguars as undrafted rookie free agents last season – again appear to be practicing well.

Sean from Jacksonville

I like those bucket hats the coaching staff wear at practice. Can you help me find a giant size for my larger-than-normal cranium? Stay cool, O-breeze.

No, I won’t do that.

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