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O-Zone: Not good at all

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Fred from SW of Mayport

The name Benjie Franklin has been popping up repeatedly in the camp reports. Does this reflect consistency or a knack for the occasional noteworthy play? I love seeing an undrafted rookie seemingly come from nowhere to become a contributor. Do you foresee this becoming one of those unexpected pleasant surprises?

Franklin, a cornerback from Tarleton State who signed with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent shortly after the 2022 NFL Draft, indeed has been mentioned frequently in '22 camp reports. And he very definitely has shown a knack for being around the ball. Making high-profile plays isn't the only way for a young "unknown" player to get noticed by a coaching staff. And making a few training-camp interceptions doesn't guarantee an undrafted defensive back a roster spot – just as leading the team in receiving yards doesn't ensure an undrafted wide receiver a place on the team. But making plays on the ball gets one noticed. When players keep doing it, particularly with the frequency Franklin has done it, they make themselves much harder to release.

Don from Marshall, NC

Do you get a sense of Mike Caldwell becoming a head coach in the future? The way the players respond and how he handles himself looks like he has a bright future. He better not build a great defense and get snatched out of here. That sounds selfish. Let's build a great defense. That sounds better. Go Jaguars!

If the Jaguars succeed and the defense is good, I expect Caldwell will get such an opportunity. That's what you want as a franchise. Good teams with great quarterbacks and quality head coaches can withstand changes at the coordinator level.

John from Jacksonville

Hi KOAGF - Why do I get so nervous during training camp and preseason? The thought of key players getting injured even before we start the regular season brings on stress for a fan like me.

You get nervous because the NFL is a violent, physical game in which massive human beings often collide at high speeds. That can lead to injuries even when a team is incredibly cautious, and human being can be injured even when they're not colliding at high speed. But you can't worry about it. Players get hurt. It's going to happen. You just have to hope they're manageable and they don't ransack particular positions, particularly quarterback.

Mike from Florahome

Good Day, KOAF! I just read where you thought Ryquell Armstead was the fourth back and is on the bubble. John, he looked pretty damned good when he played so my question is: With James Robinson out until probably November, don't you think he's a safe bet to make the team?

You're referencing a recent O-Zone question/answer in which I pontificated (as I'm wont to do) that Armstead might be a "bubble" guy. First, I don't know that Jaguars running back James Robinson is "out until probably November." Second, I used Armstead as an example of this situation as much as anything – and I do expect he will be around in some capacity. Armstead in fact illustrates why the whole "bubble" idea often isn't as dramatic as observers sometimes believe. With teams now able to have 16 practice-squad players with six of those players able to be veterans of any amount of experience, the practice squad feels far more like an extension of the roster these days. That means "bubble guys" often are really guys who won't make as much as "roster guys," but will still essentially be on the team. So, yeah … I do expect Armstead to be on the team. And quite a few "bubble guys," too.

Chris from Mandarin

Was it perhaps a little premature for the Jaguars to cut Matthew Wright? He struggled in his first couple of games of 2021, but ended up settling in kind of nicely and was accurate for the majority of the year.

Former Jaguars kicker Matthew Wright is currently a free agent and therefore eligible to sign with any NFL team.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Kicker seems to be a major issue that isn't spoken enough about. Hope this isn't the reason we lose games this year.


Brian from San Diego, CA

I just rewatched John Henderson getting slapped in the face and it got me wondering if there was anyone on our defense now that was as intimidating as big John!

The famous video of former Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson getting slapped in the face before a game is great theatre and still viral-video worthy, but it was his ability on the field that made him intimidating. Henderson, along with Marcus Stroud, were critical members of one of the better defenses in Jaguars history. The Indianapolis Colts teams I covered during the first decade of the 2000s worried about two things beyond all else when they played the Jaguars – running back Fred Taylor and the interior line of Stroud/Henderson. No current Jaguars defensive player has yet done enough to be compared to Henderson.

Richard from Duval

So I was looking at Super Bowl odds and was surprised to not see the Jaguars at the bottom of the list. The team with the worst odds to make the Super Bowl are the Houston Texans with the Atlanta Falcons right above them. So … hey, here's one for not being dead last in odds to make the Super Bowl this season.

Here's to it, I suppose.

Mike from Lakeland (via Jacksonville)

Where is Evan Engram going to fit in with the offense? He has an outsiders' reputation of missed opportunities and drops. Is this holding true from what you have seen in camp?

Engram, a first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, is expected to be the top "move" tight end in the Jaguars' offense after signing as an unrestricted free agent in March. He has had a couple of drops in recent days. Head Coach Doug Pederson on Sunday said he wasn't worried about it and said of a drop by Engram Saturday: "He will make that next time."

Matthew from Townsville, Tropical Australia

Hi, O. It seems we now have two players prone to regular drops. I'm wondering how sophisticated the approach is to Engram and wide receiver Laviska Shenault's difficulties in catching the ball. My own ponderings tell me it could be about problems with depth perception (3D vision), coordination, concentration, anxiety, and perhaps there's more. The good news is that all of these things can be addressed if you know that's the issue - but are the coaching and medical staff actually evaluating things with this depth and precision? Or are they just getting them to catch lots of balls?

All due respect to your own ponderings, the Jaguars do work with receivers and tight ends in the area of drops. I'm not qui-i-i-i-i-ite ready to call Engram "prone to drops" after a few drops in a couple of training camp practice. Perhaps he is. Perhaps this will be a thing. It's just a bit early.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, what does Pederson mean by "sneaky" tight-end?

Pederson was discussing Jaguars tight end Dan Arnold when he said this. He meant Arnold is more athletic than he initially appears.

Nathan from Utah, US

_Zone, I was watching Jaguars film today. I saw Cam Robinson lay an egg one-on-one on that last drive of the 2017 AFC Championship game. That, I feel, kept this team out of the Super Bowl. He was, in my opinion, the weakest link in the line. Zone, has there been improvement in this with Cam? Because I'm starting to think that with a "HEALTHY!" O-line that this team can be better than its 2017 version so long as their plays can develop. What say you?        _

Robinson was a rookie starting at left tackle in the game you cite. If memory serves, he also may have been playing with some sort of injury sustained in that game. Either way … yes, there has been improvement with Robinson. The Jaguars believe he is an ascending player who improved last season and who should continue to improve. As for this team being better than the 2017 Jaguars, I'm not remotely ready to go there yet. Whatever happened after that season, a lot of things went right at one time for that season to happen – mainly a lot of really good players, particularly on defense, playing at high levels at the same time. I think the Jaguars are moving in the right direction. I don't know that they're ready to come within a play or two of a Super Bowl just yet.

Fred from Naples, FL

Sunday was the first day of pads for the Jaguars and the first game is a mere five days away and we are posting comments from Gator fans who wish to question the quality of an FSU degree. C'mon John … you're better than that!

No, I'm not.