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O-Zone: One last time

JACKSONVILLE – Day One of Jaguars 2018 Training Camp. Here. We. Go.

Let’s get to it …

Jeff from Orange, CA

How do you think Todd Gurley's new contract impacts how the Jaguars will pursue Leonard Fournette longer term, assuming he continues to perform well? And if you had to guess today, does he play for this team for more than five or six years given the shorter careers of running backs?

The contract extension signed by Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley early this week has little to do with Fournette… yet. Gurley has proven himself to be one of the league’s elite players while Fournette has played one season. If Fournette emerges as a Most Valuable Player candidate this season or next, then perhaps Gurley’s contract could be used as the beginning of a framework for a deal for Fournette. But remember: the Jaguars by NFL rule can’t negotiate with Fournette until following the 2019 season – i.e., after his third NFL season. We’re a long way from that. As for how long Fournette will be with the Jaguars, I always would begin my prediction for how long a running back will be with his original NFL team at around five or six years. Given the expected career length for the position, anything much beyond that is a long stint with one team.

Ernest from Round Here

First, I say Yeeee ... then I say Ha … it’s finally here! Yeeee ha.

Yeee ha.

Rick from Greenville, SC

The "Warrick Dunn game" was the most unbelievable force-of-nature atmosphere until ... well ... you know ... Warrick Dunn happened. Anyways. Do you see similarities between the Jaguars’ 2016 defense and their 2017 offense? Last year's offense was rookies flashing and now supplemented with big free agents. Just like the 2016 defense, the offense was sneaky good. Big leap?

You’re right about the atmosphere at Florida Field during the 1993 Florida-Florida State “Warrick Dunn” game. The moments just before the deciding play were the loudest I ever have heard a stadium, with the RCA Dome during the second half of the AFC Championship Game following the 2006 season a close second. As far as your theory, I tend to agree that the Jaguars could have a big season offensively this season. One reason is the one you cite – that there are a lot of players with a chance to grow up and improve in a hurry. Another reason is one that gets overlooked by many observers – that the Jaguars were the sixth-ranked offense in the NFL in total yards and sixth in total points last season. This was not remotely a bad offense last season, and in fact it was quite the opposite. Given the offseason additions – and given another year for current player to grow in offensive coordinator Nate Hackett’s system – there’s little reason to think it won’t improve on what was already very good.

Dave from Duval

Dear O Zone,

Dave?

Dave from Duval

Dear Johnny O, I hate this new format! Thanks! I’ve noticed in the last several weeks you have failed to mention Taven Bryan’s name when discussing defensive end depth. Now that Fowler is out at least one game and Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone specifically mentioned working Bryan at end in organized team activities and minicamp, why the snub? Anticipating a move on defensive tackle Marcell Dareus requiring Bryan being a full-time three technique, or just zoning out due to Rat Dog nipping at your toes?

(Whew) I haven’t mentioned Bryan in the same discussion as Fowler because Fowler plays rush end whereas Bryan plays the strong-side end position played by Calais Campbell. Within the context of all the Jaguars’ defensive ends, Bryan certainly qualifies as depth. But he really wouldn’t be depth in the role played by Fowler. And I’m not anticipating a roster move involving Dareus.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Another Dead Zone gone. That wasn't so bad was it?

It was a-ight.

Scott from Jacksonville

I was initially very excited about the early part of the schedule. Three straight home games where opponents will have to deal with the September heat? Awesome! Then I realized that we are the only team that will have to deal with three straight brutally hot September games. Hopefully the guys can push through without wilting, but it's going to be tough.

There’s no such thing as an easy NFL schedule.

Scott from Jacksonville

Yes, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has yet to show that he can bring the team from behind to win in the fourth quarter, but he has been fantastic at the end of the first half. I know the pressure is dialed up a couple of notches late in the fourth, but if he could manage to capture the poise he has displayed at the end of halves and use it at the end of games, he could become special.

Bortles improved in pressure situations, and made far more clutch plays last season than in any previous season of his career. I see little reason he won’t be able to make clutch plays this season given more opportunities.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Without Owner Shad Khan this team would have been long gone. Someday there will be streets named after him. The one game the Jaguars play in London is the thing financially keeping the team here. In the future I expect one of their road games to be played in London. After all Shad Khan has done for this city you’ve got a problem if you do not trust him. He is Mr. Jaguar and the team’s biggest fan. We’re moving up, not moving out!

Fair points.

Nicholas from Fort Hood, Texas

Reading your reply about your missed birthday I felt sad. No candles or family or friends or co-workers? Was Boselli not available? You always say he knows where to find you, so he should have been there. Where was Spike the cat? You only mentioned Rat Dog. Here is to wishing you better luck next year. On a second note, the William Pope Duval Chant is cool. Who knew he was the governor of Florida for twelve years after Andrew Jackson? He also divided Florida into four sections and established the local court systems. So here is to you Mr. Duval...may we all remember and be inspired to learn about your awesomeness every time we hear … DUUUUUUUUUUVAAALL!!!

I don’t need your damned pity.

Scott from Jacksonville

John Funk: I'm curious as to your thoughts on filling one of the ninety spots with a camp arm? While the thought of potentially missing on a Keelan Cole or a Corey Grant to create space for a player you already know won't make the team is a little unsettling, I personally am more concerned with the possibility of our only legitimate backup having to go back in to a fourth-quarter preseason game in the event Tanner Lee gets hurt or needs a breather. Has Coach Marrone indicated whether he wants Bortles to get the same high pitch count during practices as last preseason? And, how much game exposure do you think the coaching staff wants backup Cody Kessler to get throughout the preseason? I would be one 'fer a fourth quarterback the first couple weeks, how 'bout you?

Believe me, I understand the inclination to worry about everything. With apologies to the late, great Warren Zevon, I am the Worrier King (bow down). But you’re probably over-worrying on this one a little. If Lee would happen to become injured in a preseason game, the odds of Kessler also being hurt were he to re-enter the game are comparatively slim.

Scott from Jacksonville

So, who's your favorite breakout candidate for this year? I'm putting some coin on Dede Westbrook. He made some real "wow" plays along the sidelines last year. With a full/healthy offseason, I can see him making that big Year 2 jump.

Westbrook certainly has a chance to be a breakout player. I also recently discussed running back T.J. Yeldon along these lines while answering a similar question because I think Yeldon has a real chance to contribute in a big way in receiving situations and as a backup to Leonard Fournette. Here’s another possibility: defensive end Dawuane Smoot. As a reserve strong-side defensive end, Smoot may not put up huge sack numbers. Still, the Jaguars liked what he showed as a rookie last season and he has a chance to be a key part of the defensive line rotation.

Dwight from Jacksonville

Is trading open for season tickets holders... we are first timers

Try again, Dwight.

Dylan from Jacksonville

Zone, when is Jaguars Radio going to start showing up in my Apple Podcasts app again? I understand there was a hiccup when the website design changed, but this doesn't feel like a great technological hurdle to overcome.

I am told progress is being made regarding Jaguars Radio shows appearing in Apple Podcasts. Hope remains high. As for your final thought … yeah. Fair point.

Tommy from Fernandina Beach, FL

O-man: So when does that training camp thing start again?

Jaguars 2018 Training Camp begins Thursday. Veterans reported Wednesday. Rookies reported July 18 with quarterbacks reporting July 20.

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