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O-Zone: Par for the course

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O: Can you elaborate on why the transition from college to the NFL is difficult? I know about how the game is faster, more physical and that every team is full of talent, etc. But I'm talking more about the week the rookies have before the veterans arrive that's supposed to help with the transition. Most of these kids played for big-time teams in college where they had professional training, nutrition and coaching staffs. There were strict rules with which to comply regarding contact with coaches, time in practice, etc. It seems that the lifestyle of an NFL player might almost be easier than that of a college player in that they no longer have classes, homework and exams to worry about and – generally speaking – they don't have the same financial stresses they once had. Am I missing something here?

You skimmed over much of what makes the transition from college to the NFL so tough. The game is dramatically faster, dramatically more physical and every team is dramatically more talented than even the best college football team. Those aren't just words; they're real factors. Their situations are also more complex with more pressure because it's harder to make a team and contribute than it was in college. Remember, too: These are 21-to-23-year-olds entering an environment with 28-to-32-year-old men. These men often have been playing football for a living for four or five years as opposed to playing in college. It's a significant difference. All those differences aren't going to be solved for rookies during one week between reporting and training camp, of course. Mostly, that week is about getting players as acclimated as possible mentally and as ready as possible physically for their immediate task at hand. Rookies for the most part enter training camp coming off the most extended strenuous stretch of their careers – a full college season followed immediately by preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine and the NFL Draft, followed immediately by their first NFL offseason/organized team activities. They have had very little time off mentally or physically. The week before training camp is meant to get them in as good a shape in both areas as possible in the hope they can be prepared for the most difficult part of that already difficult stretch: their first NFL training camp and – if things go well – their first NFL regular season.

Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington

When you refer to a 50/50 ball, could you clarify? Does this mean the receiver or tight end has a 50 percent chance at catching the ball? Or a 50 percent chance the opposing player breaks up the play?


Brian from Round Rock, TX

OK, I'll ask the obvious question. At what point does Jalen get disciplined for his me-first prima-donna act? I know he's "special." He should also be a pro.

Which prima-donna act was that? The one where Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey took time to be present for the birth of his daughter, or the one where he was first-team Associated Press All Pro in his second NFL season? Or the one where he trained away from the team during voluntary offseason workouts within NFL rules? Where would the discipline come? And for what?

Bradley from South Lake Tahoe, CA

Let's face it: A high percentage of Jaguars players are still in the ascending stage with very few static and virtually none descending on a roster that is already elite. The front office and coaching staff are very solid. The owner is arguably the best in the league. The fan base is enthusiastic. The uniforms are finally top notch. I even like Cody Kessler as a backup. I see the AFC Championship Game being played in Jacksonville. I see us beating the Rams in the Super Bowl. Am I missing something?

Are you missing something? I'll say. They also have an awesome senior writer.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

I was unaware Mike Vrabel was coaching the Tennessee Titans. Who do you think will be the first former Jaguars player to become head coach?

Keep an eye on former Jaguars wide receiver and current Jaguars wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell.

Jagwired Jimmy from Jacksonville Beach Section 35 and Day 1

Sir Zone-a-lot: Thank goodness training camp is here! By the end of the Dead Zone I had begun to over-contemplate such serious thoughts as ... are the fans who doubt Jaguars Owner Shad Khan's commitment to Jacksonville the same fans who have decided BB5 will be awful forever no matter how much he may improve in the future? Are they the same fans who want Dez Bryant signed immediately? Did they want J.J. Stokes signed back in the day? Do they believe Poz will return at some point this season? Do they belong to a secret society? Are they the same fans who want to change or retire the Moodachay and Duuuuval chants? Can they be removed from the secret society if they only align with some beliefs but not all? It's possible ... just saying.

I never know what's going on.

Connor from Dallas, TX

After reading yet another article about how bad Blake Bortles is at quarterback, I can't help but protest. Bortles plays football in the NFL. No quarterback that plays football in the NFL is bad. If they were bad, they would have never made it even close to the NFL. Sure, some teams get lucky with a Tom Brady or an Aaron Rodgers but I'd love to see all these armchair analysts throw a football with pads on under pressure with precision and accuracy. Bortles is a good quarterback, and my hope is after the 2018 season people will recognize that.

The reality of course is it's not all that pertinent whether Bortles is better than the armchair analysts. He's supposed to be better than people who don't play quarterback in the NFL. The issue is whether Bortles is good enough to quarterback the Jaguars to the playoffs and the Super Bowl. He took a step toward that status last season, and he appears to have made more strides since then.

Jason from Tallahassee, FL


Oh my goodness, Jason. Not you, too …

Gabe from Washington, DC

If D.J. Hayden were to underperform and Ronnie Harrison were to really impress the coaching staff, could you see a decent amount of three-safety looks on defense this year, or would that be too drastic of a change to the scheme?

The rush among observers to write Hayden off before he participated in a padded practice is one of the great phenomena of the Jaguars' offseason. You're talking about a player the Jaguars targeted to be the nickel cornerback for the coming two seasons. The assumption of many that he will underperform doesn't mesh well with the Jaguars' belief that he is one of the 15 or so players critical to this defense. Either way, I would be surprised if you see a lot of three-safety looks in nickel situations on defense this season.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

There will be many interesting match-ups this season, but one that has me particularly intrigued is the week six game in Dallas. Could potentially be the league's best defense line against the best offensive line. So, what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?

Good eye, Bruce.

Trent from North Dakota

Just read somewhere else that Quenton Meeks is someone to keep an eye on. Is that one observers take, or do you see him making the team and getting on the field?

Meeks, an undrafted rookie free agent, played at a high level at Stanford. He was considered by many analysts a possibility to be selected in the late rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. All reports are that he's a smart player with potential. How that translates to the NFL we'll find out in the coming weeks.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, sometimes you remind me of my wife. I have no idea what you just said even though I heard (or read) you say it.


Rob from Jacksonville

After the top three corners, who do you see battling for the last few spots? How many corners do you see us keeping, especially while being deep at safety?

This will play out in the coming weeks, and I honestly don't have a great feel yet. I anticipate Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye almost certainly making the roster, and Hayden just as "almost certainly" being the nickel corner. Tyler Patmon worked with the starters this week with Ramsey not practicing, so I expect him to be one of the reserve corners. After that, it's fuzzier and I expect we'll know more about players such as second-year veteran Jalen Myrick, Meeks, Dee Delaney and Tre Herndon as training camp progresses.

Cliff from Drunkville

I'm gonna toilet paper Oehser's house. Won't he be surprised?

Not really.

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