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O-Zone: Passion plea

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it ... Tony from Morrilton, AR:
Hey John, it was great to see A-Rob picked for the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2016 – and at spot 31. At what point did you realize he was going to be special and have you got that feeling about anyone else yet? #DTWD
John: I don't claim to have known sure Allen Robinson would be special before anyone else. I suppose most people figured that out sometime late in the first half of last season, and that's when I was pretty certain, too. I started to believe he had a chance to be elite when I spoke to him early in the 2015 offseason. He was not yet recovered from the injury that kept him out of the last six games of his rookie season, but there was a fire and focus in his voice as he spoke. The passion with which he talked about improving – and his desire to do the things necessary to do improve – was impressive. You don't get that sense from all players, and you notice it when you see it. He talked of watching video of himself and watching video of the league's best receivers. He seemed to want not just to do those things, but to do them consistently and to do them right. He had an attitude that reminded me of great players I've been around and that was the first time I thought he had a chance to be big-time. Work ethic, dedication and consistency of approach don't guarantee a player will reach an elite level in the NFL, but it's awfully hard to reach that level if you don't have those things. Robinson has them. Blake Bortles seems to have them. So does Allen Hurns. There are others on the roster who have them, too, but those three are certainly among them.
Brad from Miami, FL:
Do you ever see a scenario where us cord-cutters will be able to watch our favorite team's game without going to a sports bar? I would happily pay the NFL a lot of money to stream the Jags' games in HD each week, but sadly, they refuse to take it.
John: Yes, I absolutely believe that will happen. Technology and the pace at which viewing habits are changing seem to ensure it. It already feels overdue.
Steve from Denver, CO:
O- Do the Jags have an assistant coach or spotter in the booth whose main job is to report to the offensive coordinator that, for example, "Hurns and Greene are open for four-to-five seconds on shorter routes?"
John: Like all teams, the Jaguars have offensive and defensive coaches who observe the game from the press box. Yes, they let the coaches on the sidelines know what they're seeing.
David from Orlando, FL:
Johnny-O, in 2007, the Indianapolis Colts won Super Bowl XLI. As their senior writer, how did it affect you to be covering a team that won it all? What do you remember about that season?
John: I indeed covered that Super Bowl season for the Colts. It didn't affect me other than that I was working and covering games for two or three weeks longer than usual. I don't say that to be evasive, but the outcome of games really doesn't "affect" those who cover the team all that much. The weekly routine of covering a playoff game isn't too different than the weekly routine of covering a regular-season game. The Super Bowl is different, of course, but I've covered many Super Bowls so that wasn't phenomenally different aside from my family joining me in Miami for the weekend and going to the game. That was memorable. What you remember about any successful season you cover – '96 Jaguars, '06 Colts, etc. – are moments and people. You have players and coaches you like and respect and you're happy to see them reach their ultimate goals, but as for affecting you personally? Nah, not that much.
Samewise from Shire:
Why would we sign another punter? Just curious. Is it so we have some sort of competition? Do we actually need another leg during this part of the offseason, or is Nortman really in danger?
John: It's very common to have a second punter in training camp to reduce wear and tear. Never, ever, ever say never, but Brad Nortman is not in danger.
Pradeep from Bangalore, India:
Hey John, with a depth we have in WR position, what are the chances that Bryan Walters makes the roster? Last season he did well with given opportunities.
John: Bryan Walters' chances of making the roster are extremely good. He's reliable as a receiver and as a punt returner. I'd say he's the heavy favorite to be the team's fifth receiver.
Brian from New Hampshire:
Do you see packages that have Myles Jack lining up at safety next to Tashaun Gipson just to keep him on the field? I think middle linebacker is where he should be and will be long-term but he has played safety in college and could be an interesting wrinkle.
John: Jack is a dynamic player with a diverse skill set. That skill set may allow him to be special in the NFL and it indeed could allow him to play multiple positions. Some day. For now, the Jaguars' plan is to allow Jack to learn the defense at middle linebacker. I'd anticipate him playing multiple linebacker positions this season. I'd be surprised if they had him at safety any time soon.
Jon from Jax:
I've watched and read a lot of encouraging things thus far about our D-line getting what would be sacks in a normal game. Is it harder for the O-line to block in non-padded practices, or is our D-line just that much better?
John: I don't doubt the defensive line will be improved this season, and I don't doubt that will mean a better pass rush. I am skeptical as to how specific things – plays, offensive linemen supposedly "getting beat" – that occur at OTAs will translate to training camp and the regular season, and I certainly don't make sweeping conclusions about line play during OTAs.
Zach from Orlando, FL:
With Von Miller still unsigned, will the Jaguars try to negotiate any deal with him and add to the great talent we acquired this offseason?
John: Von Miller is an "exclusive" free agent because that's the tag the Denver Broncos applied to him. As such, he cannot negotiate with any team except the Broncos.
Justin from Duval:
I know a couple of days of minicamp is a small sample size, but the defensive ends by all accounts have looked very good. Is it realistic to think that two "rookies" could possibly make this the strength of our defense sooner rather than later or is this wishful thinking?
John: It depends what "sooner rather than later" means. It's probably wishful thinking to think Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue are going to make the Jaguars an overpowering pass rush immediately. Rookies take time to develop. Is it far-fetched to think they could become a big-time pass-rushing tandem in the next couple of seasons? No. Athletically, that is not far-fetched.
Devaris from Jacksonville:
Will the Jags-Bucs joint practice be open to the public?
John: The Jaguars and Buccaneers are holding two joint practices – on August 17 and August 18 – on the practice fields adjacent to EverBank Field. Both will be open to the public.
Tom from Orlando, FL:
Why would a backup player be so attached to a number that he refuses to switch when someone offers him a substantial sum to do so? It isn't as if James Sample has name recognition, or won Rookie of the Year. He was injured most of his rookie season. His refusal to let Jalen Ramsey have the number seems childish and petty; we can often forget that although they are professionals, these are still very young men. Could it be a simple college rivalry since FSU has owned Louisville since they joined the ACC?
John: James Sample's refusal to give up the No. 23 to Jalen Ramsey has nothing to do with FSU-Louisville and everything to do with Sample wanting to wear No. 23. He was born on June 23, but he has said the number has meaning for him associated with the community where he grew up: Del Paso Heights in Sacramento, California. I'm not as hyped up about this issue as a lot of fans, and it certainly doesn't mean as much to me as it does to Sample or Ramsey. But here's what's curious about the points you make regarding Sample: why is it any better or worse – any more "childish" or "petty," as you put it – for him to want to keep 23 than it is for Ramsey to want it?
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, we all know the top 100 NFL players list is just a fun offseason distraction. But the nice thing about the list is that the players are ranking their peers. So, it does have some credibility. Some analysts seem to think the list is about the best current players based on their careers to date. However, it's clear that the players heavily weight a player's performance last season. Accordingly, yes, Allen Robinson is ranked higher than Dez Bryant as he should be. What say you?
John: Sure, why not?

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