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O-Zone: Ready for some football

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it . . . Ryan from Duville:
As a Gabbert supporter, I'm worried he isn't making improvements. I know it's only the highlight videos, but it looks like a lot of his passes are knocked down and he is throwing to receivers that are covered well. Is this just perception? Is our defense showing to be that good? Or is Gabbert still making poor choices in throwing to guys that are covered?
John: Be careful basing a whole lot off of what you see in highlight videos, or even off of one or two practices. Those are snippets and slices, and roster battles must be decided based on the big picture. Overall, I just can't agree with your premise, because I don't know that it's right to say Gabbert isn't making improvements. I thought he looked better in the second week of practice than he did the first. I wouldn't say it was earthshaking, spread-it-all-over-Twitter stuff, but overall he has been more accurate and looked more confident as camp has gone on. I thought all preseason Gabbert would win the job, and gradually over the last week, he has looked like he is taking the first steps in that direction. Can he continue in that direction Friday night? We'll see.
Tony from Jacksonville:
You make me laugh. Thanks.
John: I cry a lot. You're welcome.
Chip from Key West, FL:
Seem like (fingers crossed) injuries have not been as bad in camp as past years. What would be a reason for this? A better conditioning staff? Or new NFL rules for players?
John: Good fortune. I know people get tired of me answering injury-related questions as if it's all luck of the draw, but there's a huge element of randomness in injuries. Teams must do everything they can to prevent them, and they can help their chances of being a healthy team by drafting and acquiring players with clean injury histories. Younger teams also tend to be healthier because young players typically get hurt less. But beyond all of that, you have to be fortunate. So far during this training camp, the Jaguars have been just that.
Derek from Denver, IA:
Is there going to be a pregame radio show this week?
John: Yes, and it will be awesome.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
I understand not many people care about the recent changes to the Pro Bowl. Shoot, it doesn't change my opinion of it. But I do wonder if the removal of the kickoff is a non-threatening way of the league moving in the direction of removing it from the league all together.
John: I've seen that theory floated and it has some merit. No doubt the game would be safer without kickoffs. That shouldn't be overlooked, because the NFL is all about safety right now. I don't know that the Pro Bowl changes are part of a grand conspiracy to remove the kickoff from the game, but could there be a scenario under which people begin to get used to the idea of football without kickoffs? And could seeing a Pro Bowl without them be the first step in people getting more comfortable with the concept? Yes, that's plausible.
Paul from Jacksonville:
John and J.P., as we approach the first preseason game I just wanted to tell you both, "Good luck, we're all counting on you."
John: Stop calling me Shirley.
John from Jacksonville:
It's finally here, thank goodness. By the by, the last person that I saw talk with their hands as much as you was a teacher for an ASL school. Moodachay.
John: Oh, yeah? The last email I read like this was (EDITOR DELETED)
Jon from Durham, NC:
Could you explain the nature of the injury Denard Robinson experienced in college? My understanding is he lost too much arm strength due to nerve damage to consistently play quarterback. I get the sense some people see him as a legitimate option for starting quarterback. But while his athletic ability puts him at least on par with the recent crop of young mobile passers (eg Wilson, RG3), his throwing ability is diminished. I suppose the Jags hope he could still throw well enough to make the read-option a viable threat. But if he couldn't continue as the starting quarterback in college, why would he be able to do more at the quarterback position in the NFL?
John: Robinson indeed sustained nerve damage in college, but by this past offseason, that was healing more than doctors at first expected. Getting into details of the rest of your question is to delve too deeply into pointless discussion. Robinson wasn't drafted as a quarterback, and that's not the long-term plan. He's a player whose speed makes him dangerous, and who can throw well enough to provide an added element. This isn't RGIII/Russell Wilson reincarnated.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
Would you consider Andre Branch to be a player on the bubble now that Ryan Davis is pushing for the second Leo position?
John: I don't consider Branch on the bubble for a roster spot yet. I believe he has to play well in the preseason to earn playing time over Ryan Davis.
Martin from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Can we expect to see rookie starters get more reps in preseason games than veteran starters?
John: You might see players such as Ace Sanders and Luke Joeckel get a few more repetitions than veteran starters in the first week or two, but if it happens, it would probably only be a matter of an extra series or two. By the end of the preseason, they will have played the equivalent of probably about a game. Giving them much more than that probably doesn't do them too much good. It will take a couple of games to get accustomed to regular-season speed. That's true whether they get a few more series in the preseason or not.
Jeff from Starke, FL:
Now that you've seen players in action, although not a live game, have your expectations change as far as playoff push? I ask because by your own statements, there have been several people who have surprised a little in camp. Is the surprise enough to change expectations about the season?
John: My expectations really haven't changed. I've written for several months that I don't believe the Jaguars will have the first selection in the NFL Draft, and I've written that they have a chance to push for .500. If you have a chance to do that, then you can get into contention in the second half of the season and who knows? The odds are against the Jaguars doing that because they're a young team that needs to strengthen the roster in a lot of areas, but I believe the Jaguars will be improved. I've believed that since January.
Albe from Jacksonville Beach and Section 115:
Haven't heard much on how well Jason Babin is doing after recovery. Is he up to speed and do you think he will do well this season?
John: He has been practicing since training camp began and while he has had a couple of veteran days off, he said he feels great. I think he'll be the Jaguars' best pass rusher this season.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
You are so correct when you talk about the importance of route running. But as the late Al Davis always believed, you can't teach speed. That is why special talents who have both speed and great route running are special. Man I miss Jimmy Smith, he was one of those types.
John: Smith was a rare talent. That's why he was one of the best players in the NFL at his position for many, many years.
J. Escobar from New Orleans, LA:
With Cyprien being out for so long, whose been starting at his position or have they been rotating safeties?
John: Chris Prosinski has been starting at strong safety. Dwight Lowery has been at free safety with Josh Evans backing him up. There was thought given to moving Evans to strong, but the Jaguars opted to leave him at free and let him learn a position at which he may start in the future.
Travis from Jacksonville:
What do the Jags hope to gain from a player who couldn't even make the 49ers' roster in Charly Martin? The Jags are signing/claiming a LOT of dropouts....
John: Yes, the Jaguars are signing a lot of waiver-wire players. Get used to it. They're going to acquire a lot of such players between now and the regular season. One or two may develop into long-term contributors. If that happens, then it's worth it.
Ethan from Hampton, FL:
What do you think would be considered a success Friday? I would think the quarterbacks looking good, the offensive line playing well, the defense getting pressure on the quarterback, and seeing some of the rookies playing well would be a huge success.
John: That sure wouldn't stink.
Renee from Jacksonville and Section 104:
John! It's almost here, we are about to play the first Jaguar preseason game of 2013. I have no idea what the season will bring, so in the lilting voice of Doris Moodaday- "Moodachay -achay What ever will be, will be. The future is not ours to see. Moodachay - achay" Go Jags!
John: I have a very disturbed readership. Thank goodness.

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