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O-Zone: Scary stuff

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Tom from Charleston, SC:
After his issues last year with injuries and a continuing problem with staying healthy this year, it has become apparent that Lee is too fragile to be a top NFL receiver. With that in mind, do you see Dave picking up a receiver after other teams' training-camp cuts or does he try to ride it out with what they have?
John: Your premise is significantly bolder than it is accurate – and it's also very premature. Marqise Lee played 13 games last season as a rookie, so while he has missed time in each of his offseasons, it's a bit much to say he's too fragile for the NFL. While he did struggle at times adapting to the NFL as a rookie, the soft-tissue injuries he had last offseason weren't uncommon for young NFL players – nor should they be associated with the knee injury that is keeping him out now. Right now, Lee is missing organized team activities, which – remember – are voluntary, no-contact practices. Let's not write him off or start combing the waiver wire to replace a talented young player just yet.
Rich from Mandarin, FL:
Although Denard Robinson showed some flashes last year at running back, he doesn't seem to fit within the team's direction now with the selection of T.J. Yeldon. In retrospect, selecting Robinson in 2013 doesn't make sense now. Do you think the team is now changing its horse midstream?
John: This is fast turning into an odd day when it comes to premises. There's no horse here, no stream and no unexpected "change" of direction at running back. The Jaguars selected Robinson in Round 5 of the 2013 NFL Draft because he had unique speed and athleticism. The thought was they could find a way to use a player with that much play-making ability. They did not necessarily select him to be the feature, starting, go-to running back. As it stands now, Robinson appears likely to enter the 2015 season as one of three players likely to figure heavily into the team's running back rotation with the others being Yeldon and Toby Gerhart. He also has a chance to play a role as a kickoff returner as well as a receiver out of the backfield. If he contributes in any of those capacities, then that selection in Round 5 of the 2013 draft actually makes quite a bit of sense.
Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
John, we have been hearing a lot about how AR15 looks this offseason, but what about my boy Marqise? Is he still just being hampered by injuries? #DTWD from LA
John: Well, to hear Tom tell it, Lee is too fragile to play in the NFL. Time will tell on that front, but for now, Lee missed OTAs and appears likely to miss next week's minicamp. I've heard nothing to indicate he won't be ready for training camp in late July. If he is, all indications are he has approached the offseason well and should have a chance at making a step forward next season.
John from Jacksonville:
I had a short vacation John, spent it getting a root canal. … I'd like to go back to Paris someday and visit the Louvre Museum. … Get a good running start and hurl myself at the wall.
John: Wow. That's not particularly attractive at all, is it?
Austin from Jacksonville:
Who do you think our No. 1 receiver is going to be in 2015? From here, it looks like Julius Thomas unless Marqise Lee has a sensational Year Two. Last year it was Allen Hurns, so I really think it's up for grabs.
John: I'll take Julius Thomas out of the equation because he's a tight end and not a wide receiver, although I don't think there's any question Thomas will be critical to the offense. With Thomas out of the discussion, the answer becomes pretty easy: Allen Robinson. He was developing rapidly before missing the end of last season with a foot injury, and his offseason approach has been ideal. He got more repetitions this past week in OTAs than he had the first two weeks – and he was about as impressive in red-zone drills as you can be in OTAs. I'd be very, very surprised if he's not the Jaguars' top receiver next season.
Rob from Jacksonville:
It's fairly simple to me, O; not sure why it is so hard for others to understand. Try this: ask them how often they would go work a month of Saturdays and Sundays for no pay because, you know, the bosses need them to volunteer their time.
John: You're referring to Chris Clemons and other veterans around the NFL who opt to skip voluntary OTAs – and I agree with you to a point. I can't quite equate millionaires in a team sport to a guy working the weekends for free; it's just not the same. On the other hand, when the NFL and the NFL Players Association negotiated that OTAs would be voluntary, they didn't insert any fine print to the contrary. The practices are very much voluntary. You're not mandated to attend.
Patrick from Jacksonville:
How has Chad Henne looked so far? What is Neal Sterling, TE or WR? How does that affect Clay Harbor?
John: Henne has looked fine in OTAs – as expected. He seems to have a grasp of the offense, and he has been accurate far more often than not. Sterling, a seventh-round rookie from Monmouth University, is a wide receiver for now, although he has size to move to tight end if he's eventually determined to be a better fit there. Sterling probably won't affect Harbor either way this season. My guess is Sterling remains at receiver for at least a season, and it's doubtful that if he moves to tight end he would immediately become a better option than Harbor.
Jim from Jacksonville:
Last again on ESPN's rankings. I know it doesn't matter but as a passionate and devoted Jags fan it really angers me that these "experts" won't take some time and really investigate our team to give a more accurate analysis. Doesn't this and other negative reports hurt our brand and revenue possibilities outside our market?
John: Those negative reports don't help the brand, but losing doesn't, either. Here's the solution: win games. When you do, you get ranked a lot higher. And that brand starts looking better, too.
Swayne from Jacksonville:
On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being a great question and 5 the stoopidest) how does this one rate?
John: I'm almost sure you meant to do that. Almost.
Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
C'mon, John! Everybody knows that Zevon's best song was "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner"!
John: Good. Very good. As good as "Vast Indifference of Heaven?" I wonder …
Chris from San Marco, FL:
Is Bortles' development to this point ahead of or behind where you would typically expect a quarterback selected No. 3 overall to be in his second offseason?
John: Not to be argumentative or nitpicky, but there's really nothing "typical" about development of No. 3 quarterbacks – or any quarterbacks for that matter. It depends on what your expectations were for the quarterback when you drafted him. The Jaguars were clear from the moment they drafted Bortles they didn't expect him to be ready to start as a rookie. It also was clear that he would need to develop in certain areas. If his offseason development translates to the field, then he's ahead of schedule. If not …
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, this may run a bit long, so please bear with me. Isn't all this talk about Blake's throwing mechanics getting a little ridiculous? Have you ever seen Philip Rivers throw a ball? How many wounded duck touchdowns has Peyton Manning thrown? And on the other side; Jay Cutler is considered to have an almost perfect throwing motion and the strongest arm in the league, and what's it gotten him? He's considered overpaid, overrated, and untradable. Blake Bortles is not going to succeed/fail as a franchise quarterback because of his mechanics. As long as the ball gets to where it's supposed to be, when it's supposed to be there, isn't that what's most important? Thanks! Go Jags! /steps off soapbox.
John: You're actually just fine on your soapbox, and while it shakes a lot of what I believe in to agree with you, in this case I'd say you're spot on. Bortles' mechanics are much-discussed by the public and the media primarily because he has been willing to discuss it. They're important because they're important to him, and they're being discussed right now because it's an offseason topic about an NFL quarterback. That makes it news, whether or not it's all that important in the long run.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
Do you think that Nick Marshall could become our "Steve Tasker" on special teams while he learns to play NFL CB?
John: I think Marshall has the athletic ability to be a very good special teams player. Whether he can be Steve Tasker, who some believe was a Hall-of-Fame-level special teams player, is another question.
Duval Doom from Section 217:
There's something making scratching noises in the wall of my bathroom this morning, and it sounds big.
John: #Shadricksighting

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