O-Zone: Senior-itis

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Cole from Springfield, OH

O-Zone: Have you had the chance to watch the Jalen Ramsey interview on CBS Sports? He truly is special. Not only is he a natural athlete, but you can tell he constantly works on his craft and truly trusts his technique. I feel he is always informative when discussing what goes into a play or technique. I am excited to where his career takes him.

Though I haven’t seen this interview, I’m not surprised at your impression. While many people see Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey in a certain – not always favorable – way because of some of his past public comments, I almost always have been impressed with Ramsey not only in our personal interactions, but by how he approaches his profession. He is usually thoughtful in his interviews and has something interesting to say – which isn’t always the case when athletes or anyone else speaks publicly. Perhaps most impressive is his commitment to the game. While he is still changing and maturing off the field (who isn’t still changing and maturing in their early 20s?), one inarguable truth about Ramsey is that he puts football first. He realizes he is a special talent and is committed to maximizing that talent. Not every gifted player is nearly as dedicated.

John from Cape May Courthouse, NJ

With the recent holdouts of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, it got me thinking about the rookie wage scale. It was put into place for, I believe, three reasons: one, to end rookie holdouts; two, to not have teams picking at the top of the draft allocating tens of millions of dollars to unproven players; and three, to allow for veterans to get more in money in free agency. But, as with any good idea, there are always unintended consequences. The rookie wage scale has limited the career earnings that players can make because they are cost-controlled during their prime earning years, especially at the running-back position. Holdouts, in my opinion, are bad for the fans and the league. Do you view the rookie wage scale as an issue as I do? If so, do you believe this will be a major topic of debate for the upcoming CBA talks?

You make some valid points about the rookie wage scale, but remember: Whereas rookie holdouts were a training-camp norm before the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement implemented the scale, they rarely happen under the new system. In that sense, the benefits of the current system far out-weigh the negatives. Also, even if players made more early in their contracts, that’s no guarantee they wouldn’t hold out for more money as the ends of those contracts approached. The wage scale was a success on a grand scale and ended what most people inside and outside the league considered the ridiculous number of holdouts by players who had done nothing to prove their professional worth. As such, I would be shocked if this is much of a topic for debate in the next CBA negotiations.

Logan from Wichita, KS

Are any of our starters going to be allowed to play Week 1? Sounds like we need to buy some major stock in bubble wrap. Week 1 will really be popping... (rimshot)

What?

Nathan from St. Augustine, FL

I keep seeing Tre McBride's name coming up in the "First-Off-the-Field "columns. Is he becoming someone that could make the roster?

Yes. McBride, a fourth-year veteran who originally signed with the Jaguars after being a tryout player in rookie minicamp in May, has spent time with Tennessee, Chicago, the New York Jets and Washington – and he has stood out lately in practice. He drew praise from Head Coach Doug Marrone following the loss to Baltimore in the preseason opener last week. Perhaps most importantly, he has been playing well on special teams. He checks a lot of boxes for a player trying to make the 53-man roster.

Emiel from Texas

If I were a 23-year-old millionaire, I would dance on every chair I'd see.

Fair.

Ken from Jacksonville

When do you suppose it will hit the owners that fans are going to get tired of being ripped off? We are paying full price for exhibition games that are going to be played by second- and third-string players or guys that will be selling insurance in a couple of weeks. So, we have two worthless exhibition games – both the game this week and the fourth meaningless game – and I didn't notice my ticket prices being reduced for either losing the game to London nor these two exhibitions. Should I expect a refund any day now? Thank heaven that we don't have PSL's. AAAARRRGGGHHH!

I have no idea when or if this will change. I do know it’s not a new phenomenon. The main difference now is that while teams long have played starters for only a series or two in the first couple of preseason games, the realities of injury risk are pushing more and more coaches to play front-line players less and less – if at all. But I don’t disagree with the sentiment. I wouldn’t like paying for a preseason game. Then again, I don’t like paying for much of anything so I’m probably the wrong person to have in this conversation.

Jorge from Ciudad de Mexico

In a market where Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott asks for $40 million per year, the Jaguars signing quarterback Nick Foles for $22 million looks like a masterpiece. Demand and supply, friends.

This.

Tom from Charlottesville, VA

It is nice to read about the deep completion success the offense is having. However, is it a concern that the defense is allowing these deep completions? Are the completions against the defense first team?

Those little lights aren’t twinkling.

Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

Can you please shed some more light on the injuries and return times for right tackle Jawaan Taylor, left guard Andrew Norwell, linebacker Jake Ryan and tight end Josh Oliver? Will Ryan be back this year at least?

Marrone hasn’t detailed all the aforementioned injuries, so I’ll do the best I can. Taylor sustained a knee bruise in practice last Tuesday in Baltimore; Marrone has not indicated how long he will be out, but I haven’t heard that it’s a major concern. Norwell has been out the last few days with an unidentified issue and – again – I haven’t heard that it’s a major concern. Ryan is on the reserve/non-football injury list after sustaining a setback to the torn anterior cruciate ligament he sustained with Green Bay last season; he’s on the NFI list because he sustained the setback away from the Jaguars’ facility. Marrone said last Saturday Ryan is a way from returning, though he wasn’t specific. Oliver sustained what Marrone called a “significant” hamstring injury early in training camp; Marrone said last week the Jaguars are trying to get Oliver back for Week 1 against Kansas City.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Does the competition at right guard speak more of A.J. Cann not continuing to develop or more that Will Richardson is playing himself into the starting lineup?

A little bit of both, but probably more the latter.

Daniel from Urbandale, IL

Not that anyone asked me (but that's never stopped me from giving my opinion before), but I really like the idea of 17 regular-season games and three preseason games. Three preseason games seem like enough to evaluate your roster and still have one serious game prep. Seventeen regular-season games means you either are a winner or a loser for the season. No more of this 8-8 business (or 9-9, I guess). I'm sure you'll pass this along to the powers that be.

Oh, I’ll absolutely pass it along – and I’m sure the PTB will take it into consideration. I would be surprised if the league ever settled on an odd number of regular-season games – mainly because of the imbalance of home and away games. Some teams having nine home games and others having eight seems like an inequity from which the league likely will want to stay away.

Gero from Wenden, Germany

Hello, John. Do you think Nick Foles will start against Philadelphia on Thursday because it is his old team or not because Marrone also wants to protect him from injuries?

Not.

Matt from North Jax

I see your tagline is "Senior Writer" and Sexton's is "Senior Correspondent". Other than you two, I never see anybody else write anything. So the two of you just put the "Senior" in there just to fancy things up. No wonder you get a lot of grief in the comments section.

Senior writer is my title because that was the title the Jaguars gave me when I was hired. I wouldn’t spend much time considering it beyond that because I don’t know that “senior writer” is really all that fancy a title. By the way … who’s “Sexton?” And what’s a “comments section?”

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