Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

O-Zone: Sickness

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Michael from Orange Park, FL

C'mon, Zone. It's minicamp, for goodness' sake. How are they looking?

I suppose this email references the Jaguars 2024 Rookie Camp at the Miller Electric Center this weekend, and it's true it wasn't a topic in Saturday's O-Zone. We also didn't particularly discuss it all that extensively on or Jaguars Media Channels. That's because there simply isn't too much to discuss – and there certainly are few conclusions to draw from the event. The minicamp featured no pads or contact. As Head Coach Doug Pederson said in a Friday media availability, it also featured no one-on-one work, no seven-on-seven, no pass rush. As should be the case, the minicamp was far more about orientation and acclimation than competition. This weekend with a few exceptions mostly is about getting the nine rookie draft selections and 13 undrafted rookies ready to join the veterans in the offseason program Monday. That's when the real stuff starts to start for the 2024 rookie class.

Kevin from St. Augustine, FL

Any first impressions from rookie camp?

For those O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – who bothered to read the previous question and answer, you might be thinking, "Here there, bucko. There are no first impressions." Close, but not quite true. It is possible to glean at least a feeeew impressions – and the main thing coaches/personnel people want in these minicamps is for players to give good first impressions and "look the part." The positive news for the Jaguars is that the top two draft selections absolutely did both. Wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr., the No. 23 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, stood apart from other rookie receivers with his athleticism, speed and smooth movement. He looked as you would expect a Round 1 wide receiver to look. Veteran wide receiver Jarvis Landry, a five-time Pro Bowl player participating on a tryout basis, on Friday called Thomas' skills "elite." Defensive lineman Maason Smith, the No. 48 overall selection, also very much looked as expected: Tall, impressive size, long arms. You could see why both players are considered premium prospects. You didn't walk off the field overly worried about any of the top selections. That's a good thing in rookie minicamp.

Keith from Jacksonville

I'm pretty sure that all NFL general managers, even the so-called terrible ones, have at least seven-figure nest eggs.


Wayne from Jacksonville

Can you explain what Doug Pederson meant when he said that three players are getting a pension credit so they couldn't participate in rookie minicamp?

I indeed can explain this again. Players who have at least one "pension credit" can't participate in rookie minicamps. A pension credit means the player has accrued a "season of experience" toward earning his NFL pension. Because the three players in question – linebacker Ventrell Miller, cornerback Christian Braswell and guard Cooper Hodges – finished their rookie seasons last season on injured reserve, they received a "pension credit" and therefore couldn't participate in the minicamp.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

What are the rules governing who can participate in rookie minicamp? Why is Jarvis Landry allowed to participate? Some second-year players are participating and some are not. Lots of players are unsigned. Who's the quarterback that throws to receivers and what contract arrangement does he have? Is there a guy that they bring in just to get tackled by defenders? How many players get to participate in rookie minicamp and how do they fill all those spots?

I can explain these questions again, too. Multiple groups of players can participate in rookie minicamp: Drafted players, collegiate free agents, tryout players and young players who have yet to receive a pension credit. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry could participate because he's a free agent attending as a "tryout" player. I explained why some young players can participate while some can't in the previous answer. Unsigned drafted players can participate because league rules allow it. Former North Carolina State quarterback Brennan Armstrong participated and threw passes on a tryout basis. They don't bring a guy just to get tackles because there are no pads and therefore there is no tackling. Thirty-one players participated in rookie camp.

Mike from Cartersville (AKA Trevortown), GA

How high on the list would you say Jim Harbaugh has watching tape on opponents on his list of keys to winning?

I have no idea.

Kevin from Clayton, New Jersey

I think a lot of times, Jaguars fans underestimate the contribution of General Manager Trent Baalke and Pederson. Taking a football team that's been bottom or near the bottom of the NFL for a few years and molding it into a division contender in a year is an amazing accomplishment. Doug Pederson's Super Bowl-winning mind has turned this team around for the better and given Jags fans some hope. While Trent Baalke isn't exactly a draft mastermind, one shouldn't forget his mindful contributions in the draft and free agency. Both have aided the development of several players and I think it should be applauded.

Judging and assessing a head coach and general manager is tricky, and I would agree it's not something fans always do that well. That's not a criticism of fans. It's simply to make the point that it's not something fans are SUPPOSED to do well. To assess and accurately judge requires some measure of objectivity, rationality, emotion and perspective. Fans aren't SUPPOSED to be rational. They're supposed to unobjective, irrational and unemotional and to care nothing about perspective. Mostly, they're supposed to want their team to win no matter what. Sports is supposed to be fun, and it's not fun to go to a game and say, "Well, I objectively believe that the head coach is doing a good job even though the team missed the playoffs by a game." It's fun to say, "WHAT THE HELL IS THE COACH DOING!!!!! ANYONE COULD HAVE DONE BETTER!!" Your point is a correct one, that Pederson and Baalke have done a nice job getting the Jaguars out of the ranks of the NFL's worst teams. As Jaguars fans well know, it can be very difficult getting out of that abyss. The Jaguars are out of it, and they are now competitive. That's a solid first step. There is now hope. The next job for the duo is to take the attainable – but difficult – step of being a perennial playoff team.

Bill from Bostwick

I'm with you O-Zone: I would've preferred the Jaguars have kept wide receiver Zay Jones on the team. Like you, I understand the financials. However, I also feel Zay likely would have started through perhaps the London games before he became WR4. Maybe. So, we exchanged two starting wide receivers that knew the playbook (well, Calvin Ridley sometimes not) for two new starting wide receivers that will still be learning the playbook when the season starts. I recall both Calvin Ridley and Parker Washington seemingly not being on the same page as the quarterback in freaking December. How much is on the Jaguars' receivers coach to get the new guys up to speed on the playbook throughout the season so there are no December mental lapses that could be costly in terms of a win or a loss? P.S. I wish Zay well in Arizona and hope he has a healthy and zenzaytional season ahead.

These are fair concerns. Among former Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones' many strengths was he absolutely had good chemistry with quarterback Trevor Lawrence. At the same time, all factors must be considered when considering the roster – and in Jones' case, salary cap and age and his 2023 injury situation were significant factors. Such is life in the NFL's salary-cap era. The chemistry lost indeed will be a storyline, as will how quickly players such as free-agent wide receiver Gabe Davis and Thomas will obtain a similar chemistry. How much of this falls to wide receivers coach Chad Hall? Well, in one sense it's his job to work with the receivers to grasp the playbook and route responsibilities as quickly as possible. At the same time, coaching only does so much. It's professional football. It's a players game, and it's their job to play at a high level. Much of being able to do that as a receiver depends on knowing the route responsibilities and achieving chemistry with the quarterback.

Collin from Kaysville, UT

What are we doing with the offensive line and why are we keeping Press Taylor?

The Jaguars likely will start Anton Harrison at right tackle, Brandon Scherff at right guard, Mitch Morse at center, Ezra Cleveland at left guard and Cam Robinson at left tackle with Walker Little as a swing tackle next season. I also expect players such as Cooper Hodges, Tyler Shatley and Javon Foster could be part of the nine players who are active much of the season. Press Taylor is the Jaguars' offensive coordinator because Pederson believes him the best person for the position.

Scott from Aruba

If I wanted to gift you a sick pack how where should I send it? - PS happy to send more than one.

I don't want a sick pack. I know of no one who would.