O-Zone: Still special

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL

After a week of pondering regarding preseason, I'm in total accord with the coach’s decision. First, it sends a message to the NFL. Second, maybe a superstar comes out of the secondary. The "the-players-need repetitions" argument is not valid. Don't they get enough repetitions at practice? Is Boselli mad because that was not the way it was?

‘Tis good to ponder. Pondering feeds the soul, and I know for certain Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone will be thrilled to hear that you’re “on board.” He thrives upon such news. As for what you like about Marrone’s approach of not playing most starters in the first two preseason games, I don’t know that it’s that much of a message to the NFL. Still, you’re right that it will provide opportunities for young players that those young players might not have gotten otherwise. And I agree with what you said about repetitions because I’ve always felt that some of the repetitions players get in preseason games are overrated. If a starter gets eight-to-10 plays in a preseason game, is that so much more beneficial than the player getting multiple reps throughout practice? Now, if the players are getting a full quarter or half, then there’s a lot of value. But for one-series stints perhaps not so much. And yes: Boselli is mad. But that’s always.

Steve from Nashville, TN

If 11 backups and rookies played just as good as 11 veteran starters, they would not be backups for very long.

Correct.

Paul from Saint Johns, FL

How realistic is it for Richardson to start at guard over Cann? Didn't we just sign Cann to an extension? Does Cann look bad in camp and vulnerable to losing his starting role?

Second-year veteran offensive lineman Will Richardson starting over fifth-year veteran A.J. Cann at right guard for the Jaguars this season is a very realistic possibility. Yes, the Jaguars signed Cann to an extension this past offseason – and he looks pretty much the same during this training camp as he has looked since joining the Jaguars. But remember: The Jaguars selected Richardson in Round 4 of the 2018 NFL Draft and some analysts projected him earlier than that. It’s not a shock in that sense that he’s good – and it’s a positive for the Jaguars that he is showing signs of starting. If Cann doesn’t start, then perhaps the Jaguars will for a chance have an NFL rarity: depth on the offensive line.

Sean from Jacksonville

I thought Cann had a better grip on starting this season, but it appears that is not the case. What are the reasons that his spot has become a bit more tenuous for him?

Will Richardson.

CD from Fleming Island, FL

I don't consider myself a sky-is-falling fan and was only a bit disappointed with not seeing the starters last Thursday. Still, hearing Doug's comments about the value of practice reps, and those reps being lost in preparation for a few plays in a meaningless game, put it into a good perspective for me. I'd encourage anyone who hasn't seen the presser to watch it. I'm sure it won't sway all fans, but I think would provide insight for at least some, and would hopefully help set expectations for Thursday.

Marrone’s comments on this topic this week indeed were insightful. He explained that the Jaguars’ starters were getting more practice repetitions during this training camp while losing comparatively few game repetitions. Add in the fact that practice reps carry less injury risk than game reps and it’s easy to see Marrone’s logic in emphasizing practice reps over preseason-game reps. The concern is that practice reps don’t match the intensity and pressure of game reps. That’s a significant tradeoff. But as Marrone has said frequently, this isn’t his ideal approach. Marrone’s ideal would be to hold old-school, contact practices during camp and play starters in three of the four preseason games. That Marrone is going away from the old-school approach toward what he’s doing during this training camp shows the importance he is playing on player health. He believes the reward of health is worth the risk of fewer in-game repetitions. Time will tell if he’s right.

Nelson from Jacksonville

Do you think Taven “Heat Miser” Bryan will get some additional playing time during the Eagles game to maybe better prepare to make an impact come regular season? I know Marrone said he had a good game against Baltimore, but come regular season we may need to see more.

Bryan played about 50 percent of the plays against the Ravens last Thursday. That feels about right for what to expect against Philadelphia, and that’s enough.

Roger from Houston, TX

Memo to season-ticket holders: Look at the price on one of your tickets. Multiply it by 10. Divide the result by eight. That is what you are paying per regular-season game. The two preseason games are free.

I was told there would be no math.

Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL

One way to look at the fact that season-ticket buyers are forced to buy preseason tickets at full price: Even if you assume the preseason ones are worthless, there advantages to owning a guaranteed seat for all games, so you have to pay a premium for that, including the right to buy playoff tickets and the right to sell tickets at a profit, as some fans seem to do. Works out to about 30 percent.

Fair.

Tom from Charlottesville, VA

Based on your reporting, the offense is looking strong versus the defense. One of three things are happening. Is the offense that improved? Is the defense not as good as advertised? Or are you skewing the reporting to make the offense seem better than it is?

Training camp reporting often covers the offense more than defense because complete passes and runs tend to be more noticeable – and more reportable than failed runs and incomplete passes. The Jaguars’ passing offense certainly has looked better than it has in past training camps, but that doesn’t mean the defense isn’t playing well. It’s just difficult to know much about a defense when you can’t rush the passer or tackle runners to the ground. As for your final question, it implies I would have some reason to write favorably of one unit over the Jaguars or another. Not everything’s a conspiracy with some sort of ulterior motive, Tom. I’m just writing and talking about football in these parts. Don’t overthink it.

Ethan from Wampum, PA

Seventeen games could be more fair and balanced if every team had a single London game -- one that was considered neutral-site -- leaving every team with eight home, eight road, and one London (or Mexico) game. With the league continuing its push and presence abroad I could see this happening eventually. Or, if not, then the teams could simply alternate seasons with eight home games / eight road games one season, then eight home games / nine road games the next.

None of your ideas are bad, and a 17-game schedule with neutral-site games is certainly a possibility. But history suggests the league is comfortable with the logistics of an even-numbered scheduled. For a league reluctant to change, sticking with the even-numbered formula seems the likely route if the regular-season schedule expands.

David from Oviedo, FL

O-Zone: If linebacker Quincy Williams isn’t able to play on opening day, who is his replacement? Is it Leon Jacobs’ job to lose or is the position up for grabs? Is there anyone on the current roster to keep an eye on?

If Williams can’t play in Week 1, I expect veteran Najee Goode to start at weak-side linebacker. He has worked with the starters since Williams’ injury, and all reports about his performance have been favorable. Jacobs plays strong-side linebacker and Williams plays weak-side linebacker, so Jacobs won’t be considered to replace Williams.

Tim from Lancaster, PA

Is there a specific reason that the Jags’ third preseason game is always nationally televised? It is nice being out-of-state and able to watch it, but curious why the schedule seems to shake out that way.

It’s just how it has fallen lately. There’s no reason behind it.

Craig from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

My question relates to a phrase I’ve heard used not only by you but many in the NFL: “The position is open to competition.” How many positions do the Jags currently have where there is no definitive starter 1 month before the season starts?

I don’t actually use the phrase all that much, because true competition for a starting position in the NFL in training camp is relatively rare these days. I would say there’s competition at right guard for the Jaguars. Beyond that …

Nick from Annapolis, MD

It's been a while since I wrote this, so I'll write it again. Fred Taylor was a special player, and it will be a disservice to the history of the league if he does not make it into the Hall of Fame.

Fair.

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