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O-Zone: Teach your children

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Why does Doug feel the need to lie about benching Bortles in practice? Rest? Wasn't the team off on Friday? Bortles only threw five passes Thursday night, right? Please cut the BS. By all accounts, Bortles threw two pick-sixes halfway through practice. Why can't he just say Bortles is buns?
John: You're referring of course to what nearly was the biggest news Sunday at Jaguars training camp: backup quarterback Chad Henne taking repetitions with the Jaguars' first-team offense during the last half of practice. This indeed came after Bortles threw a couple of interceptions that were returned for touchdowns – one by middle linebacker Paul Posluszny and another by cornerback Tyler Patmon. I'll be the first to admit: when Henne first started taking first-team repetitions, I wondered if Head Coach Doug Marrone was sending a message to Bortles – or if Marrone just wanted to see the offense with Henne. But Marrone said afterward Henne's first-team reps had nothing to do with Bortles' interceptions and everything to do with resting Bortles' arm. And the reality is the Jaguars are two-and-half weeks into training camp with two dual practices scheduled for Monday and Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It stands to reason Bortles will take a ton of first-team repetitions – and make a ton of throws – in those practices. Will Marrone eventually pull Bortles if he throws costly interceptions? I don't think there's any question about that. Was he lying about Bortles Sunday? I have no reason to think that.
Brandon from Athens, GA:
If Chad Henne looked comfortable with the ones and they were also crisp, could it be legitimate that he pushes Bortles for the starting job? Marrone wants the best, right?
John: We're not there yet. I'm not saying we won't ever, ever get there. I'm not saying Bortles has looked great in training camp. I'm not saying Henne didn't look good Sunday when running with the first team, and I'm not saying the offense didn't look crisp. I'm just saying when it comes to Henne legitimately pushing Bortles for the starting job … we're not there yet.
Mark from Archer, FL:
The Flex Field is cursed! Seriously, though: bring on the people who are going to over-react to everything that happened Sunday. Two questions for you now. I know the head coach wants players to earn a spot. But at this point, we all know Cam Robinson is the starting left tackle. They need to stop rotating him with other people; he is a rookie and he needs all the reps he can get with the starters. Secondly, what do you think it means that they put Paul Posluszny with the first team?
John: It's wonderful that you and everyone know the Jaguars' starting left tackle – and I absolutely agree that Robinson will start there Week 1. But Marrone believes rookies should earn positions for a reason, and there's nothing wrong with making Robinson earn that. Robinson got plenty of first-team repetitions Thursday against the Patriots, and I imagine he'll continue to get plenty of first-team repetitions the rest of the preseason. What does it mean that Posluszny worked with the first team Sunday? It means the coaches are considering whether Posluszny in the middle with Myles Jack at strong side and Telvin Smith at weak side is their best linebacker corps in base. My sense is that will be the case and that you'll see that lineup in base with Jack and Smith staying on the field in nickel situations. It's an easy solution that makes sense.
Bill from Folkston, GA:
Hey, John. Have to admit I am getting a little tired of all the quarterback questions. I am hoping for the best with Bortles but actually think we will be drafting early again next year. My question: what is your opinion of Dawuane Smoot so far? Did we catch lightning in the bottle again in the third round?
John: I haven't focused as much as I should have on Smoot in practice or in games. Strong-side ends don't always stand out to the naked eye the way edge rushers or interior defensive linemen do. But everyone I've asked around the organization likes Smoot. A lot. Lightning in a bottle? I don't know. Good draft selection? The signs are there.
Chris from London Town:
O'Mighty O, please give me some good news on Marqise Lee. Please say he's only out for two-to-three weeks. I honestly believe when fit and over the last 12 months he is our best wide receiver. Sure, Allen Robinson is close – and the fact he stays healthy puts him slightly ahead – but on pure playing talent Lee was going to be the man this season!
John: I can't get on board with Lee being ahead of Robinson. I'm as big a fan of Lee's athleticism and playmaking as anyone – and I believe he is critical to the offense this season – but Robinson throughout training camp has been the Jaguars' best, most-reliable receiver and I doubt that changes during the regular season. Robinson looks the part of a player destined for a huge year. As for your request, it appears there is good news regarding Lee. The team has not issued anything official, but all reports are that Lee's injury is comparatively minor and that his season is not in jeopardy. It looked far worse when it initially happened.
Pookie from Panda City:
Under the previous regime, Todd Wash's defenders couldn't tackle. All the changes were made and Wash was replaced with Wash – and still Wash's defenders can't tackle. I think this is one of those "trend" thingies. Short of firing Wash and then hiring Wash, what's it going to take to get our defenders to stop bouncing off the ball carrier like balloon animals?
John: What?
J-Smooth from Jacksonville:
The Albino Tiger strikes again!!
John: This refers of course to Lee's aforementioned injury Sunday. It's understandable a casual observer would think this, because a casual observer would see news that Lee sustained an injury and remember that former Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson once referred to Lee as the "Albino Tiger" because he was rarely practicing at the time. That was during a period when Lee struggled with soft-tissue injuries to the point that frustration on the part of all parties – Lee included – was understandable. Sunday's injury occurred during practice when Lee was trying to stop during a route. It was an unavoidable occurrence that could have happened to any player under the same circumstance. Frustrating? Frightening? Sure. An Albino Tiger-type of situation? No – not to the astute observers, anyway.
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
Thunder and Lightning were the two best receivers in Jags history, but as far as overall receiving corps go would you say this is the most talent the Jags have ever had?
John: It depends on how you measure talent. This is probably the Jaguars' deepest receiving corps with the most upside potential. But Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell were phenomenally productive for an extended period – and were very talented. So, in terms of high-end talent? Give me Smith and McCardell. In terms of depth? The nod goes to the current group.
Dave from Duval:
You need to play as many games as you've missed to remove the label that Marqise Lee has. I'd like to see a second season of him staying healthy for the most part before you can trust that he's going to be a long-term asset.
John: Lee has played 39 NFL regular-season games. He has missed nine regular-season games.
Zeke from Duval:
Do you think the Jags should kick the tires on Robert Aguayo? Jason Myers' stats haven't been much better and a little competition could be good.
John: Aguayo as a rookie with Tampa Bay last season converted seventy-one percent of his field goals with a long field goal of 43 yards. Myers has made 82.8 percent of his field goals with a career long of 58. I do think the Jaguars will bring in competition if Myers struggles, but his statistics absolutely are better that those of Aguayo.
Josh from Pensacola, FL:
I don't want to get too excited about Keelan Cole yet because I've only seen one game and it was preseason. But a 97-yard touchdown on what will likely be the longest touchdown reception of the preseason by any player in the league is nothing to turn the nose up at. Can't ask for a bigger splash.
John: It's wise to judge preseasons of reserve wide receivers with a wary eye. It's very often the case that huge statistics by young wide receivers are compiled against third-team players, and the most productive preseason players sometimes don't make the final roster. But I'm starting to get the sense that's not going to be Cole's fate. Through roughly two-and-a-half weeks of training camp, Cole has been productive not only in practice, but in games. He also is starting to show up on special teams, which is a key for an undrafted rookie trying to earn a roster spot. This kid may be more than splash.
Zeke from Duval:
Zone, I used to have a teacher who said "there are no stupid questions" ... I always knew he was wrong.
John: There are no stupid questions – only stupid senior writers.

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