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O-Zone: Wanting, needing more

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
Teams often pick up late preseason cuts from other teams. Barring some really good player being unexpectedly cut, do you see the Jags targeting any positions, or will they continue the youth movement with the players we have?
John: I actually don't see the Jaguars necessarily needing to "target" many positions. After three offseasons and two seasons drafting and developing with this regime, the Jaguars have young players they like at most positions – and ideally, you want your backups and depth to be young players you're developing. The logical positions at which they might acquire a player or two are perhaps linebacker and safety. They may not be quite as deep there as at other positions, and you can always use fast, young players there for special teams. But even those acquisitions would be more about finding a player the team thought might be an upgrade rather than trying to salvage weak areas.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
What happens if Luke Joeckel goes down for the season? It seems that could be the one injury that would end the season's progress. What would be the backup plan? Move Parnell over? Also, just wondering your thoughts on Galette? I think he'd make a great Otto or part-time Leo, but I DON'T want a cancer in the locker room.
John: An injury to Luke Joeckel certainly wouldn't be a good thing for the Jaguars. Few NFL teams have backup left tackles who they believe are as good as their starters; if they did, those players would probably be … um … starters! At the same time, I wouldn't go as far as to say it would end the team's progress – though it's certainly something that needs to be solidified in training camp and preseason. Josh Wells could be an option to step in, or they could move Austin Pasztor to the left side. As far as Junior Galette is concerned, he undoubtedly is a talented player, but if you're trying to avoid drama …
Jeff from PSL:
If Morris or Tuel have a good camp, do you see the end of Henne's time in Jax?
John: No.
Tom from Jacksonville:
What do you think of Chris Smith's chances of making the roster? Would he still be eligible for practice squad?
John: I think Smith's chances are pretty good, but I do think he'll have to perform well in training camp and the preseason and make a second-year jump. Whereas last season as a rookie time could be taken to allow him to develop, he may be at the stage where he looks like he can make an impact. And yes – he would be eligible for the practice squad if he doesn't make the 53-man roster.
Dalton from UCF:
There is a lot of hype around Julius Thomas and how much he will contribute next year. I'm kind of confused on what exactly his role is going to be. One of the biggest knocks on him during free agency was he is a subpar run blocker. Will we try to develop him in that area or is the offensive staff more worried about developing his skills for the passing game? I would think a tight end would need to have decent run-blocking skills to be considered "elite." I can't imagine him only being in for passing plays.
John: Thomas' role will be as a pass-receiving tight end, and he is particularly strong as a red-zone threat. Though it would be a reach to call him an elite run-blocking tight end, it's not as though he won't be in the game on running plays. Remember, teams often use two tight-end sets in which one is more of a run-blocker and the other is more of a pass-receiver, H-Back, "move" tight end. There are some coordinators who prefer that package to all others because of the balance it creates. And I wouldn't fret too much over Thomas potentially being a "receiving" tight end. There have been many move, pass-receiving tight ends who have been effective in the NFL. Shannon Sharpe. Dallas Clark. There was one in Denver the last couple of seasons. I forget his name.
April from Pooler, GA:
I fear Nick Marshall will be placed on the practice squad, another team will get him and he will be great (for them) in two years.
John: Fear is difficult stuff, April. It can even be … scary. Don't worry about this, though. If Marshall shows the potential to be great, I imagine the Jaguars will find a way to keep him on the active roster as a special teams player.
Patrick from Merced, CA:
This explains why the Jags will be a good .500 team this year. The plan is set in place. And the rebuild is in its third year with all the positions filled with talent!! I am excited for this season. I predict at least eight-to-nine wins (a huge leap forward) and by the 2016 season a run for the Super Bowl ...
John: You're in the right ballpark. I wouldn't call all of the positions filled with talent. The Jaguars made a lot of offseason moves and history tells you not every offseason move is a home run. But the percentages tell you that a lot of the moves have a chance to be productive and that should mean a lot of tangible improvement. That's the idea.
Jason from DTWD:
In response to TJ Yeldon's comment..."Son, your ego is writing checks your body can't cash."
John: I suppose I need to clarify that the comment from T.J. Yeldon in Tuesday's Ozone that he planned to be remembered as the best running back in Jaguars history in 15 years was presumably NOT from T.J. Yeldon. I assume most players have far better things to do than read the O-Zone, much less write to it citing career goals.
Nate from Visalia:
Leaving NH right now … I stood in line seriously thinking about a flight change and heading your way for a training camp visit. Decided against it. I got the feeling my boss wouldn't be too happy with me if I went down there on his dime. I was sad … but there is light! I have enough miles to fly out from California for free and catch a game this season. I'll buy you a beer by the pools … then I'll drink it knowing you're there in spirit.
John: Good plan.
Stu from Hemel, UK:
Mild outrage and a spilled cup of tea aside regarding Joseph's comment about preseason vs. regular season games in the UK ... Whilst I get that giving up a home game sucks for fans, what you get back in return is huge. Case in point - I was strolling through the lovely town of St. Albans of few weeks ago wearing my Jags jersey when a guy from Jacksonville stopped me on the street. It blew his mind that a) someone in the UK was wearing a Jags top and b) we could have a coherent conversation about last year's season. The Jags have such a diverse fan base - surely that's a good thing?
John: Of course it's a good thing. It's a very, very good thing – even a great thing. At the same time, it's understandable that it's an uncomfortable difficult thing for some people to grasp and accept. Change is difficult. New ideas are often tough to accept until they become more … well, acceptable.
Brian from New Hampshire:
John, interested in your view on Brady's suspension. Not so much why he was suspended, but the fact someone like Greg Hardy who had plenty of evidence of him basically beating and throwing his girlfriend on a ton of guns getting his 10-game suspension reduced to four games. Brady is getting the same amount of games as someone charged with a violent crime for something that really didn't affect the outcome of the game.
John: It's always tricky to compare suspension lengths, especially in the NFL when there are only 16 games in a season. It's also tricky to compare in-game-oriented suspensions with suspensions for off-field conduct. I don't think anyone would tell you that what Brady did was "worse" from a moral/legal standpoint than what Hardy did. At the same time, the NFL Commissioner does have a responsibility to withhold the integrity of the game, and I think that's the heart of the Brady matter. No, what he and the Patriots allegedly did didn't affect the outcome of the AFC Championship Game, but if what they allegedly did goes unpunished – or is punished lightly – then the Commissioner is showing that it's OK to cheat, then lie then apparently take pretty extensive measures to cover up the actions. Seen from that light, it's fairly easy to see why Roger Goodell would issue a four-game suspension.
Cory from Frankfort, NY:
Simply loved the more commitment, more strength, more consistency vids … that is all.
John: That's all? You don't want more?

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