O-Zone: Watch out

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Paul from Ponte Vedra, FL

YO ZONE … WHY are professional (paid) athletes given the option of voluntary? Would it not be easier to simply make the practices mandatory? Seems to the novice eye that would nix all this in one simple change of a word. Q: So if this a voluntary situation ... what would a team do if NO players show up? Again, just wondering …

It absolutely would be easier for NFL teams to make the entire offseason program mandatory for all players, and I have no doubt many coaches and teams would do just that if they could. But the NFL and its players operate under collective bargaining agreements between owners and players. Under the rules of the 2011 CBA (and previous CBAs, for that matter), all offseason work is voluntary except for a three-day mandatory minicamp in mid-June. The entire offseason theoretically could become mandatory if players and owners negotiated that into existence, but that’s never going to happen. Players wouldn’t agree to it; owners are worried about other issues during negotiations, so they would never push for it. Also, this time being voluntary is a good thing. There’s no reason for it to be mandatory because players aren’t hurt by missing an OTA practice or two – and neither are teams. What would happen if no one showed up? First, it would never happen because marginal players rarely – if ever – miss. But if it did happen? I guess coaches would go home early a few days. They would have to be careful, though. Otherwise they might get hit by me cartwheeling happily down the hall.

Scott from Daytona Beach and Section 437

I think it’s bull that Jalen’s not going to show up for voluntary camp next year. I’m going to start complaining right now.

You are not alone, my friend. You are not alone.

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico

I may be in the minority here, but I actually think Ramsey not being here might be for the best. What better way to mature quickly than to spend time getting smacked by your old man AND being a parent of a toddler yourself? Do you think his dad cares he's a millionaire NFL star? Do you think his baby cares? I think he might come back a better player from this, if possible, a more mature person, a better leader …

We’re long since lost in the weeds on this Ramsey-offseason issue, but that’s OK. What better time to be lost in the NFL weeds than mid-June? Ramsey likely is never going to train away from Nashville, Tennessee, during the voluntary offseason program. He will attend the mandatory portion of the offseason next week. All the discussion and debate in the world isn’t going to change it, and it’s not going to change the fact that he’s going to be a Pro Bowl-level player whether or not he ever steps foot in TIAA Bank Field during a voluntary period.

John from Jacksonville

I almost wish that all players would not show up for voluntary OTAs. This would solve all the needless suffocating angst that comes across on the O-Zone. We're better than that.

Are we?

Logan from Wichita, KS

The signing of Pryor tells me two things. 1. Our front office thinks as long as a player played for a coach we brought in this year they must be a game changer. 2. Our wide receiver depth is HORRIBLE ... still/again...

That’s awesome insight. But your analysis assumes that the Jaguars signed wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. Monday with the belief that he’s going to be a game-changer or an impact player. That may be an overstatement. More likely they see him as a player worth signing to see if he can contribute to the receiving corps in some way. There’s no risk to this acquisition and it’s only reward. If it works, great. If not, he will be released and he and the team will move on.

Mike from Section238

Forget the leadership aspect about Ramsey or that he'll be physically ready when he comes to camp or that he'll likely be in the Pro Bowl discussion yet again this year or that a pro's first obligation is to take care of himself and his family. Wouldn't it be in our young safeties' benefit to work on their communication with him right now? He's had a few off-communication days in his recent past also. It seems like communication there is almost as important as individual skill, so I think he has some obligation – albeit secondary, to work on the defensive backs' communication as a unit. I get it - it's not gonna happen, so don't stress about it. But let's not pretend his non-participation doesn't hurt their chances of winning at all.

Could the secondary work on communication during late May and early June? Sure. Is the communication so complex that it can’t be learned August? No. Look, I get this is going to be a topic because people believe that NFL players should practice whenever they can all the time, but to think the Jaguars are going to lose games next season because Ramsey isn’t in OTAs is to dramatically overestimate the importance of OTAs.

Hunter from Jacksonville

Thirty-two teams, 53 spots, you’re the commissioner ... does Richie Incognito have a spot in your league?

If I haven’t banned him under NFL rules, then yes.

Nick from Cooper City

Is 10+ sacks an unrealistic expectation for Josh Allen this year?

It’s probably a bit unrealistic as an expectation because double-digit sacks is a big number – even for a Top 10-drafted rookie with big-time pass-rushing talent. A lot must go right and a rookie must adapt remarkably quickly to have that kind of impact. It’s possible, though. He’ll almost certainly be on the field in enough obvious passing situations – and he should have enough good pass rushers around him – to make that a realistic goal.

Mark from Ponte Vedra and Section 215

So, I guess Brady is not a leader?

Brady who?

Roger from Houston, TX

I hear Tom Brady skipped the Patriots' voluntary OTAs this year and last. This puts his leadership and commitment in serious question. I think the Pats ought to just release this locker room cancer.

Oh, Tom Brady. Got it.

Chris from Section 437

With more talk of the NFL possibly expanding to an 18-game regular season, how do you think these two new games would enter in to the equation? My guess is the NFL would want say over these match ups without making it from stats and what division you are to play this year. What do you think?

Let me start by saying moving to an 18-game regular season is a bad idea from a football standpoint, particularly if it means reducing the preseason to two games. While I don’t love watching/covering preseason football, there is value to it because of roster evaluation and a time for players to prepare for the regular season. Still, it seems inevitable that the league is going to go to 18 games at some point relatively soon. As far as the extra two games, it seems you’re saying that the league might want flexibility to create high-profile matchups. That’s an intriguing idea, though my early thought is that the league might shy away from the concept. The schedule as it stands right now is completely dictated by where you finished the previous year and the division in which you play. Your opponents and where you play are completely dictated by formula, thus shielding the process from accusations of favoritism. If the league opts to start scheduling two games a year per team to create cool matchups for television or interest, you make it a more subjective process. Yes, it would be cool and make for some good games. But I wonder if the league wants the headache involved.

Fred from Vancouver, BC

When you reported that Wilson is "expected to start at strong safety," were you implying that Harrison is expected to start at free safety?

I have written several times in recent weeks and throughout the offseason that Jarrod Wilson is expected to start at strong safety, and I have written that Ronnie Harrison is expected to start at free safety. I have worded it this way because until they actually start there is no guarantee that they will start. The intention was not to imply anything about either player. Harrison and Wilson are the projected starting safeties. I expect both will start barring injuries or very poor play in training camp or preseason.

DreamWeaver from Section 214

In the NFL there are several different roster designations: the active roster, IR, PUP, NFI and Reserved/Suspended. But every player knows that there are really just two lists. IR and a list of players Greg Jones allows to live.

One fer Jones.

Robert from Orange Park, FL

Makes sense Greg Jones has never wore a watch. Because he decides what time it is.

One fer Jones.

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