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O-Zone: Widest of margins

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Can you give us some background on Walker Little? It seems like there are more than just you really high on Little. It comes out of nowhere for us fans because we aren't around NFL circles and he didn't even play last year. I know that fans not hearing about someone means nothing at all. I'm curious as to how Walker Little rose so high in NFL insiders' opinions given that he didn't play last year. I'm not doubting he can play; I don't know. Was it his family talking him up, does he work out with NFL players or trainers? Suggesting that he could come in and compete and possibly take a starting left tackle job as a rookie indicates to me that he's real good, maybe a very high draft pick under "normal" circumstances. Is he a beast in the weight room?

The background on Jaguars rookie tackle Walker Little has been well-documented since the team selected him in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He was the nation's top offensive line recruit when he signed with Stanford, and he started for Stanford as a true freshman in 2017. He was a first-team All-Pac 12 selection at left tackle as a sophomore in 2018 and he was a likely Top 10 selection in the 2020 NFL Draft when the 2019 season began. He sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the first game of the 2019 season then sat out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns and to prepare for the NFL Draft. As far as how he is viewed, I don't know that this is a case of him rising in insiders' opinions as much as the opposite being true – that the NFL generally discounted him because of his circumstances. Had he not been injured, he almost certainly would have been selected in the top half of the first round; he has prototypical NFL left-tackle size and striking athleticism. His draft status also seemed to be hurt by sitting out because of COVID-19, and that's the weirdest part of the story. Many Pac-12 players opted out of the 2020 season because that conference's season initially was canceled and not restarted until November. Many of those players, Walker among them, were already preparing for the draft and opted to not play in a shortened and uncertain season. Despite being an absolutely logical and understandable decision that many people would have made, this last circumstance seemed to make NFL teams wary when it came to drafting many Pac 12 players. That never made sense. And in the case of Little, the torn ACL occurred when he was 20 and a junior in college; so, there's no reason to think the knee won't return to full health. But yes … the Jaguars are high on Little. He has all the traits of a big-time tackle. He, like any rookie, must prove that those traits translate. But he absolutely looks promising.

Charles from Jacksonville

Hey, Zone! How likely do you believe we are to get autographs this year at fan attended practices? Do you think there will be stipulations such as, say, only fans who have gotten the vaccine may get close enough to get something signed? Or possibly a mandatory mask requirement for all fans??

My understanding is the final details of all training-camp related issues are being discussed and will be determined in the coming days. As your question indicates, there remain many COVID-19-related issues around this and some other NFL issues for 2021 – and those issues aren't easy. I would expect an announcement regarding training camp soon.

Ed from Jax

What will happen to players who aren't vaccinated but whose teams have international games? They wouldn't be allowed in the country. What happens to their salaries and roster spots for that game?

Stay tuned.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Did you watch this Atlanta/Milwaukee game? What do you (if you were the media for this game) ask an Atlanta player afterwards? What went wrong? How do you help them keep their dignity but serve Hawk fans?

I did see Friday's Atlanta-Milwaukee game in the Eastern Conference NBA Finals, a game won by the Milwaukee Bucks in blowout fashion. What would I ask an Atlanta player afterward I were in that situation? "What went wrong" indeed is a good place to start. "What do you do to move forward?" is another. My experience is that professional athletes in that situation understand the task at hand and that the players who speak to the media understand the questions that are coming; if there were certain areas where the team played poorly, you lead players in that direction. My guess, though, is the Hawks won't have many issues with "dignity" regarding that loss. It's professional sports; players know they're good and they're confident they will play well in the next game no matter the results of the previous game. Remember, too: The Hawks-Bucks series is tied 1-1 and the Hawks won Game One in Milwaukee. They're essentially leading the series. Either way, one game does not decide series. Even one game as one-sided as Friday's Bucks victory over the Hawks.

Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL

"Smokey and the Bandit" or "Cannonball Run?"


Mateo from Jax

How long until we can get new uniforms again? Winning doesn't make me like them because the previous jerseys still looked atrocious when we made the AFC Championship. Go back to the Jags' early 2000s uniforms! They didn't look like practice jerseys for a high school team.

NFL teams can change uniforms every five years, so the Jaguars can next change uniforms for the 2023 season.

Andrew from Lindale

Quick congratulations to former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor for his induction into the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame.

Absolutely. It's not the only Hall of Fame in which Taylor deserves to be enshrined, but perhaps it will be a start.

William the Contemplator from Jax

Can you please do us all a favor and stop including those contrived questions from Gator from Gainesville? We get the lame joke. Time to move on and use the space for an actual question related to the Jaguars. Enough is enough.

What I'll probably do is continue to include questions I want in this forum. I'll do this because I'm "awesome." As you know.

Ryan from Apopka, FL

Hi Zone, since we are officially in the dead zone, that means Wimbledon is right around the corner (starting Monday). So, what are your thoughts? Can Fed regain his form and win Major No. 21? Can the Joker win Wimbledon No. 6 (getting closer to Roger's eight)? That would also give him the first three of the year with only the US Open to do the calendar grand slam? Do you think the Joker is in good enough form to also win the Gold in Tokyo and win the four slams and Gold in one year? If he does that, would even you (a HUGE Federer fan) admit that the Joker is the GOAT in Men's tennis? He would have the most singles majors, the gold and the only person to do the slams in the calendar year.

Wimbledon indeed starts Monday – and with only a handful of readers sharing this interest, I'll get this out of the way quickly (relatively quickly, anyway). While I hope Roger Federer can regain form and win this year's title, I seriously doubt he can do so at his age – particularly having played sparingly on grass leading into the tournament. I do believe Novak Djokovic will win and tie Rafael Nadal and Federer with 20 grand slams. I also believe Djokovic will win the U.S. Open and the Olympics this year; he has a mental toughness and confidence in big situations that's stunningly difficult to bear. If he does all of this, many analysts would declare him the greatest of all time and he would have absolute claim to the title. I see things in tennis a little differently than many, because age is such an overwhelming factor. While Djokovic has beaten Federer often head-to-head, Federer is six years older than Djokovic and I wonder how the two would have fared against each other had they played head-to-head in their primes; I do believe Djokovic's youth has helped him just enough in those matchups to give him the edge in what by any measure has been a razor-close rivalry. But I also admit that my view may be slanted by my bias as a Federer fan. Djokovic has been a machine over the last decade and has been the best player during that time. This has been his time and if he finishes the year – and his career – as I suspect he will, he likely will be remembered by many as the best ever until the next best ever comes along. As it inevitably and always does.

Marc Thorpe from Oceanway

Zone, Do you ever miss Indianapolis? How does it compare to Jacksonville as a "Football Town?"

No. Not as good and not really close.