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O-Zone: Workout warrior

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Jeff from Keystone Heights

I know the rankings are so very important, but No. 3 scares me. Calm my fears of a major meltdown and letdown of a season.

You’re referring to me ranking Jaguars No. 3 in the oh-so-important jaguars.com NFL preseason rankings – and you are correct in your sarcastic assessment about the rankings’ importance. As for calming your fears about the Jaguars’ 2018 season, I’m afraid I cannot do that. There are high expectations for this team and those expectations are valid. It’s a roster very capable of big things. But professional athletics are not scripted television. The reason they’re so compelling is no one knows what will happen before it takes place. That’s particularly true in the NFL, a league in which games more often than not are decided by a score or less – and a league in which injuries as often as not play a major role in deciding the outcomes of seasons. So, no … I can’t calm your fears. I can tell you that the Jaguars have a chance to be really good this season. As for that nervous anxiety you feel? That’s what makes it fun.

Grant from Fernandina Beach, FL

Just to let you know ... if you pick on Scobee like that again we will find you. We love you, O. but don't mess with the Scobster.

Scobee knows where to find me.

Travis from High Springs, FL

A lot of people I've been talking to are looking at the Giants’ 3-13 record from last season and thinking they should be an easy win for the Jaguars. I don't see it that way. The Giants dealt with major injuries to key players last year. They also had a coach that was on the hot seat – and the year before all the injuries, I believe they were 11-5. I see this as a really tough opening game for the Jaguars. I think they'll win, but I think it's going to be a lot closer than some people expect. How do you feel about the matchup this week?

I feel the same way I have for the last couple of weeks – that the New York Giants are indeed a dangerous Week 1 opponent. Week 1 is dangerous no matter the opponent because it’s very difficult to game-plan for teams when there’s no regular-season video to be studied. The Giants are more dangerous because Head Coach Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator Mike Shula and defensive coordinator James Bettcher are all in their first seasons. That means going back and looking at the coaches’ old teams – Minnesota/Shurmur, Shula/Carolina and Bettcher/Arizona – for clues about what how they might approach Sunday. What makes the Giants even more dangerous? The presence of an experienced Super Bowl-winning quarterback (Eli Manning), a dynamic rookie running back (Saquon Barkley) and an elite wide receiver (Odell Beckham Jr.). This unquestionably is a game the Jaguars can win. Perhaps it’s a game they should win. But it’s in no way an easy victory.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

John, can you share some insider insight? I’ve always wondered how players feel when lining up against former teammates. Sure, they’re professionals, but isn’t it a challenge to see someone solely as the opposition after having shared so much in the same games, practices, meetings and locker room? Opening day example: Giants guard Patrick Omameh, who started 13 games for us last year.

Nah. They a-ight.

Figgymoto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

O, everyone knows who Blake Bortles is. There is no need to always refer to him as "Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles" every time you type his name. Nor is it necessary to constantly write down any other Jaguars position when referring to them. Those fingers only have some many types in them, spare them the rigor of adding position and team to every player you talk about and our eyes from always having to read it.

Thank you for the advice. I’ll probably go ahead and keep doing my job the fundamentally correct way. Remember: not everyone who reads this forum and this website is as knowledgeable about every Jaguars player and position as yourself. It’s far easier for someone knowledgeable about the team to read past a position and a team name than it is for someone less knowledgeable to understand a story without positions or team names attached. I suppose if it annoys you so much you could read another source of Jaguars information, but a word to the wise: most people who know what they’re doing identify who they’re writing about. It’s just how it is.

Kyle from Pensacola, FL

Why did Will Grier leave UF? He was suspended for PEDs. And rather than stand by the kid through his suspension, ol' Mac sent him away. One fer Will. Gators miss him, although Felipe is looking better under new Head Coach Dan Mullen, so far.

Good for Felipe, I guess.

Scott from New York City, NY

Everyone who is calling out Ramsey for his "conduct unbecoming of a Jaguars football player,” and the team not doing ANYTHING about it: I seem to recall the team suspending him for a week right after the first article came out. Sometimes the brass works in mysterious ways.

There’s no mystery here. Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was suspended for a week before the first article that’s bothering so many people – the one in GQ – appeared.

Jess from Highland, IL

Something just isn't coming clear in the player's kneeling conversation. I, and most people, support the player's right to voice or express their opinions on any subject they wish. We all have that right. However, what most of us cannot do is voice or express our opinion at work. You're an employee of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and I bet there is a policy for employees that prohibits or at least limits what and how you can discuss or display your beliefs or feeling. The players are employees of the Jacksonville Jaguars, which is an entity within the NFL. If the NFL had taken a stance at the beginning, we would not be talking about this now.

This part of this conversation, like most parts of this issue, isn’t nearly as simple as your question implies. While players absolutely represent the Jaguars, they are absolutely not “employees” in the normal sense of the words. They are contracted employees, with collectively bargained rules applying to their employment that have nothing to do with the terms of employment of “normal” employees of the team. Think of them more as independent contractors. However you think of them, to say that players should or shouldn’t do things because they are employees never will be pertinent to the discussion. It’s one a point I hear made often, but it just doesn’t apply in this situation.

Darren from Chulouta, FL

Zone - Sorry, Corey Grant is not like Maurice Jones-Drew or Fred Taylor, he’s more like Darren Sproles. Getting closer?

A little. Jaguars running back Grant is more like Sproles than Jones-Drew or Taylor in the sense that he’s probably not going to be a long-term, every-down back in the NFL – and in the sense that his speed and playmaking ability make him extremely dangerous as a weapon/package player. The difference is that Sproles has a little more ability to make defenders miss – as evidenced by his seven career punt returns for touchdowns. Grant’s not as much a “make-you-miss”/return-punts guy as he is a straight-ahead, scare-the-defense-with-his-speed guy. Either way, he’s a dangerous guy and a valuable guy, too.

Eli from the New York Metropolitan Area

Will Jalen most likely cover the wide side of the field or follow a certain wide receiver? Asking for a friend.

You and your friend are sneaky types, Eli, but this is actually isn’t a state secret. The most likely scenario is that Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey will cover Giants All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. all over the field when the Jaguars are in man-to-man coverage. When they’re in zone, Ramsey, Jaguars All-Pro cornerback A.J. Bouye and a combination of safeties Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church will have a good idea of Beckham’s whereabouts and shade defenses his way whenever possible.

Richard from Jacksonville

Richard from Orange Park is an imposter! I have moved to Jax Beach. Why would we carry a long snapper? I snapped in high school; he must have never tried to do it. That is all I am going to say, O'man.

You’re talking about Poor Richard’s bewilderment early this week that the Jaguars carried a player (Carson Tinker) solely to long snap. Your point is valid. Its why pretty much NFL teams carry a full-time player at the position.

Fred from Naples, FL

How many times on the weekday "Drive Time" does Brian Sexton have to mention he "works out?" We get it by now. Geez, what an ego. Knowing this probably won't make it to print perhaps you could bend WAY down and whisper it into his ear. Thanks!

Who’s Brian Sexton?

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