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O-Zone: Ya think?

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Korn from Ottumwa, IA:
How do you think this team stacks up against the Panthers? Do we have a shot at the W?
John: I typically spend more time thinking about the Jaguars and how they're doing than I do their opponent; I've always been a believer that good teams do what they do well and if a team is good enough, that takes care of match-up problems. That being said, this team should match up OK with Carolina. The Panthers' offense is good, but without Kelvin Benjamin it's not loaded with offensive weapons; the Jaguars' defense must pressure Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. The Panthers' defense, particularly linebacker Luke Kuechly, is very good. The Jaguars' offense has shown signs of being much improved this season. If those signs become reality, then yeah … the Jaguars have a chance to score enough points to win Sunday.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
Hey O, I was watching the practice-squad signings from around the league and hadn't noticed Cap Capi anywhere. Was he signed to a practice squad? I didn't think he made anyone's 53 man-roster?
John: He did not sign with a practice squad or an active roster.
John from Jacksonville:
Hey Zone, as a new season begins, if you could jump in the O-Zone time capsule and cover any one team in NFL history for a season, what team might that be? Perhaps a Lombardi/Starr team, or the Canton Bulldogs with one of those cool press hats and coats, or maybe the '85 Bears and all that surrounded them, or even the '68-49ers so you could hang around Haight-Ashbury?
John: The 1968 New York Jets had to be fascinating; I've always been intrigued by the old AFL and covering Joe Namath's guarantee would have been cool. The 1985 Chicago Bears with Mike Ditka and those personalities certainly would have been entertaining. But I suppose because I'm a sentimental type I'd have to say the 1996 Jaguars. I did cover that team, but it was my second year covering the NFL and I didn't fully grasp what an unlikely, memorable story it indeed was. Also, my son had just been born … so all in all, I certainly wouldn't mind if you told me I had a chance to do a lot of things from the fall and winter of 1996 over again.
Nick from Copenhagen, Denmark:
I am so excited to see teams picking up former Jaguar players. About 10 percent of the waiver claims were former Jags. We must really have a strong roster now.
John: It's getting there.
Timothy from Rancho Cucamonga, CA:
O-man … I have watched our team closely during the preseason and I can't see any reason why Corey Grant shouldn't be the starting running back. I mean ... he obviously has the most potential and performed much better than any other of our running back this preseason. If you were our GM, would he start? If not … WHY?
John: If I were general manager, I would do what David Caldwell does – and that's let the coaches decide who starts. As for why the coaching staff is starting T.J. Yeldon with Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart in the rotation, it may have something to do with those three being better right now than Bernard Pierce and Grant. On a serious note, Grant has shown serious speed, but there's more to playing running back than pure speed. He will get opportunities as a kick returner. Over time, if he shows he needs to be in the running back rotation, the coaches will put him there.
Charlie from Jacksonville and Section 217:
Sorry to see we lost Stephen Morris; he was showing promise and would have been a good addition to the practice squad. But I guess that it's a good sign of progress on our part, when others teams that are considered to be "better" than us are picking up players that can't make our 53-man roster.
John: It's certainly not a bad sign.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
How important is it for the Jaguars to get pressure versus Carolina this week? Is the roster talented enough yet to pull out a win if they struggle like they have during the preseason?
John: I believe it's vital for the Jaguars' defense to pressure Cam Newton, and I don't believe that has to happen with just four down linemen trying to beat the player across from them one on one.
Ed from Winston-Salem, NC:
If you were general manager, do you think Monte Ball or Ray Rice are worth bringing in for a visit?
John: To the Jaguars?
Max from North Las Vegas, NV:
The Jaguars kept John Lotulelei at linebacker? I heard nothing about him during training camp so I assumed he wasn't making much of an impact. Which LB spot will he be playing?
John: John Lotulelei was overlooked by a lot of people around the team. That's probably because he had been injured each of his first two seasons with the Jaguars. But he made plays on special teams, constantly showing up there, and that prompted coaches to keep him. He'll play weak-side linebacker.
Rick from Jacksonville:
Hindsight being 20/20, do you think Morris may have been given the chance to play the entire fourth preseason game to allow him to "audition" for other teams, knowing he probably would not be kept? Or, was it simply a chance to rest our starter and backup?
John: The Jaguars played Stephen Morris the entire fourth preseason game to rest Blake Bortles and Chad Henne. I was surprised the Eagles signed Morris to their 53-man roster, but I doubt the Eagles signed him just because of that game and I don't think the Jaguars would have handled the fourth game differently whatever the circumstances.
David from Oviedo, FL:
Mighty-O, one thing I've noticed about Gus Bradley is he is very supportive of his players, which includes not taking jabs at them in the media. With that said, I found it outside the "company line" for Greg Olson to compare Marqise Lee to "the albino tiger at the zoo." Do you think Greg Olson was calling out Marqise Lee for his lack of toughness or was he just being a little playful with his words?
John: I think it's much more of the latter – primarily because Olson didn't say anything about Lee not being tough. If you read what Olson said, he didn't question anything about Lee, doubt that Lee wasn't injured or even criticize Lee. He simply pointed out that Lee was like the "albino tiger" in the sense that it's rare to see the albino tiger at the zoo because he rarely comes out of his cave. Given that Lee has practiced three times since Olson's arrival, it's not an unfair thing to say; Lee said as much himself on Monday when he called it an "amazing comparison" and said he didn't consider it an insult. We live during an era where people are scared to say anything much at all, so sometimes people confuse colorful with criticism/controversy. What Olson said was a lot more colorful than criticizing.
Scott from Jacksonville:
What, did Marqise Lee shred his hamstring or something? I remember when it first happened they said he 'tweaked' it and now we are going on seven weeks, way more than enough time to come back from this Grade 1 injury. In college they come back in three weeks.
John: Marqise Lee sustained his hamstring injury in the first week of August. He is now day-to-day and it sounds as if he will play no later than September 20. That's a total of six weeks. As for how long it takes to come back from injuries, it varies by players and degree of injury. That's true no matter where a person went to college.
Mike from West Des Moines, IA:
I wasn't surprised one bit by the cuts this year. I am a little surprised to see that Chris Smith is the starter at LEO. Was it a case of Smith's skills progressing to the point that the staff feels he is the better option to Clemons? Do they think Clemons' skills have declined enough to make Smith the better option? Was Andre Branch in line to be the starter there? I'm trying to figure out if this was someone exceeding expectations or if someone fell short of expectations.
John: Who starts and who doesn't varies in importance based on positions. It's very important at quarterback and offensive line and less important at tight end, wide receiver and running back. It's perhaps least important on the defensive line and almost unimportant at the Leo position. The Jaguars are going to rotate defensive linemen extensively this season, particularly at the Leo; while Smith will start on first and second downs, look for Clemons and Ryan Davis to play a lot in passing situations.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
All this talk about this team is better will be put to the test now that it counts.
John: Well, yeah.

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