The meaning of voluntary

Let's get to it . . . Rameses from Norfolk, VA:
Do you think Rashean Mathis' skill set can translate to the nickel position? I would think he has the ability – when healthy – to thrive in that role.
John: Sure, he has the skill set to play nickel, but he also played corner at a pretty high level last year. The main reasons people are assuming Mathis must move from corner are age and his torn anterior cruciate ligament injury last season. Those are legitimate reasons, because they're factors that often slow players. But Mathis has played well enough for long enough to deserve the chance to play corner next season, and if he outplays Aaron Ross, that's where he'll play. If he doesn't, he can play nickel. That's a good situation for Mathis and the Jaguars.
Adam from Section 410:
What's the best way to handle the offseason and excitement for pre-season? I find that each O-Zone is one day closer to the new season. More golf?
John: Just do what I do to pass time in the off-season.
Al from Fruit Cove, FL:
As far as calling the media out, no way should the Mayor do that and Khan has more important things on his mind. When Tampa changed its name from the Devil Rays to just the Rays, they sent a letter to any reporter or broadcaster who made the mistake, fining them a $1 donation to a charity. I don't remember any reporters being offended, and the idea seems to have worked well. I nominate you to start a program to let writers know the Jags are not even close to moving, due to the stadium situation and Shad Khan's desire to keep the team in Jacksonville. Also, our attendance is better than many teams in the NFL and we haven't had a blackout in two years. If this info was sent to each "lazy" writer with an amusing "fine," I believe our point would get across fairly quickly.
John: Not a bad idea. One obvious problem is that I find that a lot of the writers and other media do know the very facts you state. Sometimes facts don't override misconceptions or stubbornness. Also, with so many clueless media out there, the postage will be astronomical.
Tony from Jacksonville:
Can we PLEASE stop with the MJD comments? How can we have a good season without our centerpiece? Seriously? How many times do you have to explain that this is a NON-ISSUE right now? Please don't respond to any more MJD contract questions. Some people will never get it. For the rest of us who do, this is brutal.
John: When you're right, you're right.
Josh from Jacksonville:
Wow. Not one question about the lease default? I'm glad you can sweep it under the rug in the O-zone while everyone else throws it in our (the fans) faces.
John: I answered one question, and answered it in pretty straightforward fashion. I didn't think it was worth a lot more than that.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I thought I would never witness anything crazier (pertaining to the Jaguars) than the situation with a certain unnamed QB. Then, the city's general counsel sends a letter accusing the Jaguars of breaking the terms of their lease and declaring them in default. Thank goodness that insanity was straightened out relatively quickly, but what's next, raining frogs?
John: Sometimes when things play out in the media they appear worse than they are. You would think this is such a situation.
Brad from Orange Park, FL:
No disrespect intended, but if you're gonna tell me there's a difference in 'trying to be funny' and 'having an agenda' – you're being arrogant in the face of reality. It's understandable to be a professional and give your peers the benefit of the doubt, but justifying their actions is where you're veering off at.
John: There's no difference between trying to be funny and having an agenda? Really? You write often. You're better than that. An agenda would mean the national media at some point is saying, "I want to make Jacksonville look bad," then planning how to do that on a regular basis. I don't believe that's the case. I just think right now Jacksonville is an easy target and as the franchise becomes more successful that will change.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
A lot of the things I read about Branch pre-draft were how he was a one-year wonder who didn't live up to his physical potential. Later, I read an article on this site that said he did not truly begin studying game film and gaining a better understanding of the position through technique until his senior year and now has an incredible work ethic. Is his potential upside higher than some may have considered?
John: Branch is like a lot of other players right out of college. There is a lot of upside and he clearly has the ability to be a productive NFL player. How his NFL career turns out will depend on his ability to work consistently, absorb what he is being told and to adapt his skill set to a game that often is different and more difficult than the one he played in college. A few teams may have overlooked him for various reasons, but Branch was one of the first 40 players selected in the draft. It's not as if he was all that snubbed.
Kevin from Jacksonville, FL Section 216, Row G:
"Murmur" or "Fables Of The Reconstruction"?
John: Murmur. Can you hear me?
Armand from Jacksonville:
What would happen if a team could not field enough players to play a game on a given Sunday?
John: Considering the hundreds of players ready to sign with teams at a moment's notice, it would be strange. Really, really strange.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
If you are going to have a Gabbert hiatus, a Tebow hiatus, a schedule hiatus and a punter hiatus why not just go all the way?
John: You mean, like, a Sean-from-Fleming-Island hiatus?
Ross from Geumchon, South Korea:
I am an English teacher in South Korea and love reading the O-Zone every day! I am a die-hard Jags fan and your O-Zone and columns keep me plugged in even though I am across seas. Thank you. My question is if they eliminate the kickoff wouldn't that eliminate the onside kick as well? I think that would dramatically take away a lot of the excitement of comebacks in the NFL.
John: The elimination of the onside kick would be an issue if the league someday eliminates kickoffs. I'm not as convinced as others that that will happen, but it has been talked about enough by enough prominent people that it can't be ruled out. Certainly, regarding the onside kick, something would have to be rethought or it would indeed dramatically reduce the chances of comebacks. No onside kick would mean a team could absolutely lock down a game significantly earlier than it can under the current rules, and that could change fourth-quarter strategy. The last thing the NFL wants is teams kneeling on two or three possessions late in the game because the chances of a comeback are nil. At the same time, the onside kick is widely considered a dangerous play and those pursing a safer game wouldn't mind seeing its elimination.
Strnbiker from Dothan, AL:
A $3 million locker-room upgrade? Really? Wow! Instead of the normal small locker with their name on it are they getting like walk-in closets?
John: The facility will be much, much nicer. It's still under construction, and therefore I can't tell you exactly how it will look, but having seen some prototypes, it's impressive.
Andrew from St. Augustine, FL:
I know window dressing doesn't mean too much, but Gabbert looks much more mature with the new hair cut. Any word on why he parted with the locks? Perhaps a clean slate outlook.
John: He said when he cut his hair there was no symbolic meaning, but it certainly has seemed to coincide with a change off the field. As I wrote on jaguars.com early this week, Gabbert seems dramatically more mature and confident. A lot of that may have to do with being more comfortable in his surroundings, and having confidence in what he's being told and taught. Whatever the reason, it's a notable change.
Daniel from Section 146 Forever:
Daniel from Section 146 Forever What part of "voluntary" do these people not understand? And as far as wanting to know the status of every position on the team, when did "Organized Team Activities" become a way to measure performance? These aren't even dress-rehearsals, they are practicing getting on and off stage, knowing where to stand and which way to face, and memorizing lines. I'd assume Blackmon might be practicing getting two feet down.
John: OTAs became a measure of performance when OTAs began – because for many observers, everything is about evaluation. For NFL people, however, OTAs are far less about evaluating than teaching, which means whatever conclusions are drawn in May are by definition . . . well, inconclusive. As far as people not understanding the word "voluntary" when it comes to voluntary off-season activities, whenever the subject comes up I am reminded of a story about former Colts running back Edgerrin James. When he missed a session of OTAs early in his career, it made headlines in Indianapolis and nationally. During the furor, a reporter from Indianapolis tracked him down and asked him about not being at OTAs. James' reply? "I only went to college two and a half years, but I think I know the meaning of the word, 'Voluntary.'''

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