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Week in focus: Two down, three remain


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the week that was around the Jaguars

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Two down, three remain

It doesn't mean much, but it's fun.

The NFL's Top 100 Players of 2016 list on NFL Network actually can be really fun. But for the Jaguars, it might – just might – be something else.

It might – just might – be a sign of things to come.

We'll start this week's Week-in-Focus leadoff segment with a clarification: Beyond wide receiver Allen Hurns and linebacker Telvin Smith, we don't know what other Jaguars players will be named to the Top 100 list that will continue being unveiled on NFL Network over the next couple of months.

We know Hurns is No. 89 and we know Smith is No. 83. We know those were deserved honors, and we know from a hint offered on last Wednesday's show unveiling Nos. 81-90 that the Jaguars are expected to have three more players on the list.

Just who are those three players? That's anyone's guess – anyone outside the NFL Network, anyway. The folks there are understandably secret with this list for the sake of suspense and rating.

It stands to reason, though, that quarterback Blake Bortles has a chance after throwing 35 touchdown passes last season, and maybe – just maybe – wide receiver Allen Robinson made the list after being named to the Pro Bowl.

Other possibilities? Cornerback Davon House, newly signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, newly-signed free safety Tashaun Gipson …

A positive for the Jaguars, of course, is there are more players on the roster with a legitimate chance to make such a list than in years past. While the list itself means little beyond being fun offseason fodder, it is the only list gleaned from votes of NFL players, so it has a unique feel and does give some idea of how players around the league feel about the Jaguars' top players.

If the list holds another significance for the Jaguars, perhaps it's the age of the players who have made it – and who could make it.

If the other players on it include, say, Bortles, Robinson and Jackson or House or Gipson, that means four players from a 2014 NFL Draft class that through two seasons  is beginning to look like a foundation-forming class. It's a class that also includes guard/center Brandon Linder, wide receiver Marqise Lee and cornerback Aaron Colvin. Linder is perhaps the Jaguars' best offensive lineman when healthy. Colvin has proven a solid nickel corner, and while Lee has yet to play enough to fulfill the potential he showed at Southern California there's plenty hope that can still happen.

If the other players are House, Jackson or Gipson, that's yet another young player – under the age of 26 – from a group that the Jaguars consider a core players or very close to it.

That doesn't put the Jaguars in the playoffs, but it certainly gives you an idea that this roster is well ahead of where it was two or three years ago.


*Around the Jaguars       *

*Defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker touched on several topics while appearing on LIVE last week, and it was apparent listening to him that veteran Johnathan Cyprien remains a strong choice to continue starting at strong safety. Cyprien has struggled at times since being a 2013 second-round draft selection. Competition is expected between Cyprien and second-year veteran James Sample in training camp, but Cyprien has three years' experience and the team is optimistic he will flourish playing a more defined role as a box, closer-to-the-line safety. …

*Another takeaway from Walker's LIVE appearance: his thoughts on rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey. While Walker said Ramsey obviously had much to learn, and while he said there will be the expected adjustment period for any NFL rookie, he also mentioned the late former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor as an athletic comparison to Ramsey. Taylor was widely respected among players when he played, and his athleticism was considered once-in-a-generation. If Ramsey can approach Taylor's level as a player he will have been well worth the No. 5 overall selection. …

*Organized team activities begin Monday, May 23. While some fans bemoan May, June and July – the three months between the NFL Draft and training camp – as the NFL's so-called "dead period," coaches value organized team activities as an extended training camp and a time for preparation. Early indications from the first two phases of the offseason program indicates pretty much full attendance for the program. Remember: while players not participating in OTAs causes controversy and headlines – remember defensive end Chris Clemons the past two offseasons – attendance in the offseason indeed is voluntary under league rules until a three-day mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

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