Let's get to it . . .
Will from Jacksonville:
Are other teams struggling as much with injuries in practice - in particular, on the offensive line – as the Jaguars? On a similar note, I know NFL players are cream-of-the-crop athletes, but a body is a body. If one is unable to work out for a month, it takes several months to get back to where they were. Have you seen players not being as strong or fast because of taking time off from injuries? (I'm thinking of someone like Knighton - yes, his "weight" is in check, but what about strength or muscle?) Is this something the strength and conditioning coaches look into?
John: Teams struggle with injuries in every training camp, but I don't know that the Jaguars' offensive line is struggling in this area too, too much. Left tackle Eugene Monroe missed a few days with swelling in his knee, but is expected to play Friday. Right guard Uche Nwaneri started on PUP, but has been practicing for more than a week and also is expected to play. Tackle Guy Whimper missed a day. Center Brad Meester is practicing essentially every other day, but that's a rest thing. All total, that's a lot of names, but not really anything remotely unusual. That leaves two offensive linemen who I'd consider injured, with starting guard Will Rackley out 3-to-4 weeks with an ankle injury and backup Jason Spitz out 2-to-3 weeks with a foot sprain. You would rather have Rackley available, but having a few guys out for camp is pretty typical. Don't start worrying about training camp injuries until you see guys out for the season. As far as the strength staff, yes, they look into maintaining players' strength when injured. It's a major part of their job.
Mike from Abington, MA:
Do you think MJD's holdout is really a metaphorical protest against the establishment? Maybe he wants Del Rio and Weaver back? Perhaps he's holding out until the Jags sign a franchise savior like Plaxico Burress or trade eight first-round picks for Calvin Johnson? It CAN'T be just about the money, O-Man, that's way too simple!
John: I think Maurice Jones-Drew wants more money.
The Grabster from Jacksonville and Section 216:
Britton at LG? I realize this is largely due to the Rackley and Spitz injuries, but I thought Eben was going to purely be a RT. Perhaps this is more about getting Bradfield more reps?
John: It has a bit to do with the Rackley and Spitz injuries, but it has more to do with wanting to get Bradfield work at right tackle. There's a feeling in the building that he might be a special player and a potential long-term starter at the position. There are those who have criticized Britton in the past, but in this case, I get the feeling this is more about just wanting to see if Bradfield is as good as they think he might be. If he is, then you figure out if your better option at left guard is Rackley or Britton. Either way, you're talking about trying to get good players on the field and that's a good thing.
Jack from Jacksonville:
Why do Boselli, Lageman, & B.S. turn into 12-year old girls when someone attacks Justin Bieber/Blaine Gabbert. It's pathetic.
John: Calling someone a 12-year-old girl sounds like something a 12-year-old girl would do.
Gabe from Section 124:
More disturbing than bashing our team and city is the complete loss of credibility by these outlets. How can we believe anything reported about other "outpost" teams like the Bills, Chiefs and Raiders? Why bother watching any of these shows when most stories are factually false, and opinions are tremendously biased? SportsCenter, NFL All Access, journalistic jokes.
John: You bring up a good question, and one reason I don't spend every waking hour glued to NFL Network and ESPN is the reason you cite. Unfortunately, you have to be careful who you listen to for "factual" facts and intelligent, measured, researched analysis. Notice I didn't say "accurate" analysis. You can strive for accuracy, but everyone's going to miss sometimes. What you want is someone who you know has worked and spoken to enough people to generally have credibility. If you weed through the abyss and the noise, they are there. In no particular order, I always listen to Mike Mayock, Ron Jaworski, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Peter King, Jay Glazer, Pete Prisco, Alex Marvez, John Clayton, Clark Judge, Steve Wyche, Len Pasquarelli and Don Banks. When these guys talk or write, it's usually not only interesting, but credible. There are others, and I'm sure I'm leaving some out, but I know the aforementioned work at it and do what they can to speak from a place of truth.
Ryan from Jacksonville:
While it is only a preseason game, how much can Blaine silence critics by stepping up in the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield, and delivering well-thrown balls against a Giants D-Line widely considered one of the NFL's best units?
John: Some, but even if that happens, the critics will say, "Well, it's preseason." Here's what to look for from Gabbert Friday: Improvement. Look for his fundamentals not to break down. Look for him to make overall good decisions. Don't look for perfection. Don't look for every pass to be a touchdown. You know what? I predict he'll have a bad throw. I predict he'll have more than one. He might even have one that makes people go, "See. That's why he's bad." But I think he'll also do more right than wrong. I think he'll be stronger in the pocket and more accurate. I think he'll make strong throws and I think he'll keep improving.
Shane from Jacksonville:
Just another reason why Heath Evans doesn't know what he's talking about. I remember in his mock draft he had the Jaguars taking Dwight Jones, WR out of North Carolina, with the 7th overall pick. Jones ended up being undrafted and decided to give up with professional football before even getting into his second week of OTA's. Is it just me or is this Evans guy a heck of a talent evaluator?
John: I won't criticize Evans for missing on a player in a mock draft. His job really isn't to evaluate talent, and people err on mocks all the time. But while I always bend over backwards to give analysts the benefit of the doubt – sometimes to the frustration and annoyance of O-Zone readers – to say that there is a disconnect between Mularkey and the locker room is ridiculous and uninformed. While much on the internet fits that description, Evans' was a bit over the top.
Manuel from Jacksonville and Section 215:
What's the status of D'Anthony Smith? Is he on the 90-man roster? Is he healthy? How he has looked in practice? Is he going to be a backup with plenty of playing time and at some point become a regular?
John: He's healthy and on the 90-man roster. He has looked good. If he continues to play well, I'd expect him to contribute this season.
Buddy from Jacksonville:
You seem really down on Chad Henne. Explain.
John: I'm honestly not down on Henne at all. I think he is a significant upgrade at the backup quarterback position. He certainly is capable of being a starting quarterback. He also is going through the same things that Gabbert is going through in this camp, which is trying to learn a new offense and get accustomed to new receivers. Perhaps in writing about how much Gabbert appears to have improved it has appeared that that means I somehow dislike Henne. That's not the case.
Mark from Jacksonville:
What is the trick to rebuilding without falling into the cellar? The Steelers revamped their offense and are currently turning over their defense, yet they remain playoff/Super Bowl contenders. The Colts crashed and burned in their rebuild. Manning was a big loss, but he shouldn't have dropped them into the first overall pick. The Colts and Steelers have been very successful for years. Why did they go in different directions?
John: Manning is a franchise quarterback. He was out. Ben Roethlisberger is the Steelers' franchise quarterback. He was not out. That's a big start. The Steelers are also one of the two or three best organizations in football and have been for years. They build their roster intelligently, they build through the draft and they know exactly what sorts of players they want. They rarely make foolish forays into free agency, and they rarely overpay their own players at the wrong time. Having the conviction to do what's right in the face of criticism is a good start to being able to match the Steelers' consistency. And really, the Colts didn't crash and burn in their rebuild. They lost Manning, then crashed and burned. Rebuilding started after that.
Dave from Midlothian, VA:
Has anyone gotten the idea that perhaps MJD wants more money?
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Keeping 10 defensive linemen on the roster when only four are on the field at one time seems like overkill – plus, I will assume they are not on special teams covering punts.
John: It's not overkill at all. While just four defensive linemen start, you need a rotation of players at that spot, so it's an absolute necessity to have at least eight. You also need to make sure you have enough quality to at least function in the event of injury, so you usually keep 10 overall although one or two may be inactive on game day. It's not a position such as quarterback of receiver where you can sometimes get by just playing the guys listed high on the depth chart.
You need a rotation
Let's get to it . . .
Will from Jacksonville: