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O-Zone: Walking tall

Posted May 22, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Nick from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
In my opinion, the AFC South is the NFL’s most open division. I don't remember seeing such big questions on every team within a division. The Titans have quarterback problems, as well as problems at running back and wide receiver. Nobody knows who the Texans’ starting quarterback will be and their superstar wide receiver isn't sure he wants to play there. The Colts, who everyone expects to win, are without their superstar defensive end for the first four games. The Jags have a realistic chance of being that dark-horse division winner...or maybe it's just the end of May and I'm way too excited for the season to get here. #DTWD
John: It is indeed May and you are excited and excitement is a good thing. The AFC South is indeed wide open, and the Jaguars should be improved from last season. I’m not ready to talk Division Title yet, because it’s my experience that young, developing teams with a heavy emphasis on first- and second-year players – which the Jaguars are – need a year or two longer to develop than people usually expect. But that’s the old, jaded ink-stained writer in me talking. You’re a fan and end of May or not, be excited, Nick – be excited.
Matthew from Clermont, FL:
I believe the Jags are on the upswing and improving. But leaving wins-and-losses out of the mix what other statistics would you look at to solidify this opinion?
John: I won’t really look at victories and losses or any statistic for that matter to gauge improvement. I’ll look for steady improvement and for the Jaguars to be competitive more consistently than they were last season. I imagine I’ll be in the minority, but that’s OK.
Mark from Tucson, AZ:
Hey, John – just moved to Arizona from Florida … any chance the Jags can send me a Bortles Jersey to promote the team out in the desert.
John: Sure, do they have credit cards in the desert?
Joseph from Jacksonville:
Any word on Aaron Colvin and when he might be able to get back out on the field?
John: Yes. This is really no mystery and the story hasn’t changed since the Jaguars selected Colvin. The rookie cornerback likely will start training camp and the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. That would mean missing the first six games of the season, at which time he would be reevaluated to see if he could return for the rest of the season. The Jaguars believe it’s very possible he will be able to return and contribute the second half of the season. That would be a very quick recovery from an anterior cruciate ligament tear sustained in January, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented.
Bill from Ocean Springs, MS:
I am a season-ticket holder and have been for fifteen or so years. Prior to that, my son and I attended every home game buying tickets the week of the game. That said, now living seven hours west, I'm lucky if I can attend one game a season. Seems Mr. Khan could arrange for me to watch the Jags games somehow... I get sick of the Saints stuff over here.
John: Khan’s hands are kind of tied on this one – unless, of course, you count that DirecTV thing.
Jeff from San Diego, CA:
Do you get the feeling that Gus and Dave continue to say Bortles won't start until 2015 so they take the pressure off a No. 3 overall pick from performing right away? The fact that they've been so public about it leads me to believe they want Blake focused on improving on the field and not worry about any pressure off the field.
John: Yes.
Greg from Jacksonville:
Love the O-Zone! My son asked me a question today that I couldn't answer, but am sure you can. What do UDFAs get paid when here for OTAs? And what do they get paid if they make the practice squad?
John: Practice-squad players will make $6,300 a week next season. Undrafted free agents in Jacksonville for the offseason stay are put up by the team in hotel and they are provided transportation to EverBank Field to and from the hotel. They also are provided a per diem. They are provided living expenses, though they’re hardly getting rich … so, basically, the senior writer’s deal.
Will from Jacksonville:
How did Luke Bowanko end up with a signing bonus of $94,052? Did the Jaguars offer $94,050 and Bowanko hold out for an extra two bucks?
John: Actually, this is a bit of a “hot-button” issue for me. I lent this “Bowanko” guy two bucks for Starbucks during the rookie minicamp. The extra two reportedly was so he can pay me back. I’m waiting.
Nick from Aarhus, Denmark:
Wow, I didn't expect to see Danish on the O-Zone. Cool stuff. Come on over to Denmark for a trip... We have real good beer!
John: Hey! .. Jeg er i hvis du betaler.
Charles from Bangalore, India:
Hello, John. The running-back position in the NFL has transitioned mostly from the featured back to at least a two back-rotation. It looks like we currently have five or six backs in camp. How many running backs do you see us carrying forward into the regular season?
John: Three or four. Toby Gerhart certainly starts and Denard Robinson will have a role, though the exact nature of that role is probably still to be determined. I’d say it’s possible the Jaguars keep both Jordan Todman and Storm Johnson, though the competition will be intense at that position. That’s certainly by design.
James from Orange Park, FL:
True or false: Khan knows how much Jaguars fans revere him.
John: False. I think he has an idea, but I doubt he grasps the extent.
Dean from Rochester, NY:
I get that the Duval thing evolved organically, and has come out of the fans, etc, etc., etc. But in the end they are chanting the name of the county (not even the city) that the team is in. Yes, I realize that Jacksonville is somewhat unique in nearly consuming the bounds of the county. However, this is just as ridiculous as if the Bills were to chant “ERIE!!!” or the Panthers MECKLENBURG!! I’m sure that when outsiders hear it, and then ask, “What is Duval?” and get the answer that it’s the county name, there reaction would be like mine, which is, “Really?, that’s what they came up with?” It smacks of hick. It certainly appears that I am in the minority on this opinion, which is sad.
John: I actually think “Erie” sounds sort of cool. Of course, not as cool as, “Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuvaaaaaaaaaalll …”
Ashley from Jacksonville:
I'm the mother of three little Jaguars (four including our German Shepherd puppy) and the wife of one of the biggest Jaguars fans out there. Just wanted to say that the love our team has and that's spreading around the world is exciting and well deserved. Here we go, Jaguars. #DuvalFamily
John: #Standunited
Stevie from Ireland:
Duval god tí Die againn! #DGDBD
John: Yes.
Eric from Flowery Branch, GA:
Serious question, John … they said they will give Blake extra repetitions after practice … I thought that was against the new CBA. Please explain, because that one is still confusing me … I could have sworn that when the clock ran out everyone had to get off the field now.
John: Well, as long as we’re being serious …. When David Caldwell and Gus Bradley were talking about this, they were talking about getting Bortles more repetitions than a normal reserve quarterback would get, but they were talking about doing it within the allowed timeframe of practice. Whatever is done will be done within the guidelines of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Jon from Malick, Trinidad & Tobago:
Duval to the Bone!!! Rally round the Jaguars!!!!
John: #DTWD
Garrison from Baton Rouge, LA:
Beau Blankenship = Danny Woodhead 2.0?
John: Blankenship = a rookie who just signed to the active roster. He looked very impressive on Friday and Saturday against other rookies and many players who won’t be in the NFL. That’s a start. The next step for all of the players attending this past weekend is to do it consistently and to do it against better competition.
James from Woodbridge, VA:
Doesn't it make sense from an injury perspective that if Henne and Bortles were to sustain injuries that we have a quarterback in Stephen Morris who already knows Jedd Fisch's offense? I know that it probably wouldn't be sustainable over the long haul, but temporarily sustainable for a game or two.
John: It makes sense if he’s ready and able to play in the NFL. Morris certainly knows the offense, and that will be an advantage. As for the ready and able part, he was an undrafted free agent, so it stands to reason that while he may be able, it may take time to be ready.
JJ from Tallahassee, FL:
We've got a Duval Street here in Tallahassee. When I chanted "Duval" they told me to shut up. Perhaps, holding up a sign next time with an explanation would help. Your thoughts?
John: Stay true to yourself. Worry not what others think. Bruises heal.

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