The story behind the mystery is there’s no mystery. And if why Justin Blackmon chose No. 14 after wearing No. 81 at Oklahoma State was among the pressing stories on Day 1 of the Jaguars’ three-day rookie minicamp, the 2012 first-round draft selection didn’t exactly see it that way. Why No. 14? To Blackmon, a better question was, "Why not?"
The Jaguars wanted Drew Coleman to have an opportunity to play somewhere next season. Head Coach Mike Mularkey said Friday that was why the team opted to release the veteran cornerback on Thursday and not wait until later in the off-season or training camp. "Right now is a chance for guys to get onto rosters and get onto teams that they can work in the offseason and have a chance to go into the OTA’s and the vet camp," Mularkey said Friday following the first of practice of the Jaguars’ three-day rookie camp at EverBank Field.
The question about Long Ding is whether he is as good a kicker as he is a story. There’s no doubt he’s one of the most intriguing stories in the NFL right now. "It’s an inspiring story for a young man to travel halfway around the world and not know the language. How many of us would have the courage to do that? How many parents would have the courage to encourage their children to do it," said special teams coach John Bonamego after watching Ding kick for the first time at the Jaguars rookie minicamp Friday.
How much better can quarterback Blaine Gabbert be for the Jacksonville Jaguars? The prevailing national opinion is that, because of how bad Gabbert looked for most of his rookie season, he can’t be a capable NFL quarterback. But a slew of quality NFL signal-callers played poorly in their first seasons. Gabbert has all sort of new resources, starting with a new coaching staff hired largely because of experience developing young quarterbacks. He got one receiver, Laurent Robinson, in free agency and another, Justin Blackmon, with the fifth pick in the draft. The defense will be healthy, and second-round draft pick Andre Branch, an end from Clemson, could prove to be the final piece of a great group. A great defense is a good friend for a developing quarterback.