From Comcast SportsNetJACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- When asked what Jacksonville's top need is heading into the NFL draft, general manager Gene Smith was quick to respond."Talent," he said.No doubt, the Jaguars are lacking it on both sides of the ball.And that makes this week's three-day draft, which begins Thursday night, pivotal for a rebuilding franchise that has missed the playoffs 10 of the last 12 years. The Jaguars have the seventh pick in the first round, their fifth consecutive year with a top-10 selection.What they do with it is anyone's guess.The Jaguars, though, have made it clear they would like to trade down from No. 7 and acquire extra picks. They have been fielding calls for weeks about potential swaps, but no deal will be made until draft night."We've already received more phone calls this year than any other year," McDonough said. "There's some jockeying going on."If the Jaguars stay put, expect them to select a pass rusher or a receiver.Although Jacksonville re-signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey in free agency, the team did nothing else to upgrade a D-line that has some glaring holes.Defensive end Aaron Kampman has missed 15 games over the last two seasons because of knee injuries, a bad sign for a 32-year-old player. Defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith, a third-round pick in 2010, hasn't played a down in two years. Tyson Alualu, John Chick and Austen Lane also are coming off injuries.And then there's defensive end Terrance Knighton, who will miss the majority of the offseason following unplanned eye surgery. Knighton, who has battled weight issues throughout his career, was struck in the face during a bar fight earlier this month. It's unclear if the 340-pounder will make a full recovery and how effective he would be after missing so much time."Our hope is that Terrance has a complete recovery, but there is a little uncertainty at this point," Smith said.The Jaguars could draft South Carolina's Melvin Ingram or Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox to help bolster the D-line. Ingram is considered the best edge rusher in the draft, and Cox is considered the top tackle.Smith believes the draft is the deepest at defensive tackle, so selecting one in the first round might not be as big a priority as other positions.Jacksonville's biggest need after last season was receiver, someone who can help young quarterback Blaine Gabbert develop quickly.The Jaguars had arguably the worst receiving corps in the league, with slot receiver Mike Thomas masquerading as a No. 1 guy. Thomas led the team with 44 catches for 415 yards. Fellow starter Jason Hill was released in November, and rookie Cecil Shorts, a fourth-round pick expected to contribute right away, had just to catches."Obviously we need to upgrade," Smith said. "I think that is one area we determined in our postseason roster evaluation, but it wouldn't force us into doing something that wouldn't be good for the organization."Jacksonville signed Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans in free agency. Robinson and Evans looked sharp in the team's orientation camp last week. But Robinson still has to prove he's more than a one-year wonder after catching 53 passes for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns last season with the Dallas Cowboys. And the 31-year-old Evans has to prove he hasn't lost a step since his numbers have decreased each of the last three seasons.Even with those additions, the Jaguars are looking to upgrade the receiving corps. Jacksonville hasn't had a legitimate No. 1 receiver since Jimmy Smith retired following the 2005 season.Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, considered the No. 1 receiver in the draft, probably would need to slip for Jacksonville to land him at No. 7. Other possibilities include Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, Baylor's Kendall Wright, Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill and South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery.Cornerback is another potential draft spot for Jacksonville. The team re-signed veteran starter Rashean Mathis and added former New York Giants starter Aaron Ross. They are expected to compete for the starting job in training camp, unless the Jaguars add someone early in the draft.Despite all the speculation about who the Jaguars should take, Smith would prefer to trade down and acquire more picks -- and more talent."It's a good draft to trade back," he said. "There are some players clearly in rounds 2 through 5 that could help us. Again, I'm probably a little selfish on draft picks because you put all that work in and you would like to have more draft picks. But I'm not going to move for the sake of moving unless it makes sense. I'm not about being cute, probably more about executing based on our plan going in."
FOXBORO - There were no tells about the Patriots quarterback situation for Sunday during the portion of Friday practice the media was allowed to watch.
Jimmy Garoppolo, who on Wednesday was seen throwing short and medium-range passes without a lot of zip, hasn't thrown a ball with media in attendance since. Friday morning, after stretching and jogging, Garoppolo began a session feigning taking a snap from a center and going into a drop. But he did so without a football in his hands.
Rookie Jacoby Brissett did flip a few passes during the jogging and stretching portion and, while he was wearing gloves, he is showing no signs of favoring his right thumb.
So the question isn't whether the Patriots have any quarterbacks for Sunday against the Bills, it's whether or not they'll have Garoppolo. Certainly, it's a question that's been on the mind of Bills head coach Rex Ryan who keeps speaking the truth in jest by referencing the uncertainty around the Patriots situation.
After being on the field in limited capacity all week, it's a certainty that Garoppolo dresses for the Bills game. Whether he plays and how effective he might be remains anything but certain.
FOXBORO -- Every Friday Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi and Phil Perry will take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or a Friday Bag, as they call it.
Got questions? Tweet the guys using the hashtag #FridayBag. But for now, give the latest edition of the Bag a read.
TC: Sure, Mark! And I hope you and the family are doing well. Seems like the kids were moving to the “big field” about 15 minutes ago and now they’re halfway through college. First, it’s a clear example of how inauthentic the league is in its dealings in regards to player safety. They’ll talk about the efforts made to lessen the wear on players and the concern for safety being paramount, and yet with a clear opportunity to hand down a penalty to a repeat offender that had some teeth, they couldn’t muster something even in the class of what the Patriots were handed for an alleged conspiracy to deflate footballs. Second, it’s disrespectful to the NFLPA and players in general. The league’s arrogant disposition toward the union -- a union it should be partnered with yet continues to poke at because it can -- is shameful. Finally, the Patriots were subject to treble damages for an “integrity of the game” infraction that happened eight years prior, yet the Seahawks couldn’t make it two years without a repeat offense and they get a comparative knuckle-rapping. It pays to have a cuddly coach.
MG: Chronic, what up? Can I answer no, just because? Didn’t think so…Look, we all know Collins is a freak. Speed. Explosive in short spaces. Instinctual. But I think he’s better when Dont’a Hightower is on the field. Hightower was limited in the opener and then missed the last two. I realize that Collins erupted in that Thursday nighter versus the Texans, but I believe Houston’s game plan fed right into his wheelhouse and New England’s counter meant a lot of Cover 2. In those spots, Collins is able to keep the play in front of him. And when that happens, you see him pounce quickly on short stuff in the flat, or shallow crossing routes. Despite having the skill set to be a man-to-man monster, Collins just hasn’t consistently been able to deliver in those spots. But in zone, oh mama, the dude is a beast.
@MikeGiardi Moving forward, is defensive key Blount = run, White = pass going to doom the team like it did down the stretch last year?— eric priestley (@eric_priestley) September 29, 2016
MG: Eric, thanks for checking in. You left out one major part of the equation, the part that could make this offense so much more difficult to defend. Dion Lewis. When he played a season ago, there wasn’t anything Lewis couldn’t do. Between the tackles. Outside. In the slot. Split wide. He actually started taking touches away from guys like Gronk and Edelman. That’s how good he was. Can he be the same guy? Huge question, but if he’s close, see you in Houston.
MG: Q, I think it makes a huge difference. It’s a long year. Injuries add up. But can they be managed to the point where maybe a 4 to 6 week absence can be cut to 2 weeks just by sitting that player out? I think this staff has generally done a good job in that regard.
@MikeGiardi Are you more, less, or equally confident 3 games in for the Pats chances to make the Super Bowl? I'm way more— Clinton (@ClintonOftedahl) September 29, 2016
MG: Clinton, my feelings haven’t wavered since the offseason: the Pats are the most talented team in the AFC, and maybe in all of football. As we saw last year, health will be critical. And home field wouldn’t suck either…
MG: Lisa, gave the roster the once over twice, and I’d have to say DJ Foster and John Hughes would be the first two I’d cast over the railing. I know Foster has promise, but I think you saw in that Miami game that his speed isn’t special speed. They swarmed him early. Maybe you can sneak him back to the practice squad. As for Hughes, the Pats signed him to a 1-year deal for vet minimum with no signing bonus or guarantees. Could be a one game and done for him.
MG: Curious about the Twitter handle. You’ll have to fill me in. As for the offensive line, if you go by the metrics that Pro Football Focus employs, they actually haven’t been as good as they were a year ago. But while I do use that site as a resource, I don’t believe it’s the be-all, end-all. Studying all three games, I think this group has really risen to the challenge, dealing with some injuries and two different QBs. The Scarnecchia influence is real and it is spectacular.
PP: Adam, big fan of that Quick Slants podcast you produce. Probably my favorite podcast going right now. You haven't been given much to work with in terms of hosts, but you make it work. That's talent, folks. As far as the Jacobys are concerned, right now, I think you'd have to give the nod to Ellsbury, right? Two World Series. One All-Star Game. One day of free tacos at Taco Bell because he stole a base. Hard to beat that at this point if you're Brissett. But you never know. If Jimmy Garoppolo gets dealt this offseason, and if Brissett is thought to be "the next guy," then he'll probably go down as the most famous Jacoby in Boston sports history, whether he plays well or not.
PP: I don't think so, Bruce. Though the manner in which he loses, if he loses, could determine his fate. Say the Bills play the way they did in Week 2 of last year -- remember, that's when Rex's team was penalized 14 times for 140 yards and when his defense allowed 507 yards of offense to the Patriots -- that might spell trouble for the big guy. But I think ownership will give him more time. Really, they should. It won't get better if he's booted mid-season. That's a white-flag move. And the Bills schedule actually sets up pretty nicely after this week. They get the Rams, Niners and Dolphins before hosting the Patriots in Week 8. They could conceivably have a winning record going into that one.
@PhilAPerry Phil and chance if Vollmer coming back this year?— rob cautela (@rob91312) September 29, 2016
PP: Haven't heard much on Sebastian Vollmer or his hip injury lately, Rob, but due to the fact that he's still on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, his chances of coming back aren't officially zero. Players on that list -- like Lewis or offensive lineman Tre' Jackson -- are eligible to begin practicing after sitting out the first six weeks of the season. After six weeks, they have a six-week window to begin practicing. Whenever they do begin practicing, teams then have three weeks from their first practice to activate them to the 53-man roster. Under that scenario, a player could begin practicing during Week 12 at the latest, then be activated during Week 15. If a player doesn't practice or is not activated within three weeks after he's started practicing, he must be placed on injured reserve or released.
@PhilAPerry Hey Phil, who do you see as the most likely cuts on Brady & Nink’s return?— Patriot Fans Ireland (@irish_pats) September 29, 2016
PP: Like Giardi, I could see Hughes being released simply because he's the most recent addition to the roster and because of the deal he signed. Keep in mind, though, those roster spots that need to be freed up could be freed up by placing players on injured reserve. Outright releases aren't the only way to create room.
PP: I'd be surprised if Gronkowski went from 22 percent participation (which is where he was against the Texans with 14 snaps) to 100 percent participation, Matthew. But, particularly with more than a week of rest going into this game, I'd expect his playing time to go up. Even if he's in for 50 percent of the team's offensive snaps and saw a handful of targets that would represent a significant bump in usage.
PP: More rest all around, John. Long has proven he deserves a regular role -- he's tied for the team lead in sacks, hits and hurries through three weeks -- so he won't all of a sudden be filling water bottles on the sidelines when Ninkovich returns. Just as was the case when Ninkovich, Sheard and Chandler Jones split time last season, Ninkovich, Sheard and Long will share reps this year. Having a rotation at that spot should help everyone involved remain fresh. And don't forget about Trey Flowers (100 snaps through three games). He'll continue to factor into the mix on the edge as well.