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NFL AM: Jalen Ramsey Sidelined with Meniscus Tear

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Another year has brought another debilitating early injury for a Jacksonville Jaguars top draft pick.

It was revealed on Thursday that Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2016 draft, has suffered a small tear to the meniscus in his right knee during the second phase of the team’s on-field workouts this week. The injury is to the same knee on which Ramsey underwent microfracture surgery when he was in high school.

Despite Ramsey’s history with that knee, the Jaguars are optimistic this injury is a minor setback. But they are sending Ramsey to a specialist for a second opinion next week, and hope to have a timetable for his rehab and recovery at that time. The hope is that the rookie may only be sidelined for the team’s offseason program and can return in time for training camp in July.

Whether that’s the case remains to be seen, but either way it’s not the best news for the Jaguars, who went through something similar just last spring when Dante Fowler, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, suffered a torn ACL during the team’s first rookie practice last May. Fowler’s injury was significantly more severe and forced him to miss the entire season. The expectation is that Ramsey’s injury won’t be that debilitating.

And while Fowler’s injury was a significant setback for a Jacksonville team that was tremendously lacking in the pass rush department, the 2016 Jaguars are actually fairly well-equipped to handle a short absence from Ramsey. The talented Florida State Seminoles star was likely slated to slot into the Jacksonville defensive backfield as a starter, but he was going to have to earn that spot.

Incumbent cornerback Davon House, who the team signed last offseason, established himself as a solid starter late last season and the Jags added to their cornerback group before the draft when they signed former Giants first round pick Prince Amukamara. Jacksonville also has high hopes for 2014 fourth round pick Aaron Colvin. Additionally, the Jaguars upgraded the back end of their defensive backfield by signing free safety Tashaun Gipson away from the Cleveland Browns.

Jacksonville needs all the help they can get on defense after a 2015 season in which they ranked in the bottom 10 in total yards allowed and the bottom five against the pass. In addition to their signings of Gipson and Amukamara, the Jags upgraded their front seven with additions of defensive lineman Malik Jackson through free agency and linebacker Myles Jack via the draft. The combination of all those additions, along with the return of Fowler and defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, who missed most of the 2015 season due to injury, has the Jaguars excited about the possibilities on defense.

“They have to come together as a team,” general manager Dave Caldwell said recently. “We have a great coaching staff and they have a plan for them, but these guys have to jell, too. You have 11 great football players as individuals, but that is not going to get us where we need to be. Some of these guys are rookies, too, and I have always said if you are counting on a guy to come in and make a huge difference as a rookie, it is tough. But we are excited. It beats where we were three years ago.”

The evolution of that Jacksonville defense along with the progress continuing to be made by their offense, which looked to have a chance to be among the league’s best at times last season, has made the Jaguars a trendy pick to have a huge turnaround season. However, they’ll need to stay healthy because they’re lacking in the depth department. Ramsey’s early injury is a tough pill to swallow, but some positive news on that front in the next week that erases the deja vu feeling from last season’s injury to Fowler could go a long way toward setting a course for a better 2016 in Jacksonville.

PRO BOWL REPORTEDLY RELOCATING TO ORLANDO

With the Jaguars and Buccaneers seeming to be on the rise and perhaps even the Dolphins primed for a turnaround in the coming years, it’s a good time to be a football fan in the state of Florida and that’s why it’s perhaps fitting that news leaked late Thursday that the NFL Pro Bowl is going to settle into the middle of the Sunshine State.

Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News reported that the league has chosen Orlando as the much-maligned NFL all-star game’s new home after taking bids from Honolulu for it to remain in Hawaii, Houston to move it to the deep south and Sydney, Australia to take the game down under. The NFL has yet to confirm the move, but it appears that is only a matter of time.

It’s an interesting move for the league, which has been trying for years to fix a game that has long been broken. After nearly 30 consecutive years in Honolulu, the game was relocated to the Super Bowl site in 2010, which also happened to be in the State of Florida, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. After a few years back in Hawaii, they tried the Super Bowl site again in 2015, when the game was played in Glendale, Arizona. But nothing has seemed to work in terms of generating interest, from players or fans, for the glorified exhibition between a bunch of players who are tired after a long season and not willing to play at anywhere near 100 percent due to the significant injury risk.

The one thing that Honolulu offered to entice players was a free trip to Hawaii, something they wouldn’t normally get, and the guess here is that many of those players won’t find a free trip to Florida, even a tourist destination city like Orlando, nearly as enticing. Players were reportedly very unhappy when the league relocated the game to Miami in 2010, a setback that sent the game back to Hawaii for four more years before it became mobile again in 2015. After all, many players have residence in or visit Florida during the offseason anyway, so an end-of-season trip that involves working assignments isn’t appealing.

What might have been appealing would have been a trip to Australia, and the leak of that as a potential destination kind of puts a damper on the Orlando announcement. The league has been looking for numerous ways to take the game global and staging an all-star event so far away from home, where fans aren’t ever exposed to the game could have been a real hit. Players more than likely would have relished the chance to visit a far away continent they wouldn’t normally get the chance to as well.

However, it likely would have been tough for the league to logistically work out a way to spend a week in Australia right before the Super Bowl, or even after, if they moved the game back to the week following the big game, where it should be. Those logistics probably killed any chance of sending the game to Sydney, but it’s fun to dream.

As it is, Orlando gets another potential tourist attraction, but it’s tough to see players or fans that aren’t actually attending the game getting much more interested in the game than they were when it was played in Hawaii, Miami or Houston. It’s still a broken game and a simple relocation was never going to fix that. All we know now is that the Pro Bowl isn’t going away any time soon, so get used to it.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys