Lawyers will tell you to “read the fine print.” And it’s that kind of fine print in the CBA of NFL contracts that is often important. And, in the case of the Jaguars disciplining defensive back Jalen Ramsey Sunday, they made very sure of the wording in their release to the media.
As we wrote, defensive line teammates Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue got into screaming match and had to be separated twice from trying to fight at the end of Sunday’s practice. And, as that was going on, Florida Times-Union writer Phillip Heilman was taping it off his phone.
That’s when Ramsey began to scream profanely from a distance for him to stop.
Ramsey later sent a tweet, now deleted, that basically threatened Heilman for having filmed the altercation and put it on social media and in his story for Jacksonville.com.
So, the organization decided to take action Sunday evening against Fowler and Ramsey and suspend them from all team activities for this week. Those include practicing at Minnesota and the game Saturday with the Vikings. And the phrase that they used was “violating team rules and conduct unbecoming of a Jaguars football player.”
And, that’s an important distinction, as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio points out:
By suspending him for "conduct unbecoming" instead of "conduct detrimental," Jaguars tiptoe around the voiding of Jalen Ramsey's guarantees https://t.co/RTNX5kawX1
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 13, 2018
As Florio wrote about “conduct unbecoming a Jaguar” vs. “conduct detrimental” makes a huge difference in the team being able to void guarantees in Ramsey’s rookie contract:
The Jaguars arguably could have dubbed the behavior “conduct detrimental” (and possibly would have won any grievance challenging it), but they opted instead to call it a violation of team rules and “conduct unbecoming,” which apparently is different than “conduct detrimental.”
So why the distinction-without-a-difference between “detrimental” and “unbecoming”? The Jaguars possibly wanted to impose discipline without voiding of the guarantees because: (1) the gesture is irrelevant as to Ramsey, a great player who isn’t going to be cut during the term of his rookie contract; and (2) the move may have inflamed the situation with Ramsey, who already may be upset at discipline he potentially regards as an overreaction.
Yes, it’s a small distinction that basically means the same thing: Ramsey gets a week off for discipline/bad behavior.
And there is no doubt that the front office carefully thought out the public way to announce the suspension, and then, be ready for any fallout, including from Ramsey and his representatives.
Bottom line, it was not a good look for the Jaguars Sunday.
And, the team is hoping to put it behind them, soon.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars dilemma with injuries vs preseason playing time
The Jacksonville Jaguars will play their second preseason game tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles at TIAA Bank Field. At least, some of them will play against the Eagles.
And therein lies “The Dilemma” facing coach Doug Marrone, his staff and a team trying to shake off an awful 2018 season.
How much are his guys going to play, if at all, in this second exhibition contest? This is a week after 20 of his 22 starters did not play a down in the preseason opening loss in Baltimore.
And while everybody has been looking at the possibility of former Eagles Super Bowl MVP, and now Jaguars free agent star QB, Nick Foles going against his old team, it quite possibly won’t materialize.
As Mike Dirocco, ESPN beat writer for the Jaguars, wrote about earlier this week, Foles all the conceded he may not be out there very much due to injuries on the Jaguars offensive line and concerns over being able to protect him.
However, you cannot replicate the “live fire of a game,” like in the preseason, where Foles can work on timing at full speed with his reads and throws to young receivers like D.J. Chark, DeDe Westbrook and Chris Conley.
Further, it’s not as if the Jags have a season, much less several seasons, of experience with Foles with his personnel to lean on. No, he’s trying to get used to them, and they’re trying to get used to him.
And, let’s not forget that star running back Leonard Fournette wants to have a bounce-back 2019 and he didn’t play a down last week. Yes, there were injury issues with his hamstring all last year.
So what will Marrone and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo do with Fournette tonight? This is especially with a banged up O-Line.
And, maybe it will be, a series or maybe, none at all that we see the former LSU number one pick, who wowed everyone in his rookie season of 2017.
It’s fully understood that weeks from now, this Thursday night’s second preseason game isn’t going to matter. But for right now?
The first unit Jaguars need to be able to work together under a game tested circumstance, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to do much of that in North Florida Thursday night.