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Jalen Ramsey injury casts a pall over Jaguars

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Oh no, not again! Those had to be the first words to enter the mind of Jacksonville Jaguars’ Coach Gus Bradley when he learned of the injury to top draft pick Jalen Ramsey.

Ramsey, an All-American cornerback from Florida State, was the fifth player taken overall in the recent NFL Draft. On Friday, Ramsey suffered a small meniscus tear on his right knee during team workouts.

Anything involving injuries to the knees of athletes rightfully rattles anyone who wishes the best for that person and that team. Ramsey and the Jaguars indicated they would seek a second opinion.

Jacksonville is no stranger to this scenario. Just one year ago the Jaguars made Florida Gator defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. their top pick and the third overall. On May 8, 2015, the former star from St. Petersburg’s Lakewood High School tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his knee and was lost for the year.

The full extent of Ramsey’s injury is not yet known. A second opinion is scheduled for next week at which time that question will be answered.

In a business sense the Jaguars face, as Yogi Berra once said, déjà vu all over again. Not only has their top pick suffered an injury before training camp begins, both injuries occurred before the players had signed their contracts.

Knowing Fowler would not play a down in 2015, Jacksonville went ahead and signed him four days after his injury to a guaranteed, four-year, $23.5 million contract that included a $15.3 million signing bonus. Sure, it was a gamble because he could easily be injured again.

Now the organization faces the same dilemma. Perhaps they might get lucky, and Ramsey’s injury turns out to be not serious. An injury to the meniscus is less damaging than an ACL, but it could still mean a significant loss of time in training camp or even the regular season.

Both the coaching staff and the front office will simply wait for the call from the medical people before knowing how to proceed. While the Jaguars are certain to sign Ramsey, last year’s situation with Fowler puts them in a position no other NFL team faces.

Wait, there’s more.

Lest we forget, Jacksonville is deeper in limbo because this year’s second-round pick, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack has an equally large question mark attached. It is something they had known before they drafted him.

Jack suffered a knee injury in the Bruins’ third game in 2015 and was lost for the remainder of the season. He has already admitted the knee could require microfracture surgery in the future.

Jaguars’ fans, now is probably the time to genuflect or ask for some divine intervention.

For Ramsey’s part, he would be well served by placing a call to the former Gator, Fowler. There is no better education than hearing from someone who has literally walked the walk.

On crutches.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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