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Anything but meaningless

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Donnie from St. Augustine, FL:
Which players do you think are on the bubble? Who needs a great game against Washington to make the cut? Is Williamson the player who helped himself the most this preseason?

Vic: Yes, Troy Williamson is probably the player who helped himself the most in this preseason. As far as who needs a great game to make the cut, I don't know if there's a player who can make a Montell Owens-like leap to the roster with a jump-out performance in the preseason finale. I think you have some bubble guys, players such as Tim Shaw, Cameron Stephenson, Pete Ittersagen, Tiquan Underwood, Kennard Cox, Chauncey Washington and others who need a strong performance against Washington to make the team, but I don't think there's a guy who can come out of nowhere to make the team, as Owens did in Atlanta in 2006. I think it'll be an unremarkable final cuts, with the bubble guys largely being those that finish the game on Thursday. I've done this now for 38 years and I don't think I've once given my attention to the final quarter of the final preseason game as I should, out of respect for young men who are trying to win a job so they can call home this weekend and tell their parents, "Mom and Dad, I made it." Thursday, I'm gonna try harder to pay attention and feel what it's like to play a game with the focus of your young life hanging in the balance. It's great drama. It's anything but meaningless.

Brian from Baltimore, MD:
The traffic was horrible to the Philly game. It took us almost two hours to get to the stadium from North Philly.

Vic: I arrive at the stadium nearly four hours ahead of kickoff, so I can get the laptop plugged in, find the radio booth and prepare for the pregame show. As a result, I have a lot of stand-around time and last Thursday I was standing in the back of the press lounge with a giant pretzel, looking out the window at the crunch of humanity moving about at rush hour in Philadelphia. "The Linc" is situated just south of Center City, on a main expressway a few miles from the Philly airport. I watched eight lanes of traffic back up and planes circle the airport and fans pouring out of the Broad St. subway station that serves "The Linc," the baseball park, the Spectrum and the Wachovia Center, and I thought to myself, "Jaguars fans just don't know how good they have it." If you're from up there or have spent any time up there, you know what rush hour means. It means pain. This was a weekday game with a seven p.m. kickoff. "The Linc" was empty at kickoff, for the obvious reason that fans couldn't get there on time. I've never seen it like that in Jacksonville. Getting to and from "The Jack" is a piece of cake compared to everywhere else. Cleveland does a great job, too, but I can think of other places that would scare me away if I was a fan considering buying season tickets. Please, folks, think about what you have. Don't take this for granted. It's special.

Stan from Jacksonville:
I am confused as to why there are two sets of cuts. Since the first one is only five players, why can't they just stick around a few more days and be cut with the other 22 guys during the second set of cuts?

Vic: When the current CBA was negotiated, NFL Europe was still in operation and NFL preseason roster sizes were much larger due to the roster exemptions that accompanied NFL Europe. In other words, this wasn't just a five-man cut back then; it was necessary.

Tucker from Gallatin, TN:
Haynesworth is in town; good test for the offensive line.

Vic: The expectation is that the Redskins won't play their front-line guys on Thursday. They didn't last year when the two teams played in Washington in the preseason finale. For the Redskins' starters, the preseason may have already ended.

Cory from Woburn, MA:
Some people say that if the Jaguars drafted Tim Tebow, the stadium would be full. I know, as well as you do, that would not be the case, however, let's just suppose for a minute the Jaguars did draft Tebow and the stadium was busting at the seams on game day. If the Jaguars have to draft the local college football hero to fill the stadium, then Jacksonville is not an NFL city.

Vic: I don't think that's the issue. Here's what I think the issue is: Let's suppose the Jaguars drafted Tebow and he filled the stadium. How long would it stay that way if it turned out he wasn't a good pro quarterback and the team lost? That's the issue. It still comes down to whether or not the Jaguars think he can be successful at this level. If they believe he can be successful, then draft him. If they don't think he has the tools to be successful on the NFL level, then it won't matter where he's from or what he did in college. His talent is the issue, just as it is for every player. It's the only reason you draft a guy, because you believe he can be successful at this level. That's the bottom line. Forget about that hometown stuff. Can he play at this level? That's the question that will have to be answered between now and next spring's draft.

Mike from St. Augustine, FL:
I'm struck by the fact that all of the QBs tied for the most touchdown passes in a single game are not from the modern, put-a-skirt-on-the-QB-and-protect-the-WRs-at-all-costs era. What gives? You old guys could play pitch and catch, too?

Vic: Yeah, the old guys could play pitch and catch. Look up the career of Don Hutson. Anyhow, one of the reasons those single-game record-holders came from long ago is because back then teams passed to score, not to possess the ball. The passing game was not the precision instrument it is in today's game. The passing game was used to take advantage of what was established with the run and to attack deep to score.

Gary from Oceanside, CA:
You sure do like to bash fantasy football and video games. I'll let you in on a secret. If you watch any sports network, you'll hear the same thing your readers send to you. I believed you to be more than just another media sports type; someone unassuming and more of a critical thinker in terms of things you clearly know anything about. You didn't even know how old Andrew was yesterday, but he had to be young and a dumb fantasy football player. Dude, your generation sucks most of all. Our generation knows more about football than yours did when you were our age. The nerve you have. I'm done with this column.

Vic: We'll miss you. By the way, Andrew and I have had communication. He informed me that he's 19.

Joe from Jacksonville:
I'm all for physical play, but what Favre did Monday night was absolutely dirty.

Vic: It looked worse than it was and I'm surprised Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski didn't explain better why Favre roll-blocked the defensive back. What they should've done is ripped Brad Childress for putting Favre in that position. Favre had to do something other than turn and run, so he rolled into the defensive back, to avoid taking on the block face-first and with his arms stuck out. The guy's rotator cuff is already torn. He could've torn it worse and ended his season. He rolled into the defender high enough and soft enough that it was a kind of you-know-what-I'm-doing surrender block. The defender just wasn't expecting it so he didn't get his hands out in front of him in time to ward it off. Favre was in a tough spot. All of a sudden, everything is dirty. It's as though we're supposed to judge these guys on how kind they are to each other. I really hope it's not gonna be like this all year.

Mark from Rochester, NY:
Is there a limit to how many players can be placed on injured reserve?

Vic: Yes, there is. You can only place 80 guys on the injured reserve list. Of course, that would mean you'd have to forfeit your games because the rule states that the combination of active players, practice-squad players and players on the injured reserve list cannot exceed 80.

Collin from Tampa, FL:
My daughter and I are long-time AV readers and today, Sept. 2, is my birthday. I've had the worst possible year, with my wife leaving both of us and taking everything, with no contact since to our daughter or myself. It would be such a special gift if I could get a happy birthday from you and the AV family.

Vic: If I could do a good Marilyn Monroe, I'd sing it to you, but I'm afraid you'll have to settle for a simple happy birthday.

Aug from Orlando, FL:
What are your thoughts on Beanie Wells' seemingly immediate impact with the Cardinals? He's been pretty successful thus far in the preseason. Do you see that success continuing?

Vic: I had him at number three on my value board. I honestly believed he would be the Jaguars' pick because I didn't expect Eugene Monroe, the number two guy on my value board, to be available. I still think he would've been the Jags' pick, had Monroe not been available. The Cardinals' luck has changed. They needed a running back and Wells fell to them. They like the little guy, Stephens-Howling, too.

Jordan from Kill Buck, NY:
Bob Stoops was asked a loaded question and I would like to know how you would answer it. He was asked if would he rather play and lose in the national championship game or win in a lesser bowl game?

Vic: I would say that's a stupid question because we lose in all bowl games, big and small.

Demetrius from Jacksonville:
"I've heard rumors the Jaguars are working on a shade machine." Was that a joke or are you being serious because I know at least 100 people who do not want to go just for that reason?

Vic: Are you serious, Clark?

Adel from Jacksonville:
It's official, Vic. The sports news stations are talking about the economy affecting ticket sales and the example that is used is the Jaguars and how we can't sell tickets. To those fans that were afraid of us being exposed nationally, it's happened and it makes us look real bad. I know what it is, but just wanted the fans of Jacksonville to understand that realization and the ridicule we take along with it.

Vic: That's why I've been trying to prepare everyone, not because it would change anything but because I knew it was coming and that it would hurt, and it's gonna get worse. When you join the NFL, you step into the big leagues, and that includes the big league pro sports media, which isn't gonna treat you with that soft, regional favoritism that goes with the coverage of college football. I hate to see what's happening because it's putting Jacksonville in a terrible light, but I knew it was coming.

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