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Brackens would've been great 3-4 LB

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Rich from Indianapolis, IN:
I just read some comments you made to a gentleman from Jax in regard to John Clayton not being a former player. You really defended the fact that you and John never played the game. Does that come from the Howard Cosell school of sports journalism? I'm just curious how you feel about former players getting sports journalism jobs over guys like you and John?

Vic: I'm a writer, not a broadcaster. I assure you, former players are no threat to my job. By the way, I didn't say I never played the game. I said I never played college or professional football. I got a steel brace in my neck that says I played the game, so please stop with the never-played-the-game crap because it makes my neck hurt.

Ryan from Clyde, OH:
So what's the salary situation with the practice squad players? Do they get a smaller paycheck?

Vic: Players on the practice squad earn $5,200 a week for a maximum of 17 weeks.

Kamal from Novi, MI:
I know you love doing the in-game blogs because it gives you a new way to communicate your thoughts live to readers, but I was wondering if it actually helps or just distracts you from your primary responsibilities as a sportswriter during the game.

Vic: The blog is nothing more than a compilation of my thoughts during the game. Once upon a time, I would make notes to myself in my notebook as the game progressed. I would make notes to ask so and so about such and such, or to remind myself to include a particular thought in my game story or column. Now I share those thoughts with you in my blog and I think it helps me focus more intently on the action. When I write something in my blog, it's not necessarily a fact or a committed opinion. It is a first-look and instinctive observation. After acquiring more information, I reserve the right to change my view. That's why I would jot down notes to myself; to get more information on what I saw. I'm not a guy who resists change, but I'm not someone who invites it, either. The blog movement is something that was thrust upon me and I'm glad it was. It's a good way to digest a game, but the blog should not be treated as gospel.

Carl from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars had the day off Tuesday. I do not understand that at all. Did the Titans have the day off, too? Why take a day off during the week of your biggest game; the season-opener at that?

Vic: Because the CBA provides for a day off for the players each week and most teams schedule that day off for Tuesday. Tuesday is the game-plan day for coaches. When they arrive on Wednesday, players are presented the game plan. Then the intense preparation begins.

Nick from Jacksonville:
Matt Jones, Richard Collier, Fred Taylor; that's just the past eight weeks. We can't find 53 players who understand what it means to be in the spotlight? If nothing else, take this advice, NFL players: Nothing good comes from being out past midnight. Vic, this is pathetic and an embarrassment to the fans but, most importantly, it's an embarrassment to Mr. Weaver and the city.

Vic: Nick, Richard Collier is fighting for his life and your concern is for the embarrassment he caused you? I want you to think about that. I think you need to soften. Contemporary lifestyles may not be the same to which you are accustomed. Times have changed. Wanna be a parent? Here's what you do: Curl up in a corner and tremble with worry all night long. My boys are off the dole and I still worry about them. When I was a kid, I had to be home on Fridays before "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" signed off. Try that on today's youth.

George from Jacksonville:
John Clayton was on ESPN radio on Tuesday morning and they asked him which game he was attending and he said Jax/Tenn. He said it should be one to watch. I think John may have jumped the gun on his prognosis for the Jags and wants to see what his eyes tell him. Thoughts?

Vic: I look forward to seeing him.

Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
Who was the shortest and most effective quarterback?

Vic: Eddie LeBaron was 5-9 and he threw 104 touchdown passes. That's pretty good.

Terry from Jacksonville:
How special of a talent was Tony Brackens, in your opinion? Take away the injuries and I think he was on his way to the Pride of the Jaguars.

Vic: I always thought that had Brackens played in a 3-4, he would've had a Hall of Fame-caliber career. He was a player who was best in space. Playing in-line forced him to play bigger than his body and that caused him knee injuries I don't think he would've sustained had he been a 3-4 linebacker. In my opinion, he would've been a Lawrence Taylor-caliber player as a 3-4 linebacker.

Gary from Jacksonville:
I'm shocked the Jags waived Hawkins. I thought he had a reasonably good preseason and was starting to settle into the LB role. I have a feeling some 3-4 team is going to snatch him up and be very happy. So, did he just not fit into the system?

Vic: He was a DPR (designated pass-rusher), which is Jack Del Rio's terminology for pass-rush specialist. Jorge Cordova was a DPR and Quentin Groves is a DPR. How many DPRs do you need? The answer is one. Hawkins' stats for the preseason are: two tackles, two passes-defensed. I'm not a big stats guy but I gotta have more than that.

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