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Brushing up on kick rules

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

Jon from Jacksonville:
In an effort to get totally ahead of myself and the Jaguars, I would like you to consider the possibility the Jaguars do well this year and go to the playoffs. In the offseason, do you see them continuing to work on the salary cap or try and gear up for a run at the Super Bowl in '04?

Vic: The salary cap needs more attention.

Corey from Petaluma, CA:
It's frustrating listening to ESPN's "oh yeah, and the Jags won" attitude. I am hoping the next few games will prove the depth of character this team has and earn them the respect they deserve. Secondly, I'm excited about the 2-1 start but believe their first big test comes this week against McNabb and the Eagles. What's your thoughts on how they will match up?

Vic: In my opinion, the key to beating the Eagles is the ability to run the ball, which allows for two positive things to happen: 1.) Keep from throwing into the strength of their defense, which is the cornerback tandem of Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent; 2.) Control time of possession, which limits Donovan McNabb's playing time. The Jaguars have run the ball well and, for that reason, I believe they have a chance to win this Sunday.

Sharon from Port Charlotte, FL:
Well, I attended my first NFL game Sunday: Jags vs. Jets. I was impressed with the whole day. I witnessed two things you stated to me in an earlier post. I saw the Jets lose with Vinny starting and I also saw a deep throw to Taylor on the first play. I must admit your hindsight is good. Now, your thoughts on the Philly game? If we win this game, will that shut up the critics?

Vic: A win over Philadelphia would clearly establish the Jaguars as a playoff contender.

Keith from Jacksonville:
I was wondering, with Hayden Epstein continuing to struggle kicking field goals, will the Jags start looking for a reliable veteran? Also, I heard there is a roster exemption starting this year for kickers who only do kickoffs and nothing else. I heard they don't count against the 45-man roster, like the third quarterback. Is that true?

Vic: That is not true. As far as Hayden Epstein is concerned, Tom Coughlin's pro personnel department is always searching out available talent. Coughlin won't hesitate to pull the trigger when he believes doing so will improve the team's chances of winning.

Ben from Jacksonville:
Do you see Mack asking for a raise at the end of the year, Weaver saying no and Mack leaving? It always seems when we get a good backup they get good playing time and ask for raises.

Vic: That's the nature of today's game. This is not a league of maintenance, it's a league of replacement.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
Were there any seasons when Tom Coughlin didn't call the offensive plays? I heard he hasn't called the plays during last season and the season before and I thought he did.

Vic: Tom Coughlin was the offensive coordinator and play-caller in 1999, the only season he assumed total control of the play-calling.

William from St. Augustine, FL:
Clearly we all need a refresher course in field goals after watching the Pittsburgh and Baltimore games. Please explain the rules pertaining to the blocked field goal on second down and McAlister's 108-yard return for a touchdown. Why is a returned field goal worth six points and a returned two-point conversion is only worth two points? And why can't you return a blocked field goal for a touchdown?

Vic: In the NFL, any conversion attempt -- kick, run or pass -- may not be returned by the defensive team. The play is whistled dead the moment a PAT kick is ruled to have failed, a rushing attempt is stopped or a pass attempt is defensed or intercepted. In college, two points are awarded to the defensive team if it fully returns any failed PAT attempt. The Chris McAlister touchdown return in the Monday night game against Denver is no different from the college rule that governs the same situation. Any field goal attempt in the field of play may be returned for a touchdown. Now, onto the Pittsburgh-Cleveland situation. Pittsburgh chose to attempt a field goal in overtime on second down, which was an obviously wise decision by Steelers coach Bill Cowher. Todd Peterson's kick was blocked by the Browns and the ball failed to cross the line of scrimmage. Peterson recovered the loose ball, which allowed Pittsburgh to retain possession; third down Steelers. Cleveland would've taken possession had it recovered the ball. Had the ball crossed the line of scrimmage after having been blocked, Cleveland would've taken possession without having to recover it. Leon Lett can confirm that. But he's not the only player who's screwed up on a field goal attempt. I once saw a player named Brady Keys, who was positioned deep to return a field goal attempt that might fall short of its mark, jump and knock down a kick that was clearly going to fall short of the crossbar. In those days, the NFL positioned the goal posts at the goal line. The kicking team recovered the ball at the one-yard line; first and goal.

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