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Covering seats not that easy

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

Nick from Tampa, FL:
Perhaps you can shed some light. I just read Vic Carucci's column on the AFC South and Chris Mortenson's chat wrap. Both say opposite things about Leftwich's arm strength: Carruci says it's strong; Mortenson says Leftwich's arm strength needs work. What gives?

Vic: After watching Byron Leftwich through the first half of last season, it was my opinion that he was more of a touch-passer than a drive-the-ball guy. I considered his arm strength good enough, but I didn't think it was in the cannon category. When I expressed those sentiments to Shack Harris, he said I was wrong. Shack said Leftwich has a very strong arm. I greatly value Harris' opinion, but I'm still inclined to view Leftwich as a quarterback who relies more on his instincts and feel for the position than he does his arm strength.

Rob from Orange Park, FL:
What are Chris Luzar's chances of making the roster? Since he was one of Coughlin's last picks, does he fit into Jack and Shack's plans?

Vic: This will be the most important summer of Chris Luzar's young career. He is clearly at a crossroads. An impressive training camp and preseason performance could launch his career to new heights. Of course, we all know what the flip side of that is. That's the way it is for players entering their third and fourth seasons. They are considered to be entering the prime years of their careers and expectations for their performance are adjusted upward.

Mark from Kansas City, MO:
My question is concerning blackouts. If we have too many seats than population, why doesn't Wayne Weaver just cover 10 to 15 thousand seats to make maximum capacity less?

Vic: It can be done, but there are a couple of major concerns that go with that kind of decision. First of all, there's the stigma that goes with covered seats. It's there for everyone to see – on national television – and it's a source of embarrassment for the franchise and the city. Then there's the matter of an NFL rule that forbids those seats to be uncovered, should demand for seats increase during the season. The NFL forbids its teams to manipulate their stadium capacities. When a team decides before the season begins to take a percentage of its stadium's seats out of circulation, those seats must remain that way for the whole season. Covering seats is definitely a way of reducing seating capacity, but it's a last-ditch tactic that goes much deeper than the cloth that covers those seats.

Ryan from Toronto, Canada:
I was able to get a ticket to the Jags' opener in Buffalo. I'm sure it'll be a tough game. What type of game do you expect to see on opening day? A strong defensive battle?

Vic: Given the Bills' and Jaguars' rankings on defense last season (the Bills were second overall and the Jaguars were sixth), a defensive battle would be a logical expectation. But Mike Mularkey is one of the most innovative offensive minds in the game and he'll have a whole summer to prepare for his debut as a head coach, so I'm expecting Mularkey to have a lot of his trademark gadgets in store for the Jaguars. The more I look at this opener, the more intrigued I am by it. This could be a real good one. Don't forget, Mularkey, Jack Del Rio and Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith know each other well from their battles as Steelers and Ravens coaches.

Roland from Jacksonville:
How could you forget about Jim Kelly and Andre Reed?

Vic: And how could we not mention Norm Van Brocklin and Tom Fears, or Van Brocklin and "Crazylegs" Hirsch, too? There were a lot of pass-catch combinations I didn't mention in yesterday's column, which is precisely the point. When you begin ranking pass-catch combos, you start with those that won championships.

David from Orlando, FL:
Without Eddie George, how does the Titans running game look right now?

Vic: About the same as it did with Eddie George; not good. The Titans were 26th in the league in rushing last season. If Branch Rickey was running the show, he might say something like, "I finished 26th in the league with you, and I can finish 26th in the league without you."

Jim from Jacksonville:
I know teams are already working out and practicing, but when does the real deal start?

Vic: There seems to be a misconception about what goes on in July before the start of training camp. Teams are not working out and practicing. There are players who come to the stadium on their own, but there are no coach-conducted practices. All across the league, coaching staffs are on vacation. That'll change next week, as Jaguars players are due to report for the starting of training camp on July 30.

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