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Don't discount Mathis

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

Justin from Callahan, FL:
I think the biggest question I had about last week's draft was the drafting of Rashean Mathis in the second round, with E.J. Henderson still on the board. I thought Henderson was a mid-first-round player and plays a need position. Was there a medical concern or something I didn't hear about? What was your opinion on the choice?

Vic: E.J. Henderson had back surgery in April of last year. It hampered him through most of last season and clearly caused his draft stock to fall. Don't get caught up in names. Rashean Mathis has impressive physical skills. The Falcons were going to take him in the second round. He has a chance to become a special player at a premium position.

Joseph from Kingsland, GA:
What do you think the odds of a Brunell contract extension are if the Jaguars gain a playoff or championship berth this year? Would Weaver and Brunell put bad feelings aside?

Vic: Mark Brunell wants to stay in Jacksonville. Wayne Weaver wants his team to make the playoffs. If Brunell led the Jaguars to the playoffs, it would be logical to expect a contract extension.

Jared from Edison, NJ:
Since the mini-camp wasn't open to the public, what were some of Byron Leftwich's negatives and positives during camp?

Vic: The negatives were to be expected; Byron Leftwich was jittery and fumbled a couple of snaps from center. He had trouble locating open receivers the first couple of days, going through his routes progression a little too deliberately. On the final day, Leftwich came to life, especially in "skeleton" passing drills. He finished the final practice with a touchdown pass to Henry Douglas. But the real positives were the natural talents he displayed. He has a great arm. He can drive the ball or drop it softly into his receiver's hands. He proved that in the final practice, too, hitting a receiver in stride with a 20-yard laser shot over the middle, then dumping the ball softly to his check-down receivers. He has strong physical talents.

Haleh from Baton Rouge, LA:
In your opinion, how did LaBrandon Toefield do in mini-camp this weekend?

Vic: I need to see him when the pads are down. He's a big guy. Power should be his game. We'll find out in training camp.

Tom from Orlando, FL:
I know you don't have a crystal ball, but please try and answer this question: Who do you think the four starting defensive backs will be for the Jags this year?

Vic: Fernando Bryant and Jason Craft are the starting cornerbacks and Donovin Darius and Marlon McCree are the starters at the two safety positions. If you're asking me if second-round pick Rashean Mathis has a chance to win a starting job, I would say the answer is yes. He's a big, fast, athletic kid and the Jaguars didn't pick him to sit the bench. But a lot would have to happen in Mathis' development before he can be handed a starting job. It'll happen in time, but I can't tell you when.

Nick from Jacksonville:
I still feel bitter-sweet about the Jaguars' selection of Byron Leftwich. I had become very fond of David Garrard and I felt he could be a viable NFL quarterback within the next couple years. You even said Garrard has been interesting you. Why has everyone virtually handed the "quarterback of the future" moniker to Byron Leftwich? I still think Garrard could very well take that name for himself, and I wouldn't be too disappointed if he did.

Vic: Nobody is handed anything in this league. The best man plays and David Garrard will be given the opportunity to compete with Byron Leftwich to be the Jaguars' quarterback of the future, and with Mark Brunell to be the quarterback of the present. I receive questions every day wanting to anoint somebody as this or that. There is no anointing. The guy who gets it done wins the job; the moment another player is more productive, the job belongs to him.

Bharat from Jacksonville:
Teams occasionally use trickery and go for it on fourth down, rather than punt it or kick a field goal. They'll send out a punt unit but, instead, go for the first down. As such, is there anyway to fake going for it? In other words, a team acts like it's going for the first down, but punts, instead, to limit the opponent to poor field position. Is this allowed?

Vic: What you're suggesting is most popularly known as a "quick kick," which is used mostly on third down when the defense doesn't have a man back to return the punt. You still see a lot of it in college football, when a team is pinned deep in its own territory and is facing third-and-long, doesn't believe the chances of making a first down are reasonable and doesn't want to risk an interception or fumble. I see teams "quick kick" quite often and with regular success. There have been occasions when a "quick kick" changed field position so dramatically that it was regarded to be the key play in the game. Yes, it can be done on fourth down, but you don't see it quite as often on fourth down because it's more difficult to sell the element of surprise.

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