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Drew says not involved

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

Joni from Jacksonville:
I just read a story on about Maurice Drew being arrested for assault. Could you fill us in?

Vic: The incident occurred the weekend before the draft. Drew informed the Jaguars of the incident prior to the draft and told the team he did not participate in the assault. The Jaguars, obviously, were satisfied with what they knew of the incident. The rest is up to the legal system.

Stan from Jacksonville:
Are the players at the mini-camps, specifically the undrafted rookies, compensated? Also, is there insurance if they suffer a season-ending or career-ending injury?

Vic: Your question only pertains to players not under contract (the draft picks), because mini-camp is mandatory and that means all players under contract must attend. Their contracts are their insurance policies. As far as the draft picks are concerned, they sign an agreement that protects them in the event of injury. It's something that would compensate them according to their draft slots. Rookies are not compensated for participating in mini-camp. Veterans get about $470 each for the weekend.

Rob from Jacksonville:
I thought I heard the new CBA includes an addendum to the June 2 rule for cutting players that allows teams to release a certain number of players before June 2 but designate them June 2 cuts. Was I daydreaming and did I misunderstand something?

Vic: You may designate two players as post-June 1 cuts, even though you cut them prior to June 2. You must designate them as such when you release them.

Bharat from Jacksonville:
You've provided us your thoughts on Couch, McNown and other young QBs. What do you think of Boller and Harrington, two young QBs who would seem to be at the crossroads of their respective careers, if not beyond?

Vic: The first thought is they're both Jeff Tedford quarterbacks. Akili Smith also played for Tedford, who clearly knows how to get the best out of a quarterback. What is it about those guys that hasn't allowed them to have success? Are they system quarterbacks? Harrington has some talent. He has some mobility and his arm is good enough; not great, but good enough. At first glance, he's impressive, but you keep watching and you see there's some kind of disconnect. The word is that he just doesn't get it. Maybe he needs a new teacher. He'll have that in Miami, so, we'll see what happens. Boller is a tough kid and has leadership qualities. He came on late last season so maybe he's turned the corner and success will follow. Based on what I've seen of Boller on the couple of occasions I've seen him play against the Jaguars, however, I question his skills. There's nothing about him that's impressive; not his arm, his mobility or his feel for the game. He appears to be an ordinary quarterback who over-achieved in college – he was a one-year wonder – and has hit the wall in the NFL.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I didn't expect to see you fall in with the Flutie induction line of thought. The Hall is for the best there is in the NFL, which has no competitor. Should the NFL and The Hall acknowledge performance in a lesser arena?

Vic: It's official name is the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not the NFL Hall of Fame. Doug Flutie, however, will define what it really is. If Flutie isn't inducted, and I don't think he will be because the CFL is a lesser league, then it's the NFL Hall of Fame. No player has ever been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame based on his career in the CFL. Flutie, in my opinion, is deserving because of his long and distinguished career in three leagues. His career speaks of accomplishment, longevity and fame. Let's not forget that the CFL's roots are much older than the NFL's. I don't see anything wrong with acknowledging the greatest player in the history of an age-old league that has been a friendly and cooperative partner in pro football with the NFL. Here's one more thought: Flutie didn't become an NFL star until he was way past his prime, and even after he had that magical season in Buffalo in 1998, they took the job from him the next year. Some might say the NFL owes him an apology for the size bias Flutie faced. In '98, he proved he could play in this league.

Tom from Jacksonville:
It's really hard for a kid to become a Jaguars fan if they're not on TV. What do you think?

Vic: All teams' road games are televised back to the home market. That's enough to create a fan base. That's all we had when we were kids. All home games were blacked out back then and it didn't seem to hurt the league's growth.

Mike from Jacksonville:
Who was your favorite defensive player to watch as a child?

Vic: We didn't get the amount of games on TV that we have today. Players back then just didn't get the exposure they do today, so, we'd latch on to somebody that caught our eye. There were two defensive players I made a point of watching, for different reasons. One was "Big Daddy" Lipscomb, who might have become recognized as the most dominant defensive lineman in professional football history, but he died tragically following a short but sensational career. He was a big, distinctive man and he was the first player on the field you noticed. I liked the name, too. The other defensive player I followed closely was Giants and Browns defensive lineman Dick "Little Mo" Modzelewski, because he was from my hometown. That was a very popular reason for following players back then. Towns took pride in favorite-son players. We had two: "Little Mo" and Cookie Gilchrist, who was a star running back with the Buffalo Bills. We were star-struck by the sight of professional athletes when we were kids. I remember seeing Gilchrist driving through town one day in his Cadillac convertible. I thought I had just seen God. When James Stewart scored five rushing touchdowns against the Eagles in 1997, Gilchrist is one of the players Stewart tied for that accomplishment. When I wrote that in my story, I had to pause for a moment.

Tom from Melbourne, FL:
Your articles about elite defenses and Pittsburgh not being the best team seem to hammer home your underlying philosophies of humility, preparation and blue-collar drive. So where does the Jags organization rank in terms of those values?

Vic: You're overanalyzing what I wrote. I wrote those stories so people would have something to read. That's all. People complain about this being a "dead" time of year and write me nasty notes that I'm lazy and need to do some work, so I saw a few things that struck me and I wanted to put them into stories that might make people think. In the story about the Jaguars defense, I had noticed a four-year trend in building the defense: a premium free-agent acquisition and a second or third-round pick each year. That's a pattern that struck me and I wanted to share that with people. That's all. On the Bill Cowher story, I wanted to make the point that it's time to put last year away. The new season has started and dwelling on last year's successes serve no purpose. I thought Cowher's remark was rather stunning and dramatically made this point, which applies to the Jaguars, too. They're called think pieces because they're supposed to make you think. That's all. I do, however, believe in all of that other stuff you mentioned and I think Jack Del Rio does, too.

Don from Jacksonville:
Would you please explain what distinguishes a receiver who is said to be an excellent route-runner from one who is not?

Vic: A good route-runner stays low into his cuts; bad route-runners tend to raise up, which lets defensive backs read the receiver's moves. Good route-runners are quick and fluid. They turn their hips with ease. They are natural, not mechanical. They also have instincts for where the soft spots in a zone are going to be. Keenan McCardell wasn't the quickest thing into and out of his breaks, but he had and I'm sure still has great instincts for where to "sit down" in a zone. One other thing: Good route-runners know how to set up their routes. They don't just run them, they sell them. They do that with body language, arm movements, change of speed, facial expressions, head bobs, etc.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
In your opinion, who were the top five NFL linebackers of all time? Would you include Lawrence Taylor, though he was used essentially as a defensive end?

Vic: Yes, I would include Lawrence Taylor because he invented the new way to play the position. Taylor is the "father of modern linebacking." Here's my top five: 1. Taylor, 2. Dick Butkus, 3. Ray Lewis, 4. Junior Seau, 5. (tie) Chuck Bednarik, Sam Huff and Jack Lambert.

Dan from Orlando, FL:
Who do you think should be the next commissioner?

Vic: I don't know who he will be but I think we can all agree on what he must be. I think he has to be somebody with labor negotiations expertise because the first crisis he's going to face is the voiding of the current CBA in four years.

Chad from Yulee, FL:
With the exception of the ugly purple seats, my favorite stadium is the one in Baltimore. The design has the seats right on top of the field. I wish Alltel was a little cozier in that respect. I know you sit in the press box each week, but which venue would you most to like to sit in the stands without having to cover the game and watch two teams battle it out?

Vic: I hear reporters all of the time grade stadiums according to their experience, rather than the fans'. I walk around a little bit in stadiums and try to get a feel for what it's like for the fans. The one in Baltimore is great. The seats are right up on the field, the location of the stadium is great and, most importantly, it's very handsome. I like the one in Tennessee, though I don't think it's especially handsome. It has a good feel to it. It sits right across the bridge from town and I always prefer that kind of location. Nothing is worse than Texas Stadium, which is surrounded by parking lots out in the middle of nowhere. Blow that one up, please. I like Cleveland Browns Stadium. Again, the location, on the lake, makes it intriguing and gives it feel. The circular ramps in the corners of the end zone at Heinz Field have become a big-time hang-out for fans and provide uniqueness. I can't wait to see The Linc. I haven't been to Ford Field or the ones in Arizona, Chicago, Denver or Seattle. I like Reliant Stadium but it's certainly not warm or intimate. Gillette Stadium is OK but I can't help but scratch my head at some of the open spaces and arrangements. The new Lambeau Field is sensational, including the grounds around the outside of Lambeau. They know how to do pro football in Green Bay. Carolina and Jacksonville built stadiums in the last wave of the old designs and it shows. The best thing about Alltel is the south end zone Terrace Suites. That's as attractive as any feature in any stadium in America. The one in Tampa I don't like, at all. The Redskins' stadium is a cow and even more out in the middle of nowhere than Texas Stadium. Yuk!

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