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Europe not proving ground

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

Candice from Los Angeles, CA:
Do you think the Titans will regress this year, or is Fisher good enough to keep them in the playoff picture?

Vic: In my opinion, the Titans' roster is clearly in decline. The talent that has been lost through free agency represents a dramatic decline in overall roster strength, but Jeff Fisher is an awfully good coach and he could find a way to keep the Titans competitive at a postseason level. I don't expect that to happen but I acknowledge that possibility.

Tim from Jacksonville:
What is the exact number of non-premium seats that need to be sold in order to avoid a blackout for the Jaguars? How many seats that actually count toward that figure have been sold to date?

Vic: Approximately 59,000 seats apply to the blackout number. The Jaguars have currently sold about 44,000 of those seats in the form of season tickets.

Philip from Woodmere, NY:
I want to know why the Jaguars wouldn't send David Garrard to NFL Europe. If he took the league by storm, like Rohan Davey of the Patriots did, wouldn't that significantly raise his trade value to a possible first-round pick? If people are interested in him now without having watched him play, they'd yearn for him after seeing what he could do over there. Would you agree?

Vic: NFL Europe isn't the proving ground you think it is. Jonathan Quinn lit it up in Europe, but he had trouble a year later finding a team willing to sign him as a free agent. Jake Delhomme won a World Bowl championship in 1999, but nobody traded for him. Kurt Warner led NFL Europe in yards passing and touchdowns in 1998, but nobody traded for him. Rohan Davey is a great physical specimen with outstanding athletic tools. If a team is going to trade for him, it will be for those reasons. His performance in NFL Europe is a feather in his cap, but his stock will rise or fall depending on what he does in the NFL preseason and in whatever regular season action he might see. Rob Johnson is the perfect example of that. The Jaguars traded him to Buffalo for first and fourth-round picks, and that was almost solely on the strength of a great preseason in 1997 and a sensational performance in the 1997 regular season opener at Baltimore. Johnson did not play in NFL Europe. The NFL is the proving ground. Teams willing to trade for a guy want to see him in NFL action. David Garrard has NFL experience in his resume. Any team willing to trade for him is going to look at his performances against Tennessee and Indianapolis in the 2002 regular season. They're going to look hard at last year's preseason and even harder at this summer's preseason. NFL Europe wouldn't impact Garrard's trade value as much as you think. Besides, Garrard was diagnosed to have Crohn's Disease in March and underwent abdominal surgery recently. He would not have been able to play. The real issue in Garrard's future is the Crohn's. Any team interested in trading for him is going to want to know he's fully recovered.

Mike from London, Canada:
I was just talking to a buddy about QB false starts. Why can Peyton Manning go under center and then walk back out, audible and walk back in? Why isn't this a false start?

Vic: Quarterbacks are permitted to move, as are running backs and receivers, as long as they don't simulate the start of a play. Their movements must not be an attempt to draw the defense offside.

Julie from Atlantic City, NJ:
Do you think Vinny will start in Big D? Can you recall a trio of WRs with any more "attitude" than the Dallas trio of wideouts? Keyshawn Johnson might be the most stable of the three! Also, your thoughts/comments on "The Tuna's" chances to return to the playoffs this year would be appreciated.

Vic: If Vinny Testaverde turns out to be Dallas' starting quarterback this year, then the Cowboys have problems. Frankly, I'm not impressed with what Bill Parcells did this offseason. Texas Stadium is starting to look like the proverbial elephant graveyard, and the Cowboys' performance in the draft was especially puzzling. They were in perfect position to draft Kevin Jones, who I believe would've been a major steal late in the first round and would've addressed a desperate need for a feature running back, but they traded the pick. They traded up and down the board as though they weren't quite sure what to do. I don't see the Cowboys returning to the playoffs.

Josh from Raymore, MO:
Vic, I've been watching every episode of "Reporters Corner." I was just wondering who you think will be the toughest team the Jaguars will face next season. I think it will be the Kansas City Chiefs. Who do you think and why?

Vic: In my opinion, the toughest game on the Jaguars' schedule might be the Nov. 28 game at Minnesota. Don't look past the opener, though. The Bills will be awfully tough to beat in Buffalo on opening day. Mike Mularkey is one of the finest offensive minds in the game. He loves gadget plays and he'll have a whole summer to prepare for the Jaguars. I don't agree with you about Kansas City. What I saw in that playoff game against Indianapolis turned me hard against the Chiefs. Soft teams don't get my respect.

Jon from Tampa, FL:
The Jaguars have certainly upgraded their depth this offseason. Taking this depth into consideration, who is the one player who the Jaguars could least afford to miss significant time this season?

Vic: Fred Taylor.

John from St. Augustine, FL:
"Why not just buy a ticket instead of a tank of gas?" Excellent point. What's the cheapest regular season Jaguars ticket and why not have a reasonably-sized section of true "cheap seats?" I get the NFL's price argument about valuing your product and what the market will bear, but Alltel isn't selling out and filling it with the wine and cheese set seems more elitist than intimidating. What about us fans who've got more love than money?

Vic: Where have you been? The Jaguars introduced a $13.50 per game upper deck season ticket three seasons ago. There are now 8,000 of those seats available and another 12,000 at $20 per game on a season ticket basis. The $13.50 ticket is the second-cheapest season ticket in the NFL.

Mike from Washington, DC:
Don't you think one of the worst calls was the Tom Brady fumble in the playoff game vs. Oakland?

Vic: The league confirmed that the right call was made. We know it as the "Tuck Rule."

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