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FA is always risky

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

Bryan from Pittsford, NY:
Could you clarify what an H-back formation is?

Vic: An H-back is a fullback-tight end hybrid. He's usually a small tight end who lines up as a fullback. Often, he'll motion out of the fullback position which gets him out ahead of the play for blocking purposes or puts him into position to get downfield as a receiver. He might also line up in the slot or on the wing. The Vikings did a lot of H-back stuff when Mike Tice was their coach.

Bill from Atlanta, GA:
I'm a big fan of Nick Greisen. All he does is produce. What are your thoughts on what he brings to the team?

Vic: Greisen has surprised me. When the Jaguars signed Greisen, I considered him to be "just a guy." I expected him to provide veteran insurance but not challenge for a starting job. Well, he's done a lot more than that. He's won the starting outside linebacker job, I believe. Greisen was consistent and durable throughout the summer. Then, in the preseason games, he flashed. I'm impressed.

Brad from Jacksonville:
I'm out 3-4 weeks with a hip-pointer thanks to your answer to Mike from London, Canada. I found the bone in my hip and gave it a swift jolt with a hammer. Since I'm a side-sleeper, I couldn't get a good night's rest, so I drove to my doctor's office in my 1998 Sunfire with 85,000 miles on it and he said don't worry about the other stuff after I mentioned the bugs eating my lawn.

Vic: I knew a guy who had a really sore hip-pointer on his left side. The quarterback would call "wing left nine power," which was a sweep to the left, and the guy would say, "let's run 'wing right two power,'" which was a sweep to the right. The quarterback was a friend and he knew the guy was hurting. After the play was changed a couple of times, the coach sent in "wing left nine power" with the instruction not to change the play. Ouch! So you know what the guy did? He ran it to the left, turned it upfield short of the corner and then cut it back to the right. Then he got benched.

Andrew from New York, NY:
What is the difference between the Bengals offense and the Jaguars offense? When I look at the starting rosters, I see so many comparisons, yet, the Bengals are more efficient; big-arm quarterback, receivers with size and speed and big offensive lines. In what way do we fall short from putting up Bengal-like numbers?

Vic: You're saying you think the two offenses are comparable in talent? I think you're evaluating with your heart. The reason for the difference between the Bengals and Jaguars offenses is the same as the reason for the difference between the two teams' defenses. The Bengals don't have two defensive tackles the quality of Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. They don't have a corner the quality of Rashean Mathis. On the offensive side of the ball, the Jaguars don't have a passing game the equal of the Bengals' because the Jaguars don't have the talent in their passing game the Bengal have. Carson Palmer is a special quarterback. He has a special arm and special mechanics. He's an elite quarterback who ranks right beneath Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Byron Leftwich hasn't achieved Palmer's level of performance, yet, and one of the reasons is that Leftwich hasn't had a star-studded receiving corps. By the time Leftwich arrived in Jacksonville, Jimmy Smith was at the end of his career and the team has yet to identify a replacement. Chad Johnson is a jerk but he's a 97-catch jerk. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is a quality "number two receiver." The Bengals offensive line has two high-quality, veteran tackles and, of course, running back Rudi Johnson is a 1,500-yard rusher who is in the prime of his career and Chris Perry is a 50-catch third-down back. That's a fantastic collection of offensive talent. It's the reason the Bengals won the AFC North last season and why I expect them to win it again this year, despite having a brutally tough schedule.

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico:
Based on any flashes you saw or didn't see in the preseason, can you tell us anything about the Jaguars' division rivals, the Texans, Titans and Colts?

Vic: I haven't seen the Texans or Titans play. The Colts are as I expected: Fantastic on offense and soft on defense. I think they're going to miss Edgerrin James, a lot. I expect the Texans to be improved. I expect the Titans to struggle.

Trent from Tallahassee, FL:
On it is stated that the Jags had some interest in acquiring Kerry Collins before he signed with the Titans. Is that proof that Jack Del Rio was looking to trade Garrard and get Collins as a backup?

Vic: The Jaguars did not express interest in Kerry Collins.

Gavin from Halifax, Nova Scotia:
How do the cuts affect the salary cap?

Vic: A cut player's amortization of bonus and guaranteed money stays on the books. His salary is extinguished.

Joe from Pontypridd, Wales, UK:
How is Marcedes Lewis looking for the Cowboys game? Is he making a swift recovery?

Vic: He's running along the side at practice. That's a precursor, of course, to rejoining practice, which I expect Lewis will do soon. He could be available for the Cowboys game, but I'm more inclined to pencil him in for the Steelers game, which is a Monday nighter and would provide him an extra day of recovery.

Andy from Boston, MA:
You say you wouldn't trade a second-round pick for Deion Branch and I think many GMs would agree with you. It boggles my mind how someone with proven NFL experience as an above average player isn't viewed as being worth a second-round pick, and I know I would be unsatisfied if that was all the Pats got for trading Branch. Trades in the NFL are screwy. Personally, I think allowing him to negotiate a trade with other teams was to let him see how the rest of the league valued him. Maybe that would humble him.

Vic: That's exactly what the Patriots are doing. They're giving Branch the opportunity to find out what his real worth is. He wants to be paid as a "number one receiver" and that's why teams aren't willing to give the Patriots a second-round pick. A player selected in the second round will come at a bargain price and that's what makes the pick so valuable. In the salary cap era, you have to have bargain players. If you trade your second-round pick for Branch and then give Branch "number one receiver" money, you will have, in effect, traded away a lot of cap room, too. It's not the money alone and it's not the pick alone, but the combination of the two is too high of a price to pay. Ask Shawn Alexander. If this was free agency, Branch would probably get his money. He'll probably return to the Patriots and play with fury so he can get into free agency and get the big bucks he wants. At least, that's what he should do. If he sulks, he'll never get his money.

Patrick from Orange Park, FL:
In your opinion, who is the heart and soul of the Jaguars defense?

Vic: Stroud, Henderson and Mathis are the body, but Mike Peterson is the heart and soul.

Asley from Jacksonville:
Isn't Mike Williams the second-chance offensive lineman we spent big money on? Now he's on injured reserve. That's a big hit, right?

Vic: It's big enough. It's not going to cripple the Jaguars cap, but they didn't sign him with the idea he'd be on injured reserve. The Jaguars wanted to fortify their offensive line. Williams was a bit of a risk because of weight and under-performance issues, but those are the risks you take in free agency. If you wanna play in the free agency game, you're going to get stung from time to time. Make no mistake about it, the bulk of the players available in free agency are other teams' cast-offs. You have to find the ones that slipped through the cracks.

Chris from Jacksonville:
I was wondering after watching the Bengals-Packers game, what are the fans to do in the event of lightning and severe weather in the middle of a game? Does the stadium have procedures for the fans or do the fans have to fend for themselves?

Vic: What do you expect, FEMA to send 70,000 limousines?

Mike from West Bloomfield, MI:
So how do the Jaguars look so far and do you think they can go to the playoffs again?

Vic: They look pretty much as we left them last season: A team with an outstanding defense and a struggling offense. It got them to the playoffs last year and it can do it again this year, but only if they play to their strength and around their weakness, until the weakness becomes a strength. In other words, the Jaguars need to be a conservative, ball-control offense that doesn't turn the ball over. The defense will win the battle of field position which will allow the offense chances to capitalize on scoring opportunities, which they must do. Late in the season, I'll expect the offense to start coming on, as it was doing in the second half of last season when Byron Leftwich became injured. Truth be known, this team hasn't been the same since. They need to get back to where they were on Nov. 27th of last year. Yes, I expect them to make the playoffs. That has to be the expectation.

Todd from Newton, IA:
Have the Jaguars looked into signing Steven Davis. He's a great goal-line and short-yardage guy?

Vic: Keep your eye on LaBrandon Toefield and Derrick Wimbush. They'll be just fine. I'm especially intrigued by Wimbush. Football is a young man's game.

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