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Garrard displayed courage

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

John from Kingsport, TN:
Does the signing of DT Jervonte Jackson, 300 pounds, further indicate the move to a 3-4 defense?

Vic: When the final roster is determined, count up the defensive linemen and linebackers and you'll know whether this is a 3-4 team playing some 4-3, or a 4-3 team playing some 3-4. If it's a true 3-4 team, it'll be heavy with linebackers and light with defensive linemen. It's just that simple.

Chris from Daytona Beach, FL:
Will you bring us up to speed on all of the training camp battles?

Vic: The high-profile battles are at left tackle between Tra Thomas and Eugene Monroe, at right guard between Mo Williams and Uche Nwaneri, and at punter between Adam Podlesh and Steve Weatherford. It's too early to make a call on those competitions. The punting competition is especially interesting because both guys are punting well. I suspect the Jaguars would like to trade one of them instead of just cutting one. As far as the other job battles, Terrance Knighton may have settled in at defensive tackle, the battle at cornerback between Brian Williams and Derek Cox is on hold due to Cox's lingering groin injury, and even though Gerald Alexander took his play up a notch last night, Jack Del Rio all but said that Reggie Nelson will be the starter at free safety on opening day. "At this point, I would say it's probably as a backup and as a special teams player," Del Rio said last night when I asked him about Alexander's role. What about right tackle? Is Tony Pashos' job safe or is rookie Eben Britton beginning to push Pashos? That's a question that needs to be asked as we head toward final cuts.

John from Jacksonville:
I was infuriated at the no-call last night when Asante Samuel clearly led with the helmet when making the tackle on Nate Hughes. Can you explain why there was no call? Do you think Samuel will be fined?

Vic: I didn't examine the hit as closely as you have, mostly because I didn't see Samuel drop his head or launch. Samuel appeared to me to have made contact with Hughes' head as Samuel was in the act of playing the ball but, as I said, I didn't examine the play as closely as you have. I don't know if he'll be fined or not. I've seen players fined for a lot less. Football is a tough game and I accept these kinds of things, as long as I don't see clear indications of intent.

Josh from Tallil, Iraq:
Being in Iraq, I did not get the luxury of watching the game on television or going to the game. I did, however, stay up and have the opportunity to watch it via live update so I could get a general idea of what went on. Is it a fair assessment that the Jaguars played good football, not great but good football?

Vic: I think that's a very fair assessment and it would be my assessment. I was impressed by the Jaguars' performance last night. I saw an overall energy on defense that reminded me of Del Rio's defenses during the team's formative years. I didn't see the soft stuff I saw last year. There's no denying the Jaguars physically whipped the Eagles on occasion, and I wasn't expecting to see that. I'm not ready to start beating the drum, but I feel a lot better about the Jaguars today than I did after either one of the first two preseason games.

Bobby from Jacksonville:
Is there something you saw that you liked/disliked that the average fan watching the game might not have seen?

Vic: I saw a good-looking secondary, and that should've been apparent to everyone. Donovan McNabb threw 36 passes and the Jaguars secondary held up beautifully. Let's start with Rashean Mathis, who is having a "Pro Bowl" preseason. Mathis is set to have the best season of his career. How about the play of Tyron Brackenridge and Scott Starks? How's that for depth at cornerback? Sean Considine played as though he knew what was coming, which he probably did. One of the reasons the Jaguars' pass-rush appeared to get to McNabb is because the secondary held its coverage so long. What I didn't see was a sack and that continues to be a negative.

Jon from Jacksonville:
I don't get it. Why put Paul Smith in with six minutes left? This team and this town need the Jaguars to come out with a win in the national spotlight, and we put in a guy we have no intention of keeping past next week, a guy we didn't trust enough to play a down last week.

Vic: One of the big complaints I received following the Tampa game was that Paul Smith didn't play. Several people demanded that Smith be allowed to compete for the backup job with Todd Bouman. I guess coach Del Rio should've known to play Smith against Tampa but not in Philadelphia. Relax, Jon. With seven minutes to play and the field littered with three's, the national spotlight had long since been turned off. By then, most of the Philadelphia media was in the back of the press box watching the Phillies-Pirates game on TV.

Dave from Waunakee, WI:
You've been quiet on John Henderson. Does he appear to be all in?

Vic: Yes, he does. I noticed in training camp that Henderson led the defense from one drill to another, often sprinting from one end of the field to the other when the periods changed. Henderson is moving about with a smile on his face and he came to training camp with a deep commitment to prove that his head is right and his dedication is complete, and I wouldn't be much of a reporter if the preseason had passed and I hadn't acknowledged John's effort and resolve. Thanks for giving me the chance.

Tyler from Citrus Springs, FL:
I may be reading too much into this, but do you think Garrard's shaky performance may have been the result of the hit and subsequent exit from the field? You've stated time and again that when a QB gets hit hard he also gets rattled and it can affect his play.

Vic: Yes, I have, but it didn't. Tyler, you should've noticed that David Garrard's pocket presence never wavered, and it should've been especially noticeable following his neck injury. On his short toss to Maurice Jones-Drew that resulted in a 13-yard gain on the final play of the first quarter, Garrard threw the ball directly into the face of the rush and he got walloped as he threw, yet, he never flinched. In my opinion, that was the most impressive play of the night by any player on the field. This is a game of human confrontation and courage and Garrard was a winner on both counts on that play. That's what I wanna see in a quarterback. That's the kind of toughness that allows him to be a leader. You don't become a leader because you're good with words. You become a leader because your teammates see examples of your courage and they feel compelled to act in kind. Forget about the stats and play-calling. Look for the acts of courage that put a man's inner strength on display. That's what the game of football is supposed to reveal. The rest will come with time.

Ben from Farmington, CT:
You say watch preseason and trust your eyes. I'm confused while watching the Eagles game. I don't believe what my eyes are telling me. What am I seeing?

Vic: You saw a team trying to fit pieces of its puzzle together. You saw something you like and you know it, but you're afraid to admit it because that might cause you to heighten your expectations and you know, at least at this point in time, that would be a mistake.

Clayton from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
After Jarett Dillard's touchdown and the Eagles offense took the field, it sounded like the crowd was saying, "We want Vick." Did you hear that?

Vic: Yeah, I heard it. The insanity in Philadelphia has begun; it was inevitable. As I was standing in the hallway as the Eagles were coming off the field, an Eagles fan was yelling, "I love you Michael." For what, four passes for 19 yards and one run for one yard? Infamy is a dangerous thing. It attracts and feeds a negative element. The Eagles did not appear to be focused last night, especially early in the game. It was as though they wanted to be fans and watch the trick plays that were in the script. Every other coach in the league was concerned about the distraction that would result from signing Vick. Why wasn't Andy Reid concerned?

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