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Garrard not 'just a guy'

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

Sean from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Do any other Florida football teams have a practice "bubble" that owner Wayne Weaver is considering building? I know heat-related illness is absolutely no small matter, but do you think it's been made a bigger story than it needs to be?

Vic: Neither Tampa Bay nor Miami have practice bubbles. Yes, I think the Larry Smith and John Henderson heat-related incidents were made into bigger stories than warranted, but we all know why. The cloud of Korey Stringer's tragic death is going to hang over the game for a long time.

Dan from Orlando, FL:
As for now, who do you think is the number two wide receiver?

Vic: J.J. Stokes appears to be winning the job.

Josh from Woodville, OH:
Is it realistic to believe David Garrard could possibly take the starting job from Mark Brunell?

Vic: It's absolutely realistic. David Garrard is a talented player. We're talking about a 235-pound quarterback who steps out of the arms of defensive linemen with amazing ease, runs with the speed and elusiveness of a running back, and throws on the run more naturally than should be expected of any quarterback. Garrard has special skills. He's not "just a guy." Football is an ultra-competitive game. If you close your team to competition, it will decline very quickly. Garrard is being encouraged to compete for the starting job and all appearances are he's doing just that. The preseason will decide the issue.

Nick from Clearfield, PA:
Mike Peterson is probably the only sure thing at linebacker for us right now, but how are the others (Danny Clark, Akin Ayodele, T.J. Slaughter, Keith Mitchell) doing so far this camp? Any early signs of who the starters will be?

Vic: Danny Clark has shown the new coaching staff that he can be a physical player, and Jack Del Rio has let the media know he's aware of Clark's physical play. On a team that doesn't exactly have a prototype middle linebacker, Clark may be the closest thing. He's distinguished himself so far in camp. Akin Ayodele is currently running first team with Mike Peterson and Keith Mitchell. I thought Ayodele had a couple of strong practices late last week. On one occasion, he went up high to knock down a pass; previously, he had knifed through the line to make a tackle for a loss in a nine-on-seven drill. T.J. Slaughter is fighting for a roster spot. He's still a tough guy who gives you everything he has.

John from Jacksonville:
Hopefully, everyone has read your article and knows the practice schedule by now. I'd like to know: What's the calendar for the cut-down schedule? Where do we have to be by what dates (eventually ending with our final 53-man roster)? And how do NFL Europe "exemptions" work into the mix?

Vic: The first mandatory roster reduction will be on Tue., Aug. 26, when all NFL teams must reduce their roster to 65 players. The final roster cuts will be on Sun., Aug. 31, when each team must reduce to 53 active players. Until the mandatory roster cuts, the NFL roster limit for each team is 80 players under contract. Roster exemptions are granted for players who participated in the 2003 NFL Europe League season. The NFL Europe roster exemptions expire on the Aug. 26 cut to 65.

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