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Go with your heart

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

Reese from Frederick, MD:
Who do you see in the competition for returning punts and kickoffs?

Vic: Scotty McGee was drafted for the purpose of returning punts. Gene Smith has said his hope is that McGee will win that job. In other words, it's his job to lose. The other sixth-round pick, Deji Karim, is a kickoff-returner. The hope is that he'll be as good at it as Maurice Jones-Drew was in the first couple years of his career.

Waldo from Jacksonville:
At what age are you too old to wear a jersey to the game? Is there a point in life where a grown man needs to start wearing team t-shirts/polos instead?

Vic: You can wear anything with a nice pair of khakis, as I'm wearing today. People think I have one pair of pants and I wear it every day. How do they know I don't?

Gary from Puyallup, WA:
But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you'll say what you need.

Vic: You got it, brother.

Terrance from Jacksonville:
Vic, how can you say an offensive or defensive lineman had a great mini-camp, or anyone else for that matter? They don't have pads on and there's no blocking or tackling, so how do you really get a feel for what the players will be like when the pads goes on and when the hitting begins?

Vic: You can't know for sure. I think that's understood. What I can tell you is how quick a guy is off the ball, what his level of technical skill is, how good his feet and hands are, etc. That stuff is important and is usually indicative of what will happen when the pads go on, but you're right, it's not the same. So what do I write in my story? Sorry, folks, I can't report on what happened today because they weren't wearing pads? They won't be wearing pads until training camp, and they won't wear full pads all that often then, either. This is the new NFL. This is basketball on grass. The pads are getting smaller and the players are wearing fewer of them. Mini-camp and OTAs are starting to look more and more like a real game.

Jordan from Charlotte, NC:
Do you see us possibly trading for a safety before the season begins?

Vic: I don't think GM Gene wants to trade away draft picks for a draft next year that'll be all about getting the quarterback the Jags want for their future. He traded for an extra pick in the fourth round next year to have extra ammunition to use if he needs to move to where the quarterback he wants fits, and I doubt that he wants to trade away his ammunition. If the right safety becomes available, I guess a trade could happen, but my guess is it would have to be for low-pick or player compensation.

Scott from Jacksonville:
From Rotoworld's NFL headlines: "Ketchman is occupationally bound to defend the Jags' much-maligned pick, but the early return looks promising." I believe you when you say you are occupationally bound to speak the truth as a sportswriter. I thought you should know you were being slandered.

Vic: That's OK. Everybody knows I'm a liar, a shill for the team. I mean, look how I defended the team's selection of Matt Jones and Reggie Williams. Shameless.

Andy from Saint Johns, FL:
I read that Titans fans were worried about missing their season-ticket renewal deadlines due to being unable to reach the stadium due to the recent flooding in Nashville. Do you think we will ever have that problem in Jacksonville?

Vic: No, I've never seen the St. Johns flood, and we've had tropical storms sit here for a week and drop more rain than I ever thought possible.

Johnny from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I am a fan of another NFL team but live here in Jacksonville. The Jaguars just haven't done anything in the past 10 years to convince me to be a fan or to excite me. Don't get me wrong, I want to be a fan, I just need a reason to be a fan. Do you think the Jaguars owners and front office understand this mentality? I think there are a lot of local NFL fans in town rooting for other teams that would become Jags fans if there was a reason. Do you see any effort being done to change this?

Vic: Go with your heart, Johnny. Real fans don't need a reason.

Eric from Westville, IL:
What's the intangibles answer? I mean, really, I would work harder than anyone else, stay after practice, arrive early, leave late, for even the minimums NFL players make, let alone what a first, second or third-rounder pulls down. It's all about the money. I get that, but this intangible excuse on being coachable and wanting to be a coach's player makes no sense.

Vic: First, you find guys with talent, then you separate the ones that have the intangibles from the ones that don't. My guess is that you don't run a 4.4 40, don't have a 43-inch vertical jump, can't turn your hips very well and would tend to shy away from contact against someone a hundred pounds heavier. Hey, so would I. Well, what that means is we don't pass the first test. In other words, after these guys pass the first test, the second test is what separates the winners from the losers.

Bo from Dresden, NC:
I like our draft, Vic, but are you surprised that we couldn't come up with a safety with one of our picks?

Vic: I don't know what their board looked like. If you ever wanted proof that they picked the best players available, this is it. They were in desperate need of a safety, yet, their first four picks are defensive linemen.

Travis from Jacksonville:
Please don't print letters like Ray's. It diminishes the discourse on the board.

Vic: I strongly disagree. I published it because it would increase discussion, promote thought and introspection. Long after you forget my answer to his question about the Jaguars' chances of making the playoffs, you'll remember his defining remark and how it made you feel. Did you think about it yesterday? Did you ask yourself which is better, hate or love? Did you decide which you prefer? Did it change you? Don't worry about my feelings on the subject. A few days after the mandatory evacuation at Kent State, I was back home and decided to go up the street and get a haircut. The barber was a neighborhood friend and I spent a lot of time hanging out at his shop in my youth. While he's cutting my hair he's asking me what happened and, as I'm telling the story, an older guy waiting for his turn in the barber's chair overhears the conversation and decides to chime in. "They should've killed more of them," he said. My barber friend pinched my ear, which was his way of saying don't say anything. When the haircut was done, I reached in my pocket for the buck-fifty. The barber said, "It's on the house." Then the guy waiting gets up and moves toward the barber's chair. The barber said, "We're closed." The guy said, "When did that happen?" The barber said, "Just now; get out." It conditioned me for what was ahead. Do you have any idea how many times in 40 years I have ever heard someone say they should've killed more of them?

Carol from Jacksonville:
More than anything, I want the players this year to have and show a passion for the game. You have been observing them. What do you think from your perspective?

Vic: I can't look into a man's heart, Carol. We'll know by the way they play. We have to wait for that. I'm not looking for guys who have a passion for the game as much as I'm looking to see if they have a passion for their profession. I'm not big on winning or losing attitudes, or pep talks or big talk to the media. I'm big on guys wanting to be professional football players and wanting to be the best there is at their position. Just do your job. That's always been my mantra. I'll know it when I see it. If a guy ducks a hit or a tackle, he's not passionate about being a professional football player. If he's not afraid of being cut or losing his job, he's not passionate about being a pro. That's the big one with me. That's the one I watch for. The good ones worry about their job security because they know the slightest decline in their play will threaten their future and they are obsessed about the perception of their performance.

Sean from Arlington, VA:
It's entirely premature but, at this juncture, what is your assessment of this draft class compared with what you had seen after the first workouts of last year's class? Is it possible this year's group will have the same impact as last year's?

Vic: That's my expectation. I think this draft class is good enough and there are enough opportunities available for the rookie crop to make a big contribution. I would also expect that next year the number of opportunities will start decreasing, which is as you would expect of a team in year three of roster building.

Erik from Salt Lake City, UT:
Can you explain to me what kind of position Alualu will be playing? I know it's defensive tackle but I have heard that even in a 4-3 defense there are nose tackles and some other kind of tackle. Can you clear this up for me, please? I thought this was only applicable to a 3-4 defense.

Vic: In a 4-3, one of the tackles is referred to as a three-technique guy, which means he plays in the gap between the offensive guard and offensive tackle. The three-technique defensive tackle's responsibility is for penetrating that gap, getting into the backfield and disrupting the play. The three-technique DT is usually a quick, athletic guy who can separate from the block and chase the ball. Tyson Alualu is a classic three-technique defensive tackle. The other tackle is more of a 3-4 nose tackle type. I call him a plug because his job is to take on the block of the center and often the guard, too, in a double-team block, and hold the point of attack. In other words, don't be moved. That type of DT plays one technique, between the center and the guard, or zero technique, on the nose of the center. He is usually a thick, squat, low-to-the-ground guy who has the lower body power to stick his cleats into the ground and resist being pushed. Terrance Knighton is that kind of DT, but Knighton is one of those rare plug-type defensive tackles that also has the quickness to penetrate. The next time you're watching a game, notice where those two defensive tackles line up, and also notice how their positioning is affected by where the tight end lines up. The tight end determines the side to which the offense is strong or weak and the defensive tackles will shade to the strong side.

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