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It beats heavy lifting

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

Sergiu from Cluj, Romania:
When teams take undrafted free agents to camp, are those players actually expected to be the next Priest Holmes or do teams just use them as competition and they come for an easy buck?

Vic: There's no easy buck in training camp. The hours are long and the pay is minimal, for everyone. What makes it especially rigorous for the undrafted player is the odds are against him making the team. An undrafted rookie in an NFL training camp may be the purest form of competition pro sports offers in the 21st century. It is, without a doubt, the last link we have to the "old days" of the NFL. They come to a strange town and subject themselves to a Spartan life while chasing a dream that is likely to end in disappointment. I love the undrafted guys and I try to make a point of telling their stories because they represent some of my fondest training-camp memories. The next Priest Holmes? That's not the expectation. The expectation is that you'll find a kid willing to run down under a kick or a punt for minimum wage. Every once in awhile, of course, we stumble across a Priest Holmes. I'm going to have my eyes this summer on last year's star undrafted kid, Derrick Wimbush. He has shown flashes of running skills and he may have come along at a perfect time. The dream still exists for Wimbush.

Frank from Oviedo, FL:
Here's a chance to redeem yourself (not that you need it, just to prove to your doubters that you're on the ball). Who are the Jaguars targeting for their next acquisition?

Vic: Jamie Sharper would fit the criterion of what the Jaguars are seeking in a linebacker, which is to say a veteran guy who can provide security at an affordable price. The long-term fix at that position will come from the draft. What the Jaguars want at that position in free agency is a player who can give the team the security it needs to address that position in the draft. Tommy Polley and Rob Morris might also be candidates, but I think Sharper might be the best fit for what the Jaguars need.

Nook Nook from Galapagos Islands:
You said in the past that the Colts and Redskins would eventually run out of wiggle room and options, but they escaped. The Redskins are spending again and you are saying the same things, and they do make sense, but couldn't they just do their same tricks until 2010 and then escape again?

Vic: First of all, the Colts don't fit with the Redskins in what you're describing because the Colts have elected to begin protecting their future salary caps. The Colts saw the train headlight in the distance and decided to start getting off the tracks. As far as the Redskins are concerned, you're missing the point. They didn't escape. They moved all of that money onto future caps and it'll have to be dealt with again. Joe Gibbs is right when he said everything the Redskins did can be done by any team, but every team that didn't do the things the Redskins did will have a lot more room on their future caps than the Redskins will and won't have to do the things the Redskins will have to do in future years. Name me one team that abused its cap and didn't pay the price. The Jaguars? The Titans? Pushing money into the future doesn't make the problem go away. It just delays the inevitable and worsens the consequences. By the way, I expect those submitting questions to provide their real names and hometowns.

Tahjon from Jacksonville:
Since Antonio Cromartie had great times in his 40, three-cone drill and short shuttle at Florida State's pro day, do you think he's still a risk for a first-round pick.

Vic: He's seven months off knee reconstruction and that'll probably cause him to be drafted much lower than he normally would've been drafted. Teams are looking for immediate impact from their first-round pick. When we reach the point in the order that the pool of impact prospects dries up, Cromartie will go quickly.

Scott from Colorado Springs, CO:
Looking at the fan voting on what the Jags should concentrate on, it's evident the fans want offensive help. The Jags, however, have added more to the defense than the offense in free agency. Are the fans wrong on where the Jags need to concentrate?

Vic: The fans have it right if they believe the Jaguars need to find a play-maker on offense. The real issue, however, is about being committed to the young offensive players the team has drafted. If the Jaguars had signed Randle El, David Givens or Terrell Owens in free agency, they would've been admitting the young wide receivers they've drafted the last two years can't get it done. Maybe they can, maybe they can't, but bringing in someone else would've delayed the answer and, ultimately, have wasted the picks that were used on those kids. As far as running back is concerned, I don't think Edgerrin James would've been a good investment for the Jaguars at the price the Cardinals paid. At the right price, I would've been all for signing James, but this will be his eighth season and that means he's likely to be a short-term solution and the Jaguars need to address the running back position with the long-term future in mind. In my opinion, what the Jaguars need more than anything this year is for Fred Taylor to give them one more big season. The Jaguars need another year to know how Greg Jones fits in the running back picture and whether or not Wimbush is a true prospect. The tight end crop in free agency was very weak. The emergence of new blood in the offense is critical. The Jaguars need a young "lion" to step up at wide receiver and it would be a great delight to see the same thing happen at running back and tight end. They have young players at all of the skill positions and the development of those young players will probably determine the success of this team in 2006. True draft and develop teams must remain committed to that philosophy.

Malosi from Valencia, CA:
What would you do if you were the Texans organization? Trade down or draft Bush?

Vic: If I knew there was a sensible strategy to fit him into my offense, and if I genuinely believed the supporting cast could also be molded into that style of offense, I would absolutely draft him. He's a special talent. He spreads the field. He's a player who will send fear into every team on the Texans' schedule, but he's not a guy you just plug in. He's a bigger version of Warrick Dunn.

Earl from Jacksonville:
Why do you take the weekends off? It's not like you actually have a job. You use the computer and phone all day and you get paid a lot of money to do so. Is it me or are you really lazy and close-minded to anyone else's thoughts and ideas? At least you could have "Ask Vic" on the weekends, too.

Vic: You're right about one thing: It's not like I actually have a job. I had a real job once; in the summer when I was a kid. That's when I decided I didn't want a real job so I chose to be a sportswriter. The money's not great but, as a sportswriter friend of mine has always said, it beats heavy lifting.

Daniel from Orlando, FL:
Usually when I can't check out "Ask Vic" I have "Ask Vic" withdrawal. Last week, I was in the Keys diving, fishing, swimming, golfing and checking out the fantastic scenery that included a ridiculous amount of spring-breakers. Do you think I had "Ask Vic" withdrawal?

Vic: Last summer, I was playing golf on a beautiful day on one of my favorite courses and I was having the round of my life. I said, "Man, this is what I was born to do," to which one of my playing partners asked, "What about 'Ask Vic?'" Ask who, I said?

Adam from Jacksonville:
The Cowboys picked up Terrell Owens. Do you think the media is going to go back to building its monster?

Vic: Don't blame this on the media. The media didn't sign him and the media doesn't buy tickets to see him play. The media just writes the stories the fans demand to be written.

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