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It defines preseason

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

Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Per your advice, I am watching the preseason for flashes. I saw a flash in Reggie Williams against Carolina for really the first time in his short career. Now I understand that he will be starting with Matt and Ernest against Tampa. I interpret that start as a gesture from the coaching staff to Reggie that we like what you have done and you are now in the mix so show us some more. Am I reading the situation correctly?

Vic: Yes.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA:
As I understand it, the third preseason game most resembles the regular season. What should we look for this week against a very strong defensive Tampa Bay team that would be, as you say, "brush strokes" for the regular season?

Vic: When I talk about "brush strokes," I'm talking about individual events in a game. Is there a play in which the offensive line knocks the defensive line off the ball and the back hits the hole quickly and bursts into the secondary? Is there a play when a wide receiver is matched up one-on-one with a defender and the receiver takes the defender deep, beats him to the ball and makes the catch, without a coverage having been blown? Did the quarterback show evidence of being able to make all of the throws? In a short-yardage or goal-line play, did the offensive line come off the ball in one surge and were they regularly able to provide a defined pocket for the passer? I don't need to see those things happen for a whole game. I only need to see evidence that they can happen. I'm not concerned about breakdowns because application and repetition will eliminate the breakdowns. What I need to see is evidence that the Jaguars have the capability to do those things, for example, at least once. I need to know they have the capability to make those "brush strokes." Against Carolina, I saw Fred Taylor and Greg Jones each make an impressive run behind what I thought were good surges by the Jaguars offensive line. They were probably the only runs of the night that were impressive but they proved to me it can be done. That's all I need to know at this point. What I'd like to see is evidence the Jaguars have a deep-threat receiver. I didn't get that in Miami, despite the long touchdown passes, because the Dolphins blew coverages and, on one long touchdown pass, only had 10 men on the field. I'd like to see one of the receivers legitimately beat his guy on Saturday night. I'd also like to see Leftwich show me he can make all of the throws. I know he can but I'd like to see him attempt all of the "brush strokes:" the deep ball, the swing pass, the screen pass, drive the ball, throw it with touch, etc. I don't need to see them completed several times, just once each. Do you see where I'm going? Just show me you can make all of the "brush strokes" and I'll assume you can paint a picture.

John from Jacksonville:
How many players can a team put on injured reserve?

Vic: During the regular season, your roster of 53, practice squad of eight and injured reserve list players may not exceed 80. If it does, then you begin subtracting from your practice squad or roster.

Armand from Jacksonville:
Have you seen enough flashes in preseason?

Vic: Your question will be better asked on Monday. The third preseason game is the one that defines whether or not the team had a satisfactory preseason.

Dave from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
With the deadline for cuts coming up, we have several players that are injured and may not be healthy enough to start the season on the active roster. Could you clarify the differences between the IR list and PUP list.

Vic: For a player to qualify to be placed on the "physically unable to perform" list he had to have been injured before the start of training camp and did not participate in training camp practices. If he's placed on PUP and is still there as of the final roster cuts, he must remain on PUP through the first six weeks of the regular season, at which time the team will then have a 21-day window to decide whether or not they will move him to the active roster or assign him to the "injured reserve list" for the remainder of the season. Players may be put on the IR list at any time. Once they're put on IR, they may not play for that team again in that season.

Tom from Randolph, MI:
If we can't be concerned about the offensive line play because it's only preseason, should we not be encouraged from anything we see out of Matt Jones, Greg Jones, Reggie Williams, etc., because it's only preseason? Or should we just keep guzzling teal-colored Kool Aid?

Vic: You can do anything you want because none of this counts and no one is going to form a lasting opinion of any team based on how it plays in the preseason. Eventually, this is going to end and all teams will be judged by what they do in the regular season. I think you understand that so I'm not going to continue to debate this insane obsession for preseason results. I've told you what I look for. If I see those things, I'll be satisfied, but that still won't mean anything because if the team doesn't win in the regular season, my mood will change. If you wanna be concerned, be concerned. Wad yourself up into a little ball and worry yourself right through the Labor Day weekend, if that's what makes you feel good. Or you could enjoy the final days of summer, wait for the start of the regular season and then form your opinion of the 2006 Jaguars. That's what I'm going to do, except I'm not going to drink Kool Aid.

Corey from Clarksburg, WV:
All this talk about run stats makes me think the accurate picture isn't just the team that runs the ball most wins, but the team that has a comfortable lead the entire game can pound out the ball and not worry as much about trying to score quick touchdowns (through passing). Is there a correlation between early leads and run percentage?

Vic: I'm sure there is, but those six playoff teams that sit at the top of last season's run-play percentage are teams that run the ball early and late. Pittsburgh, Denver, Chicago, Seattle, Washington and Carolina are teams that are committed to the run – unless you're Mike Holmgren and you've decided you want to lose the Super Bowl. I know those stats rub you the wrong way. The passing-game people always have trouble digesting that kind of incontrovertible evidence and they invariably try to find a way to twist the information to favor the pass. Twist it any way you like, but I know what the truth is: You throw to score; you run to win.

Andrew from New Port Richey, FL:
What do you think about the possibility of the Jaguars not naming two starting receivers? Jones, Wilford and Williams are all clearly capable of being at least second on the depth chart of just about any team in the league. I mean, let's face it, they aren't Jimmy Smith, but who is? Could rotating the two starting receivers from week to week possibly bring out a little healthy competition and make all three bonafide starters?

Vic: You could go to three-wide and make them all starters, if the designation "starter" is really that important. I don't think that's going to happen, though, because Jack Del Rio wants to run the ball and to run the ball effectively you need muscle in the lineup to block. Competition doesn't end with training camp and the preseason. Competition continues through the regular season. The best players will get the most playing time. I'd like, however, for players to fit into roles and maintain those roles. The pro game is definitely a roles game. You want a number three receiver who embraces that role and takes pride in what he does. It's a specific role and it's acted out on the most important downs of the game. You've gotta convert third down to be able to continue the drive and keep pounding away with the running game. To answer your question, I would not favor a rotation of wide receivers. I would like them to fall into specific roles and perfect their execution of those roles.

John from Albany, NY:
I am not a T.O. fan and I am glad the Jaguars didn't try to acquire him, but don't you think some of T.O.'s distractions are created by the media? The guy had an injured hamstring and the media spun the story and tried to instigate trouble by claiming T.O. was faking the injury to avoid practicing? It seems at this point that even if T.O. is not a distraction, the media will somehow make him into one. Your thoughts?

Vic: Yeah, that's it. Blame the media. It was the media's fault that Terrell Owens "undressed" his quarterback on national television on the sideline in Pittsburgh two years ago. It was the media's fault that the Eagles had to suspend him. It's always the media's fault, isn't it?

Patrick from Orange Park, FL:
I thought Wimbush was our kickoff returner. I saw both preseason games and I did not see Wimbush once return a kickoff. Is Maurice Drew our kickoff returner or is Wimbush?

Vic: The Jaguars obviously know Derrick Wimbush is a capable kickoff returner. What they're attempting to find out now is how good Maurice Jones-Drew is at it. We'll know what Jack Del Rio's opinion is when the Jaguars open the regular season.

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