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Larry Smith in make or break year

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

Chris Schlarb from Albuquerque, NM:
Is the Larry Smith experiment over (with the drafting of Marcus Stroud), and how much cap relief would cut or trading him bring. I hope Stroud is a very good player. To think we could have had Hutchinson and Williams puts a lot of pressure on him. With those two, our offensive line would be on the way to being one of the best in the league, again.

Vic: No, the Larry Smith experiment is not over. This would seem to be the make or break year in his career. His talent is distinct. That must translate into on-the-field production. Cutting him would offer no cap relief; keeping him may yield great dividends. The Jaguars have no choice but to be patient.

Skeeter Robie from Jacksonville:
Can you give us information on the Jaguars' training camp schedule?

Vic: Training camp is expected to begin on Thursday, July 26, at the Jaguars' Ferrell Fields practice facility at Alltel Stadium. The exact details of the schedule are not yet known, but usually camp lasts through the second preseason game. Camp, of course, will be open to the public.

Bill Guiffre from Jacksonville:
I have read from various sources that Marcus Stroud lacked intensity on every play while at Georgia. On the other hand, I have read that he was double-teamed a lot and that's why his numbers weren't anything to get excited about. What's the truth, Vic? Do you expect him to be the starter at tackle in the first game?

Vic: Usually the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Stroud admitted he took plays off early in his college career, but said that was not the case last season. Jaguars defensive line coach and Assistant Head Coach John Pease said he saw no evidence on tape of Stroud not giving maximum effort. If his sacks totals don't excite you, it's because rushing the passer is not the strength of his game. Stroud was drafted to be the physically dominating presence the Jaguars have never had on their defensive line. Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa aren't pass-rushers; they're run-stoppers and hold-the-point defensive linemen who disrupt the blocking patterns of the opposing offense and who keep blockers off Ray Lewis. That's what the Jaguars expect from Stroud. Whether or not he's in the starting lineup on opening day isn't nearly as important as the degree to which he grows into the role of the Jaguars' most physically dominating defensive linemen. That's what I expect him to become. Anything less than that would be a disappointment from the 13th selection of the draft.

Jacques Wright from London, England:
Seeing that you display such objective, yet, knowledgeable opinions about the Jaguars in your reports and answers to fan questions, I would just like to know what your simple prediction is for the Jaguars this year, based on our current roster, including our new signings, coaching staff and draft picks. Would we make the playoffs? Are we heading for an AFC Central title? Or are we dreadfully going to see a repeat of the 2000 season?

Vic: I won't make a record prediction until just before the regular season begins. Why? Because I'd change my mind with every injury in training camp. There's plenty of time for predictions. What I will give you are my big-picture thoughts on the Jaguars at the mini-camp time of the year. First of all, I think it's illogical and even dangerous to think in terms of division titles or the Super Bowl. This is a team with 40 new faces currently on the roster. It is a team with severe cap problems that restrict what can be done with that roster. Its star wide receiver is in the midst of recovery from recent abdominal surgery, and it's counting on rookies to answer major needs at significant positions. We have to be realistic about the situation and its prospects. The greatest mistake would be to start that stupid Super Bowl talk again, then throw in the towel before November begins because the Jaguars don't have the best record in the league. Baltimore is clearly the favorite for the AFC Central title and the Super Bowl. My hope for the Jaguars is that they can take advantage of a favorable early schedule, then make a push for the playoffs in the final month of the season.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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