Join *Jaguars Inside Report *Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Ryan Blankenship from Hawthorne, FL: **
With the injury to Donovin Darius, what kind of situation does this put the Jags in?
Vic: The Jaguars will rely on newly-acquired safety Ainsley Batttles, who played for the Steelers last season. Battles was released by Pittsburgh in final cuts. Behind Battles is rookie third-round pick James Boyd, who had a very impressive training camp and preseason and is thought to have a bright future with the Jaguars. Speculation was that he would replace Darius, but coach Tom Coughlin is thought to be hesitant about having rookies at each of the two safety positions.
Eric Blackman from Jacksonville:**
With the news that R. Jay Soward may be suspended for an additional six games due to another drug policy violation, it brings up a question. I thought the four-game suspension was for a second violation and a third violation would be an automatic one-year suspension. Have the rules changed or was I misinformed?
Vic: These are the rules: A first failed test results in a warning to the player, but that information is not made known to the public; a second failed test results in a four-game suspension; a third failed test results in a six-game suspension; a fourth failed test results in a one-year suspension. R. Jay Soward failed a urine test for the second time late last season. His four-game suspension began at the start of this season. He is thought to have failed another test this summer, and he is appealing the results of that test. If his appeal is rejected, he will be suspended for an additional six games. You may have confused your information with a team suspension coach Tom Coughlin imposed on Soward late last season, for having been late for team meetings. On Dec. 20, the Jaguars placed Soward on the "reserve/non-football illness" list, causing him to miss the final regular-season game of the year.
Wesley Scruggs from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts on the release of Carnell Lake? From what you have seen, was he contributing enough or was he just a salary cap casualty?
Vic: In my opinion, the Jaguars had no option but to release Carnell Lake. He had lost the starting free safety job to Marlon McCree, and keeping Lake would've severely worsened the Jaguars' 2002 salary cap situation.
George Young from Brunswick:**
First of all, thank you for always giving your honest opinion. I would like to know how you feel about people standing in the stadium. I am tired of seeing and experiencing people behind me wanting me to sit down because they can't see. I don't stand the entire game, but I do enjoy yelling and having fun. I don't curse or get obnoxious. I feel that if they want to sit down and watch a football game, they need to sit in their living room or other establishment where they can get an unobstructed view. What are your thoughts?
Vic: George, this is a good time for all of us to be kinder to our fellow Americans. I am not an especially warm or diplomatic person, but I've vowed to change my ways. Let that be our gain from last week's tragedy: "Everybody get together, try to love one another right now." You can do it, George.
Skeeter Robie from Jacksonville:**
As you probably know, I enjoy making signs and banners to show my support for the Jaguars at all home games. For the remainder of the season, I will also make signs and banners to show my support for America. Obviously, security will be tightened at stadiums around the country for the foreseeable future. Can you tell me if they will allow hand-held signs and banners into Alltel?
Vic: Hand-held signs and banners are permitted in Alltel Stadium, provided they are not offensive and do not obstruct other fans' view.
Nick Ortiz from Jacksonville:
I've always been curious, what happens to NFL teams if they somehow do not manage to make it under the cap?
Vic: If a team is over the salary cap and can't manage its own reduction, the NFL begins voiding contracts until the necessary reduction is complete. Contracts are voided according to the most recent one signed, and then working back. Punishment is arbitrary and the commissioner decides what it will be. It can be expected to include a fine and/or the loss of draft choices.
Ed Nevar from Jacksonville:
The NFL will lose the excitement of all the 9-7 teams trying to qualify for the playoffs, if they reduce the playoff field to four teams per conference. Other than that, the benefit of a full 16-game season and eliminating the pretenders from the outset of the playoffs will be the fairest thing to do. Don't you think most of those wild-card games are useless, such as Miami-Seattle in 1999?
Vic: Yes, the vast majority of fifth and sixth-seeded wild-card teams have offered little more than late-season, playoffs-race excitement. The 1985 Patriots are the only fifth or sixth-seeded wild-card team to ever make it to the Super Bowl. Of course, every once and a while a "Cinderella team," such as the 1995 Colts and the 1996 Jaguars, comes along. The top wild-card team (fourth-seeded) has had significant success. Oakland (1980) and Denver (1997) were fourth seeds who won the Super Bowl.
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.