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Maybe we should cool it

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

Robert from San Diego, CA:
I have a question about the linebackers and safeties (but not Darius). Do you think Mike Peterson will be expected to move back to the outside? If so, does this represent an overall improvement? Same for the safeties, if Darius is not here, is Deon Grant the strong safety or is it Deke Cooper? Is this an improvement?

Vic: If Donovin Darius is not with the Jaguars this season, Deke Cooper would be the likely replacement at strong safety. Cooper was very strong against the run in last year's game against the Jets. Deon Grant is considered to be much better in pass-coverage than in run-support. Would that combination represent an improvement? I don't know but if it turns out that way I'll gladly offer an opinion at some point next season. Mike Peterson was outstanding at middle linebacker in the second half of last season. There would be no reason to move him unless second-round pick Daryl Smith would force that move. Smith played middle linebacker throughout his college career and a lot of scouts believe he has to play middle linebacker for his ability to be fully realized in the pro game. The Jaguars will use spring drills to take a look at Smith in pass-coverage. I can't help but think that if Smith's natural position is middle linebacker and Peterson's natural position is weakside linebacker and Akin Ayodele's natural position is strongside linebacker, then that's how the Jaguars' linebacking corps will ultimately evolve. That will depend, of course, on this spring's experiment with Smith at weakside linebacker, where Ayodele is the starter.

Lee from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
We just completed a mandatory mini-camp that included our unsigned rookies. What would happen if one of the rookies were to get hurt? Are they under some kind of blanket protection prior to signing a contract? Thanks again for your great articles.

Vic: Prior to the mini-camp, the Jaguars signed an agreement with each rookie that the team would negotiate in good faith should the player become injured.

Javier from Hammonton, NJ:
In your column yesterday, Luke asked about Reggie Williams and the Poston brothers. Have the Jaguars ever negotiated with them before?

Vic: This will be the current Jaguars negotiations team's first opportunity to do business with the Poston brothers.

Dave from Jacksonville:
Del Rio said there was a player who did not pass his physical this past weekend, who?

Vic: Undrafted free agent defensive end Matt Ball of UCLA.

Greg from Jacksonville:
You used to talk a lot about run-and-hit guys and how the Jags have a few of them on the roster. Pittsburgh was famous for them. How do you see the combination of Akin Ayodele and Jorge Cordova? I know we're not playing a 3-4 scheme, but they seem like guys that are cut from the same cloth.

Vic: Linebackers define the term run-and-hit. Teams such as the Steelers and Patriots, which is to say 3-4 defenses who feature the linebacker position, are always on the lookout for run-and-hit guys. Baltimore has been a team with a lot of run-and-hit players, starring Ray Lewis, of course. Until last season, the Jaguars haven't featured the linebacker position as much as run-and-hit teams do. Dom Capers featured Kevin Hardy in 1999, but other than for that season, the linebackers hadn't really distinguished themselves during the Tom Coughlin years. Just look at the middle linebacker position. Bryan Schwartz, Tom McManus, Lonnie Marts, Hardy Nickerson and Wali Rainer were all starters. Every year seemed to produce a new starting middle linebacker. Last year, the position seemed to stabilize with the arrival of Mike Peterson. Linebacker is a featured position in Jack Del Rio's scheme of defense. Peterson and Akin Ayodele are true run-and-hit guys, and I expect second-round draft choice Daryl Smith to further define that term.

Bobby from Orange Park, FL:
This site just keeps getting better. Thank you for your wisdom. I don't have a question but do have a fact about a draft choice of a couple years ago. Remember people questioning the choice of John Henderson over Albert Haynesworth? Tom Coughlin made the better choice after calling Haynesworth and speaking to him. This guy is now turning into a problem at Tennessee, as he is not participating in the offseason workouts and is getting some of the veterans angry at his behavior. Looks like Henderson was by far the better pick.

Vic: Bobby, your question has given me an opportunity to say I was wrong. I thought Albert Haynesworth should've been the Jaguars' pick because I thought Haynesworth was the better athlete and, therefore, offered more upside. But Tom Coughlin obviously had reservations about Haynesworth's reputation for lacking discipline, so Coughlin engaged Haynesworth in a long telephone interview on the Thursday before the draft, and when Coughlin put down the phone he eliminated Haynesworth from consideration. Coughlin has always put a lot of stock in the attitude of a player. Two years earlier, he ignored his instincts about R.J. Soward, and Coughlin was going to make sure he didn't do it again. I take my hat off to Coughlin on the Haynesworth/Henderson decision. He made a committed and courageous choice at a time when his job was on the line.

David from Oviedo, FL:
ESPN just released their NFL power rankings and they have the Colts at number three, the Titans at number 10 and the Jaguars at a lowly number 20. According to this ranking, the Colts and Titans may have salary cap problems, but they still have a much better team than the Jags. Could Jags fans be getting drunk on their own hype? After all, we haven't had a winning season since 1999.

Vic: You offer a very sobering thought. Maybe we all need to cool it.

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