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No health food for me

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

Jon from Durham, NC:
Your piece on the new training regimen was interesting. From an anecdotal perspective, do you feel like injuries are a bigger part of the game today or do you think they are just amplified because of the salary cap?

Vic: Injuries were every bit as many and as important when I first started covering football as they are today. I really don't think the salary cap has amplified their importance because replacing a star player was as difficult in the years before the salary cap era as it is now in the salary cap era. Just because you have the money to do it doesn't mean you can do it. Injuries are getting more publicity today because everything gets more publicity today. There was no ESPN, NFL Network, sports talk radio or Internet 40 years ago. That's the difference.

Lee from Jacksonville:
Will you be taking Luke Richesson's seven-exercise test? More importantly, will his healthy eating regimen be forced on the press box? Does this mean the end of the press box hot dog?

Vic: I will neither take his test nor eat health food. To do that would be to disturb the natural order. Football players kill themselves on the field and their teams use bad hot dogs to slowly kill the media in the press box.

Travis from Ormond Beach, FL:
All this HOF talk got me thinking about our own situation. Is Jimmy Smith ever going to be put into the "Pride of the Jaguars" or will we have to wait until Fred Taylor leaves before the next name goes up there?

Vic: Ever? Jimmy has only been out of the game for three years. I didn't know there was a deadline for filling up the façade of the upper deck with names. The biggest problem with the Hall of Fame and these rings of honor is the fans' mania to fill them up quickly. That's the exact opposite of how these things should function. They should be slow to act. They should involve painstaking examination. They should act in such a manner that makes membership special, not routine. Be patient, please.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
When considering Hall of Fame and how great a player was, we always refer to Super Bowl appearances and wins. What weight do you place on a player's ring when he's a backup? If Byron was traded to a team and somehow won a Super Bowl ring as the starting QB, would you correctly state he has two rings?

Vic: Yes, I would say he has two rings because he has two rings, but I'm sure I would be able to distinguish the contribution toward each and assign the proper weight. Byron Leftwich earned the ring he won with the Steelers by carrying them to victory when his number was called on a Monday night in Washington. He won that game and it helped the Steelers win the AFC North title. He is absolutely deserving of his ring and I have no doubt he will wear it with pride.

Logan from Saskatoon, SK:
This might sound crazy to you, but how would you feel if the Jags trade Maurice Jones-Drew this offseason? We all know the lifespan of running backs is short. Would the Jags be smart to trade Mo-Jo now and recoup picks?

Vic: Bored, huh?

Alan from Jacksonville:
I'm confused. How did the Jaguars lose 115 games to injury last season? I'm sure it's an obvious answer, I just can't seem to think of it.

Vic: I like to watch CNBC to find out what's happening to my 401(k). A lot of times they interview Wall Street people and I listen to what they're saying and try to understand but I always end up yelling at the TV, "Speak English," and then turning the channel. Now, I'm guilty of not speaking English and I apologize. It should've read, "In 2008, injuries caused Jaguars players to miss 115 games."

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
What would Chuck Bednarik think of Luke Richesson's new program?

Vic: He'd write down "21" on his seven-exercise test sheet, circle the score and then go outside to have a cigarette. He might even tell Richesson, "You can stop now because this freakin' test is over."

Darian from Jacksonville:
If you were Gene Smith, what free agents would you target?

Vic: The ones that are likely to be undrafted. This has the look of a blockbuster draft crop, which means a lot of guys who might be low-round picks in other years are going to be undrafted free agents this season. For years I have said that undrafted free agency is a potential treasure trove of inexpensive talent. Four Steelers starters – James Harrison, Willie Parker, Ryan Clark and Darnell Stapleton – and number three wide receiver Nate Washington were undrafted free agents. What else do you need to know?

Santino from Denver, CO:
London calling? Seriously? You let Prisco go unchecked about, yet, another unfounded rumor about the team moving and this time to London. What's wrong with you guys? Facts, Vic, not rumors, that's what makes your column good, or at least it used to.

Vic: I was just a guest on his show. I didn't say it, he did.

Hugh from Jacksonville:
What do you see as the main problem with this team? Rumors are that the team has issues in the locker room with character and attitude about whether they really care about winning. I'm a season ticket holder that wants to see this get turned around after such a promising season in 2007.

Vic: It wasn't a rumor, it was information several Jaguars players and their coach volunteered to the media. The chemistry was bad. Apparently, that was the main problem last year and repairing team chemistry will be the major focus of this offseason.

Greg from Atlanta, GA:
Can you explain how the franchise tag works?

Vic: I'll use Matt Cassel as the obvious example because the Patriots just franchised him. If and when Cassel signs the tender, the Patriots are on the hook for $14.65 million in salary, which is the average of the top five quarterback salaries in the league for 2009. As soon as Cassel signs the tender, that amount is guaranteed and the Patriots can then trade Cassel once trading begins on Feb. 27, the first day of the league calendar year. If Cassel doesn't sign the tender and signs with another team, that team would owe the Patriots two first-round draft picks as compensation. The picks must be one in each of the next two years. If Cassel signs the tender, he is no longer a free agent and can't sign with another team. The Patriots can't trade Cassel unless he signs the tender. The Patriots are using the tag to protect a valuable asset and against the possibility that Tom Brady won't make a full recovery.

Margy from Jacksonville:
Instead of feeling supreme over the nun, you should be thankful she probably spent the night praying to God you didn't have polio. I'm sure when she realized you weren't just complaining, her prayers to the Almighty went into hyper-drive. Is my inner voice wrong?

Vic: I'm sure you're right, and right after they found out I just had the flu, they probably drew straws to find out which one would get me in third grade.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
I'm a loyal Jaguars fan. My biggest frustration with the team is predictability on offense.

Vic: Fans hate predictability. They want every play to be a complete surprise. Well, here's a little information in defense of predictability. The pass completion that won the Super Bowl on Sunday was the most predictable pass the Steelers could've thrown. In fact, they threw it on consecutive plays, once to the left and the second time to the right. The idea was to throw a pass that would result in either a touchdown or incompletion. They were not going to risk an interception. If they didn't get the touchdown, they would've kicked the field goal and gone into overtime. Three Cardinals defenders were standing in the back-right corner of the end zone when Santonio Holmes made the catch. The Cardinals knew exactly what was coming. Players, not plays.

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