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Nothing to pocket

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

Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Now that Jimmy Smith won't be on the field getting double-coverage, how do you see defenses game-planning against our offense?

Vic: They'll wait to see if any of the Jaguars receivers are worthy of double-coverage. If no one's worthy, say hello to an extra rusher. Double-coverage isn't assigned, it's earned.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
When do you think our number one WR will be announced?

Vic: Those kinds of things aren't announced. It just becomes apparent who's winning the job. By the time the preseason is over, you'll know who's number one or you'll know the job is still up for grabs. You don't win the job by proclamation. You win the job by performance.

Catherine from Jacksonville:
You didn't want Nathan to cry over Jimmy's retirement, but I'm a woman. Was it OK for me to cry or is there just no crying in football?

Vic: Women may cry.

Jeff from Montgomery, AL:
I hear one of the free agents signed by the Jags, cornerback Edorian McCullough, is really fast. How does he look in the early going?

Vic: I didn't see anybody run by him.

John from Albany, NY:
Reading your articles the past couple of years, it seems you hold Hankton in high regard. What exactly do you like about him?

Vic: He's a talent. He's got size, athletic ability, soft hands and good-enough speed. He's what I have referred to for years as a "jar on the shelf," which is a way of describing a player whose talent is worthy of development and his contract allows it. Cortez has received three years of patient development. Now it's time for him to reward the Jaguars and himself by competing for a major role as a pass-catcher.

James from Jacksonville:
If the Jaguars are going to allow the public to view some of the mini-camp sessions, why do they always use the farthest field? We got an up-close and personal view of the kickers but the closest the offense came was the middle field and the 11-on-11 drills were on the far field. This makes it hard to see. A lot of people who were sitting in the stands left in frustration halfway through the practice session.

Vic: The artificial turf field, which is closest to the grandstands, has basically been designated the kickers' field. Any coach is going to want to use the grass fields for the intense action of practice, for the obvious reasons. Number one, the players prefer grass. Maybe the fields should be flipped, but then you'd have a lot of traffic passing over those two grass fields every day. Maybe the grandstands should've been positioned on the other side of the complex, but that end of the complex is up against a street. I hear your complaint and it's valid, but there's no attempt to avoid the fans. What sense would that make?

Wade from Jacksonville:
The salary cap savings related to Jimmy Smith's salary has been published in many places. What is the amount of his prorated signing bonus that will be "dead money" on this year's cap?

Vic: I've seen his salary (cap savings) published incorrectly in more than a few places. The savings is $3.625 million, which would've been Jimmy's salary. He's on the books this year for $1.75 million in remaining amortization. That's now "dead money," but that's the last of it because this was to be the final year of Jimmy's contract.

John from Napa, CA:
I don't understand the disconnect. Owens was the star of training camp last year. Mathis says he has a hard time covering him, catches half the balls on Friday and he's only battling for a roster spot? Why doesn't big production in camp equal big opportunity in preseason and the games?

Vic: Chad Owens was drafted to be a return man. That was to be his role in his rookie season. He flashed as a receiver and that's why he was signed to the practice squad after he was cut following the punt-return debacle in Indianapolis in week two of last season. Plans are made in the offseason and they go hand-in-hand with the salary cap. Owens is in the Jaguars' plans as a receiver this year. This is mid-May. He'll have plenty of opportunity to show what he can do. No proclamations are necessary right now. In my opinion, the first goal should be to earn a roster spot. There's no disconnect. You just want too much too soon. He'll have his chance to earn it.

Josh from Kernersville, NC:
What were you feeling when you heard about Jimmy retiring? I felt very sad because I've grown up watching him. I just wanted to know how you felt.

Vic: I've always viewed retirements as happy occasions. Retirement is what players work to achieve, as opposed to being cut. When a player retires, that means "The Turk" didn't get him. "The Turk" got Jimmy early in his career, but he never got him again. That was my first reaction; that Jimmy got a chance to do it his way.

Doug from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars are an estimated $10 million under the 2006 salary cap, given the exit of Jimmy Smith and the signing of all the new draft picks and free agents. Who do you expect the Jaguars to pick up with the extra money, or will Wayne Weaver pocket the extra money?

Vic: Pocket the extra money? That's laughable. In this CBA, Weaver's not going to pocket anything. The next four years are going to be a survival test for small-market teams such as the Jaguars, until they can void this deal and negotiate a new one.

Dan from Columbus, NE:
I know I read that Chad Owens and Marcedes Lewis practiced well this weekend, but how did Matt Jones, Reggie Williams and Ernest Wilford do?

Vic: I'm sure they were judged by the coaches to do OK, but they didn't catch as many passes as Chad Owens or Marcedes Lewis.

Jon from Ocala, FL:
You mentioned how the receivers performed this weekend but nothing was mentioned about Leftwich. How did he perform?

Vic: Byron looked real rough on Friday morning, which was the first practice of mini-camp. By Sunday morning, the final practice of the weekend, he was on his game.

Brandon from Prestonsburg, KY:
So, in your opinion, does Lewis have the potential to be the next top tight end in this league?

Vic: He has the potential to catch a lot of passes and anyone who attended mini-camp saw that the Jaguars will be using a lot of two-tight end stuff this year and Marcedes Lewis will have the ball thrown in his direction often. The Jaguars just didn't pick him because he was the best player left on the board when it was their turn to pick. They clearly had him targeted for a specific role.

Andrew from Jacksonville:
Who earned the starting reps at all three linebacker positions during mini-camp, with a weakside linebacker spot to fill and Peterson out with injury? Where is Daryl Smith being tested?

Vic: Mike Smith moved the linebackers around. Mike Peterson wasn't supposed to practice this weekend, as he continues his recovery from offseason wrist surgery. Mike, however, did participate in a portion of the drills. Daryl Smith played some middle and some strong. Pat Thomas got a lot of reps at weakside linebacker with the first unit and coach Jack Del Rio singled Thomas out for his work. Jorge Cordova got significant reps at weakside and strongside backer. Clint Ingram broke into the action at strongside following his arrival from college on Saturday and if there's one thing I noticed right away about Ingram it's that he has a great "punch." A scout raved to me about Brent Hawkins' quickness. Don't assign players to starting positions. We are so far from that.

Jason from Honolulu, HI:
Do you think Chad Owens has Steve Smith-like abilities?

Vic: This is where we spin out of control. Everything was fine. We acknowledged that Chad Owens was impressive in mini-camp. Then we have to go to "Nutsville" with a question like this. Smith caught 103 passes for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, and averaged 10.6 yards per punt return. Let's give Owens a chance to make an NFL roster, OK?

Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Could you explain where the first, second and third wide receivers typically line up and what their respective roles are?

Vic: In a typical three-wide receiver set, the tight end has been replaced by a wide receiver, leaving two wide receivers on the line of scrimmage and split to each side and one wide receiver off the line of scrimmage and split to either side. Their roles depend on the route tree.

Fred from Portland, OR:
Can you please clarify WR terminology for us. What does X, Y and Z mean as they pertain to position? What was Jimmy? Many of us are confused.

Vic: X is the split end, Y is the tight end and Z is the flanker. Always think of it in those terms because ends have to be on the line of scrimmage and not "covered" by anyone, which means the flanker has to be off the line of scrimmage. Jimmy Smith was X. Kyle Brady is Y. Keenan McCardell was Z. In a typical and basic X-Y-Z formation, Jimmy would've been split left, Kyle would've been tight right and Keenan would've been flanked to the right (off the line of scrimmage).

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