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Owens best late pick?

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

Steve from Ocala, FL:
If a player is trying to make a roster spot and is injured for the season in a preseason game, is he paid as if he made the team or does he even count as a roster spot? If so, does this count against the salary cap?

Vic: All of that depends on how the team wants to handle the situation. If he's a player the team wants to retain and if he is indeed lost for the season, then the injured reserve list would be the logical place for him. On injured reserve he would not count against the team's 53-man roster but he would count in full against the team's salary cap. If the player is someone the team does not want to retain, they can waive him injured, which would introduce another set of circumstances. Any team claiming a player who has been waived injured assumes the liability for his injury. If the player clears waivers, the team retains the liability for his injury and may choose to negotiate an injury settlement that would release the player from the team and extinguish the team's liability for his injury. The cost of that injury settlement would count against the team's cap.

Jim from Jacksonville:
Reports have it that Del Rio's training camp practices were soft on intense hitting. I read that some of the woes of the offensive line against Miami were partly because of that. Considering the roster is relatively healthy, is it better to trade physicality in the preseason for a healthy team going into the regular season?

Vic: Yes, it is. You have to be healthy to have any chance of winning in the regular season. The questions are: Where do you draw the line between necessary contact and excessive contact? And at what point does it become an unnecessary risk? Individual coaches answer those questions according to their teams' needs and stages of development.

Alan from Buford, GA:
I know it's only preseason and this is essentially extended practice, but I'm encouraged through two games by the fact that our defense hasn't allowed a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Also, two straight games allowing only 17 points per game; sounds like a pretty good blueprint to success for me.

Vic: If you want a formula for winning, that's the best one I know. Hold the other guys to 17 points and you'll usually win. The Jaguars were 7-1 when they did that last season. I discourage, however, looking for blueprints in the preseason. It is what it is, which is to say a four-game opportunity to evaluate talent. If you're establishing a style of play in the preseason, you're making a big mistake because you're giving your regular-season opponents an opportunity to prepare for you. Blueprints and styles of play are something you develop in the regular season. Be that as it may, it would seem easy to see the Jaguars are going to be led by their defense again this season.

James from Jacksonville:
I admit that I fell into that basher category and got a little impatient when I saw the first game of the preseason. I had it in my mind that the preseason is not a big deal, but was disappointed in the first game with Leftwich. This second game, though, he was much better in the handling of the ball and the clock; no touchdowns but those will come, I am sure. Thanks, Vic, you have brought me back to reality on the Jags and the preseason play and they have been impressive so far. If the play of the preseason is any indication of the season, then I see a playoff spot for us. What do you think?

Vic: I need to see where Fred Taylor's at. In my opinion, he holds the key. They need a healthy Fred. He was 31 percent of the team's offense last year. They can't lose that and expect to be better than they were a year ago.

Dan from San Diego, CA:
I was uncertain about Byron Leftwich's performance against the Bucs. He went 14 for 21 for 125 yards in the first half but he didn't score a touchdown. Do you consider his game to be a good performance? Will games like this by Leftwich be enough to sustain the Jags throughout the season?

Vic: Of course not. He has to lead the Jaguars on touchdown drives. That's why, during the regular season, Carl Smith and his offensive staff will do something called game-planning. At that point, they will actually open the playbook instead of trying not to use it.

Bobby from Orange Park, FL:
OK, Vic, let's say it. Chad Owens is the best late-round pick the Jags have ever made.

Vic: He could become that. Right now, I think that distinction belongs to Rob Meier, who was a seventh-round pick in 2000. Owens has a chance to become a touchdown-maker. The Jaguars have never found a touchdown-maker beyond the fifth round.

Gary from Mena, AR:
Who impressed you the most in the team's second preseason game?

Vic: Chad Owens is the obvious answer. I also liked the way Chris Thompson came up and stuffed a running play early in the game. The knock on Thompson has been that he's not a physical player. He responded to that criticism. Fu sure ran hard. Man, that's what you wanna see from him. Just when you're ready to give up on him, his talent jumps out at you and it's tough to cut him. Greg Jones impressed me catching the ball. Quinn Gray continues to be impressive but, honestly, I felt like he was throwing against air. Up front, Mike Pearson must've played well because the pass-protection was good. I have to tell you, though, I'm writing updates throughout the game and my eyes are not fixed on the interior line play. Nick Sorensen had some nice stats. Nate Wayne led the Jaguars in tackles and Tony Gilbert was active, again. Akin Ayodele was impressive in blowing up a play intended for Joey Galloway and Ayodele graded out extremely high for his effort on Saturday. The only thing I didn't like in the game was the Jaguars' inside running game.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Vic, As usual you hit it right on the head; six more points per game would be huge and I think there's a good chance we will see it from this year's offense. My only question is that in two preseason games I've rarely heard Reggie Hayward's name called. What's your take?

Vic: He doesn't have stats, but Mike Smith told me Hayward has been disruptive. I'll accept that answer but I'd like to see some stats, too, and Hayward will get significant playing time this Thursday against Atlanta so my expectations are to hear his name called.

Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I've noticed that Reggie Williams has become a lot more animated this season. Is he perhaps trying to pump himself up by being overly demonstrative whenever he makes a play? Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't he actually catch a few TD passes in a regular-season game before he begins acting like the second coming of Terrell Owens? What's your take on Williams' new attitude, Vic?

Vic: He's a young man attempting to identify and establish his true personality. Oh, to be young, huh?

Brian from Orange Park, FL:
Chad Owens was tackled by the collar from behind during Saturday's game. Isn't that illegal?

Vic: As soon as I saw the officials' recent presentation of this rules change, I knew they would be walking a fine line that will almost certainly result in controversy this year. "Horse collar" tackles will be a purely subjective ruling. Here's why: For it to result in a penalty, a "horse collar" tackle must be sudden and dramatic. The tackler must grab the runner around the collar of the shoulder pads and jerk him to the ground within a couple of steps. It is not illegal for a defender to grab the runner around the collar for the purpose of slowing him down. The defender may grab the runner around the collar and ride him for awhile. Good luck on this one, guys.

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