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Players of interest

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

Chris from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada:
How is the NFL run so smoothly. Each team, no matter the size of their city or stadium, always has a chance to compete if they draft properly and watch their money. The NHL is not like this. It is a "six-team league" where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. What is the NFL's secret?

Vic: Pool the revenue; that has been the NFL's secret to success since former Commissioner Pete Rozelle persuaded the league's owners to embrace that concept in the 1960s. It was part of Rozelle's "league think" philosophy of operation, and it has allowed small-market franchises to compete with the league's largest-market teams. Imagine the most powerful sports league in the world having a team in Green Bay and not having one in Los Angeles. That says it all.

Sharon from Port Charlotte, FL:
Training camp is right around the corner. I'm sure you will be in attendance. What players are going to be on your personal "watch" list. I know all are, but I'm sure you have your own private list.

Vic: Everybody wants to know if David Allen's performance in NFL Europe makes him a viable candidate to be an NFL playmaker. He'll get early reviews. All eyes will be on Hugh Douglas and Mike Peterson. Are they worth the money? Mike Pearson will be a player of focus. Is he capable of being the future at left tackle? Certainly, wide receiver will be an area of interest. Is J.J. Stokes the answer at the number two wide receiver spot? And, without a doubt, the quarterback position will be most intensely watched. Is David Garrard capable of pushing Mark Brunell? Is Byron Leftwich worth the seventh pick of the draft? Oh, yeah, we can't forget the placekicking battle, but that will be addressed most dramatically in the preseason games.

Dave from St Louis, MO:
While both games are important, which one do you think will be the most anticipated this season, Tampa or Miami?

Vic: I'll have to go with the Miami game because it comes early in the season and fans are likely to still be reveling in the hype that accompanies the start of a new season. The Tampa game is in week 13; who knows what the circumstances will be at that point?

James from Jacksonville:
Should we expect to see a lot of Brunell this preseason?

Vic: Maybe a little more than in the past because he's working within a new offensive system.

David from Oviedo, FL:
Is there anything to stop a player who gets traded or doesn't make the team from sharing that team's playbook with a new team? If not, why wouldn't a team pick up a player from each team in their division to get an edge on the competition?

Vic: "Coach wants to see you, and bring your playbook." Those are the immortal words of the infamous "Turk," and I can honestly say I overheard those exact words spoken years ago when a veteran player of major popularity was being cut. It's a code phrase that gives a player advance warning of his fate. Nobody leaves without turning in their playbook, and I know of no Benedict Arnold types who've made copies of teams playbooks with the intent of sharing the information with other teams. To that end, pro football is still an honorable game. As far as a player "spilling his guts" to his new team, of course, it happens all of the time. In this salary cap era of revolving-door personnel movement, "picking" players' brains is very common. But once upon a time, if a team thought an opponent claimed a player for the express purpose of acquiring information, retribution was likely. I still believe that was the motivation for Greg Lloyd's hit on Keenan McCardell in 1997.

Zac and John from Roseburg, OR:
Who has really stood out this offseason and who do you think will have a break-out season or the best year of their career?

Vic: Fred Taylor was outstanding through spring drills, but I think Taylor has already had a couple of break-out seasons. David Garrard was on fire until late in "passing camp," when he was sidelined by a hamstring injury. Fernando Bryant looked light and quick on his feet. Being in the final year of his contract and certainly motivated to take the best year of his career into free agency, I'm nominating Bryant as a top candidate to have a break-out season.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I thought a team was awarded a Monday Night Football game based on their record the previous season. How did the Cowboys get one when their record was worse than ours? Are there other things taken into account?

Vic: The Monday Night Football schedule is based on producing combinations of teams that will deliver high TV ratings. Traditionally, that means large-market teams, teams expected to compete for the Super Bowl and teams with large followings are the most-likely to dominate the MNF schedule. The Cowboys are a large-market team with a huge following and a new high-profile head coach who makes the Cowboys especially likely to deliver a high TV rating.

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