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Range time almost over

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

Ed from Middleburg, FL:
Are Brady, McNabb and Peyton Manning starting a physical condition decline?

Vic: Sure they are. All players in this game are in a constant state of physical decline. That's why I say it's a young man's game. Some players are able to weather the storm a little better than others and they're able to maintain a high level of performance late into their careers, but they are the exception, not the rule. If these were the old salary cap days, the Colts would be in a terrible spot right now, with Manning and Dwight Freeney, the team's two-highest paid players, having to recover from significant injuries.

Ryan from Richmond, VA:
Which decade of football from the 1960s through now was the most fun to watch?

Vic: I think we're in the most exciting decade of professional football, solely because the game is more wide open than ever before. The question is: Is it as satisfying for fans as it was, say, 30 or 40 years ago, when the game wasn't as wide open? Free agency has created a kind of carpet-bagging image of the modern professional football player. I think that makes it more difficult for fans to invest their emotions as deeply as fans did in the '60s and '70s, when you knew a player was probably going to spend his whole career with your team and would probably retire there. I also think the old-fashioned game had more of a warrior mentality to it and that may have caused fans' emotions to run a little deeper. The current game is more entertaining. The old game, however, developed stronger loyalties.

Roberto from Mandarin, FL:
You said, "Great food, bad view." Shall we guess which you would prefer? I believe most of us thought you always got a 50-yard line press box seat.

Vic: Give me the view over the food any day. I'm there to do a job and, frankly, the viewing angle in the Tampa press box is so bad that it was difficult to do my job on Saturday. The press box is all the way in the back corner of the end zone, as it is in New England, Washington and other places, too. The print media is being pushed out and up by the revenue-producers: TV, radio, luxury boxes, etc. It is what it is and it's not likely to change, only get worse. I tip my hat to the teams that have built new stadiums and kept us in prime positions. The positions in Tennessee, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are especially strong.

Rob from Orange Park, FL:
I'm encouraged by Reggie Hayward's performance against the Bucs. A forced fumble, a couple of tackles and he seemed to get a little pressure on the pocket. What is your view of his play?

Vic: I thought Hayward's performance was the brightest light in the Jaguars' night. He's the bridge to Derrick Harvey. Until Harvey is signed and ready to assume a role, the Jaguars need Hayward to be able to play a full-time role at left defensive end. He's not the player he was in 2005, which was before the Achilles injury, but he knows how to play and he can hold his ground against the run, and that's what you want the most from the left defensive end.

Aaron from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I thought the team got a little too much praise Saturday night and didn't really look great. Garrard hasn't looked great in the preseason and I've heard he doesn't look great in practice, either. He padded his stats with the nice drive to open the second half, but Tampa's starters were off the field. What's your take on Garrard right now?

Vic: First of all, let's get rid of the misinformation. David Garrard has been fantastic in practice. I only saw him have one bad practice in training camp. You're right about padding stats against reserves. That's why I wrote the game as having been two games, and it was the first game, which was the first half, that was most important because that's when the regulars played. What I didn't like was that the Jaguars offense was able to do nothing on a long field in the first half. As far as Garrard's performance specifically, I thought he was real sharp until he threw that careless interception. That's a throw he didn't attempt last season. Is it a red flag? I wouldn't go so far as to say that, but it happened and I'd like to know why. Is the rush starting to unnerve him? Is he trying too hard to make plays because he feels his new status demands it? I'm going to answer no in both cases and I'm going to say the interception occurred because the Jaguars had tightened the field too much by throwing short over and over.

Richard from Heathrow, FL:
Your column is the greatest. I enjoy your candid thoughts. The big question: Are we ready for a fantastic season?

Vic: I think we're ready but the better question is: Is this going to be a fantastic season? The answer is: I think it can be, but some things have to happen for that to occur. There are three positions that concern me: left tackle, defensive end and wide receiver. The Jaguars need to block Garrard's blind side, sign Harvey and get him up to speed, and get Jerry Porter back in the lineup or turn one of the receivers they have into a deep threat. If the field keeps shrinking, it's going to have a detrimental effect on the running game. Go back to the playoff game in Pittsburgh. That's how teams are going to play the Jaguars this year. New England did it the next week: Do whatever it takes to take the run away. Teams are going to invite the Jaguars to throw the ball and that won't stop until the Jaguars make big plays in the passing game. The short stuff isn't going to change it. Only the big play will change it.

Joseph from Jacksonville:
If you could go back to the draft and do it all over again, would you still trade up for Derrick Harvey?

Vic: I've got no problem with drafting Derrick Harvey, but trading up sure is expensive, in dollars and in picks. I think everybody knew before the draft that I'm not a fan of trading up, mostly because I don't like giving away picks. In this case, it made sense for the Jaguars because they seem to be on the verge of something big and they desperately need an every-downs defensive end. I don't think anybody thought trading up would be as costly in real money as it appears it will be, and I think everyone knows this is not one of the league's top revenue teams. Would I draft Harvey? Yes. Would I trade up into the top 10? Probably not.

Robert from Valencia, CA:
Could you give us some examples of players who have held out for all of camp and preseason, finally signed and went on to have a productive year?

Vic: I'll give you two guys off the top of my head who did it as rookies: Rod Woodson and Eric Green. Woodson and Green I remember because I was covering them. They held out into the regular season before they signed and then had an immediate impact. Darrelle Revis missed all of training camp last summer before he signed, but he had an outstanding rookie season. He's the guy who shut down Randy Moss. Don't buy into the idea that it can't be done; that a rookie can't sign late and have a good rookie season. That's coachspeak. I think the time that's been lost would delay Harvey's impact, but he can still be the player the Jaguars needed when they drafted him. First, they have to get him signed.

Ricky from Jacksonville:
Sure the Jags could have been a little sharper on Saturday night, but they played well. It's still the preseason and the Jags obviously aren't opening it all up.

Vic: That's an accurate statement: They didn't open it up. I tried to get Jack Del Rio to admit that after the game, but he took exception to the question and said something about me not being in staff meetings. I looked at several stories from other preseason games of this past weekend and the writers covering those games were writing the same things: Dink and dunk, nothing long, boring offense, etc. Here's the crazy part: They tell us game three of the preseason is the best because the regulars are going to see their most action of the preseason, but the play selection for the third preseason game is more vanilla than it is for any other preseason game. I'm starting to think the first preseason game is the most fun to watch. The closer teams get to the regular season, the more conservative they become. I like run the ball, throw it down the field. This weekend's games were throw it in the flat, check it down under the linebackers. They start to become painful to watch. Here's the good news: Just one more to go.

Keith from Miami, FL:
Realistically, when can we expect to see Jerry Porter back on the field?

Vic: I don't know, and that is an accurate statement. Back in July, coach Del Rio said Porter would miss the whole preseason but would be ready to play in the season opener. I'm sticking with that prediction.

David from Jacksonville:
Why haven't I seen much of Derek Landri?

Vic: He's had a kind of mystery injury this summer. Apparently, he has some kind of leg injury. How significant is it? I don't know.

Scott from Woodbridge, VA:
Do you believe Matt Jones has shown enough to hold onto a roster spot?

Vic: Yes, I do.

Andrew from Jacksonville:
Before people start freaking out about the offense falling short of expectations, we should take a look back to last year when we scored 10, 13, 23 and 17 points in our first four games on little more than the running game and very short, conservative passing. It takes time to get an offense operating like a well-oiled machine and, thankfully, our defense is looking stellar.

Vic: I'll buy that. I'm a patient man.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV:
David Garrard kind of mentions Jerry Porter out of nowhere in the press conference. In your opinion, does he think that highly of him, or is he hoping for anything new in the receiving corps?

Vic: The Jaguars gave Porter $10 million in free agency. Figure it out. They didn't sign him because they didn't need him. He's supposed to be the deep threat. He's supposed to be this team's big-play receiver. I think that's what Garrard was saying when he volunteered his thoughts on Porter in the postgame press conference.

Jason from Winter Haven, FL:
I read your postgame article in which David Garrard was quoted as saying the offense was ready for the regular season. While I still have a lot of respect for Tampa Bay's aging defense, it still looked like a lot of work needed to be done on offense; too many trips to the red zone to walk away with so little. What are your thoughts?

Vic: Being ready for the start of the regular season doesn't mean being at your best. It just means you're as good as you need to be to be able to play up to the expectations for a regular-season performance. Nothing more can be accomplished in the preseason. The intensity isn't there and only a regular-season game can produce it. At some point, you have to step off the driving range and onto the course. The Jaguars will get a little more range time on Thursday, then they'll step onto the course.

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