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Reporters carry message to fans

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions. Vic: There will be no "Ask Vic" on Thursday and Friday.

Jason from Jacksonville:
You may have lost some great quotes from Peterson in the locker room, but who are some others who give great quotes and interviews? I always like to read what Fred Taylor has to say and Byron seems like he speaks his mind pretty well.

Vic: Byron Leftwich is the most accessible player in the locker room. He always makes time for questions. He's a reporter's dream. Taylor's locker has always been a routine stop for me. Fred hasn't always been the most accessible guy, but he's always accommodated my requests and the best thing about Fred is that he usually answers the question truthfully. John Henderson has made major gains, especially this year. He was a silent player through his first few seasons but, all of a sudden, John is talking and he should because he has something to say and the strength of his words are providing verbal leadership. Marcus Stroud is accommodating and if you catch him at the right time he can be real good, but I wouldn't call him a quote machine. Rashean Mathis has become a regular stop. He's outstanding. He's a very sincere interview, answers all the questions and I trust what he says to be an accurate representation of what he believes. Deon Grant is good. Kyle Brady remains a top interview. Paul Spicer is outstanding. I miss Reggie Hayward big-time. Khalif Barnes is the best of the offensive linemen. Maurice Jones-Drew is willing and will eventually lose his rookie stiffness. Daryl Smith is a kind, quiet guy who'll need to speak up a little more for the linebackers in Mike Peterson's absence. Donovin Darius enjoys the media and has always said all the right things. I don't mind players who say the wrong things, if you know what I mean. There are a lot of support-type players who would be outstanding with the media if they were in more prominent roles. Tony Gilbert is a perfect example.

Emil from Tallahassee, FL:
You called it. You said keep an eye on Bruce Gradkowski and he turned in an excellent game. What in your eyes keeps him from being a starter?

Vic: Gradkowski doesn't have the arm strength to be able to make all the throws. He's got everything else you want in a quarterback. He's smart and tough. He's got great instincts for the position and he's a natural-born winner. He understands where to go with the ball, which makes him a favorite of his coaches and his teammates. The problem is he can't make the throws that require the big arm: outside the numbers from the far hash and deep down the boundary. He doesn't have the arm strength to drive the ball, and we saw what that means this past Sunday when Terry Cousin and Deon Grant literally broke 10 yards to intercept weak throws by Chad Pennington. As a result of his lack of arm strength, Gradkowski is going to play on a compressed field. That's what he'll have to overcome. Maybe he will.

Bob from Altadena, CA:
There is so much hoopla when the team does well, but there doesn't seem to be enough recognition for the offensive line. How would you rate them this far into the season?

Vic: They've been outstanding. They've only allowed eight sacks and they've blocked well enough in the run-game for the Jaguars to be in the top third of the rush rankings. With games upcoming against some weak defensive fronts, I expect the Jaguars offensive line to play even better.

Ryan from Toronto, Ontario:
Can you explain the rule when offensive linemen get called for being illegally downfield?

Vic: In the NFL, an offensive lineman may not cross the line of scrimmage on any forward pass until after the ball has been thrown. That includes forward passes that are caught behind the line of scrimmage. This rule does not include lateral passes. In college football, offensive linemen are permitted to cross the line of scrimmage before the ball is thrown, as long as the pass is caught behind the line of scrimmage.

Donny from Pensacola, FL:
I accompanied my mother to a Titans-Dolphins game in Nashville. We were both wearing Marino jerseys. After the game I had a dead battery and had more than five different folks stop to help, and they hung out until we got the car started. I was impressed. That's football camaraderie.

Vic: I like Nashville a lot.

Greg from Notre Dame, IN:
Hey, Vic, do you show any emotion during the games? I can see you just sitting there after we score a touchdown, maybe crack a weak smile and then write your blog with a blank stare on your face.

Vic: There's no emotion in the press box, only pure logic and truth. It is where I go to seek inner peace.

Nick from Indianapolis, IN:
I've seen you mention Larry Fitzgerald as a guy that exemplifies a true professional. You responded that he would be someone for kids to emulate. You talked about if he won the Heisman he may have started a trend with post-touchdown non-celebrations. You seem to have overlooked one guy who's been doing all of the above years before Fitzgerald came into the league. Of course, since this player plays for the Colts, I'm sure it wasn't an accidental oversight. That player is Marvin Harrison.

Vic: You do a great Bill Stern imitation: And that man was, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. But you're right about Marvin Harrison. He is a great player; a consummate professional. That's what I respect. As far as the "accidental oversight" shot, which I'm sure was inspired by my power ranking for the Colts, I'll make you a deal. The Colts have upcoming back-to-back games in Denver and New England. Win those two games and I'll put your team at number one. I guarantee it. Lose those two, however, and I think you know what's going to happen. Timber!

Bill from Orange Park, FL:
In Peterson you lost your go-to guy for locker room quotes. Someone will have to emerge as the new number one quote provider. The question is who is that going to be?

Vic: Right now, I'm betting on Rashean Mathis. He's becoming a star player and a star interview.

John from St. Augustine, FL:
"Take back our house:" It's no wonder the fans think they are players. The league encourages it.

Vic: It's called "literary license" and you'd have to have sociopathic tendencies to take that kind of slogan literally. I would agree with you, however, when it comes to this obsession for having the loudest stadium in the league. There was a time when if a coach used the media to call for crowd noise, he'd get a warning from the league office, but not any more. I've gotten a lot of e-mails from people angry at me for my position on crowd noise, and I'm surprised that they're not able to understand my concern. I'm not trying to make Alltel Stadium a quieter place. First of all, this stadium is too wide side to side to produce the kind of noise that cripples visiting teams. It's called yawning and this stadium yawns too much; too much open air. My concern about crowd noise is as it applies to domed stadiums. Wake up, folks, and look at how many domes and retractable domes we have. There are nine right now and they're talking about doming Arrowhead and possibly building a retractable in Manhattan. Almost a third of the league has or will have domes. Go to one game in a domed stadium and tell me it's not too loud. Tell me they don't provide an unfair advantage for the home team. In my opinion, the noise in domed stadiums is so excessive it damages the product. In my opinion, noise control has become a major issue in those places. That's where I take exception to teams promoting aggressive behavior by their fans.

Chris from Jacksonville:
What's the story on Ahmad Carroll? Why did the Packers cut a (2004) first-round pick four weeks into the season? Also, I would think the Jags would be looking for a linebacker or defensive end, not a cornerback.

Vic: You sign players for one reason and one reason only: They have talent. Carroll is a player the Jaguars believe has talent and they believe they can extract that talent from him. Usually when a team claims a player as the Jaguars have claimed Carroll, it's because they liked him when he was coming out of college. They don't dismiss his failings in the NFL, but they tend to trust their original evaluation of him and consider the possibility he was in a system or in a place that just didn't work for him. There's also another consideration. With Marcus Stroud coming back to full health, the Jaguars may be planning to play a lot more "nickel," which would be a way of making up for the loss of Mike Peterson. If you're going to play extra defensive backs, then you probably need another one.

William from Jacksonville:
I was wondering what happened to Scott Starks? He was banged up with a few seconds left in the game.

Vic: He rolled an ankle. It's not serious.

Eric from Jacksonville:
You mentioned Mike Peterson as the best quote in the locker room. Who was the best quote in the locker room in your career?

Vic: Joe Greene. Joe had a way of putting a game into an easy-to-understand perspective as no other player I have ever covered could do. Tony Boselli was almost as good. Peterson has a similar ability. You ask Mike what happened out there and he tells you. That kind of forthrightness shows great respect for the fans. When a player talks to the media, he's talking to the fans. Reporters are just conduits. When a player avoids the media, he's avoiding the fans. That's what I'd like players and fans to understand: that the media is only the messenger. I urge players to find those reporters who they can trust to get their message right, then use those reporters to communicate with the fans.

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