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Rule needs to be reviewed

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

Jeff from Jacksonville:
I have heard several sports announcers talk of sports hernias. What exactly is this type of injury?

Vic: It's a difficult injury to diagnose and pinpoint because it involves muscle pain in a wide area; from the lower abdominal region through the groin. It's pain in that area that persists without evidence of a hernia. The pain worsens with activity, hence, the term sports hernia. It's treated the same as a groin injury would be treated. The major problem with the injury is that it can become chronic. At that point, it's up to the player's ability to play with pain. If he can't perform up to his capabilities in that state, he may opt for a surgical procedure in which the surgeon puts a stitch or two in the problem muscle. The intent is to tighten the area. It often doesn't relieve the pain, however, leaving the player right back where he started.

Andrew from Baton Rouge, LA:
Can you tell me what the selling points were on Khalif Barnes going into the draft?

Vic: He was considered to be a big, athletic, intelligent tackle. Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys personnel boss who now does talent evaluation work for, loved Barnes. The only negative I read on Barnes was that he needed to develop some toughness.

John from Jacksonville:
With Chris Hanson and Josh Scobee playing the way they are this year, I would think the Jaguars must be near the top of the league in special teams play. Is there some sort of special teams stat to either confirm or deny this?

Vic: The Jaguars are sixth in the league in opponents' punt-return average. When you factor in that Chris Hanson is third in the league and number one in the AFC in net punting, the combination of the two stats is very complimentary of the Jaguars' punting and punt coverage. As far as Josh Scobee is concerned, he is currently number two in the league and number one in the AFC in touchbacks, with 11. That tells you all you need to know about his contribution to special teams coverage. In terms of scoring, he's tied for seventh in the league with 37 points, which includes 10 field goals in 12 attempts.

Armand from Atlantic Beach, FL:
On the Jimmy Smith catch that was called incomplete, why wasn't it allowed? He had two feet in bounds and control of the ball.

Vic: The ball moved in his hands after the first foot he got down came up. That meant that after he gained control of the ball, he only got one foot down in bounds.

Christopher from DeLand, FL:
I have a hunch this vague g/back means a goal-line back, if such a thing exists.

Vic: You might be on to something.

Jeff from Fullerton, CA:
In your response to Steve's question from Little Rock you said that Matt Jones is due a $5.04 million guaranteed option bonus. How can it be a guaranteed option? That's an oxymoron. Could you explain how that could be so?

Vic: Trust me, it's guaranteed. All you have to do is designate it as such. Do you think Matt Jones' agent would agree to defer bonus money that wasn't guaranteed?

Mike from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
For the love of all that is holy in this world, just answer one of my questions. When Jimmy Smith retires, is there a good chance his number will be retired, too?

Vic: The Jaguars haven't retired any numbers. In time, I think the team will provide some kind of stadium display for honoring the great players in Jaguars history. Jimmy Smith is clearly one of those players.

Eric from Jacksonville:
After watching for the umpteenth time a player who scored a touchdown slam-dunk the ball over the crossbar of the goalpost, I have the following question: How come, in this age of 6-6 players with 40-inch vertical leaps, do we never see a team stick a guy back in the end zone to try to block a long field goal that barely makes it across?

Vic: That's goaltending and the rules do not permit it. Once upon a time, there was no goaltending rule.

Bryan from St. Augustine, FL:
As far as I recall, there has not been a field goal over 50 yards in Heinz Field history. What has made it nearly impossible to do and does Scobee have enough leg to make one, if it came down to it?

Vic: Jeff Reed, Kris Brown and Adam Vinatieri are tied for the longest field goal in Heinz Field history at 48 yards. Let's start with the fact that this is only Heinz Field's fifth season of play. The open-end of the field has become notorious for missed attempts. Some have ventured that the open-end configuration allows for swirling winds. Some have blamed bad turf late in the season. At this point in time, it all adds up to mystique. Nobody knows why Heinz Field is a tough place to kick, but I can tell you this, Josh Scobee has the leg to kick a long field goal in any park, including Yellowstone.

Jim from Jacksonville:
The boys in stripes have gotten out of hand. They are making football a bore.

Vic: They made the Monday night game painful to watch.

Jason from Bethesda, MD:
I'm headed to the Pittsburgh game this week and plan on wearing my jersey, but being polite; cheering quietly and respectfully, not instigating anything with the Steeler fans, and turning the other cheek at anything they say (or throw). Will I live?

Vic: I'll tell you the same thing I tell everyone who asks the same question about going to any stadium and wearing the jersey of the visiting team: You're making yourself a target. Why would you wanna do that?

Jon from Van Buren, AR:
After watching the Monday night game, I wasn't aware the NFL has a halo rule like they do in college. Was that a good call by the officials or did they give San Diego a break?

Vic: I think what we saw last night was a bulky rule brought to attention and we'll probably see it changed during the offseason. The rule is that once a player signals for a fair catch, he must be allowed the opportunity to complete that catch. That means that if he juggles the ball he must be allowed to gain control of the ball without interference from the coverage team. In last night's case, however, the ball bounced off the return man and significantly away from him and into the hands of a Steelers player. There's no way the punt-return man could have recovered in time to catch that ball before it hit the ground, and the Steeler player couldn't avoid having the ball hit him before it touched the ground. At first, no penalty was called. Then the officials huddled and a minute later they dropped a flag. It's a play that almost cost the Steelers the game. On the heels of the clock mistake in the New England game, Bill Cowher looked like his eyes were going to burst into flames.

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