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Senior Bowl talk

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

Bill from Orange Park, FL:
Any rumors on who Jack may hire as linebacker coach to replace Van Gorder?

Vic: I'm expecting that Mark Duffner will join Jack Del Rio's staff as linebackers coach. Duffner would be another outstanding veteran hire by Del Rio. Duffner was head coach at Maryland and defensive coordinator for the Bengals, which are the kind of credentials you don't usually find in a position coach.

Ben from Jacksonville:
What happened to Mike Vick in 2005?

Vic: : One of the main reasons for Michael Vick's decline in 2005 was a series of nagging injuries that reduced his effectiveness as a scrambler. He rushed for 597 yards in '05, down from 902 yards rushing in '04. His yards per rush were way down and so was his long run. Simply put, he was not the runner this past season that he had been previously and Vick's game is clearly dependent on his ability to make plays with his legs. The big question is: Was Vick's decline in rushing this past season the result of those nagging injuries or are those nagging injuries the result of having lost a step and the ability to defend himself? Quarterbacks who run get hurt. That's a fact. Quarterbacks who run don't last nearly as long as quarterbacks who don't run. Mark Brunell was never the same after injuring his knee in the 1997 preseason. That injury forced Brunell to become a more efficient passer and Vick may be facing the same demand at a similar stage of his career.

Chad from Easley, SC:
Do you think a CBA will be reached by March 3?

Vic: I don't. Based on what I'm hearing, there's too much ground to close for a CBA extension to get done before March. That doesn't mean it won't get done. Things can move very quickly as deadlines approach. What I'm wondering is if enough progress can be made that the league will temporarily suspend some of the salary cap provisions that will fall hard on teams such as the Redskins on March 3.

Leo from New Orleans, LA:
Are all these replacement Pro-Bowl players substituting for injuries or because the roster players didn't feel like playing or is it the coaches re-deciding or what?

Vic: Replacement players are named from the list of alternates at each position. If a defensive tackle who has been elected to the Pro Bowl chooses not to play because of injury or offseason surgery, his replacement comes from the top of the list of alternates. It's a very simple process. All players are ranked according to the voting process; even those who weren't originally selected to play in the game.

Jim from Jacksonville:
One the one hand, you say uniforms don't matter; just play the game. On the other hand, you insist the Steelers' white uniforms have an almost divine symbolic meaning. You can't have it both ways, Vic. Give the Jag fans who want all-black a break.

Vic: It's not up to me. It's Jack Del Rio's and the Jaguars' decision as to what style uniforms they want to wear. I could care less about fashion statements, but I'll tell you this, that if the Jaguars had won three playoff games on the road in their all-black uniforms and had the option to wear them in the Super Bowl, I would write the same column saying those all-black uniforms are the symbol of the Jaguars' playoff success and they absolutely should be worn in the Super Bowl. I'm sure you can understand that simple logic. Here's something else you might want to consider about those all-black uniforms: The Jaguars have worn them three times, all at home, and they are 1-2. They wore them against the Steelers in 2002 and lost, against the Bucs in '03 and won and against the Steelers in '04 and lost. It's not as though they represent anything special in Jaguars history.

Adam from Phoenix, AZ:
A couple of days ago you spoke of the Broncos having some players with "voidables." Could you elaborate on what that means?

Vic: A "voidable" is a contract that voids or expires on a designated day. Kevin Hardy and Renaldo Wynn had "voidables." It's not uncommon that a player will have a significant roster bonus or salary for the coming year attached to the "voidable." In each case, that roster bonus or salary would have to count in full on the team's cap prospectus. That's the case with several Broncos players. They have "voidables" that include significant cap hits that are immediately going to be extinguished when those contracts void or expire. All of a sudden, a team that was $27 million over the cap is under the cap. The problem is that you have to replace that player. Getting under the cap for the Broncos won't be difficult, but retaining their players will be. Gerard Warren is the best example of a "voidable" Broncos player. Warren has a $7.6 million salary in '06 that will be extinguished from the Broncos' '06 salary cap when Warren's contract voids in late February.

Jason from State College, PA:
What do you think of my alma mater's showing in the Senior Bowl? Rumor has it the Jaguars are interested in Tamba Hali, who will be gone long before the Jaguars pick. Do you think we might try to move up with a trade?

Vic: I have not heard that rumor but I will tell you that Hali may be the hardest-working player I have ever seen. He is a joy to watch play. He's the kind of player who tempts you to ignore the fact that he's short and undersized for a defensive end. As much as I love the way he plays, I would be afraid to spend a high pick on him. I understand that Dwight Freeney is an undersized guy and it hasn't hurt him, but you always worry about a short guy getting gobbled up by those massive offensive tackles. The other Penn State players to whom you are probably referring, Anwar Phillips and Michael Robinson, clearly distinguished themselves. One of the lasting memories of the Orange Bowl game is Phillips gesturing incomplete after every long pass Florida State attempted in his direction. Phillips is a blue-chip corner. I'm hearing he's more of a second-round guy because he doesn't have great speed, but he's someone in whom I'd think the Jaguars would have interest because he plays the ball in the air expertly and that's exactly what you want in a right cornerback. Robinson is a great athlete but, in my opinion, he proved in the Senior Bowl he is not a bona fide quarterback prospect. He is, however, a mouth-watering athlete who has running skills to rival Vince Young's. In fact, I think Robinson might be a better runner because he can drop his pads and knock you back. Young is more of a floater and I'm not crazy about that style of running. If I was a personnel boss, I'd have Robinson on my list as a guy I want after a certain point in the draft. He has played wide receiver and he clearly has the skill to be a "slash" or Antwaan Randle El-type player and some guys think his best position might be running back.

John from Jacksonville:
Will the lack of a CBA extension make it more difficult to give John Henderson a contract extension during the offseason?

Vic: Yes, it would make it more difficult because John Henderson is going to get a pricey contract and you'd like to be able to amortize his bonus money beyond 2009, which you can't do without an extension of the current CBA. That doesn't mean a new deal can't get done without a CBA extension. The Jaguars have gone hard toward roster bonuses in recent years – don't forget that roster bonus must be declared in full in the year it is paid – and they have the cap room to do something like that with Henderson. Nonetheless, more years to amortize the money would make a long-term deal easier to do.

Malosi from Valencia, CA:
Who impressed you most at the Senior Bowl, assuming you watched? Who excites you most that might be available when the Jags pick?

Vic: DeAngelo Williams impressed me the most. He has special skills. At times in Saturday's game he appeared to be coasting. He may even have another gear in him. I wish he was a little bigger but if I could give the Jaguars one player from this draft, I think he'd be the guy. He will, of course, be long gone when the Jaguars pick. Who might be available? It's too early to know that. We can't know that until at least after the scouting combine. Anwar Phillips is a name to circle.

James from Fort Gordon, GA:
Thank you for another fantastic year of journalism, and with the creation of the blog I was able to get updated info on how the game was going. What positions and who do you see the Jaguars targeting this offseason?

Vic: In my opinion, the obvious target positions have to be running back, cornerback and linebacker, but I never support targeting a position at all cost. Two years ago we all knew defensive end was a target position for the Jaguars, but neither free agency nor the draft offered the potential to get the player they wanted at the price they were willing to pay and the Jaguars were very smart and very disciplined in turning their back to the need. It allowed them to get exactly what they wanted the following year. In a perfect world, Jim Brown would be available when the Jaguars pick in the first round, Deion Sanders would be there in the second round and Lawrence Taylor would be available in the third round. If they are, I say draft them. If the choices, however, are Blair Thomas, Bryant Westbrook and Aundray Bruce, I say forget the need and find a better player at another position.

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