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Take the wall test

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

Chip from Jacksonville:
Can you explain what these "Cage of Rage" seats are all about?

Vic: It's a cutesy name for the north end zone at Alltel Stadium. The name dates back to the early years of the franchise. Somebody in the front office had an idea; they wanted to create a "Dawg Pound" kind of place. The problem is it's difficult to create things like that; they just happen. One of the Browns defensive players referred to himself and his mates as the "last dogs of defense," then some fan threw a dog bone out of the end zone seats at old Cleveland Stadium and, voila, a tradition was born.

Troy from Tuscaloosa, AL:
What are your five-most dreaded phrases of coachspeak in an interview? What really makes you cringe?

Vic: "One game at a time," "Be the best we can be," "Win the battle of turnovers," "Make the big play," and, worst of all, "We have the greatest fans in the world." I love the old Lee Elia remark, when Elia was the manager of the Chicago Cubs and the Cubs played only day games. During a post-game tirade, Elia ripped into Cubs fans and told them to "Get a job."

Sam from Largo, FL:
Would Deke Cooper be a "jar on the shelf?" If Darius wants out of Jacksonville, we should give him the boot and let Cooper step in, but only if he's ready. Your thoughts?

Vic: Cooper is definitely a "jar on the shelf," but he may have to stay on the shelf another year because Donovin Darius' $5 million "franchise" fee is guaranteed and that makes him untouchable. You cut him, you pay him. Get it?

Jake from Jacksonville:
Please go easy on us Arkansas fans who are excited about Matt Jones playing for the Jags. You have to remember, Arkansas is the only major college the state has playing football. Razorback football is for the whole state and Jones is representing the state of Arkansas to Jacksonville, not just another university. That being said, my question is who was the last Arkansas player to make it big in the NFL?

Vic: Depending on your definition of big, I would say it's Steve Atwater. Barry Foster was on his way to a great NFL career when he, all of a sudden, lost his love for the game. Dan Hampton was a great player, both Billy Ray Smiths were very good, and Lance Alworth is a Hall of Famer. One Arkansas player who never got his due is quarterback Joe Ferguson. Ferguson was one of the most underrated and under-appreciated quarterbacks of his time.

James from Jacksonville:
Now that the draft is over, can you tell me what is the best draft class the Jags have ever had and the worst?

Vic: The 1996 draft was on its way to being great, then Michael Cheever sustained a career-ending back injury. Cheever, in my opinion, would've established himself as one of the best centers in the league. Kevin Hardy, Tony Brackens and Aaron Beasley were the nucleus of the Jaguars' defense of the late-'90's, and Reggie Barlow was a premier return man. That means that had Cheever not been lost to injury, the Jaguars' first five picks of the '96 draft would've all been major contributors. I still think the '96 draft is the best. The 2002 and '03 drafts look good at the top, too. The 1999 only produced two productive guys, cornerbacks Fernando Bryant and Jason Craft, and the 2000 draft was marred by the R.J. Soward pick. Those are the two worst drafts, but is it any coincidence that the Jaguars were in the two lowest spots of the order in their draft history?

Bob from Bentonville, AR:
Alltel has a very large office in Little Rock and a large basketball arena in North Little Rock. I'm sure they could be persuaded to support a move. Home games would be much closer for us then.

Vic: Here's what you gotta do, Bob. Convince the Arkansas legislature to approve the construction of a $400 million stadium that includes luxury box and premium club seats that will be priced somewhere between $75,000-$100,000 per year per luxury box and $250 per game per club seat. Now sell every seat and all of the potential signage in your new stadium. When you get that done, let me know and we'll talk about those TV ratings.

Alex from Chicago, IL:
How much stock do you put into the effectiveness of the Wonderlic test when it comes to evaluating talent?

Vic: Quarterbacks should have higher scores than left cornerbacks, whose responsibility will be mainly limited to playing man-to-man coverage against one guy all day. There have been a lot of great players who haven't scored high on the Wonderlic.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I've heard a lot of talk about our right corner position and that it's a cause for concern. I am not so concerned. I believe Kenny Wright and Terry Cousin, although not elite corners, are definite upgrades from Juran Bolden and Dewayne Washington. Add to that the added pass-rush we expect from Reggie Hayward, Marcellus Wiley and a healthy Jorge Cordova and Paul Spicer and I see a much-improved squad. A strong, consistent pass-rush cuts down the time a corner has to cover. Your thoughts?

Vic: I think it's a concern, but find me a team that doesn't have at least one position of concern.

Robby from Jacksonville:
Do you attend all Jaguar games?

Vic: I have covered every game in Jaguars history except two, the games at Houston and at Dallas in 2002.

Howard from Homestead, FL:
Where did Jones' 40 speed rank among all of the participants at all positions at the combine? What was the fastest time?

Vic: That's a rather tall order, Howard. How about we limit that assignment a little bit? For starters, Matt Jones worked out at the combine as a quarterback. His official combine ET (electronic time) in the 40-yard dash was 4.40 and 4.44. That gave him the fastest time by a quarterback at the combine. Stefan Lefors ran a 4.62 twice. Applying Jones' times to the wide receiver crop, he ranked below Jerome Mathis, who ran 4.32 and 4.33, Courtney Roby, whose ET was 4.36 and 4.41, and Troy Williamson, who logged 4.39 and 4.38. Other fast times among wide receivers were 4.44 by Mark Clayton, 4.41 by Leron McCoy, and 4.43 by Roscoe Parrish. The average combine 40 time by wide receivers was 4.58.

E. Michael from Jacksonville:
When the ball-carrier is knocked out of bounds by a defender, is that defender credited for a tackle? Also, when does the clock stop on plays that are knocked out of bounds?

Vic: If a defender pushes or causes a ball-carrier to run out of bounds, the defender is credited for having made a tackle. If a ball-carrier, without being forced, runs out of bounds for the purpose of stopping the clock, no tackle is assigned. The clock stops when the official trailing the play signals for a stoppage.

Evan from Hull, Quebec:
With Matt Jones, Mark Clayton and Adam Jones all missing mini-camp practices due to injuries, would you mind telling us just how much of a difference on the body pro football is compared to college football?

Vic: Run into a wall 11 times and ask yourself, how do I feel? Then run into a wall 16 times and ask yourself, how do I feel? The walls in the NFL are bigger and stronger, too. There are no Duke and Vanderbilt walls in the NFL.

Chase from Jacksonville:
I thought with Washington's graduation date set at June 10, Khalif Barnes couldn't participate in the offseason programs.

Vic: Weekend rookie mini-camps are an exception. The rule to which you are referring governs the participation of rookies in the offseason camps that are going to be conducted during weekdays in May and June.

John from Newport News, VA:
Though I've been following the Jaguars for a long time, I can't remember them ever releasing a player that went on to make it big somewhere else, can you?

Vic: We're in an era in which players move from team to team, so it's not surprising that a team should lose a player who becomes very productive for another team. Keenan McCardell is a player the Jaguars allowed to leave when the team faced a salary cap crisis, and McCardell has enjoyed success with Tampa and San Diego, but it wasn't as though the Jaguars had failed to identify his talent. I think what you're talking about is cutting a guy because they didn't think he would be a good player, and then the guy went on to become a good player with someone else. That hasn't happened often. I think you could fault the Jaguars for not having re-signed Jeff Posey, who signed a cheap deal with Houston and had a big sack year. That's the kind of mistake that haunts teams and, frankly, the Jaguars haven't made many of those. The personnel guys in the NFL don't miss on many. They'll make mistakes in the draft due to a lack of information, but after they've had a chance to see a guy in practice day in and day out, they'll usually get him right. That's why I'm so suspicious about free agency. What does it say that another team is willing to let a guy go? I think that's a question you have to answer before you can sign someone in free agency. Why didn't his old team want to keep him?

Bob from Palatka, FL:
Why do players under contract believe that not appearing at required practices helps their chances of negotiating a new contract? Do you recall any instances when this worked?

Vic: It can work. It sends a message. The offseason conditioning program isn't mandatory, but I think Marcus Stroud's absence from it sent a message that he wanted to get a new deal done before training camp began, and that may have expedited negotiations. What works best is talent. If a player is a big-time talent the team desperately needs, holding out will usually speed up negotiations. If a guy is "just a guy," however, it won't mean a thing.

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