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Training camp is necessary

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

Marion from St. Augustine, FL:
Fred Taylor arrived at the stadium for the start of training camp and he was asked how he felt. Fred answered with a smile on his face, "I feel like I am going to jail." Football is the only professional sport that requires its players to be stowed away for a few weeks at the beginning of each season. Do you think this is unfair or unnecessary? Do you think the tradition will ever change?

Vic: Back in the day, before players had big houses, fancy cars, nannies for their children and so much money that they don't need to play football, they looked forward to getting away from home. Training camp was a place where you got free food, spent time with your friends and you didn't have to change diapers. The only bad part of training camp was practice. Nowadays, these players live in such luxury that the spartan environment of training camp does take on a jail-like feel. Is it necessary? Yes, I believe it is. I believe it is necessary for a coach to sequester his team for a brief period so that it might find itself, so to speak. Training camp is all about getting away from distractions. It's all about making football the most important thing in your life. It's about forming a vision for yourself and for your team for the upcoming season.

M.J. from Jacksonville:
Can you explain why everyone loves the Oklahoma drill?

Vic: It's confrontation. It's the scent of blood in the air. It's the anxious moments just prior to the start of a heavyweight title fight. It's the essence of the game: two men battling to win a small piece of land. Here's another reason why I love it: In 37 years of covering the NFL, I have never seen anyone get hurt in an Oklahoma.

Luis from Fruit Cove, FL:
Based on what Parker said, you must be getting a check from the Falcons for being the head of their PR department. As I recall, you did not pass judgment on Michael Vick, either. So, Vic, how many teams have you as their PR chief?

Vic: That's right, I didn't, until he was convicted. All I had to do was wait. All I had to do was abide by the law of the land that presumes a man innocent until proven guilty. When the conviction came, however, I was free to give my opinion, and I did. I abhor what he did. The thought of torturing defenseless animals sickens me. I don't understand the need to rush to judgment.

Hunt from Bloomfield, CT:
If the season started today, who would you start at the two wide receiver positions?

Vic: Well, Jerry Porter is out due to hamstring surgery and Reggie Williams re-injured his knee in Monday evening's practice, so I would go with Mike Walker and Troy Williamson. Dennis Northcutt has performed exceptionally well, but he's been bothered by a sore back and I really do believe he should be used as it was intended when the Jaguars signed him: as a number three/slot receiver.

Norman from wherever the army sends me:
I used to go fishing all the time in Palm Valley with my family. There were a lot of gators then; glad to see the population has not diminished. What happened to the water moccasins?

Vic: Well, I know what happened to one of them.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
I heard a report that John Henderson has lost around 30 pounds. Is this a good or bad thing?

Vic: He's thinner than he was in the spring. Henderson looks to be in great shape and he's had a smile on his face from the start of training camp. All of that is really good news.

Dennis from Kingsland, GA:
I understand if we have player on the practice squad that another team wants, they have to put him on the active roster, however, do the Jags have the option of keeping that player by also putting him on the active roster or does the other team's claim take precedent?

Vic: There is no claim process for players on the practice squad. Players on the practice squad are free agents. They may negotiate with any team in the league at any time. If a team wishes to sign a player from the Jaguars' practice squad, the Jaguars can offer him more money to stay with them. It's the player's choice.

Steve from Jacksonville:
As a guy who's done a little video editing myself, I'd like to compliment you and your staff on the fine job and fast turnaround for the Oklahoma drill video; very fine production in such a short turnaround.

Vic: The video guys did a great job. I'll pass along your kind words.

Robert from Las Vegas, NV:
Who impressed you the most in the Oklahoma drill?

Vic: Drew Miller; his two blocks were textbook-perfect. He achieved leverage each time and then turned the defender aside.

Tatiana from Pensacola, FL:
This may seem like a silly question. What is the difference between DB and CB?

Vic: DB (defensive back) is a way of saying a guy can play cornerback and safety and may be used at both positions.

Bryan from Jacksonville:
How about that? Our very own Oklahoma drill featured on Tradition is growing here in Jacksonville.

Vic: Outstanding.

Saud from Marietta, GA:
How worried should we be about Brad Meester's injury and the instability of our offensive line? Do we have enough talent and depth?

Vic: I think there's reason for concern. I'm hoping that Meester's injury isn't serious and that he'll be back in the lineup for the season opener. Per my story on Monday's morning practice, four-fifths of the offensive line has already undergone change since the end of OTAs. I'm not saying that's a big deal but I see things up front that concern me. Number one, the Jaguars need one of those two left tackles to take that job; leave no doubt that he's the man. Number two, Vince Manuwai needs to settle back in at left guard and play as he did a year ago. For whatever reason, Manuwai struggled at right guard the first few days of training camp. Depending on Meester, Uche Nwaneri may have to learn to play center, but my biggest concern at this point is what should happen if the Jaguars sustain another injury up front.

Kelvin from Atlanta, GA:
Drayton Florence, Scott Starks, Trae Williams: I would like to hear about their play so far in training camp.

Vic: Florence has been top notch in training camp. There were murmurs in the spring that Florence was something less than expected, but there are no such murmurs now. You want a murmur? Here's a murmur: OTAs should never be used to evaluate a player. Scott Starks may be having the best camp of anybody on the team. In my opinion, Starks is, pound for pound, as good a football player as there is on this team. Williams hasn't jumped out at me, yet. He may have fallen behind a couple of undrafted cornerbacks: Brian Witherspoon and Isaiah Gardner.

Clay from Jacksonville:
As a writer who began his career reporting the news by way of stone tablet, does it amaze you how demanding readers have been in the information age? I know you've said in the past that you love the way technology has made your job easier but do you feel it has made readers take for granted how good we have it now?

Vic: It probably has, but that's not a big deal. What I can't figure out is why the stone-tablet readers had a better feel for the game than the readers of today.

Jonathon from Atlanta, GA:
Here's the big question of the day: Who would you take to hold the point of attack, Vince Manuwai or John Henderson.

Vic: "Hold the point" is a defensive term. It applies to defensive tackles, for example, who are strong enough to hold their ground and refuse to be moved.

Tony from Jacksonville:
Vic, stop whining about the expectations and criticism of being unfair. Just as your "it's just a game" statement, well, you and your staff's job is just work. The only thing in life that's fair is time, so no excuses, just solutions; better equipment/software, a more savvy editor, sneak peeks, etc. In other words, get 'er done.

Vic: Yes, sir, and I promise that if we don't perform up to your expectations, we'll refund your money.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
Apparently, the Little League World Series will be using instant replay this year. Is this going too far?

Vic: Not at all. We're talkin' about important stuff here. Hey, if these kids wanna play in the big time, then they gotta play like the big boys, and that means no more crying. I can see it now. There'll be a replay and they'll all start crying in their little dugouts. It's time they learn to protect their house. Hey, you're 12 years old. Grow up already.

Roland from Jacksonville:
Snake-eating gator vs. dog-drowning, cooler-stealing raccoon. Who wins the Oklahoma?

Vic: Did you know raccoons are prehensile? Yeah, they are, which means they could probably be taught to use a laptop, which means they could be sportswriters, which means they wouldn't have to play in the Oklahoma, only cover it. That's why I love raccoons. They remind me of sportswriters; typing on their laptops and begging for food.

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