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Training camp storylines

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

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
My understanding is that club seats don't count against a blackout. Are we better off not renewing club seats and buying more regular seats with the difference?

Vic: In terms of blackouts, you're right, it would be better for fans to buy-out the non-premium seats because those are the only seats that count toward or against the blackout number. But this isn't just about blackouts. This is about the future of the Jaguars. That's the big picture. Alltel Stadium has about 67,000 seats and the Jaguars need to put people in all of those seats for this to be a healthy and secure franchise.

Nick from Tallahassee, FL:
Now that training camp is less than two weeks away, what are the top three, or more, stories you are excited to watch unfold?

Vic: The number one story of training camp, in my opinion, will be the progress Fred Taylor makes in his comeback from knee surgery. The second part of that story is the hoped emergence of a quality backup to Taylor; a running back with whom the Jaguars can win if Taylor is unable to play. The second top story will be the progress of Matt Jones. He's a high-profile player who offers the potential to be immensely popular. Does he have the stuff to be that kind of player? That's a question I'd like to be able to answer in training camp. Byron Leftwich will obviously be a top story. Is he ready to take the next step in his pursuit of becoming a playoff-caliber quarterback? The battle for the starting job at right cornerback will be big, and what about the situation at left offensive tackle? Those are the big stories, as I see it, but there are a lot more.

Ray from Jacksonville:
Some folks make it sound like the Jaguars never expressed serious interest to the Bills. Didn't the Jaguars need permission from the Bills to start talking about contracts with Henry and his agent? Wouldn't that be sure to alert the Bills of the Jaguars' interest?

Vic: Yes, the Jaguars absolutely needed the Bills' permission to speak to Travis Henry and his agent. The Bills granted that permission and the Jaguars negotiated with Henry and his agent. Clearly, that sent a message that the Jaguars were sincere in their interest in trading for Henry.

Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
You had stated on several occasions that you felt a second-round pick for Henry would have been too high. Hypothetically, if Buffalo would have wanted to do the deal with us at the 11th hour for a second-round pick, would you have been OK with the trade, or do you still feel that would've been too much? There's speculation that we dropped the ball on the trade by not pulling the trigger a week or two ago with a third-rounder. Is there evidence Buffalo stalled, waiting to see if Tennessee was still in the game or if Jacksonville was, in fact, the only player? Or do you think that a third-round offer two weeks ago would've gotten it done?

Vic: You have asked all of the right questions. I wish I knew all of the answers. First of all, yes, I do believe a second-round pick would've been too much to give for Travis Henry. That's not a knock on Henry, it's just that I consider the draft to be the lifeblood of a team's future and that you shouldn't trade first or second-round picks for "insurance" players. It was going to take a third-round pick to get this deal done. We knew that as far back as in May. Jack Del Rio told me last Thursday he thought it would take a three to do the deal. What that means, in my opinion, is that as long as Tennessee was in the mix, the Jaguars had little or no chance. This isn't a knock on the Titans, either, but expectations are that their third-round pick could be rather high. The Titans have a great coach and maybe they'll surprise everyone and go to the Super Bowl this year, but consensus of opinion right now is that the Titans are in a rebuilding phase and it's expected that their third-round pick will be higher than the Jaguars'. The main criticism of the Jaguars is that they fell asleep on this deal; that they dragged their feet. In my opinion, once the Titans (or Seahawks) got involved in the trade talks, however, the Jaguars were unlikely to get the deal done until those teams backed out. Why make a firm trade offer while those teams were still involved? The Bills would've said "thank you, we'll think about it," then have gone back to the other teams with the news, allowing those teams to present a better offer. As long as other teams were still involved in the process, making a firm offer would've only helped the Bills close the deal with the team it preferred. As long as the Jaguars were involved in a process that included teams that were more attractive to the Bills, all the Jaguars could do was wait for those teams to back out. I thought the Titans would, but they didn't. In a phone conversation this morning, Tom Donahoe told me he had been in contact once a week with each of the three interested teams since the beginning of June. Clearly, all three of them were having difficulty pulling the trigger. That's how valuable draft picks are. They are sources of inexpensive talent acquisition and NFL teams value draft picks above all else. That's what most people fail to understand. Draft picks are worth more than players.

Daniel from Orlando, FL:
Just curious, if the Titans have a senior editor like you who keeps the Titans fans informed, is he telling everyone the Henry deal didn't make sense with their salary cap situation, or is he sugar-coating it to make it make sense some how?

Vic: Here's the sense in it for the Titans. They get a good running back who will help them get back to the kind of ball-control running game around which Jeff Fisher has always built his teams. Henry will make the Titans a better team. The Titans will attempt to sign Henry to a long-term deal but, even if they are unable to do that, they could still get bailed out on this deal. This is the final year of Henry's contract, which means he should be a very motivated player this season. If he has a big year and gets a big contract in free agency, the Titans would receive a compensatory pick close in value to what they traded to Buffalo for Henry. If I was the senior editor of the Titans' web site, that's what I would be writing about the logic in the trade.

Jonathan from Jacksonville:
I am someone who is happy with our backfield and think we can do just fine without adding another back, but what are the chances the Jags would trade Fred Taylor and maybe a third-rounder to Seattle for Shaun Alexander? Would that be a good trade?

Vic: No, that wouldn't be a good trade because you could get Shaun Alexander for less. You could get Alexander for a second-round pick. In Alexander's case, it's all about a new contract. He wants big money and that makes him unattractive in a trade.

Mike from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Great content on this website. I read it every day religiously. About the Henry trade, I believe that part of the reason the Titans went against all better reasoning to pursue the guy was to simply keep Jacksonville from acquiring him. Is that at all a possibility?

Vic: No. The Titans don't sit around all day asking themselves how they can screw the Jaguars. You're being paranoid. Let go of 1999. It's six years later. Everything about both teams has changed. It's ancient history.

Charlie from Jacksonville:
Do you listen to local sports talk radio? If so, what is your view on a certain station that always seems to come up with some conspiracy theory about how the Jaguars screwed up. When you interviewed Jack Del Rio you clearly quoted him saying the Travis Henry trade "may or may not happen." I have heard them read parts of that interview, but never that part. It just seems to me they thrive on painting the Jags in a negative light. Your opinion?

Vic: I have no idea to what radio station you are referring, nor does it matter what station it is. What I can tell you is that the story I wrote last Thursday somehow resulted in a wrong message, and I have to accept culpability for that mistake. Jack Del Rio's comments in no way should've misled anyone. Apparently, I did not present the information properly because the story resulted in a gross misinterpretation. I accept blame.

George from Savannah, GA:
After reading about the failed Travis Henry sweepstakes, I think you need to give us less spin and more facts in your comments.

Vic: I'm insulted by your inference that I am a liar. The information I presented was as it was presented to me and I maintain that it is accurate. The only new piece of information I have received about the Travis Henry trade scenario is Tom Donahoe's claim that as late as early last week the Jaguars were ambivalent about trading for Henry. I talked to Donahoe this morning. We are the very best of friends, going way back, and he went through the chronology of the story with me. In my opinion, the Jaguars' alleged ambivalence changed nothing. As long as the Titans were in the process and wanted Henry, the Jaguars weren't going to get him, for the reasons I stated above. That's not fact, it's opinion. I asked Tom this question: If the Jaguars had offered you a third-round pick on Monday of last week, would you have accepted it? He said he would've given Tennessee and Seattle courtesy calls, allowing them to counter-offer. He also said that if all of the offers were the same, he would've accepted the first one. I present this information to you as a combination of pure fact and honest opinion. I regret that you believe I would report otherwise.

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