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Two things the Jags have to do

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

Doug from Jacksonville:
Assuming the Jaguars make it to the postseason, what are the league's rules on injured reserve players and the postseason?

Vic: They can't play. There's an injury settlement loophole but it's not worth mentioning. Mike Peterson is done for the regular season and the postseason.

John from Jacksonville:
Besides laptops replacing manual typewriters, what are some major differences between being an NFL reporter now and when you began your career?

Vic: Technology is the big difference. Not only were we using typewriters, but we also used a device called a "Teleram" to transmit stories back to the office from road sites. It was a heavy, bulky device that had a drum on which you mounted your typewritten piece of paper. The drum spun and transmitted the words on the page over the telephone to a device back home that scratched out a copy of the original. It was a slow process that still required a typesetter in the composing room to hand-set the type. As you can imagine, it made deadline reporting difficult. Information on a whole just wasn't as readily available as it is today. The "media guides" the teams published back then were miniscule as compared to today. The comparison is laughable. Teams didn't have PR departments, they had a PR director; that's all. In many cases, the reporter was left to accumulate the statistical information he needed. We have so much more in the way of information and assistance from the various teams and from the league in writing our stories today. In some ways, it's almost too easy; I feel as though I haven't worked hard enough. In other ways, however, we had much greater advantages back then. When I started doing this, the Steelers PR guy would give each beat reporter a black book of the players' and coaches' home telephone numbers and we were encouraged to call and we did. If you told that to today's players they'd look at you like you were from Mars. For the first several training camps I covered, the PR man taped a sheet of paper on the media room wall with all of the players' and coaches' names and their corresponding dorm room numbers on the sheet. When we wanted to talk to a guy, we just knocked on his door. Imagine that. Covering the NFL was significantly less formal than covering major league baseball, and that's just how Pete Rozelle wanted it to be. He wanted reporters to feel welcome and he wanted to build lasting relationships with the media, which he did. The league is too big and too popular to operate with the same mom and pop philosophy today, but I'm sure glad I was around back then to have experienced it and hold it near to my heart.

Matt from Monticello, IN:
I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable fan of the game, however, there is one rule that continues to elude me, that of the QB being ruled "in the grass." How is a QB ruled to be "in the grass?"

Vic: Well, being the knowledgeable football fan that you are, you know, of course, that to be ruled "in the grass" you can't be playing on artificial turf. For example, Ben Roethlisberger was ruled to have been "in the grass" twice in the game in San Diego, which was played on natural grass. What happened was the Chargers' pass-rush got hold of Roethlisberger and he couldn't break free, so the official blew the play dead before the Chargers picked up Roethlisberger and put him "in the grass." I'm not sure what they call it when the game is being played on artificial turf.

William from Jacksonville:
How has the team done historically after bye weeks?

Vic: The Jaguars are 6-5 in games following the bye week.

Eric from Woonsocket, RI:
You don't show any emotion in the press box. Would you show any, if say, the Jaguars had just won the Super Bowl?

Vic: When I tell you the press box is a working area and requires professional decorum, I'm not exaggerating. There is no cheering, period. If you cheer, you make a fool of yourself and the organization you are representing. Most guys are only there for the hot dogs anyhow.

Chuck from Alma, AR:
Your "Ask Vic" segment is painful to read. I'm not sure if it's the black background or your writing skills.

Vic: It's probably the writing. If I were you, I wouldn't read it any more. You should probably choose one of the many other entertainment options available in Arkansas.

Adam from Orlando, FL:
I know we all said we were going to be happy with a 3-2 start to the season. I'm a little disappointed because it could have been 5-0, but I'm still happy with 3-2. Do you think we can come back from two games down to take the division? I think this season is the best opportunity we have had in a while, considering that everybody is running the ball all over the Colts.

Vic: I'll make a prediction: If the Jaguars win their next three games, they'll win the division.

Tim from Jacksonville:
All the so-called experts in the area are predicting gloom and doom for the Jags after all the injuries. How about you?

Vic: Having lost Reggie Hayward and Mike Peterson is a genuine blow to this team. In my opinion, I think having lost those two players for the season means the Jaguars defense will not achieve elite status this year. They are ranked eighth overall right now and I think it'll be difficult, not impossible, to stay at that level. Two things have to happen for the Jaguars to overcome the losses of Hayward and Peterson: 1.) The offense has to play better than ever before. It has to be efficient and forceful. In my opinion, it will have to score more points because it's likely the Jaguars are going to allow more points. 2.) Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith will have to reacquire some of the clairvoyance he used in 2003. By that I mean Smith will have to be real good at predicting run or pass. He was great at it in '03 when the Jaguars didn't have the personnel they have today but were able to stop opponents, especially in the second half of the season, because Smith always seemed to have the Jaguars in the right defense at the right time. What Smith has left at defensive end and linebacker are a lot of specialty players. Bobby McCray and Brent Hawkins are better rushing the passer than supporting against the run. On passing downs, the Jaguars would rather be in "nickel" and replace a linebacker with a defensive back. That's where predicting run or pass becomes so important. It's all about the run or pass tendencies of the opponent and Smith is a great student of the game and knows the other team's tendencies as well as he knows his own. That's good because that's what the Jaguars need to combat the loss of two players you wanted on the field on all downs.

Sam from Jacksonville:
I was watching the Florida- Auburn game on Saturday and noticed that after the safety in the second quarter the Gators elected to kick the ball off the tee as opposed to punting it. Do teams in the NFL have this option as well?

Vic: It's called a free kick. The rulebook says: "A dropkick, placekick or punt may be used." None of those options, however, include a tee. The ball may be held to the ground by a player as it is in a placekick (field goal, point-after try).

Mike from Fort Irwin, CA:
Back before the season began, I remember you saying 10-6 would win the AFC South. I know we are only six weeks into the season, but do you still feel that way, since the Colts are undefeated thus far?

Vic: The next three weeks will tell the tale.

Caryn from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts on the brawl that occurred in the Miami Hurricanes game this past weekend?

Vic: I don't know enough about it to offer an opinion specific to the melee. I am, however, very idealistic about college football. I've been laughed at when I've said college football players should be students. OK, if it's too much to ask that they be legitimate students, then is it too much to ask that they conduct themselves in a manner befitting the esteemed institution of higher learning they represent? That goes for all college football teams; not just Miami.

Daniel from Wichita, KS:
I asked you last year if it were illegal to tackle by the hair and you never answered me. In the Chiefs/Steelers game it happened and it is apparently not illegal. Do you think it should be or should there be a limit on how long hair can extend from the helmet?

Vic: Hair hanging out of the helmet is considered part of the uniform and may be used to tackle a player. I guess if the hair starts to cover the number on a player's back, that would be a bad thing and the league would have to propose some kind of restriction. What I'm more inclined to consider is Troy Polamalu's exemplary behavior after having been pulled down by the hair by Larry Johnson, who was penalized for an extra twist of Polamalu's hair after the whistle. That's unsportsmanlike conduct, but Polamalu didn't retaliate. He didn't start swinging his fists. He displayed self-control, which makes it very difficult for me to deny him his cultural expression. Polamalu is a wonderful player who expresses a kind of self-discipline that is a proud example of what we should expect from all professional football players. At a time of ridiculous celebrations and nefarious behavior, Polamalu is a breath of fresh air. As far as I'm concerned, he can wear his hair as long as he wishes.

Bryan from Kernesville, NC:
Are you surprised the coach in Dallas is being reprimanded, and not T.O.?

Vic: Here's another situation about which I am not familiar enough to offer an opinion, but I can't help but feel sorry for the poor position coach. T.O. is a coach "killer." When will America cease to be entertained by his antics?

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