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We need another Seabiscuit

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

Alex from Jacksonville:
Thanks for your column and giving me so much more knowledge about the game. My question is about our receivers. We know Jimmy Smith and Reggie Williams are our two main guys, but who's most likely to step up and become our number three receiver?

Vic: I'm expecting a big-time competition between Troy Edwards, Cortez Hankton and Ernest Wilford. Another name you may hear a lot about is undrafted free agent Matt Cherry.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I know you aren't a big uniform guy, but I realize you are a Pittsburgh guy. I have a suggestion regarding both topics. When the Jaguars change their uniforms (to a supposedly predominant black), they can also do an L.C. Greenwood tribute by wearing the vintage gold shoes.

Vic: Teams may wear white shoes or black shoes only. That's the new NFL. In L.C. Greenwood's case, he was the only Steeler who wore gold shoes, which resulted in a weekly fine from the league L.C. never paid. It was never more than a hundred dollars. In those days, the team was responsible for collecting the fine and the Steelers just winked at it. The system for fining and collecting is much more disciplined in today's game. L.C. could never get away with it today. If you apply $100 to every game he played, it still doesn't amount to a good blow to the head in today's game. Today, he'd have the feet fined right off his legs.

Enrique from Los Angeles, CA:
You talked about Los Angeles getting a team. How likely is it we'll get the Jaguars?

Vic: You have no chance. Write to "Ask Sven" in Minnesota.

David from Oviedo, FL:
Could the Pittsburgh Steelers or Dallas Cowboys teams of the 1970s win a Super Bowl today or would they be outmatched against the better teams of today? After all, players are bigger, stronger and faster, as a whole, than they were 25 years ago, right?

Vic: Forget about that bigger, stronger, faster stuff. It mostly applies to the line positions and the game of the past would adjust very quickly and make itself bigger up front. Where do you find premier running backs any bigger than Franco Harris? Quarterbacks as physically dominant as Terry Bradshaw? Cornerbacks the size of Mel Blount? And the game of the '70s was loaded with speed. Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Cliff Branch, Roger Carr, Wesley Walker, Stanley Morgan and a lot of other receivers from that generation could run with any of the receivers of today, and O.J. Simpson was a running back with world-class speed. In other words, I think you have a very distorted opinion of the '70s game. Now I want you to consider one other major fact: The teams of the '70s didn't have to play under today's salary cap rules. If they had, more than half of the starting lineup of the Steelers' Super Bowl teams would have to be cut. If you were going to keep Jack Lambert, you'd have to cut Jack Ham. Keep Swann, cut Stallworth; keep Joe Greene, cut L.C. Greenwood; keep Bradshaw, cut Harris; keep Blount, cut Donnie Shell; keep Mike Webster, cut Jon Kolb. Get the point? Those teams, which played in a 26-team and a 28-team league that had 12 rounds in the draft and an unlimited training camp roster, were loaded.

Port Charlotte, FL:
Can you explain why R.J. Soward is technically on the Jaguars roster?

Vic: R.J. Soward was suspended without pay, which meant he couldn't play for any team in the league until he did what was required to re-qualify. The Jaguars kept him on their roster because it would've served no purpose not to have done so. It was beneficial to the team's salary cap to keep him on the roster. Had the Jaguars cut him, all of his remaining amortization would've accelerated onto that year's cap.

Steven from Orlando, FL:
How important is Jimmy Smith to the ballclub and how much longer does he have in his tank to play?

Vic: In my opinion, he's very important. First of all, Jimmy Smith is the only true speed receiver on the Jaguars roster. The Jaguars need him to stretch the field, and if his mini-camp performance is any indication, his speed is back and he'll be able to provide the deep threat this team desperately needs. There's also another reason Smith is important to this team. His salary cap number is such that the Jaguars need to get at least one more good year out of him. He represents a lot of amortization. I don't know what he has left in the tank, but his tank looked pretty full in mini-camp.

Romeo from Denver, CO:
Will the drafting of Greg Jones help Fred Taylor on first-third downs?

Vic: As I have said repeatedly, Greg Jones should have an immediate impact on the Jaguars' short-yardage problems of a year ago. If he is the short-yardage back I expect him to be, then he'll sustain drives and that'll mean more carries for Fred Taylor. Taylor can only benefit from Jones' presence. Taylor is this team's star and he is paid accordingly. He's not being downgraded.

Adel from Jacksonville:
I understand Fred Taylor had great runs of long yardage over the past couple of years, but doesn't it seem that ever since his groin tear against Tennessee a couple of years ago he doesn't have that breakaway run?

Vic: At midseason last year, I was starting to think Fred might never be Fred again. He had rushed for a pedestrian 583 yards in eight games and had only one 100-yard effort. Then, the lights went on in game nine. Do you remember when he ran over Mike Doss? That was the start of a second half of the season that produced 989 yards and six 100-yard games. He's all the way back now.

Andy from Ville Platte, LA:
How do teams in the NFL transport their equipment (uniforms, helmets, etc.) on the road?

Vic: Their equipment flies with them.

M. Paulette from Jacksonville:
Vic, doesn't Fred Taylor hold the all-time rushing record at Three Rivers? And speaking of the Steelers, I watched a taped Jags/Steelers game today and you were interviewed. I had forgotten just how handsome you are.

Vic: These are the kinds of questions I like. Great observation, M. Paulette. Yes, Fred Taylor set the all-time Three Rivers Stadium rushing record in 2000 when he rushed for 234 yards. Three Rivers was torn down at the conclusion of that season, so Taylor owns a record that'll stand forever, and what a record it is. Consider the great running backs who played at Three Rivers Stadium: Harris, Simpson, Larry Csonka, Earl Campbell, Tony Dorsett, Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton, and on and on.

Chad from Orlando, FL:
Was Rashean Mathis a surprise talent his first year at corner, or was he just a draft-day steal last year?

Vic: Rashean Mathis wasn't an off-the-wall pick. The Falcons were waiting to take him right behind the Jaguars in the second round.

Micheal from Beaufort, SC:
When will the new players pick numbers? Everyone here in Beaufort keeps telling me Greg Jones will pick number nine, but you can't pick that number as a running back, can you? What are the number guidelines for each position?

Vic: Running backs and defensive backs are required to wear numbers 20-49. Quarterbacks, punters and kickers must wear numbers 1-19; tight ends 80-89; wide receivers 10-19 and 80-89; centers 50-59 or 60-79 if 50-59 isn't available; guards and offensive tackles 60-79; defensive linemen 60-79 or 90-99 if 60-79 isn't available; linebackers 50-59 or 90-99 if 50-59 isn't available. Greg Jones has been assigned number 33.

Steve from Jacksonville:
I was just wondering if you think Smarty Jones is going to be a Triple Crown winner?

Vic: I read the book "Seabiscuit" recently and I loved it. The book taught me a lot about horse racing and I developed a sensitivity for the sport at just the right time. Now, I can't help but make the obvious connection between Seabiscuit and Smarty Jones. I'm not going to pretend to know anything about horse racing, but I don't know that I have ever seen any athlete run away from everybody else on the field the way Smarty Jones ran away from the pack down the homestretch of the Preakness. I hope he wins the Triple Crown. We need another Seabiscuit.

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