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Who are the 'steals?'

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

Mo from Mountain Top, PA:
Last season, I rode a couple of your picks (Carson Palmer and the Bengals) to my fantasy league's championship game. Do you see Leftwich (or any other young quarterback) having a Palmer-like breakout this season?

Vic: Palmer and the Bengals were an easy call. Both came on strong offensively at the end of the 2004 season. I don't think there's a clear-cut Palmer kind of guy this year. I don't think any young quarterback will make that kind of a dramatic leap, but there sure are candidates to become fantasy league "steals." Matt Hasselbeck was another "steal" last season. This year, I'd give some thought to Matt Leinart. I understand that he's just a rookie and he's not going to light it up, but he's on a team that likes to throw the ball, has two big-time receivers and plays in a weak division. Leinart will have to win the job, of course, but I can't imagine Denny Green denying a move into the team's future. I think David Carr could be a "steal." He has two big-time deep receivers in Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds, and Carr now has a head coach who's an offensive mind. Phillip Rivers could be another "steal." He's had a couple of seasons to watch and learn and he's got a good cast around him. I'm not ready to crown Leftwich a fantasy league "steal" because I think the Jaguars are going to remain a conservative, field-position team until their young wide receiving corps blossoms, but if I was a fantasy league guy I'd be all over Marcedes Lewis. I expect him to become Leftwich's favorite target.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
If a quarterback runs, he is going to be injured at some point. Somewhere somebody will tag him. Is Byron more mobile than what people give him credit for?

Vic: Why do we continue to quibble over Byron Leftwich's mobility? He's a pocket-passer, period, end of discussion. In most cases, if he's running with the ball, the play has failed. I can think of another quarterback about whom you could make the same statement. I'm talking about Peyton Manning. He rarely runs and if the rush has him, he goes down without a fight. Do you hear Colts fans complaining? No, because they understand and accept that Manning is a pocket-passer. Manning is also one of the most durable quarterbacks in the game. He almost never gets hurt. Is that because he doesn't run? Yeah, that probably plays a big part in Manning's ability to stay healthy. He gets rid of the ball quickly, which is what Jack Del Rio wants Leftwich to do. Let's not stereotype every style and every player, however, because Brett Favre has been one of the most durable quarterbacks in NFL history and he's done a lot of scrambling. Kordell Stewart was real durable, too, and he took a lot of big hits. The bottom line is that players are what they are and you can't manufacture a style that doesn't fit their skills. Leftwich is not a runner. He's a pocket-passer and that's just fine with me and it should be just fine with everybody, provided Leftwich fully develops the skills required of a pocket-passer. First and foremost, the ball must come out on time.

Jim from Jacksonville:
I saw where one first-round pick got a roster bonus instead of a signing bonus. If the Jaguars have room under their cap, wouldn't it make sense to dump all of the money into this year instead of stretching it out over four or five years?

Vic: I like the way you're thinking but you can't do that because you have a rookie cap within your total salary cap. In other words, if your rookie cap for this year is, say, $4 million, you wouldn't have any room left to sign your other picks if you gave your top pick a $4 million roster bonus. It would all go onto this year's rookie cap. Obviously, most of it would have to be pushed out into future years. That's especially true this year, with the rookie cap only increasing by five percent while the rookie minimum salary is up by 20 percent. Teams are being forced to push more money out, because of the 5-20 disparity. The Jaguars have a lot of cap room for 2006. They'll make sure they use it all, as they have in the past. They paid Marcedes Lewis a $715,000 roster bonus, which means the Jaguars have prepaid that amount toward future caps. Paul Vance has done a masterful job with the Jaguars' salary cap. It's no longer even a concern.

Jason from Sinking Spring, PA:
I could not disagree more that there aren't cap casualties. Look at Adam Vinatieri. He's probably the most clutch player in the league and he gets cut because of the money he wanted. Explain that?

Vic: He's a kicker and Bill Belichick understands that you don't pay big bucks for kickers and be able to maintain a sensible salary structure. Vinatieri reached the point that the money he wanted exceeded his value. That's when a player becomes a cap "casualty."

Howard from Homestead, FL:
Remember, Joe Montana admitted that had he and Marino played on each others' teams in their Super Bowl matchup, he'd have one less ring and Marino would have his. Sometimes it is the team.

Vic: I'll agree with that. Dan Marino was a great quarterback. As I said, he was victimized by a team that failed to give him a running game or a defense, and you're not going to win in the postseason without a running game or a defense. Each situation must be judged on its own merits. I'll give Marino a pass.

Kyle from Flagler Beach, FL:
I noticed that the Jaguars are one of the few teams that hold their training camp in their own stadium. Is there a specific reason why more teams don't hold their camps in their home stadiums?

Vic: A lot of "old" teams have built rich training camp traditions. I can tell you from my experience covering the Steelers that Steelers fans regard a trip to the team's training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., as an annual pilgrimage. They consider it part of their summer vacation plans. It's a chance to get out into the country; it's a trip to the mountains, so to speak. I remember the farmers selling fresh corn on the roadside. I always stopped and brought home fresh corn. Training camp for the Steelers and a lot of other teams is an event and their fans would explode in protest if their teams discontinued those camps. They are major contributors to building and maintaining a fan base.

Scott from Columbus, OH:
Do you believe this team would be better suited to follow the Ravens' Super Bowl recipe? Forget fantasy stats. This team's priorities need to be defense, rushing, special teams and a quarterback who can move the chains, not make mistakes and close the deal in the red zone. Do you agree?

Vic: I absolutely agree.

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