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Youth will be served

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

Aqeel from Toronto, Ontario:
I am worried about the defensive line as well, Vic. So far it does not seem that Henderson will regain his form. If the line doesn't perform well, it will put more pressure on the secondary and I can already hear all the complaints about the Cox pick. Do you think the Jags might try to pick up a free agent and are there any worth picking up, in your opinion?

Vic: It's unlikely you'll find quality big guys at this late juncture of the offseason. I can tell you that Terrance Knighton's performance in OTAs has been very encouraging. I think it's fair to say the Jaguars are expecting Knighton to be a major contributor this year. Other than for Knighton, I don't think help is on the way. It is what it is on the defensive line and the big question, in my mind, is John Henderson's status with the team and his place in the future picture. Clearly, his unwillingness to participate in practices is an irritant. Jack Del Rio has made a point of saying he hasn't changed his stance on the matter and when asked about the situation on Tuesday, General Manager Gene Smith said: "He's out here. He's not actually practicing. I would rather comment on the guys who are." As you can see, Smith has the coach's back and there's no denying that this is a situation that, one way or another, has to be resolved before training camp begins. We'll certainly make the Henderson situation a focus of our OTA-ending press conference with coach Del Rio on Thursday. The defensive line is the area of greatest concern on this team. It's easy to say the Jaguars need Henderson to return to his form of a couple of years ago, but it may be more appropriate to say the Jaguars need their young "lions," players such as Knighton, Derrick Harvey, Derek Landri and others, to step in and take over.

Andrew from Toledo, OH:
The spread isn't used in the NFL because defenses are so fast that they would blitz and blow the play up. Am I right that the spread does not use very many blockers?

Vic: Either you didn't read what I had written on Monday or you just didn't understand what I was saying. Let's do it again: A typical spread option (the running kind of spread) formation employs four wide receivers, which the defense usually uses six defensive backs to cover. That leaves five defenders against five blockers, a quarterback and a running back. Five against six is no problem. Five against seven, which is what you would have if the quarterback is a runner, is a problem. The spread option isn't used in the NFL because if the quarterback is used as a runner he likely would get injured, and if he isn't used as a runner, the formation wouldn't work because six against five is unlikely to be successful. The quarterback must be a runner and that means the quarterback would have to be a running back-type and, given that circumstance, it's unlikely the defense would use six defensive backs to cover four receivers. Do you see why it's not likely to work in the NFL? It's tough to find a guy who can run and pass with equal aplomb and still have the toughness and durability of an every-downs player. As I said yesterday, it's the talent overload on the offensive side of the ball that makes it work in college football.

Ed from Orange Park, FL:
With your explanation of what a spread QB needs to be in the NFL, doesn't David Garrard fit the mold of a "thick, muscular, hard-body guy who could take a hit and dish 'em out, too?" Not that I want my starting QB to do that, but I think he does fit that mold. Didn't ECU run a form of the spread when he was their QB?

Vic: Yeah, he fits that mold, but you said you don't want your quarterback doing that so why even suggest it? If you use Garrard as a spread-option quarterback, he will get injured. Look at it from the opponents' standpoint. Based on the Jaguars' depth chart at quarterback, are you gonna make sure you hit Garrard extra hard when he's running with the ball? East Carolina ran the west coast offense when Garrard played there.

Joe from Jacksonville:
How in the world does a man only get 30 days in jail for killing another person and Vick get two years for killing dogs? I know Stallworth got a plea deal, but when has an animal's life become way more important than a human's? What does this say about our legal system, as well as mankind?

Vic: I'm not an attorney, so don't accept my words on this subject as anything more than opinion. Having said that, I'll tell you that Michael Vick's conviction wasn't only about crimes against dogs. The most major part of Vick's conviction was about illegal gaming, which introduces all sorts of underworld concerns, especially for a sports league, whose fans must believe the games are on the up and up. You're underestimating the scope of Vick's crime.

Kevin from Corpus Christi, TX:
Since all the rage is the wildcat formation right now, Zach Miller would seem to be a perfect fit. Do you anticipate the Jaguars utilizing him in this role?

Vic: Yeah, he can be utilized in the wildcat role, but only if he's successful as a tight end because his presence on the field has to be for reasons other than running the wildcat or you're tipping what you're gonna do and that means the defense will substitute accordingly.

Adam from Lancaster, PA:
Would Brunell, before his injury, have been a good quarterback to run the wildcat and/or spread at the NFL level?

Vic: No, because he would've likely become injured. The spread-option isn't about getting a few yards and then running out of bounds before you get hit. The spread-option is about running for all the yards you can get and taking a hit. Mark Brunell would've been a fantastic college spread-option quarterback, but not in the NFL. He's a thin-legged guy and thin-legged guys get hurt.

Chad from Middletown, RI:
Do you think that this most recent draft class could potentially be the best draft in Jaguars history?

Vic: I won't lay that on them based on an OTA season. That would be unconscionably stupid. I will tell you, however, that you're not the only one who has posed that question.

Christian from Orange Park, FL:
Why are so many people obsessed with switching to a 3-4? Is it just the novelty of a radical change?

Vic: The Steelers won the Super Bowl with it and were the number one defense in the league; that's why the 3-4 is so hot. Last year at this time, it was all about every-downs, pass-rushing ends, because the Giants won the Super Bowl by overwhelming the Patriots with a fierce pass-rush. You get the right players and you can make any scheme work.

Josh from Jacksonville:
I have heard a lot of positives about WR Jarett Dillard. I have also done some research on him and I love what I see. He cuts as quickly as anybody in the league and has great hands. What do you think Dillard's chances of being a top-three receiver for us this year are?

Vic: He comes back for the ball like no rookie I've ever seen. That's his number one positive. He knows how to play and he needs very little in the way of development. I also see that, however, as a bit of a negative because I don't think his upside is nearly as great as Tiquan Underwood's. Dillard runs good routes, knows where the soft spots are, settles into those areas, comes back for the ball and catches it. That's what he does and that's what he's going to do. I don't see him as a downfield, big-play receiver, however, largely because he lacks size and speed. Underwood and Mike Thomas have caught my eye a little more than Dillard.

Tim from Tucson, AZ:
What's been the biggest positive for the Jags during the underwear season?

Vic: Their rookie class hasn't had a hiccup. Every one of them fits. Even in this brutally hot weather, I haven't seen one of them appear to be out of shape. I like the two undrafted defensive backs, Mike Desormeaux and Pete Ittersagen. I've remarked that they look like the same guy, and I say that as a compliment. Yesterday, Desormeaux tipped a pass into the air and Ittersagen made the interception. If there's one thing about which I'm sure, it's that youth will be served this year. A whole lot of these rookies are going to make this team and they are going to become the foundation of the Jaguars' future.

Glen from Lake City, FL:
With the copycat style of the NFL, wouldn't it be good to have 2-3 wildcat plays a game?

Vic: It's in the playbook. They'll use it.

Keenan from Moreno Valley, CA:
If you were a GM, would you pursue Brandon Marshall?

Vic: No, he's too high maintenance. I don't like trading draft picks for wide receivers. They're a dime a dozen.

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