The Answer Man

<p>Answer Man, before you complain about your obvious time constraints – hey, can you stop shuffling papers? I realize this is a short week for you football guys. I'll try to keep it brief.<o:p> </o:p> <o:p> </o:p> </p> <p><b><i>Answer Man:</i></b> Brother, I'd love to help, but can we do this Thursday? Oh, that won't work for you I suppose. OK. Let's get on with it.<o:p> </o:p> </p> <p>&nbsp;<o:p> </o:p> </p>

Me: Tell me about Jacksonville.

AM: Mark Brunell looks really good this year. His mobility's back and he's running around in the pocket the way he did when he was young. His passing hasn't been great, but it's been effective. And I think Fred Taylor looks really good. He's back to full health. Jimmy Smith? Well, he looks good but he's not making big plays. I can't quite pin him down. Their offensive line is OK. Chris Naeole is outstanding. He's their right guard and their best lineman. Brad Meester's alright at left guard and John Wade's alright at center. Their tackles are weak. Todd Fordham's just a guy, and the rookie at left tackle (Mike Pearson) is OK as a pass blocker but he can't run block at all. Defensively, the two kids in the middle (Marcus Stroud, John Henderson) are disruptive. It looks like they'll be solid there for a while. Their ends aren't Tony Brackens and Renaldo Wynn, but Marco Coleman's OK. He's slowing down a bit. Their linebackers move a little bit. I think T.J. Slaughter stinks. Wali Rainer? I mean, what can I say? Cleveland didn't want him. He's alright, though. He can run. Their secondary's very, very average, and without Donovin Darius they're borderline weak. Jason Craft, man, he's terrible. Is that enough? I'm kinda in a hurry.


Me: Dude, I have to fill space. What are you reading there?

AM: Oh, this is a report about the Nebraska kicker, Josh Brown. He just got a DUI.


Me: Brown, huh? The next Kris Brown out of Nebraska?

AM: He's got a better leg. He's really good.


Me: What's this at the bottom? A previous assault on someone who dated his girlfriend?

AM: Yeah. He got beat up by a dental student. It happened a while ago. People laugh about it all the time, but he's a good kicker.


Me: What about other kickers? What about the kid from Auburn, Damon Duval? Is he still sliding right out of the picture?

AM: Well, he blew the Florida game, but he's a good kicker.


Me: OK. What about the kicker from Ohio State?

AM: Ted Nugent? You know, I was the first one to get Cat Scratch Fever. Then all my friends bought it and I couldn't stand it. I hate it.


Me: Hey, that's a great story but his name's Mike Nugent. Can you tell me about him?

AM: Yeah, I can tell you he's a sophomore and that I can't talk about underclassmen.


Me: OK, back to the Nebraska kid. For my gambling readers, will his loss hurt them against Colorado?

AM: Not if Chris Brown's out for Colorado. It doesn't look like he'll be playing. He's missed a lot of practice. They'll miss him more than Nebraska will miss their kicker.


Me: Great, running backs. He's a great running back isn't he?

AM: He's a freakin' beast. You know I like him, and you know why? He absolutely hates tacklers. He should probably be more elusive, and you wonder if it's intentional. The kid's downright mean when he's running the ball.


Me: Is he too tall? To me, he looks like either a muscled-up Gale Sayers or a not-so-muscled Eddie George.

AM: His height is the one great concern about him. He's 6-3. Eddie George is just a shade under 6-3, but he's stronger, like you said. If you're a tall back, you'd better be able to take some punishment, or you'd better be able to cut like Sayers. Still, somebody caught Sayers.


Me: How would you compare Brown to, say, Larry Johnson of Penn State?

AM: Well, I didn't really want to get into this stuff with you. Johnson has some speed. He looks like he can play.


Me: Please, indulge me in some quarterback talk. Has Carson Palmer passed Byron Leftwich at the top?

AM: He might have. But Leftwich is 6-6, man. And he can move. We all know he can throw, but he's a big man who can move.


Me: Still like the Kentucky quarterback?

AM: The hefty lefty? Yeah, I still like him, but he's an underclassman, and you've been warned. If I didn't have so much work to do, I'd leave, so you'll have to. Please go.


Me: I'll trick you into talking about cornerbacks next week.

AM: You'd better catch me in a good mood. A win over Jacksonville might be your only chance.


--Jim Wexell




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