Steve from Roswell, GA

Why did they sign another tight end?

Probably because Andrew Quarless is on PUP and Eric Lair has been injured. You need guys to take reps.

Sara from Davis, CA

How does Aaron Rodgers look in training camp?

He’s energetic. When a guy has the kind of season Rodgers had in 2011, I look for signs that he might be satisfied with his accomplishments, almost bored with how easy the game has become for him. Rodgers shows no signs of being satisfied or bored. I see him trying to make plays when the plan breaks down. His eyes are always downfield. He continues to extend the play, which is not what a quarterback who’s above practice would do. He’s missed no practices. He shows no signs of thinking he’s above any of this. Yesterday, when fans attempted to get his attention, he acknowledged them playfully. That tells me he’s alert, responsive and enjoys what he’s doing. This is a very special player. Rodgers is a heritage player who will forever define this era of Packers football. Today’s Packers fans are living through the career of a player future Packers fans will treat with historical reverence.

Chad from Middleton, WI

As head coach, how does Mike McCarthy look at the team during training camp and preseason differently than Ted Thompson as the general manager does?

The honest answer is: I don’t know. What I do know is how coaches and personnel people have long “looked” at players: Coaches look for technique, personnel people look for talent coaches can develop. A general manager type told me a long time ago that when coaches do the drafting, you tend to get players with great technique that are as good as they’re going to get. Then he said, “I’m looking for guys that look good in the shower.”

Steve from Larsen, WI

“Ask Vic” has been posted pretty early in the morning lately. Is that likely to continue?

Practices have begun at 8:15 a.m.; that’s why “Ask Vic” has been posted early.

Jake from Wausau, WI

Since Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense were so explosive last year, which led to the defense having to defend against catch-up offensive strategies, has anyone looked into how much time the defense spent on the field vs. how much time the offense was on the field? I wonder if the Packers defense was all that bad, when you look at how much time they were defending against desperate teams.

The Packers were 11th in the league in time of possession, which is awfully good for an up-tempo offense. There goes that theory.

Scott from Wausau, WI

How many regular-season games could be scheduled before the value of each game diminishes? I feel the value of each game is what makes the NFL special.

That was a question on everyone’s lips in 1978, when the regular season was increased from 14 games to 16 and the preseason was reduced from six to four games. The one thing on which we all agreed back then was that the preseason was way too long. It started to take an injury toll, to the point that teams had to carry large preseason rosters just to avoid injuries. When injury settlements began – prior to that teams could cut players that were injured without liability – it became obvious the game had to be reshaped to fit its changing circumstances. I think what you’re asking is if I believe the league could go to an 18-game schedule and maintain the current quality of its product. My answer is yes, I think it can, but I worry about the length of that season being too much for fans to digest. Would fans tire of football? At what point do we overexpose the sport? I think we’re right on the edge the way it is.

Harry from Waupaca, WI

Vic, you talked about the luxury the Packers have at left tackle. For an offensive lineman, is he asked to play different positions on the line during training camp to find out his versatility?

More information is better than less information. Yeah, linemen are moved around until the team knows what each guy can do. T.J. Lang is a perfect example. He played left tackle in last year’s preseason before settling in as a starting guard. Andrew Datko is going through it right now. He’s been playing right and left tackle, which means he’s gotten a taste of just about every pass rusher the Packers have.

Bill from Tampa, FL

With training camp going on and the heat, how much liquid are the players required to drink so dehydration or cramps don't take place frequently?

They take water whenever they feel they need it. It’s not like the old days when water was denied and players were instructed to swallow salt tablets. Water flows like wine, so to speak, at today’s training camps. There are also two-minute water breaks during practices. It’s all about where you are. The weather at Packers camp has been fantastic. The sun has been strong, but the air has been cool when practice has begun, and humidity has been low. Of course, I’m comparing the Green Bay weather to what I experienced in Jacksonville, where the heat and humidity are severe and worries about heat exhaustion are much more acute. Down there, teams have a shelter that is air-conditioned, and breaks in practice are scheduled so the players can get out of the heat and cool down. That’s not necessary in Green Bay. Even though this has been an especially hot summer, the conditions have still been ideal for training camp.

Tom from Tucson, AZ

At this point in camp, how does this year’s front-seven defensive positions compare to last year’s? I know it's hard to gauge from just a few practices, but I'm trying to get a feel for what to expect.

There’s a lot more talent up front than there was last year. There better be a lot more talent because the Packers spent a lot of focus on the front seven in the offseason, adding Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels, Anthony Hargrove, Dan Muir and others.

Daniel from Orlando, FL

Vic, from what you've seen so far in camp, who do you think will be the starters in the secondary for the base defense?

As it stands right now, I would lean toward Tramon Williams and Davon House at the corners, and Charles Woodson and Morgan Burnett at the safeties. I like that lineup a lot.

Rick from Appleton, WI

Vic, you're the coach. Your team is down by three points; the score is 17-14. Your boys have the ball and it's third and goal to go from inside the 1-yard line and you've just called your last time out with 16 seconds left in the game, so this is your last play call in regulation time; this is a postseason game, so play will continue in the event of a tie until a winner is decided. Your quarterback trots over to you on the sidelines and tells you he thinks he can score a touchdown on a keeper. Do you opt to kick the field goal instead and tie up the game or do you listen to your field general? By the way, it's 16 degrees below zero and the winter sun is setting and you are at Lambeau Field. What's your call?

There’s no doubt in my mind Lombardi did the right thing. The sneak required less in the way of execution than a kick would have. The idea of a good snap, a good hold and a good kick in those conditions and with so many players being at the edge of their endurance, would’ve frightened me. Here’s the logic that would’ve guided me: If I decide to kick, my players will still have to make at least one more play to win this game. Let’s make that play now, and get the hell out of here.

Robert from Beloit, WI

Everyone is going to have some talent, but who looks to be the best running back thus far in camp?

In some ways, it’s Brandon Saine, but he just doesn’t have the burst James Starks and Alex Green have. Both of those guys intrigue me, especially Starks. Starks has a great body for today’s kind of game. He has both length and power within his frame. I’d like to see him drop his pads more often.

Dennis from Naples, FL

One name I have not heard so far is Vic So’oto. He was last year’s preseason hero? What is going on with him?

In practice yesterday, So’oto went deep into coverage against D.J. Williams, I believe. He was with Williams step for step 20-30 yards downfield, which is impressive, but Williams made the necessary adjustment to the ball and made the catch for a touchdown. Had So’oto turned sooner and knocked that pass away, you would’ve heard his name mentioned.

Bart from Sanibel, FL

Given that Thompson and McCarthy are not afraid to go heavy at positions of strength and given the position's seeming upgrade, not to mention its ramifications for the pass rush, can you foresee the team potentially keeping another defensive lineman or two more than they did last year?

If ever there was an opportunity to go light at a position, this would be it, since Mike Neal and Anthony Hargrove will be serving suspensions that will, in effect, make them extras the Packers will hold in reserve. What’s most important, however, is that talent be retained. Every team is determined to find a way to keep players whose talent is worth keeping around. If a guy can play, Ted Thompson will find a way to keep him.

Drew from Dubuque, IA

With Charles Woodson's hard-hitting, ultra-physical style of play, are you concerned that the move to safety will put him at greater risk for injury?

The move from cornerback to safety is the best thing that can happen to a player that wants to extend his career. It did that for Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson and a lot of other great defensive backs. Charles Woodson is going to extend his career by probably a couple of years or more, and he’s going to increase his interceptions total and cement himself as a first ballot Hall of Fame selection. I can’t think of a more perfect player to make this move, because Woodson has the hands and instincts to play beyond the life expectancy of his feet, and that’s fine with me because he’s a great quote in the locker room. Woodson is one of those team spokesman types that, with a well-chosen word, can stimulate every other player in the locker room. The Packers need him and so do I.

Annie from Baraboo, WI

I've always thought four preseason games are too much. What do you think about cutting the preseason down to two games and having more joint practices with other teams, or even short scrimmages? Do you think the coaches could get the same evaluations from those scenarios as a preseason game?

I’m a big fan of combined practices. I’ve covered several of them and I think they provide a better evaluation of your players and your team than preseason games do. Here’s the problem: preseason games are revenue, combined practices are expenditure. For teams such as the Packers that fill their stadiums for preseason games, those two games you want to cancel are the revenue equivalent of canceling two regular-season games. It ain’t gonna happen, Annie.

Adam from Branchburg, NJ

I haven't heard much about the safety we drafted. How is he shaping up?

He’s got the hitting part down pat. He’ll be a good special teams guy. The coverage part is the challenge for Jerron McMillian, which is as you would expect of a rookie defensive back. I can tell you this: He passes the eye test.

 

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