S Jerron McMillian

Kevin from Tulare, CA

I’m worried about the Packers defense. I’m waiting to see that dominating defense Capers ran in Pittsburgh and I just don’t see it. Can you assure us of something different?

That dominating defense Capers ran in Pittsburgh wasn’t built overnight. Rod Woodson was drafted in 1987. Carnell Lake in ’89. Greg Lloyd in ’86. Blitzburgh happened in ’94. Capers joined the Steelers in ’92 and there were holes in the defense that had to be filled. Darren Perry, Joel Steed and LeVon Kirkland were quickly added. Then came Kevin Greene and Chad Brown. You see where I’m going with this? In Capers’ first season as defensive coordinator, in ’92, his defense lacked pass rushers so he employed a bend-but-don’t-break defense that led the league in takeaways and was No. 2 in points allowed but way down the rankings in sacks. Two years later, that defense was setting sacks records. The point is that you can only do what your talent allows you to do. The Packers committed to a rebuilding project on defense following the 2011 season. It was a defense that needed youth and speed and that’s what the Packers added last year, and it showed. I can only assure you of one thing: Patience is required.

Jeff from Loves Park, IL

Any chance the 49ers surprise us and stray from the read option, knowing the Packers have planned for it and made personnel adjustments to stop it?

A game of tricks? That’s not Jim Harbaugh’s style. Harbaugh does a lot by formation, but everyone knows what his real intention is: pound you with the running game and beat you with superior athletic ability. That’s the 49ers’ game. They are a physical football team that challenges you to play that way. They test your manhood. They’re an old-school team with a lot of new-age formations, but at the end of the day, beating the 49ers is about getting off blocks and running to the ball, and there’s nothing tricky about that.

James from Madison, WI

Do you see Cobb as the bonafide No. 1 receiver now? Also, do you think he will be returning any kicks this year? More importantly, should he be?

WR Randall Cobb

In my world, No. 1 receiver doesn’t mean the guy with the most catches. Wes Welker, for example, would never be a No. 1 receiver. In my world, a No. 1 receiver is a split end, which is to say an X receiver or a guy that’s big enough and fast enough to play on the line of scrimmage. I see Cobb as many things, but not as a split end. I see him as the Packers’ No. 1 offensive weapon, other than for Aaron Rodgers, and I have a feeling that’s how you define a No. 1 receiver. Yes, I think he’ll continue to return punts and kicks and, yes, I think he should do that until someone as skilled and dependable is able to replace him. I thought the fumble in San Francisco would bring a halt to this question, but my inbox is still full of emails from people wanting to end Cobb’s days as a return man. Here’s why I don’t get that: You’d be doing every team on the Packers’ schedule a favor.

Steve from Bullhead City, AZ

The new CBA has changed much about training camp: fewer contact drills. Now I’m wondering if lessening the intensity of training camp might have the opposite result as far as protecting players from injury. Could lessening the practices reduce skill level and cause more injuries?

A lot of old-school guys, and I’m including coaches, believe players need to get into the rhythm of hitting in training camp. They believe that learning how to function within a contact environment is necessary for learning how to absorb contact and avoid injury. I am one of those old-school people.

David from LaCrosse, WI

Love reading all your comments. I also love Coach McCarthy, but I don’t find him aggressive enough. He needs to have that killer instinct, like Belichick. I was at the Arizona game last year. The game was well in hand and the defense gets a turnover near the Arizona goal line. Coach kneels on the ball to end the game. I believe you should reward your defense and their great play with points; show them you appreciate their play. It’s professional football. If you can’t stop us, that’s your problem.

It’s professional football. If your quarterback gets hurt, that’s your problem. David, the men on that field are big and strong, and some of them like to do mean things. Remember what Warren Sapp did to Chad Clifton? The goal is to win the game. Once that has been achieved, the goal should be to end the game as quickly and as uneventfully as possible. That’s how pros do it.

Peter from Toledo, OH

Vic, a la Bob Uecker, where are the Packers headed, if you had to predict? I mean, say, three four years from now.

Ted Thompson will never get caught with a weak roster. That just isn’t going to happen because Thompson is vigilant about replacing older players of declining skills with young players whose best football is in front of them. That’s how you stay competitive. The quarterback is the player that puts you over the top. As long as the Packers have a quarterback playing at the level at which Aaron Rodgers has been playing, the Packers will be a championship contender. The next great challenge the Packers will face will occur when Rodgers will have to be replaced. I’ll be on the golf course when that happens.

Justin from Tempe, AZ

Vic, after checking out the pictures of your “Ask Vic Day” gathering, who let the guy in with the Bears hat?

There were two of them and I couldn’t help but notice that they wore their hats through lunch, in a taunting kind of way. Mark Murphy noticed it, too, and he stopped during his address and acknowledged the two Bears fans: “Do I need to call security?” Murphy asked.

Daniel from Madison, WI

Vic, it is my belief the only way to finally rid the sports culture of PEDs is to impose lifetime suspensions. The penalties are too lax for players to seriously consider abolishing PEDs. Thoughts?

Daniel, as I’ve said, that kind of punishment can’t happen without the players agreeing to it in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. What I’d like to see happen is for the players to agree to a more aggressive detection program. I’m OK with the punitive part of the program, but I think the detection part of it needs updating. It’s up to the players. They’re in control of this situation. In my opinion, they deserve all the credit or all the blame.

Pat from Altoona, WI

Why do so many people get bent out of shape over comments, such as from Kaepernick, Jennings or from anyone for that matter? Is it that we just look for any reason to have drama in our lives?

We like controversy. That’s the big reason, but there’s also another reason: The fan has no other outlet for his emotions than to express them verbally. The players have the ultimate outlet: the game. They don’t have to say a thing because they can speak with their performance, and it’s the only expression in their world that matters. What fans should do, in my opinion, is be patient and allow the players to speak for them. Ultimately, it’s all that matters for the fans, too.

RB James Starks

Kurt from Wasilla, AK

With all the attention on Lacy and Franklin being in the backfield, what about Harris? Do you think he will be in the mix? And no, I can’t see Russia from here.

This might be the most-asked question of the offseason since the Packers drafted Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. The reason I’ve hesitated answering it is because I can’t imagine why anyone would think my answer would be no, Harris won’t be in the mix. Of course he’s in the mix. So are James Starks and Alex Green. It’s a competition. Best men play.

Nick from State College, PA

Vic, just tell me a story you have that you really like and has to do with an older player.

Since training camp begins today, I’ll tell you a training camp story. It’s about a player named Reggie Harrison, who was a backup running back who etched his name in Super Bowl history by blocking a punt in Super Bowl X. A couple of years later, I was walking back to the dormitory at training camp when the PR guy stopped me and told me Reggie had been cut. Hey, this is a guy that made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history and his release was certainly worthy of a story, so I went to his dorm room to talk to him. His door was open, I walked in and the first words out of my mouth were, “Gee, Reggie I’m really sorry to hear the news.” The look on Reggie’s face immediately told me that I had beaten the Turk to Reggie’s room. He was crushed and I felt awful that I was the one telling him. What that encounter did for me was give me a sensitivity for the real drama of training camp. It’s why I’ve always considered training camp to be a place for all of the desperate dreamers who live and learn to defeat the daily fear of being cut. In a lot of ways, the training camps of today aren’t the same, but in one way they are absolutely identical: good guys get cut and it hurts.

Nick from Hollandale, WI

Vic, before last season started I actually felt very concerned about our defense and the direction it was heading, however, they proved me wrong and despite a few bumps in the road performed very well. You said they were missing young talent on defense, and seem to be exactly right. Any other bold predictions for the Packers this season?

I think they’ll take another step upward on defense, especially if the Packers’ running game is improved. Nothing serves a defense better than a strong running game that wins the battle of field position and time of possession.

Chris from Fond du Lac, WI

Obviously, you would never name names, but have you ever covered a player who you suspected of using PEDs? If so, what made you suspicious?

The player’s name is Steve Courson. He later confessed to having used steroids and campaigned against them. When Courson walked into training camp in 1977, there were giggles. Nobody had ever seen a player as muscle-bound as Courson was. The giggles quickly stopped when Courson whipped Joe Greene in the Oklahoma drill. Nobody had ever done that. Steroids weren’t a dirty word back then. They weren’t a banned substance. We knew very little about them. They were actually hailed for their healing powers; that’s how it all began. In time, of course, we came to realize how they were being used in a synthetic way, and then came evidence of their adverse effects and legislation forbidding their use. The way I’ve always looked at steroids is that without them, Joe wins, with them, Joe loses.


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