Nathan from Hopkinsville, KY
Of the 15 undrafted free agents the Packers recently signed, which of them do you feel can make the biggest impact for the Packers?
I’d be lying if I told you I knew all of them, but there are a few I know. Brandon Saine immediately jumps out at me, which is why we used a picture of him to go with the story we posted. He’s got some size and speed, but what I like most about him in the Packers’ scheme is that Saine can catch the ball. Shaky Smithson of Utah is a big-time kick-returner. He might provide competition for Randall Cobb. Tori Gurley of South Carolina is a big, possession-type receiver, and I think we all know how much Mike McCarthy likes big receivers. Anthony Bratton was an ultra-productive and dependable safety at Delaware.
Dan from Sugar Land, TX
Ten extra players and no more two-a-days, which means fewer practices. I'm guessing teams will need to be more vigilant in talent evaluation, which might mean less playing time for starters during preseason games. Your thoughts?
I don’t get the connection. In a normal preseason, I would expect play time for starters to be the same as it has been for a long time: first game, one series, maybe two; second game, a half; third game, three quarters; fourth game, take the night off. The message in this new CBA is that the players are telling the owners, “We don’t need all of those practices to put a quality product on the field.” We’ll see.
Ryan from New Orleans, LA
How huge is the Patriots getting Albert Haynesworth for only a fifth-round pick? Albert did just turn 30, but so did Randy Moss when the Patriots acquired him.
The real question is: Which player did the Patriots get, the one that dominated a few years ago when he played for the Titans, or the one that under-achieved in Washington? If it’s the former, it’s a genius trade. If it’s the latter, the Patriots will have not only wasted a draft pick, they will have invited a cancer into their locker room. This is curious stuff. With the acquisitions of Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco, I sense a shift in the Patriots’ personnel strategy. All of a sudden, they’re acting more like the old Raiders than the Belichick Patriots. Because I have so much respect for the Patriots’ operation, this is something I wanna study. Why are they doing this? Is this out of desperation to get the most out of what Tom Brady has left? Or is this change in philosophy motivated by something in the new CBA the Patriots perceive will favor veterans with a couple of years left in their tanks?
Brian from Albertville, AL
Forty-Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree hurt his ankle in player-run practice. Who's going to pay for his rehab?
I have no doubt the 49ers will provide Crabtree with whatever medical attention he needs, but you pose an interesting question. What if Crabtree had sustained a career-ending knee injury in player-run practices during the lockout? Hmmm.
Nate from Waxahachie, TX
Why doesn't Mason Crosby kick more touchbacks? Remember, when he was drafted, he was known for having a very strong leg. How does a guy with such a strong leg only kick four touchbacks all last season?
It’s because he kicks in Green Bay. Conduct a little experiment. Take a football outside and kick it. How far did it go? Now put that football in the freezer for a couple of hours and then take it back outside and kick it. How far did it go? Moving the kickoff up 5 yards is going to require strategizing for cold-weather teams. The warm-weather and dome teams can just let it fly. If their guy can’t put it into the end zone, they need a new guy. The cold-weather teams, however, have an issue. From November on, reaching the end zone won’t be a given, and if you kick it low and don’t get it there, look out.
Cesar from Santa Fe Springs, CA
Why did the Packers decide not to pursue Colledge?
Because you can’t keep everyone and they had prepared for the day when they would have to replace him. That’s just the plain truth about free agency. You keep your core guys, but you have to be willing and able to replace the other players on your roster. The Packers spent first- and sixth-round draft picks on offensive linemen this year. What’s that tell you?
Casey from Cedar Rapids, IA
How long do undrafted free agents usually get signed for in their first year?
Previously, undrafted players were usually signed to three-year contracts, which would take them up to their restricted free agency year and allow the team to tender them. In this CBA, they must sign three-year contracts. Undrafted players offer teams major hits if they turn out to be good players. They’re four-year bargains.
Robert from Harvel, IL
Do you think Dom Capers can improve our run-defense in 2011?
I think that’s the No. 1 challenge facing the defense and, usually, when Coach Capers is confronted by a challenge, he wins.
John from Bremerton, WA
Why doesn’t the website update transactions in a timely fashion? Even the signing of Mason is still not posted.
Teams are not permitted to sign unrestricted free agents until 6 p.m. ET on Friday, so he has yet to sign a contract. Packers.com is bound by the Packers’ rules for releasing information on the signing of players: they have to pass their physicals and the ink has to be dry on the contract before we can post the news.
Joe from Amherst, MA
Can you explain briefly how waivers work after a player is cut?
If he is a player who is subject to the waiver wire, then teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for that player. When the 24-hour period has expired, the league awards the player to the claiming team that is highest in the waiver-claim order.
Ric from Syracuse, NY
For years, I’ve been watching form-tackling decline in favor of ball-stripping. Now with the reduction in preseason contact practices, what do you predict this will do to offensive production? I predict an increase in yards after catch and yards after contact.
I think that’s a reasonable expectation. Coaches understand the challenge that is confronting them. They have to find a way to mold a team that can block and tackle without a lot of practice blocking and tackling. That really is a challenge. The coach that can find a way to mold a physical team without having physical practices will lead the way into this new CBA. That’s how I see it.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT
Can you talk a little about the pistol offense? When and where did it originate? What is its purpose?
Nevada Coach Chris Ault invented it. It moves the quarterback a little closer to the line of scrimmage in a shotgun-type formation, and positions the running back behind the quarterback instead of next to him, as is the case in a true shotgun. The intent of the pistol is to give the quarterback all of the advantages of the shotgun, but not sacrifice a power running game, which is what happens in a true shotgun in which the quarterback is 7 yards deep. Running out of the shotgun is “draw ball.” In the pistol, the running back is where he would be in a pro set; everything stays the same for him. Like so many formations that get a lot of acclaim, the innovation is minor in scope. All the pistol does is move the quarterback out from under center a few yards. In my opinion, it’s only a big deal if your quarterback is a runner.
Mike from Omaha, NE
Why can't both talent and chemistry be important?
They are both important, but talent comes first and chemistry comes second. Talent without chemistry is potential. Chemistry without talent is bridge club. I know fans don’t like to hear that because they wanna believe it’s all about the heart. Well, it ain’t all about the heart, folks. First, it’s about something else, then it’s about the heart.
Vic from Green Bay, WI
So, who won the Mark Murphy jersey?
I’m glad you asked, Vic. The winner is Jason of East Troy, WI. He is one of many that correctly answered that Mark Murphy played for three head coaches in his eight-year career. I drew Jason’s name from among those that answered correctly. Those coaches are George Allen, Jack Pardee and Joe Gibbs. Congratulations, Jason.