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Ask Vic

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Randall Cobb is headed for a big year

Posted Jul 11, 2014

Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre are forever linked

Todd from Champaign, IL

Outside of Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews, who can this team least afford to lose to a long injury this season?

I would say Randall Cobb. I think he’s a special talent, a player that can do so many things well that defenses have to focus more attention on him than they normally would on an opponent. When Cobb is out, so is a lot of the playbook. He can stretch you vertically and horizontally. He makes big plays and little plays. He catches the ball and he runs with the ball, and I think opponents are aware of his ability to throw the ball, too. He reminds me of Hines Ward, who was a quarterback in college and set records for yards rushing, passing and receiving. I have a feeling Cobb is headed for a big season.

Paul from Oxford, NC

When it comes to a team’s No. 1 and No. 2 receivers, as is the case with Nelson and Cobb, does it matter who is one or two?

That depends on how you define a No. 1 receiver. If you define a No. 1 receiver by his stats, then I don’t think it matters. I define a No. 1 receiver by whether he’s an X or a Z. In my mind, only X receivers are No. 1 receivers. He’s the guy that lines up on the line of scrimmage. He’s the guy who’s big enough and strong enough to get off the jam, and fast enough to defeat the jam and still get deep. By that definition, Jordy Nelson is a No. 1 and Cobb is a No. 2 because Cobb is more of a flanker or slot receiver. He’s a guy that plays off the line of scrimmage and is used in a lot of strategic ways. Ward was used that way and he was a No. 2. Wes Welker is used that way and he’s a two. That’s how I distinguish between a one and a two. I don’t see being a No. 1 receiver as an achievement, I see it as a designation.

Joshua from San Diego, CA

Khyri Thornton and Adrian Hubbard have intrigued me for some time. Considering the Packers’ depth at DE and LB, how do you believe the two big-bodied rookies (particularly the latter, as a matter of personal interest) are faring this offseason?

It would be silly of me to offer an evaluation based on OTAs. I can’t say I noticed either one. OTAs is a passing camp. It’s for passers, pass catchers and pass defenders. It’s for quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs. Training camp is where we find out about guys that have to bang to make the team. Thornton has a reputation for being physical; Hubbard doesn’t. In my opinion, it’s critical for him to prove in training camp he can and will play to his size.

Grant from Dubuque, IA

I gather that only players count against a team’s salary cap. Are there any restrictions on salaries for coaches, GMs, scouts, etc.?

No.

Tim from Denver, CO

I’m seeing some stories about bringing Favre back to retire his jersey. I really think it’s time. I was on the side of moving on and was tired of Favre’s waffling, but I don’t think any of us are holding onto any ill feelings towards him. We have since gotten another title and I want Favre in good graces with the team and community if the Packers make another run anytime soon. Do you sense any open wounds inside the organization or anything that might be holding this up?

I sense no wounds and I’m absolutely certain it will happen. When? I don’t know. I wasn’t here in the summer of 2008. I viewed it from afar, so I don’t think I’m qualified to offer an opinion on this matter, other than to say the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre are forever linked. Neither one can make that association go away and, frankly, I think both parties want to repair that association. I think the concern is for fan reaction. I think that’s what might be holding this up. I’d like to see Packers fans express their winsomeness on this issue. When they do, I believe this will happen, and I hope it does while I’m still covering the team.

Chris from Apple Valley, MN

Vic, I don’t get the top 100 on the NFL Network. What I mean by that is how can Aaron Rodgers be No. 11 when just about every GM would pick Rodgers to start on their NFL team? I can’t believe Jimmy Graham or A.J. Green would ever be picked ahead of him, so I don’t get how he is No. 11.

These things are meaningless in my life. I enjoy a lot of NFL Network’s programming, but if I turn to NFL Network and they’re doing one of their infamous rankings, I’m gone; back to Seinfeld and an episode I’ve seen a million times. Controversy sells; I guess that’s the answer. I can’t help but wonder, however, at what price credibility? Rodgers is the No. 1 player in the league. Every football person and objective reporter with half a brain, and I speak from personal knowledge, understands that if a draft of NFL players was conducted today, Rodgers would be the first overall pick. That’s how you define the No. 1 player in the league. Here’s what I really can’t understand: Why do you let this kind of nonsense bother you?

Laura from Pewaukee, WI

Vic, thanks for your honesty and realism. It’s a great problem to have, but I think McCarthy and his staff’s toughest job at training camp will be cutting down the roster. Which position/player competition are you most looking forward to watching?

Tight end has my interest. So do center, safety, backup quarterback and defensive end. I don’t agree with you that cutting the roster is a coach’s toughest job in training camp these days. I think preparing his team for the start of the season and keeping it healthy as he does that is a coach’s most challenging job. I think the roster cuts drama is overhyped. You have 90 players and if you use the injured reserve designation, which teams legally use to protect young players worthy of development, you can technically keep everybody. The bottom line is that teams find ways to keep the players they want to keep. It’s not the numbers game it was when training camp rosters were unlimited and the final roster was in the 40s. If a player proves himself worthy of keeping, he’ll be kept.

Don from Aurora, CO

Vic, I know it’s early, but when I look at this defense I feel nothing but optimism. B.J. Raji back at the nose (and in a contract year). The continued emergence of Mike Daniels as a disruptive force up front. Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers causing matchup headaches for coordinators. A deeply loaded secondary. This Packers defense holds as much promise as just about any I can recall in the past 15 years. September can’t get here fast enough.

I agree with you. You’ve made very valid points for optimism. I would add, however, that Matthews’ thumb bears watching. I’ve written this before and I’ll write it again: This defense cannot be the best it can be without a full recovery by Matthews. He’s still in the process of recovering from and rehabbing that thumb. Will he be ready to go for training camp? That’s a major question. When I see Matthews back at full tilt, I’ll join you in your optimism.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Vic, what do you think of the full practice on Family Night, as opposed to a scrimmage?

It’s where the game is headed and has been headed for a long time. Training camp is equal parts aggressive and passive. It has to be that way; the risk of injury can’t be ignored. Coaches want to control the action. Most of all, they don’t want players on the ground.

Ryan from Minocqua, WI

I see ESPN has a survey asking what the most memorable play in franchise history is. What is your most memorable play from the Packers since you’ve covered the team, besides Rodgers to Cobb vs. Bears?

If I can’t pick the Cobb catch, then I’ll pick the goal-line play against the Saints in the 2011 season opener.

Paul from De Pere, WI

In your “Video Ask Vic,” you mentioned ILB as an area where we may lack talent and depth, but said “we’ll see,” which intimates you may not share that opinion. Do you believe there is more talent there than widely believed?

I said “we’ll see” for two reasons: 1) There are some young players that could emerge this season and I want to see if they’re ready to do that. 2) I’m not sure what the plans are for that position. Nothing was defined in OTAs. In fact, I think it might’ve been intentionally muddled on the days practice was open to the media. I have a feeling Julius Peppers is going to be used in so many different roles that inside linebacker is a position that won’t be defined as we’re accustomed to defining it.

Justin from Camanche, IA

Being a big Packers fan, I’ve watched every Packers game over the last four seasons, plus I’ve watched plenty of other games, and I don’t think there’s a better QB-WR combo than Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson. Is there any QB-WR combo you would take over Rodgers to Nelson?

Rodgers to Cobb? Rodgers is the key.

Rod from Peoria, IL

Hi, Mike. Just wanted you to know that I laughed out loud at your answer to Kevin from Milwaukee. Thanks for the good work this week.

That wasn’t Mike, Rod. That was Vic.

Jared from Milwaukee, WI

Given the Packers always suffer from the injury bug, why don’t they sign back Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly? Those two have done more for us than a few others we currently have on the roster.

Maybe they will. What you must accept is that football is a young man’s game. There must be an obsession for developing young talent. That’s how you lessen the chance of injury and deepen your ability to cope with injury. This team challenges itself to draft and develop young talent, and it’s what I respect most about it. As long as the Packers maintain their philosophy of drafting and developing young talent, they will never stray too far from winning.

Ken from Louisville, KY

Wait, Green Bay has barbecue? Not like the south. They call it grilling out up there. I know, I’m from Green Bay.

I can tell. If there is one personality trait I have identified about people from the Midwest, it’s their literal viewpoint. People from the Midwest are not conceptualizers. They don’t think in abstract terms; they apply everything literally. Identifying the best place for barbecue in Green Bay wasn’t the intent of the scout’s email to me. His intent was to acknowledge my move and wish me well, and he did it in scout parlance he knew I would recognize and cause me to think warmly of the years we spent together.

Mike from Plover, WI

I still think the best teams have the best offensive lines, after QB. How many offensive linemen will the Packers keep? Is Barclay in the mix for center?

They’ll find a way to keep every offensive lineman the Packers believe can play in this league. You have to have jars on the shelf; Barclay was one of them two years ago, and consider how valuable he’s been to this team. I think the Packers have enough young centers now to let Barclay focus on tackle. I would also say that as critical to a team’s success as the offensive line is, the best teams have the best combination of quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher and shut-down corner.

Peter from Pewaukee, WI

Vic, the answers in your first column back since vacation were more snarky than usual. Bad vacation or just annoyed to be back to work?

It was neither. I think you’re just reacting to the difference between Nice Mike and Bad Vic.

Nikhil from Washington, DC

Vic, I realized I don’t have enough hobbies. I’d like to make football a year-round hobby for myself. I’m not big on the offseason, but I’d really like to study and practice so I can be a better fan during the season. What resources would you suggest I check out?

This is the one. Give me a year and I’ll give you the world of professional football. When it’s time to identify the draft class, I’ll be at the Senior Bowl and combine providing reports. In March, I’ll take you through free agency and I’ll be at the owners meetings to keep you up to date with rules changes and the state of the league. We’ll talk about the draft in April and May, OTAs in June and in July we’ll dive into training camp and the start of another season. The best way to learn about the year-round world of professional football is to spend a year living it. You can do it right here in “Ask Vic.”

 

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Vic Ketchman

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Do you have a question for Vic? Your question could be posted on packers.com. Vic has covered the NFL through 42 seasons, including 23 years covering the Steelers and 16 years covering the Jaguars.

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