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A strong start is only as good as the finish

Fewer preseason games would mean less opportunity for young players


Andy from Fremont, MI

What player or position group are you going to be watching closest against Denver?

It would be way too easy to say the first-team offense's final audition, so I'll go with watching young players try to build on what they did in the first two games. Josh Hawkins, Reggie Gilbert and Christian Ringo are guys I feel put themselves on the radar as of late. A strong start is only as good as the finish, though. You've invested a month into proving yourself. Now, how will you finish it?

Paul from Hewitt, WI

Jahri Evans will replace T.J. Lang at starting guard if he remains healthy. I always thought T.J. was the offensive lineman who played with the most "edge" to his game. Who is that offensive lineman now who plays with the most "edge"? Based on limited information my opinion is it is David Bakhtiari. Do you concur?

Lang was definitely an enforcer. He was usually the first to a fray to back a teammate. There are still plenty of guys on this offensive front who bring that edge you're talking about, though. Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga certainly have those qualities. Corey Linsley, as nice a guy as he is, also has a mean streak on the field. That's the mentality these offensive linemen carry.

Joseph from Louisville, KY

I realize that Saturday's game is preseason, but to the extent Rodgers plays, it should be a good test to see if they can move the ball against a defense and defensive backs that shut them down badly two years ago. I know there was no Jordy then, but receivers could not win their matchups and Rodgers had arguably the worst game of his career. This should be a good test of one-on-one matchups with Denver's no-fly zone.

I won't be drawing any broad conclusions based on how the offense does in Denver, but I agree it will be good for Rodgers and the starters to test themselves against one of the NFL's top defenses. It's also one more chance for Martellus Bennett, Evans and the new offensive weapons to get a taste of what it feels like to play at Rodgers' Autobahn pace.

Rod from Ephrata, PA

Who is studying the players on other teams that might become available at cut-down day? Are those responsibilities assigned geographically or by position or some other way?

Ted Thompson deploys his pro scouts to different games throughout the preseason to keep tabs on players who may come available during cut-down weekend. Although the Packers haven't claimed too many cuts to their 53-man roster, they'll usually sign one or two free agents to their practice squad.

Peter from Irvine, CA

We know they do not have to cut down the roster until the cut to 53, but do the GMs have the option of starting to cut down early, if they know about some players and just want to have fewer decisions at the last minute? Are they mandated to carry a full roster until the final cut?

Thompson can cut guys any time before the deadline, but it's counterproductive. Teams want as many players suited up as possible in that preseason finale, so they don't have to play any of their veterans unnecessarily.

Eric from Louisville, KY

Do you think the Pack would consider having three quarterbacks on the 53 and one on the practice squad? Or is that simply too much of a good thing?

It's a tough ask because there aren't many reps available for the backup quarterbacks to begin with after the regular season begins. When Rodgers taps out, almost all of the leftover snaps go to Brett Hundley. It's not unheard of. It's just like keeping an extra specialist on the practice squad.

Zach from Minneapolis, MN

I don't understand the obsession with the backup quarterbacks and the depth chart behind Rodgers. The reality is that none of it matters. For a team with Super Bowl aspirations annually, all of that goes out the window without Rodgers. But we should keep Hill to be the backup next year when we trade Hundley for a first-round pick.

Fans focus on the football and whoever is close to it on every play. Quarterbacks, skill-position players, pass rushers and ball-hawking cornerbacks are all the apple of everyone's eye because they're the difference-makers. So it's only natural to take a keen interest in backup quarterbacks during the preseason. It's fun to talk about around the water cooler the next morning.

Daniel from Los Angeles, CA

Do offensive coordinators analyze and look at other coordinators' work throughout past seasons, to work as an influence on them? Same way a musician would listen to other artists' work to gather inspiration/ideas?

Oh, absolutely. If you're not learning, you're losing. The Packers scout themselves and the rest of the NFL every offseason, trying to pick up tendencies and putting together future game plans. I remember a few years ago when the Packers' defensive coaches met with Kevin Sumlin's staff at Texas A&M. Dave Aranda also met with Green Bay during his time at Wisconsin.

Andy from Fremont, MI

I find the battle for the final WR roster spots to be one of the most interesting. Certainly special teams will be a factor, but how much do you factor in special-teams contributions now versus potential to be a starter in the future?

It starts on special teams. If you can't play special teams, it's going to be tough to get the necessary traction to make a difference on offense. If you can, the door to the offense will eventually open. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are terrific examples of that trend. So I've been watching guys like Max McCaffrey as closely on special teams as offense.

Paul from De Pere, WI

If Jerry Kramer makes the HOF do we surpass da Bears?

There's a little subjectivity to this, with how you quantify which players made their primary NFL contributions with which teams. However, most pundits will tell you 27 Pro Football Hall of Famers were primarily with the Bears and 24 with the Packers.

Barton from Tulum, Quintana Roo Mexico

Is it unusual for the NFL to announce Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile as senior HOF finalists almost a full year ahead? Is it possible they will both be enshrined? I can't imagine after all these years of waiting they would be told, "no, close but no cigar."

No. The senior committee meets every August and selects the upcoming year's senior nominee(s). Senior nominees have all received the necessary 80 percent for enshrinement over the past five years. Since 1997, Kramer and Marshall Goldberg are the only senior finalists who haven't been enshrined, though not all senior finalists got in on the first try.

Matt from Kula, HI

Wanted to express happiness for Jerry Kramer making final cut for the HOF. His book "Instant Replay" played an important role in me becoming an avid Packer fan back when I was a kid, as there wasn't a natural connection to the team growing up in Hawaii. Is there anything fans can do to influence the committee in favor of No. 64?

Keep making your voice heard. It's a two-step process for enshrinement as a senior nominee. It's great he's a finalist for the first time in 21 years, but he still needs to be voted in. His daughter, Alicia, has done such a tremendous job building a groundswell of support for him. Take to social media. Keep the momentum going.

Woody from Kensington, MD

Do you have any idea why Ha Ha's grandfather was so certain he was going to be drafted by Detroit? Just curious if he had some inside, and apparently incorrect, information. Great story by the way.

Thanks for reading, Woody. I think it stemmed from Detroit bringing in Clinton-Dix for a pre-draft visit and the Lions' apparent needs in the secondary.

Brian from Urbana, IL

Have you ever seen Mike McCarthy relax? I can't really picture it.

Definitely.**I talked with him one-on-one for my story on Clinton-Dix**earlier this week. He seemed totally relaxed. I enjoy covering the NFL owners meetings because of how laid back McCarthy and most of the other coaches are in an informal setting. Coaches can't always be on edge. Balance is important.

Jim from Maple Grove, MN

Do you have any idea why Callahan didn't stick with the two teams that picked him up off waivers, especially the QB hungry Browns? Was it just a matter of not being able to pick up the system well enough in-season to be worth committing a roster spot?

The Saints ran into the same issue the Packers did. They were banged up at several positions and needed Callahan's third QB spot. Cleveland claimed Callahan but was carrying four quarterbacks on the roster due to injury. I believe Cody Kessler and Robert Griffin III both came back soon after.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

We drafted Hundley in the fifth round in 2015. Since then he's spent three years in a pro offense under the tutelage of what the rest of the league considers to be one of the best QB coaches in the business in McCarthy. It seems to me that's worth three rounds. If he were in next year's draft he would go in the second and that's what we should get for him. Am I crazy?

That's a really hard question to answer because you're comparing a third-year NFL player to an undetermined draft class. What I know is Hundley has proven he's more the early-round talent pundits believe he was after his sophomore year than the fifth-round pick he became after his junior season. It's a good problem to have for the Packers.

Michael from Wausau, WI

Do you think, if there are fewer preseason games, this will lead to more injuries at the start of the regular season?

No. I think it would lead to less opportunities for undrafted players and late-round draft picks.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Are Randall Cobb, Jeff Janis, and Trevor Davis the main people being considered as kick returners? Who has the edge at this point in preseason?

Janis, Davis and Aaron Jones are the top three kickoff returners at the moment. Cobb, Davis and McCaffrey have been the guys so far on punt returns. If the regular season started tomorrow, I'd probably have Janis on kickoffs and Cobb on punts.

Matt from New York, NY

Could Vince Biegel end up on the NFI list? And if so, would he count against the final 53? Great job with TC coverage.

Biegel could be placed on the regular-season physically unable to perform list if he doesn't return by the fourth preseason game since he was injured during the Packers' rookie orientation. Players placed on NFI (non-football injury) sustained injuries away from team facilities.

Dave from Graham, WA

The story on McCaffrey got me thinking. If the receivers need to gain the QB's trust, why not put the No. 4-6 receivers in with the ones in the preseason to see how they can handle playing against another team's No. 1 defense and earn Rodgers' confidence? We know Rodgers already has what he needs with the top 3.

The Packers aren't going to risk their two-time MVP quarterback to get more reps with first- and second-year receivers. You have to earn those in-game reps. That's what practice is for. The coaches will rotate those guys in occasionally with the No. 1 unit and have the film of Rodgers running the scout team at their disposal.

Jimmy from Great Yarmouth, UK

Just to put the rugby comments to bed, I play rugby. I tackle properly, with arms. I have many missing teeth and have had multiple concussions. These are contact sports and come with risks, but having people change tackle techniques at 22 years of age or older is more dangerous than what you have now.

*There you have it. *

Peric from Woodbridge, CT

The Packers need to go for it all this year, and with Adams looking like he won't see the field for at least six to eight weeks, I think the Pack should try and make a trade with the Jets, who are in a rebuilding year. I propose the Packers send Adams, Allison and a No. 2 pick next year for one of the three beasts the Jets have on their D-line. What do you think?

I think we may have found a more outlandish trade than Taysom Hill for Sheldon Richardson.

Kyle from Philadelphia, PA

Is Aaron Rodgers showing any signs of the same mentality as he did last year to run the table?

Yes. No proclamations, but his confidence is omnipresent.

Rob from Buckinghamshire, UK

How does Allison's suspension affect the 53 man cut-down? Does he have to be on the 53 immediately? Or will there be 53 others, one of whom potentially gets cut after Week 1?

Allison will be placed on reserve/suspended when the Packers have to cut to 53. After Week 1, he'll need to be placed on the active roster.

Tim from Woodbury, MN

Madden 18 is finally out. What were some of your favorite video games to play back in the day?

Madden and Pokemon. I still play both.

Curtis from Indianapolis, IN

Lots of questions being posted recently about types of questions, length of questions, subject of questions, etc., that are sent to the Inbox. I've always thought it would be neat to see one Ask Vic/Insiders Inbox that was just all the questions sent on any given day. Without any "answers" so to speak, to keep it short enough to post.

Isn't that what the comment section is for?

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