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Bush turned it up a notch


Tou from Fresno, CA

Does an injury to a player have to be proven before being placed on the injured reserve list?

An injury doesn't have to be proven before a player can be placed on IR, but the injury is subject to verification at all times by a league medical examiner. In other words, don't get caught faking an injury. The commissioner won't like that and it would likely cost you more than what you gained in putting the player on IR.

Jeremy from Palm Harbor, FL

With the most talented wide receivers in the league, do you think we could see a six-wide formation this year?

I knew it was coming. I predicted years ago that eventually somebody would ask me about six-wide. Don't feel bad, Jeremy, it was an inevitable question, given the mania for throwing the football. The rules require a minimum of seven players to be on the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball. The two players at the ends of the line are eligible receivers. As many as four players off the line of scrimmage are eligible receivers, but somebody has to throw the ball, which means a maximum of five players can be considered receivers after the ball has been snapped. Actually, six-wide would be a legal formation, but who's going to catch the snap from center?

John from Chippewa Falls, WI

Vic, in the Sunday press conference, McCarthy said he worked the cards in that practice. What does that mean?

He's referring to the scout team, which is shown cards with formations and individual instructions on them. In Sunday's practice, Packers coaches were showing the scout team cards to simulate the 49ers. Training camp shifted into the preparation phase about halfway through camp. There's a competition phase, when the Packers are practicing against the Packers, each doing what the Packers do, and then there's a preparation phase, when the Packers are practicing against a scout team doing what another team does.

Daniel from Greenwood, IN

I wanted to get your thoughts on the HBO series "Hard Knocks." Do you think it's good for the game of football, and do you think the Packers would ever consider doing it?

I don't think the Packers would ever agree to be a "Hard Knocks" subject. I'm OK with the show, but I don't watch it because I've been living it for a long time. I've watched a little bit of the Ohio State "Hard Knocks" type production, and I found something in it to be very interesting. Ohio State was shown doing a very physical drill in which two players ran at each other, striking each other head to head and continuing their struggle until one man put the other on the ground. It's an old-fashioned drill meant to promote aggressive behavior and determine a kind of social pecking order on the team. My question is: Why isn't college football accepting some of the liability for head injuries players are discovering following their pro careers? Are we to believe head trauma only begins when a player enters the NFL?

Keith from Greenville, SC

Vic, I like your idea of a separate roster for QBs. What would you suggest to keep teams from labeling a player as a QB that they have no intention of using as a QB?

A league verifier, similar to the league medical examiner.

Mark from Oshkosh, WI

Why aren't all 53 players active? I don't see the advantage.

It's just an arbitrary number on which the players and owners settled. If the owners agreed that all 53 players were active to play, the players would want 58 players on the roster and five inactive. You have to hold the line somewhere. Again, I don't understand the fans' mania for more players. That's exactly what we have in the preseason, more players, and all I hear are complaints about the starters not playing long enough and the games not being competitive enough.

Matt from Oconto, WI

Why does everyone always say Revis is the best corner in the league? I might be a little biased here, but Charles Woodson played the position in my eyes better than anyone else in the league.

Matt, I've covered three truly great cornerbacks in my career: Mel Blount, Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson. Unfortunately, I missed Charles' best years, and I genuinely mean it when I say I wish I could've covered his whole career. He and Torry Holt hold the record for fewest years to become one of my all-time favorites. Charles makes me feel good about the game. It's a delight to watch him play and interview him. He gives you good stuff to write. I will never forget his back-and-forth with President Obama; it's one of the coolest things I've ever covered. Charles carries himself with the kind of distinction that belonged to Joe Greene. I'm sure you feel the same way about Charles, but don't allow your bias to cause you to close your eyes to great players on other teams. Packers fans love their team so much that I think they are often guilty of thinking no other team or players on other teams measure up. It's just not true. As Ted Thompson has said, this league is full of good people who work hard at what they do, which is what makes it so difficult to win.

Gary from Puyallup, WA

Due to the trade of Tavaris Jackson to Buffalo, it now appears quarterback Josh Portis will be on the Seahawks active roster this season. Do you think the Packers were hoping to see Portis become available?

I don't know, but don't I deserve an attaboy for Portis? He was the longshot of all longshots when he was signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2011 draft.

Steve from Big Horn, WY

Now that Quarless and Zombo are on the PUP list for the season, what does that mean for their futures as Packers?

It means they will each have a chance to continue their physical recoveries into the regular season, and will have a chance near midseason to be activated from the PUP list.

Jacob from Rockford, IL

Vic, I saw someone e-mail in about Rodgers' rather pedestrian preseason numbers and being worried about them. I would say they need to stop watching Skip Bayless and ESPN "First Take."

Being upset about the preseason is like being upset about how you hit the ball on the driving range.

Kent from Eagle Grove, IA

Do you see Vic So'oto finding his way on the roster if he can prove he can catch a pass in the red zone, play outside linebacker and contribute on special teams? What a weapon he can become!

The more things you can do. Vic Vrabel?

Ryan from Chicago, IL

Am I wrong or did every stretch play the Packers ran against the Bengals fail to gain acceptable yardage? Is it on the running back for not cutting back soon enough or getting to the edge quick enough, or is it bad blocking? Just seems like they run better up the middle than stretching it out.

In a sense, there is no bad blocking on stretch plays, only good defense. A successful stretch play depends on defenders losing discipline and running toward the sideline. That's when you can cut back and make people miss. Maybe the Bengals just did a good job of defending it. If a defense is especially good at running laterally, then you run at them. You don't find many that are good at both. Defensive fronts that are big enough to stop the straight stuff usually don't run well, and defensive fronts that are mobile enough to stop the wide stuff usually aren't big enough to stop the straight stuff.

David from Honolulu, HI

Can you explain the IR and PUP lists?

Injured reserve is the ultimate injury list. A player on injured reserve is done for the season. PUP is a kind of limbo. A player can remain on PUP until near midseason, at which time PUP expires and there's a window for the player's return. At that point, the team must make a decision on him. He must either be moved to the active roster, the injured reserve list, or be released.

Chris from Amherstview, Ontario

As a Packers fan of over 20 years, I am excited about the signing of a running back like Cedric Benson. If Benson can get off to a quick start, it will force teams to put eight in the box and create odd matchups outside or over the middle. If this happens, it should be another trip to the Super Bowl.

I don't see the Packers ever pounding the ball enough to make teams load the box, but they can run the ball well enough to make the safeties peek, and that's all Aaron Rodgers needs.

Ryan from on the road in Wisconsin

So I finally made it to the Packers training camp on Monday. I was a bit confused, because despite being fully padded, I saw just about zero contact. Folks are concerned about missed tackles and blocks, but I saw no drills practicing these things. Can you explain, please?

NFL training camps aren't the place to go if you want to see violence, but I think you missed something on Monday. The Packers were doing the pillow tackling drill, and cornerback Jarrett Bush decided he wanted to take it up a notch, so Bush started hitting people. I turned to Mike Spofford and said Bush is the kind of guy that makes you want to count people in line so you can avoid Bush when it's your turn to carry the ball. There's hope for the pillow drill.

Aaron from Washington, DC

I might be reading into what you said a little too much, but did I sense a little insight from the inner scout in you when you said Flynn will most likely start at some point this season for the Seahawks?

No inner scout, just respect for how difficult it is for a rookie quarterback to be an immediate success in this league. Dan Marino and Ben Roethlisberger are the only ones I've known to be instant hits.

Detlef from Holzgerlingen, Deutschland

I am playing American football in Germany and our season lasts two more weeks. How much weightlifting do NFL players do during the season? Are they working out on their own or with the whole team?

They continue to lift during the season. It's part of their practice regimen. In-season lifting is for the purpose of maintaining strength.

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