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Eagles targeting Packers


Tucker from Minneapolis, MN

What determines the waiver-wire order? Is it different right now than it will be in the regular season?

Team records determine the waiver-wire order, which means it's the same order as the draft order right now. The better a team's record, the lower that team is in the order. After week three of the regular season, however, the waiver-wire order changes weekly, according to current team records. Ties are broken by strength of schedule; the weaker schedule goes first.

Dan from Marshfield, WI

With the Packers losing a fair amount of free agents, what can we expect next year for compensatory draft picks?

Compensatory picks are awarded for net losses in free agency. To date, the Packers have lost Cullen Jenkins, Daryn Colledge, Brandon Jackson, Korey Hall and Jason Spitz. The only guys they've signed are their own: Mason Crosby, John Kuhn and James Jones. Signing your own guys doesn't count against a team. The Packers are currently at a net loss, so I'd say they have at least one pick coming.

Peter from Waukegan, IL

With kickoffs moved to the 35-yard line, do you see most of them being touchbacks?

In the first half of the season, yes, I think most kickoffs will result in touchbacks. Late in the season, however, when the weather gets cold and the ball doesn't fly as far, you're gonna see kickoff returns return to the game. Packers Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum thinks the new kickoff rule will change the game. I'll be interested to see how it'll change the game. I mentioned to Slocum that the new rule will be the death knell for the sunburst formation on kickoffs, and he smiled and predicted that we'll see a sunburst-from-the-sideline formation, meaning the players will all burst out of a huddle along the sideline. I'm still trying to figure that one out, but who knows?

Tou from Fresno, CA

Can players on the practice squad choose to stay on that practice squad if they were offered a deal by another team?

Yes, they may. In most cases that won't happen unless the player is offered a contract to join that team's active roster, but I remember two cases where players elected to stay where they were because they thought their futures were brighter there than they would be with the teams that were trying to sign them. All you have to remember about the practice squad is that practice squad players are free agents. NOBODY owns their rights. They're free to do as they please, except they can't go from one practice squad to another practice squad. A team wishing to sign a practice squad player must sign that player to the team's active roster.

Julian from Arlington, TN

Why are star quarterbacks not excellent head coaches?

There are lots of former quarterbacks that became top head coaches. Tony Dungy and Sean Payton were quarterbacks in college. Sam Wyche was a quarterback. Bill Walsh was a quarterback. What you're asking is why haven't more quarterbacks that were stars in the NFL become top head coaches, and I think the answer to that is that by the time star NFL quarterbacks retire, they've made enough money to retire to a life of leisure. A few have tried their hand at coaching: Norm Van Brocklin, Otto Graham and Bart Starr immediately come to mind. Think of all the great quarterbacks, however, that didn't become coaches: Dan Marino, John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach. Why fight your way up the coaching ranks when you can step right into the broadcast booth and make more money than if you were a coach, and work much shorter hours? That's the answer. Star NFL quarterbacks tend not to become coaches.

Patrick from Hockessin, DE

Does the front office feel they have players in place to replace the losses (Colledge, Jenkins)?

Obviously, they do. Ted Thompson has assembled one of the best rosters in the league. The Packers' blend of young stars and roster depth is the envy of the league. Why the worry?

Chris from Coral Springs, FL

Can you talk about the depth behind Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk at inside linebacker after these recent cuts? I'm concerned with potentially a sixth-round draft selection being a top backup. I mean, quite often sixth-rounders won't even make a team.

What do the cuts at inside linebacker and an obvious lack of veteran depth at the position tell me? It tells me the Packers plan to play a lot of "nickel" in 2011.

Bob from Racine, WI

I get frustrated by Thompson staying away from the free-market players. He never seems to want to upgrade the team. He is very fortunate Rodgers turned out to be a great QB or he would be looking for another GM job. Rodgers carries a lot of the team. Comments?

He took a team whose arrow was pointing decidedly down, and with bold, courageous strokes of his personnel brush, he quickly painted the picture of a Super Bowl champion that is led by a quarterback that is the most coveted player in the league right now, and Thompson surrounded that quarterback with young, ascending talent. Which way would you say the Packers' arrow is pointing now? I think I like Thompson's way better than yours.

Justin from Orlando, FL

Best talent available aside, isn't it kind of weird that we drafted a left tackle of the future two years in a row? Who do you see as the real successor to Clifton, Bulaga or Sherrod?

Brian Bulaga is a power player; right tackle is perfectly suited for his talents. Derek Sherrod is a light-on-his-feet guy, which is what left tackles have to be. I think the Packers have a wonderful problem: too many guys that can play left tackle.

Dean from Plainfield, IL

How many running backs can the Packers keep? With Grant coming back and James Starks showing his stuff, where does Alex Green fit in? Would the three all fit together?

I think Green fits into the Packers' future, but Mike McCarthy isn't gonna put limits on what he can do as a rookie. There's another guy that's caught my eye in the first two practices: undrafted free agent Brandon Saine. I'm not gonna get a speeding ticket on a guy until at least the pads go on, but Saine is a big guy with a burst. I'm gonna keep my eye on him.

Terry from Junction City, WI

Thank you, Vince Young. Don't you think his calling the Eagles "The Dream Team" and every sports reporter following suit has just put as big a target on the Eagles' back as the Packers will have this season as Super Bowl champs?

Neither the Eagles nor the Packers are gonna sneak up on anyone. In fact, the Eagles are clearly shaping their team with one team in mind, the Packers. That shouldn't scare you. That should flatter you. The Packers are the target. Good! That's the way you should want it to be.

Ryan from Cottage Grove, WI

How many receivers do you think we'll keep on the active roster? We re-signed Jones and have a lot of depth at receiver. Does that leave room for any of the rookies to make it? I'm worried with so much depth it may make Driver expendable just because of his cap hit.

Wide receivers? Five or six, depending on how many tight ends the Packers keep. This is an offense that wants to throw the ball, which means it's going to go heavy at the receiver position.

Donald from Jacksonville, FL

The Eagles look like they are turning into the Redskins, meaning they are signing all sorts of big-name, over-the-hill players. Are they going about this smartly?

Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are over the hill? The Eagles are shaping their roster to compete against teams that want to throw the ball. Anyone come to mind?

David from Maineville, OH

Coach talked a few days ago about practicing at 100 mph. He stated they do not do conditioning drills, but they get their conditioning while practicing. Help me understand how this differs from practicing and conditioning in the 1960s.

In the 1960s, grass drills were a rite of passage. Sprints and bear crawls were used to get players into shape. Then came gassers in the '70s. They were a form of sprints, but they were a little more sophisticated in nature. I covered a team that concluded practices by running gassers around the perimeter of the field. The players would stop for a few seconds to catch their breath, and while they were doing that they would put their finger to their necks and take their pulse as the conditioning coach counted the seconds. The goal was to get up to a certain count and back down to another count within a certain amount of time. Then came downhill running; I'm serious. One conditioning coach prescribed downhill running to stretch out hamstrings. Shortly after that, he was gone and in came another conditioning coach that prescribed uphill running; I guess he wanted shorter hamstrings. When I covered the Steelers in the '70s, they served these delicious BLTs and wonderfully big and greasy cheeseburgers in the cafeteria, and big steaks at night. They won four Super Bowls. Then they got a new conditioning coach and the BLTs and grease burgers were replaced by whole wheat pasta, fish and chicken, and they didn't win any more Super Bowls. Coach McCarthy's regimen is all about play count. He wants his practices to be conducted at a fast tempo; the more plays run, the better. He believes that's how you get a team into shape to play football, by playing football. Just win, baby. Coach McCarthy's team did.

Max from Atlantic Beach, FL

Why do shoulder pads seem so small these days? It seems every year the players wear less and less protection. I thought player safety was this big deal.

Today's game is played with the hands and the feet. Linemen block with their hands. Driving a shoulder into a defender has been replaced by a technique known as "the punch." If Coach Lombardi was coaching today and he said, "Grab, grab, grab; everybody's grabbing out there." The players would say, "What's your point?" Why wear big shoulder pads if you're not going to use them?

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