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Eddie Lacy has the wiggle to fit in zone-blocking scheme


Richard from Newton, IA

When did Vic come to the Packers?

I arrived on Feb. 13, 2011. As the plane was descending to Green Bay, the pilot said the temperature was three below. What I remember most about my arrival is having had a Steve Martin "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" moment with the car rental agent. I got the key to the car and my instructions and went out into the icy air to find the car. I went to the designated spot but the car wasn't there. Back to the rental desk I went, dragging my bag behind me. By now, my face was showing the strain from the cold. I said it wasn't there. She said, "When you went out the door, did you go straight or did you turn right?" I said I went straight. She said, "You should've turned right." Our eyes met in silence. I detected the hint of a smile. I fought back the urge to speak. "Not on your arrival, Vic," I said to myself. No more words were spoken. I found the car.

Jeff from Saint Paul, MN

Let's pretend that PEDs could someday be detected and effectively removed from the NFL. If they are still being abused at the college level and even earlier, would it make enough of a difference to the game if they are removed once players become professionals?

Have you ever seen air go out of a tire?

Pat from Altoona, WI

Vic, you mentioned yesterday that Mason Crosby "fits in this locker room," and you've said it about other players as well. What does that mean?

It means they're liked. It means the other people in the locker room don't want to say goodbye. This is a guy who's made big kicks for the people in that locker room. Crosby is a good man and a good teammate. You root for those people. It's a healthy and natural reaction to want him to succeed. Every time he lines up a field goal, I find my heart beating a little faster these days. I'm glad it does.

Kellen from Santa Fe, NM

Vic, do you believe Nick Perry has enough athletic ability to stop the read option? Do you think he will have a big impact on the defense's production this year?

Yes to both.

Gerald from Karlsruhe, Germany

After seeing the nfl.com video with NFL Vice President for Officiating Dean Blandino and reading about him, I found out he seldom was on the field but was in front of review TVs a lot. Any thoughts about that?

I've known Dean since he was a young guy coming up the ranks. I went to him often for clarification on rules and calls. He's the guy who explained the Ellis Hobbs call to me, that there is no face-guarding rule in the NFL. The NFL couldn't have promoted a better man for the job and it's nice to know a guy can still come up through the ranks. Dean and all of the NFL's officials are being asked to do the impossible, in my opinion. They are being asked to strictly apply and enforce rules that, in my opinion, are impossible to understand. As Tony Dungy said, I'm not even sure what a catch is nowadays. Seriously, I find myself waiting for a review and a ruling following every apparent reception.

Joshua from Neenah, WI

Vic, can you explain the process of a player being elevated from the practice squad in midseason?

The words elevated and promoted are what confuse people about the practice squad process. All practice squad players are free agents. They are neither on your team nor do you own any rights to them. To bring one of them onto your 53-man roster, you must sign him to a contract. If after a few weeks you wish to return him to your practice squad, you must cut him and subject him to waivers. If he clears waivers, you may then re-sign him to your practice squad. You could execute the same process with any practice squad player in the league.

Bart from Williams, OR

The society at large seems to demand that males become kinder and gentler. Your conversion might lead to you being a spokesperson for this point of view. We knuckle draggers will always have our NFL memories. Primitive is more fun, though admittedly, less enlightened. Thanks, for a good chuckle.

You don't believe me? I've changed. Everybody in my family sees it. I'm kinder, gentler.

Greg from Pewaukee, WI

So what are your thoughts on the Bostic tackle?

He didn't have to do that. That was mean. He could've tackled that poor Chargers player less dangerously. I think that Bostic guy did that on purpose.

Gladdys from Rolling Meadows, IL

Vic, when a player gets fined for an apparently clean but hard hit, can the team reimburse the player for the fine?

Not without adding the money to their salary cap, which means renegotiating the player's contract to include the money you're reimbursing him. You pay it, you cap it.

Hank from Madrid, Spain

During the St. Louis game on a punt return, Brandon Smith said the ball touched him because he was expecting the returner to make a Peter call. What is a Peter call?

It alerts the blockers that the returner isn't going to field the punt. Johnathan Franklin should've made a Peter call.

Seth from Fairfield, IA

Vic, how has DuJuan Harris looked since coming back from the PUP list?

Like a guy with fresh legs.

Tom from Cottage Grove, MN

Regarding your comment on ballcarriers hurdling tacklers, isn't it a potential penalty if the tackler has no body parts on the ground other than feet?

It is a violation to hurdle a defender that is standing on at least one foot, without the defender's knee or hand touching the ground. What I was describing is a runner hurdling a defender who has dived at the runner's feet. That kind of a low tackler is known as a "shoe duster." Usually, a guy's knee or knees have touched the ground as he dives at a runner's feet, which makes it OK for a runner to hurdle a "shoe duster." Oh, but did the defender's knee touch the ground before he made contact with the runner? Well, I guess we better review it.

Crigs from The Falls, WI

"Expand the size of the practice squad, which would allow for the development of more young players, but freeze those extra players on the practice squad so they would be ineligible to join their team's 53-man. They can be signed to join another team's 53, but not the 53 of their team." Could you please explain this concept more because I don't understand it one bit? So a team would put some solid young potential talent on its practice squad just so another team can steal one of them if they like?

I was just thinking out of the box. I was conceptualizing. It's an idea that would have to be fine-tuned. I like the practice squad. I like training young men. I call them "jars on the shelf" and it's good for the game to have lots of them ready to play, especially in this injury era. What I don't like about the practice squad is how a lot of teams use it to massage their 53-man. The practice squad is supposed to be a place for development. How can you develop talent on the practice squad if it changes week to week? That's the genesis of the idea of freezing the extra players. If you don't freeze them, you're just giving more players for coaches to use on their 53. I really, really don't like that. You can't freeze those players to every team in the league because the players association would never agree to it. So, I came up with the idea of freezing the extra players to their own teams. Hey, it's not like the rest of the league is going to be manic to take your bottom four players. So what if you lose them? The bottom four on every other practice squad in the league is available to you. Freezing is just meant to prohibit more manipulation of the 53-man. Practice squad players help you practice by adding numbers and keeping your players' legs fresh, and they add to the total talent pool from which every team in the league can draw. That's the intent of the practice squad; deepen the talent pool in the league. More is better.

Mike from Manitowoc, WI

Stop the run, put the other team in a passing situation, put your pass rush on. Give the QB too much time and someone will get open and make your backs look bad. It's a team game. When all your systems are working, it's easy, right? When everybody is doing his job and all the basics are covered, you should win the play. Win all the plays and you should win the game. All of the players are pros. The best of the best. It comes down to doing their job. Makes it sound real easy, doesn't it?

You forgot the big one: Draft better players than the competition drafts. It starts on draft day. Not all players are the same. Some are better than others. I think the video game culture has been desensitized to the fact that some players are better than others.

Jim from Blacksburg, VA

Vic, a follow-up on my prior question about the use of knee braces by NFL offensive linemen. You said it may hinder their ability to block great pass rushers, which I agree is a problem if true, however, now that it's on my mind, I've noticed several offensive linemen wearing similar braces during NFL training camp. Are these braces common in the NFL and the Packers choose not to use them?

You're a knee brace salesmen, aren't you? Jim, I'm not sure how common they are. Here's what I believe to be true: When Jason Pierre-Paul and Clay Matthews and Aldon Smith begin wearing knee braces, so will the pass blockers in this league. You know what I mean?


Chad from Green Bay, WI

I recently saw a collection of Packers posters commemorating the Packers of old. One said, "Back when a torn ACL was a limp," with a picture of Forrest Gregg covered in mud. It made me sad but at the same time appreciate what the old guys went through.

Ted Thompson made an interesting remark recently when asked about the seeming increase in injuries. He said we have more testing equipment these days. Bingo! There it is. Before MRIs, there was only one way to know for sure if an ACL was torn: surgery. X-rays don't detect soft-tissue injuries. It was up to the doctor to decide if the ACL was torn. If it didn't present itself conclusively, it was up to the player to submit to surgery that might end his career, or tape it up and play hurt. In many cases, that's what they did. A lot of guys didn't find out they had a torn ACL until years later, when the MRI was invented.

Ben from Columbus, WI

Do you buy into the notion that players play harder in a contract year?

Not intentionally, but deadlines and desperation harden our edge naturally, just as security softens us. It's tough to get out of bed in the morning when you're wearing silk pajamas.

Owen from Tampa, FL

I understand what you're saying about the stretch play but, with Lacy, isn't the idea that we can pound out that one yard by going right up the middle?

Yeah, you need to be able to do that, but it's not as easy as you make it sound. This is a zone-blocking offensive line. It's built mainly for movement. Lombardi wanted guards that could pull. Kramer and Thurston were pullers, not road-graders. It's tough to find guys that can push and pull; the John Hannahs are few and far between. So you do what you want and find ways to do what you can't. Lombardi invented "run to daylight." In other words, block your man any way you can, but we will run the Packers sweep. The Steelers I covered were going to trap you. They came off the bus trapping. Sam Davis and Gerry Mullins weren't road-graders. They were trappers, quick-twitch guys that could execute a scissors block before a defensive tackle knew what hit him. Do you remember this past winter how I wrote about wanting to see evidence that Lacy wasn't a straight-line runner? Do you remember that I was disappointed that Lacy wouldn't work out at the combine, where we would've seen him run the cone drills? This summer, I've seen evidence that Lacy can switch directions. He can stick his foot in the ground and cut back behind his blocking. You need a back that can do that in a zone-blocking system, and a lot of teams in the league use that system.

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