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Expectations for tonight's game


Troy from Stevens Point, WI

What has been the most pleasant surprise of training camp so far, in your eyes, and what or who has been the biggest disappointment?

The play of the secondary, which gave strong indications of improvement during the spring, is the feel-good story of training camp, in my opinion. I genuinely believe the Packers have the makings of a special group of defensive backs, though much of that will depend on Davon House's recovery. When he returns to action, this will be a deep and talented bunch. The only reason I'm not writing that Tramon Williams is the star of training camp is because he's Tramon Williams and we expect this level of performance from him. Casey Hayward has made some eye-popping plays in practice and acquitted himself well in San Diego. Sam Shields should also not be forgotten; his return will further deepen the cornerback bunch. Morgan Burnett is ready to go to the next level, and Charles Woodson is poised to make a Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson kind of move to safety. When you stir in House, Jarrett Bush and the young depth the Packers have at safety, you've got security in the secondary for the long-term future. The greatest disappointment of training camp is what injuries have caused at running back, which is to say a halt to progress.

Adrian from Rochester, NY

Vic, is there any incentive for a team to put a player on the injured reserve list this early in the season instead of PUP? Both lists free up roster space, but the IR commits you to keeping that player out for the whole season, while PUP (especially preseason PUP) is much more lenient in allowing him to return if you find out later his injury isn't that serious. PUP keeps your options open, doesn't it?

Yes, it does, but what you must understand is the option to put a player on PUP must be exercised before that player participates in a practice. You can't put a player on PUP if he's participated in a practice. For example, Desmond Bishop began camp on PUP, came off it and then was injured in the San Diego game. He is not eligible for the PUP list.

Aaron from De Pere, WI

What's your most memorable preseason game?

I talked about that last week. I talked about it not being from a game, but from a practice in Barcelona the week of a game there in 1993. I talked about Tim McDonald of the 49ers whacking a guy, and then Darren Perry retaliating by doing the same thing to a young 49ers receiver on the adjacent field. Well, Perry corrected me a couple of days ago. He said it wasn't a young 49ers receiver he hit, it was John Taylor, of Rice/Taylor fame, and Perry said Taylor was not happy. The story just got better.

Joe from St. Cloud, MN

Vic, why doesn't the NFL have a disabled list like baseball does?

Because teams would use it to stash talent.

Tony from Saint Paul, MN

When do the first cuts occur and to how many do they cut down?

The first cut is to 75 on Monday, Aug. 27. Then comes the cut to 53.

Dustin from Eau Claire, WI

Vic, what did you do to upset so many people? Don't ever question the heart of a badminton player.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of badminton,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And - which is more - you'll be a man my son!

Andrew from Peoria, IL

What do you think about the 2000 film "The Replacements"? I think Gene Hackman was basing his performance off of Vince Lombardi. What do you think?

Darn it, I should've asked him that question when I was playing golf with him.

Perry from Racine, WI

Vic, I think you are wrong as to why some people watch the games at home and not in a gorgeous stadium like Lambeau. It's the price of seeing the game for the everyday fan. Try and remember, not many of us get to see the games for free like you.

You're absolutely right and I must never take my privilege for granted. The most daunting challenge the NFL faces going forward is to keep this game affordable for the average fan. The league must never lose touch with its roots. The average fan made this league what it is, and growing the game must not exclude him and her, or there will be harsh consequences.

Mark from Grafton, WI

I was always taught that one of the best measures for preventing injuries was stretching/flexibility. Does the rash of injuries we see every year mean players are neglecting this aspect of offseason and in-season training?

I have seen injury prevention approached from all sides. I covered a strength coach whose offseason philosophy was to do the least necessary, which I thought was a sound philosophy because one thing more than necessary meant taxing the body unduly. He was fired after a rash of injuries. I covered a guy who embraced the opposite philosophy. He "killed" his guys in the spring; blew out backs with dead-lifting. He was fired when the whole staff was fired after a bad season and a rash of injuries. Way back in the 1970's, Chuck Noll had a strength coach who had the players running downhill because he believed it stretched their hamstrings and prevented hamstring strains. They'd walk up the hill, and then run down the hill. That lasted one year. I remember my high school coach asking us who was going to the beach in the summer, and then telling us not to run in the sand. A few years ago, the Jaguars installed a sand pit at considerable cost, so players could run in it. That also lasted one year. You know what I've come to decide? Football players get hurt. It's a fact of the game.

Nick from Water Mill, NY

Vic, I already miss the comfort of knowing Flynn was our backup QB. What do you think the Packers will do if Harrell doesn't meet their expectations within the next three games?

I think he is meeting their expectations. I think your expectations for the backup position are too high. I'll also tell you there's no doubt in my mind the Packers plan for all eventualities. It's just common for teams to do that. If this happens they'll do that, and if that happens they'll do this. Teams talk to other teams because they all have concerns for which they must plan. Cedric Benson isn't a name they just pulled off the wall. He's a player on whom they did a lot of advance work and figured prominently in their contingency plans at running back.

John from Superior, WI

In regards to players lengthening their careers, it made me think about Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. A lot of people believe they retired too early, but I think they may have been ahead of their time. Do you think it's wiser for players to step down in their prime when they're on top?

I think great players should do it that way; I hope they've saved their money so they CAN do it that way. Great players have great careers and reputations that must be protected. One of the worst things I've ever seen is Johnny Unitas in a Chargers uniform. Great players have a mystique that must be guarded. They are accompanied by a glow that must not be dimmed. Brown and Sanders did it the right way. As for everyone else, they should play as long as they can because they've invested too much of their lives in the game to leave money on the table.

Jacob from Rockford, IL

Vic, in light of the recent comments Clay Matthews made about the Packers not playing their best game, it has me worried. Do you feel the players are talking too much about last year's result instead of this year's progress and the mindset of redemption that John Kuhn said they have?

Everybody needs to let it go. That was last year's team. This is a different team. Revenge and redemption, in my opinion, are not good motivators. They're distractions. Just do your job. That should be every player's singular focus. Worry is a distraction. The past is a distraction. The fans? The fans should be focused on having fun. We should be focused on enjoying the entertainment this game provides. Just let it happen. We can't change anything anyhow. All we can do is watch.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Do you get the feeling from the coaches that, despite the injuries, we are where we want to be?

I get the opposite feeling. The Packers are not where they want to be – Mike McCarthy said that in a recent press conference – and injuries are to blame. McCarthy talked about having to hit targets, and how injuries are making it difficult to hit those targets. This training camp, in my opinion, is noticeably different from last year's. Last year, the offense seemingly went up and down the field at will. This year, the defense is winning. Why? Well, I think the defense is better; that's the good news. I also think the absence of Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley from a lot of the practices, and the injuries at running back and left tackle have made it difficult for the offense to hit its targets. Now, let's also remind ourselves this is Aug. 16.

Jim from Oakland, CA

Why is the Green Bay Packers website run by a guy who scoffs at player safety, yearns for the old days of concussions, and shows an utter disrespect for other sports that do not feature enough violence?

I think that's a misrepresentation of my attitude toward the player-safety movement. I've acknowledged the need for it. I've clearly expressed my view that changing the culture is necessary for the game to grow. What I've also expressed is caution against softening the game to the point that it loses the thing that embedded it in the spirit of America: physical confrontation. This game was not built on safe. Unnecessary dangers must be eliminated, but not at the risk of turning this into a pillow fight.

C.J. from Edinboro, PA

So, Vic, what's a realistic expectation for tonight's game?

Marshall Newhouse is back at left tackle, so I think we should expect better pass-protection for Aaron Rodgers and that should lead to expectations for a better overall performance in the passing game. On defense, I want to see further evidence the young guys can play and develop quickly enough to be difference-makers this season. With that, I invite everyone to join my in-game chat, which will begin today at 5 p.m. CT. See you then.

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