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House injury robs Packers of depth


Dave from Huron, SD

Vic, my son is eight years old and wants to play football. The new third grade team this year, which I thought was a flag football team, has turned out to be a tackle football team with full pads. I'm a little concerned by this. Should I be?

Does he have a tendency to break things? Does he have an excess of energy? Does he like to engage other kids in physical activity and does he gravitate toward older boys and their games? Does he have a devilish side to him? While watching cartoons, does he smile when the bad guys are winning? If you can answer yes to most or all of these questions, let him play. He needs football.

Stephen from Billings, MT

At my high school, freshman year, we were introduced to the varsity seven-man sled, known as Mama. We had eight varsity linemen midway through the year, but still got our half hour a day of Mama, seven on, one off, rotate. I still drive by and during camp I see them popping that sled with 1-3 coaches on it at random times, and I'd be a liar if I said I don't miss it.

I miss her, too, Stephen.

Mike from Cranford, NJ

Love your work, but it's the GREEN Bay thing on "Video Ask Vic" that bugs me. Makes it sound like just one of many bays, which it isn't. I know it's got to be a yinzer thing because Coach McCarthy does it, too, but it hurts a little.

In a press conference recently, Coach McCarthy corrected himself and put the accent on the right part. Finally, the light went on for me; I didn't previously understand what the complaint was. I'm working on it, but please be patient with me because I have been cursed with the worst regional accent known to man. When I talk to Coach McCarthy or Alex Van Pelt (Tom Clements has somehow avoided the curse), I get worse. I'm what's known as a dees and dose kind of guy, you know, dees guys and dose guys. I stopped saying yinze, probably because my wife is from South Carolina and she says y'all. Thursday's game is a big challenge for me because it's against the Cleveland Brahns.

Charlie from Morgan Hill, CA

Dan Marino was always yelling at linemen, receivers, etc., if they made a bad play or mistake. He did this on the field and on the sideline. Most quarterbacks take the opposite approach and encourage players and will even go right back to them on the next play. I never thought Marino's approach worked, dressing down somebody on a big stage. Did players rip him in the huddle when he threw a bonehead interception? Not likely. Do you think this hurt Marino's standing with his teammates and which approach is best?

It always bothered me, too, but I asked players who had played with Marino about it and they said it was never a problem and that Marino had the respect of everyone in the huddle. I think it's all a matter of what's said and not how it appears it's being said. Football players have thick skin. They can be frank with each other and not lose respect for each other, as long as they know they're all committed to the same goal and they have each other's loyalty. Plus, there's something else at play here. They've been told by coaches since junior high school that as long as the coach is yelling at them, everything is OK. It's when the coach stops yelling at you that you've got a problem, because when he stops yelling, he's given up on you. In other words, football players have long been conditioned to believe rebuke is love. It's the attention players need to feel important.

Zach from Waukesha, WI

On the topic of looking to see the offense move the ball and score to determine if a quarterback is doing the technical stuff right, what should a casual observer like myself look for if those things don't happen as evidence that Harrell is performing well and that the failure rests with the supporting cast?

You need to know all of the particulars of the play to know exactly what the quarterback might've done right or wrong. For example, I didn't know that a completion Graham Harrell threw to Randall Cobb last week was the result of a sight adjustment Harrell made. I just thought it was a nice throw to a wide-open receiver. What I found out later is that it was the adjustment Harrell made that was most impressive about the play. We can't know that until after the fact, so we have to reserve final judgment on a quarterback until all of the facts are in, but I think we all have a basic understanding of the difference between success and failure. If it looks like success, it probably is success. Don't make it more difficult than it has to be, Zach. Over-analysis can blunt your overall enjoyment of the game.

Mike from Atwater, WI

With today's technology, why haven't reporters gone to a telescopic recorder?

I don't know what that is but here's what I do. When I'm going to talk to a coach about subject matter that isn't especially sensitive, and if I know the coach isn't a fast talker, then I only use my notebook. It allows me to write the story faster because I won't have to transcribe. Plus, coaches don't like having tape recorders shoved in their face. Recorders can be intimidating and can cause a coach to clam up. Hey, you got him on tape. If he misspeaks, he's got no wiggle room. I'm from the old school of journalism that protects its sources. Reporters went to jail because they protected their sources. If I'm talking to a coach and using my notebook, and should he misspeak and need to later claim that he was misquoted, well, my notebook is going to get lost, if you know what I mean. I want him to know that. I want him to know that I don't practice gotcha journalism. I want him to know he can talk to me; I need to create that kind of relationship to be able to get the information the readers want. Also, coaches like it when you clean up their grammar, without changing the meaning of what they said; it's perfectly ethical. Tape recorders tend to reveal all of the grammatical errors; it's embarrassing for anyone to be quoted that way. Sometimes it can be used artfully for effect – you had to fracture the language if you were interviewing Dizzy Dean, for example – but why make a guy look bad for no reason? On the days that I'm going to interview a fast talker or it's a sensitive interview that requires verbatim language, then I use a recorder.

Hansen from Waukesha, WI

How concerned should we be about Davon House's injury?

I think his injury is a legitimate reason for disappointment. He was having a great camp. House has that long, lean, athletic look of a true shut-down corner. His and Casey Hayward's emergence gave the Packers depth at cornerback. Now, all of a sudden, that depth is gone. Desmond Bishop is going to be difficult to replace, but inside linebacker isn't the premium position that cornerback is. House's recovery, in my opinion, is critical to the Packers' efforts on defense.

Dan from Columbus, OH

Why is it that offense seems to be behind defense in preseason?

It's naturally more difficult to play offense than it is to play defense. That's why the league has to continually change the rules to favor offense. If we were playing according to the rules of the pre-1978 era, the scores of games would seldom produce more than 20 points combined.

Bob from Edgerton, WI

Was Clay Matthews really disrespectful when he said the Packers didn't play their best game against the Giants last year? Giants players and fans are going nuts over this comment. I think people that watch the Packers every week agree with Clay. The Giants won the game and were the better team that day. Aren't we allowed to say that part of the reason was the Packers not playing to their potential?

I don't think it's disrespectful, I agree with him and you can say it's part of the reason the Packers lost, but why do it? It changes nothing. Just win, baby. Then you don't have to say anything.

Nick from Water Mill, NY

When a reader writes you upset over something witty that you've written, as I scroll down looking over your rebuttal and the following attached comments from fellow readers, when I get to your picture with that wide grin, I can't help but lose it in laughter as it's the perfect punctuation mark. Was this intentional?

Hey, it's football, it's fun. The column should be about fun. If you don't like to give a shot and take a shot, then this column isn't for you and, frankly, I'm not even sure football is for you. The thing I always loved about Hines Ward is that smile he always wore on his face. It didn't matter whether he was whacking a guy or getting whacked, Ward always wore that smile. Why? Because he just liked the whacking. So do I.

Alex from Normal, IL

As the game expands to a wider audience, are you worried that you're going to keep getting sour grapes from the fans that don't quite have the same passion for the game as you do?

I worry about my kids, my dogs, my cancer tests, nuclear proliferation; I don't worry about football. I leave that to the coaches and the men that get paid to worry about football. I enjoy football. I enjoy doing this column because I enjoy the fans' questions. Thursday, I'm going to make my first pregame walk from the press box to the radio show in the Atrium, and I'm going to enjoy that because I like walking among the fans and feeling their excitement. I have a great job; it's all about having fun. Chuck Noll always told his players that football was something they would do briefly in their lives before they had to get on with their life's work. I've been doing this for so long I may not even have to get on with my life's work. How lucky is that?

Tim from London, England

Regarding your comment about other countries inventing other sports to try and beat the U.S., America is actually the nation that has historically created its own sports that, until relatively recently, have barely been played overseas at all, whereas America just can't compete in the sports that were invented before there even was a U.S., and are now played all over the world, like soccer, rugby and cricket. You're an authority on Packers football, but not everything, Vic.

This is just sour grapes for that Revolutionary War thing.

Robert from Harvel, IL

Vic, I pride myself in being a student of the game. I have taken note of some of the marquee zone blitzes that Dom Capers has run throughout his career and in his time here in Green Bay. In 2009 and 2010, these blitzes were seemingly executed flawlessly the majority of the time, however, when our defense was struggling last year, one of the main problems was that these blitzes did not apply much pressure and weren't getting to the quarterback, because of the fact that offenses seemed to be anticipating them and picking them up easily. How will Dom Capers adjust if offenses continually achieve in protecting well against the blitzes he calls with regularity?

Blitzers, not blitzes.

Chris from Fort Worth, TX

Do you think that, with this emphasis on safety, players aren't playing to their maximum potential because they don't have to be as tough?

I think the modern player has tended to treat injury more cautiously than the old guys did, and I think the modern player has left some yards, so to speak, on the field because of it. The question is: Has he lengthened his career as a result of a more cautious approach to injury? That's the player-safety issue that's being debated. I think the answer is yes.

George from Hutchinson, MN

Positive team chemistry is fueled by winning ballgames during the regular season. What is the fuel for positive team chemistry during the preseason?

It's competition. Players thrive on it. They respect it, almost love each other for it. By the way, I've covered losing teams that have had great team chemistry. What's fueled by winning is the fans' perception of positive team chemistry.

Cody from Pembroke, NH

Vic, I know you are a proud supporter of how our coaches operate in Green Bay, but let's play "Imagine if Vic Ketchman was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers." What, if anything, would you do differently? Click HERE for the answer.

Casey from Lynchburg, VA

Vic, since you can't win without "The Man" in the NFL, and rushing-based teams are headed the way of the dinosaur, why would the Cleveland Browns draft Trent Richardson so early in the first round, with the intent to build a team around him?

Because they want to be the Cleveland Browns. Please join me for Thursday's in-game chat, as we welcome the Brahns to Lambeau Field. The chat will begin at 5 p.m. CDT.

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