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House showed grit last season


Christopher from Rochester, MN

I've always appreciated your insights about the different cities you've visited. I'm moving to Baltimore and was wondering if you could share your thoughts on the city (any memorable stories you have from there, favorite restaurants, etc)?

I remember finding out the night before a game in Baltimore in 1980 that I had an allergy to shellfish. I didn't eat the crab cakes in the press box the next day. I also remember coming out of the postgame locker room following a playoff game in 1976 – you had to walk across the field to get to the buses at old Memorial Stadium – and seeing an airplane stuck in the upper deck. I stopped, looked, stared and then asked a policeman standing in the dugout how the airplane got stuck in the upper deck. He said it flew there. I thanked him for his honesty and asked if he had any further details and he told me that some lunatic flew in from the open end of the stadium and tried to land on the field. When he saw he couldn't make it, he tried to pull up but landed in the upper deck. The guy flying the thing opened the cockpit door and walked out. Baltimore's a good town.

Sean from Arlington, VA

Who are the "true" tight ends in the league right now? I'm partial to Marcedes Lewis and Brandon Pettigrew, as they are skilled at both blocking and receiving.

Those are two of them. Heath Miller is another one. Their ranks are dwindling.

Matt from DePere, WI

I've been wondering something for awhile. Since McCarthy calls the plays on offense, what's Joe Philbin's job as offensive coordinator if he isn't calling plays?

An offensive coordinator does a lot more than call plays. He breaks down film of the opponent's defense. He identifies scheme tendencies according to down and distance and he designs a game plan. Philbin and Head Coach Mike McCarthy no doubt share in those responsibilities and collaborate on the design of the game plan, but I think Coach McCarthy would tell you he couldn't perform all of the coordinator's responsibilities and all of the head coach's, too.

Austin from Shell Rock, IA

When, if at all, are you going to update your Twitter account? It says you're still in Jacksonville and you haven't posted since October 22, 2010.

I'll betcha Rashard Mendenhall wishes he hadn't updated his Twitter account.

Nathan from Dubuque, IA

Vic, you said you can't be on the practice squad for more than three years. Is that just for the Packers or the NFL in general? Can someone be on the practice squad for three years on one team and then move to another team's practice squad?

Nathan, that would mean a player could spend 96 years on practice squads and play in 768 regular-season games before he would expire his practice-squad eligibility.

Mark from Quad Cities, IA

What is the drug-testing policy in the NFL? Is there random drug-testing?

A player is subject to random testing only if he has entered the program. A positive test requires a player to enter the program.

Ryan from Irvine, CA

Do you think Ricky Elmore can take over as Clay's counterpart, or is he a third-down pass-rusher only?

Elmore has every-downs capability. As a defensive end, he was big enough and tough enough to play against the run, so I don't think a lack of sturdiness against the run is any kind of concern. Elmore was drafted with the idea that he could transfer his pass-rush skills to the outside linebacker position and, if he can do that, he'll have a chance to compete for the outside linebacker job opposite Clay Matthews. I think it's important to remember, however, that Elmore is a rookie, he'll be making a major position switch and he may not have the advantage of a full spring or summer practice regimen. At this point in the lockout/litigation situation, we should temper our expectations for the impact of this year's rookie class. I'm viewing them as futures picks.

Quinn from Midlothian, VA

My question for you deals with Derek Sherrod. Although he is the left tackle of the future, I'm interested to see where you stand with him playing left guard next year. If the Packers went with the best player on the roster, I feel as if Sherrod would be penciled in to start. What do you think the chances of Sherrod playing left guard are?

The standard coaches' answer to that question is: "We'll put our best five linemen on the field." I think that applies here. Sherrod displayed a lot of versatility at Mississippi State and I have no doubt he can play guard – Jonathan Ogden played guard in his rookie season – but, again, I remind you that he's a rookie and unless something positive happens quickly on the lockout/litigation front, these rookies are going to begin losing valuable practice time as of a week from today, which is set as their reporting day for mini-camp.

Josh from Plymouth, PA

What do you think of the outcome of Casey Matthews being on the Eagles? What I mean is, when they face each other, won't it be an interesting game?

It'll be hair-raising.

Justin from Millsboro, DE

What exactly is the practice squad and how come it has all those limitations?

The practice squad is an eight-man roster of players who have been earmarked for development. That's the intent of the practice squad's creation. I think it's fair to say, however, that the practice squad is generally being used as an adjunct to the 53-man active roster. Coaches are moving players on and off the practice squad relative to the team's weekly injury report and that was not the original intent of the practice squad. Maybe it's all for the good because so many players are spending so much time on so many practice squads that they're getting a good look at a lot of different ways of doing things. I guess you could say they're developing into seasoned professional football players. The rules regarding the practice squad are meant to limit teams in how they store players on the practice squad. Without those rules, you'd see 12-year veterans on practice squads, and there would certainly be nothing developmental about that.

Tom from Richmond, VA

Hey, Vic, big fan. I'd love to hear your take on House.

I was interested to hear Tony Pauline's take on Davon House. I learned something about House I didn't know and what I learned gives me reason to believe House can be a top corner. I like guys that play hurt and Pauline told me House played hurt all last season. House played on a badly sprained ankle that caused him to wear a boot on that leg from Monday-Friday each week. He took the boot off to play; what's that tell you about him? Pauline told me House played at 75 percent of his physical capacity last fall; what's that tell you that a guy can play at 75 percent and still become a fourth-round draft choice? I have no doubt the Packers took that into consideration and that's the perfect example of scouting being a crystal-ball business. Anybody can tell you how a guy played, but only the good ones can tell you how he will play. That's what had to be done with House. You had to be able to look at him and see what he can become.

Lee from Hong Kong

Dave from Ankeny, IA, asked you about how value on the value board is determined and you replied that a player's value is based on his grade. Can you please shed some light on how a player's grade is determined?

I don't know exactly how the Packers do it and no team is going to divulge their system for evaluating talent, but it might go something like this: Players would be evaluated in several categories; athletic ability and technique might be two of those categories. Grades on a 1-6 or 1-8 scale would be assigned in each category and then the total score would be divided by the total number of categories. The result would be the player's grade. So, if I evaluated your question on, say, a 1-8 scale and I gave it a 7.12 for originality, a 6.84 for presentation, a 7.44 for timeliness, a 7.99 for grammar and an 8.0 for hometown distance, your grade on the value board would be a 7.48.

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