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How good can the Packers' secondary become?

Here's how to watch practice like a reporter


Mike from Rosholt, WI

Mike and Wes, how would you compare this year's O-line to the early 2000s line of Clifton-Wahle-Flanagan-Rivera-Tauscher? They seem pretty comparable to me.

I've said before this is the best unit the Packers have had since then, for sure. In 2003, that group blocked for Ahman Green's 1,800 rushing yards and Favre was sacked only 19 times. That's a pretty high statistical standard. When the current group was all healthy in 2014, Lacy and Starks combined for 1,400 yards and Rodgers was sacked 28 times, so it's pretty darn close if you go by those numbers.

Bill from Ringle, WI

With five preseason games this year and trying to keep injuries down I could see the Packers playing no starters in one of the away games. Your thoughts.

Canton and/or Kansas City, yeah, could happen.

Matt from East Troy, WI

Wes/Mike, can a rookie have a "presence" in his first camp? If so, how has that fared to predict his impact in Year 1? Do you have any examples you can share?

My first training camp in this job was Greg Jennings' rookie year in 2006. His presence was noticed right away, how he smoothly ran routes and consistently made plays in camp, and he went on to catch 45 passes for 632 yards despite missing two games. Ty Montgomery's start last year felt similar to Jennings' for me, but then he got hurt. Eddie Lacy's presence in 2013 was obvious. On the defensive side, I remember Casey Hayward looking like he belonged right away in 2012, and he had six picks that year and was in the conversation for defensive rookie of the year. But you never really know until the games that count arrive.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

Question for all three: When do you feel Favre was first seriously considered a "Hall of Famer"?

In 1996, when he won his second MVP and Super Bowl XXXI, it sure looked like he was headed that way.

Todd from St. Paul, MN

Hi guys! At what point will you stop kissing up to your readers and start treating us like dirt? Where's your edge?

For every reader, Todd, there's a pool and a pond.

Barry from Hayward, WI

With Manning retired and Brady suspended the first month of football the game is going to be a little short on elite quarterbacks. I wonder if the sports media will shift focus away from QBs and perhaps pay more attention to another position for a change?

Good luck with that. NFL GMs are safe from Barry.

Max from Luverne, MN

Hey Mike, love the new format and different perspectives. Can you explain the PUP list more? What is a player on that list allowed/not allowed to do? What benefits are there to placing someone on it versus just having them do what they are capable to do in practice?

A player unable to practice at the start of training camp goes on PUP because if it turns out he can't practice in camp, he doesn't have to count against the 53-man roster at final cuts, and it buys the team and player another six weeks to get healthy and still join the roster later in the year. As soon as a player does anything in practice, he's off PUP and he must be either on the roster, released or placed on injured reserve at the end of camp.

Randy from Jonesborough, TN

Guys, longtime Packers fan here. Sometimes I get a bit confused with some of the terminology bantered about. Can you please clear up what's meant by five-technique, three-technique, etc.? Thanks.

The counting system refers to where a defensive lineman lines up relative to the offensive lineman across from him. Head-up on the center is the zero, between center and guard is one, and you count out from there, with the five-technique on the outside shoulder of the tackle. Sometimes the term "wide nine" is used for a pass rusher, which means way out on the edge, where another blocker could actually fit between him and the tight end.

OK, enough with the dictionary definitions for today. Just trying to be helpful. Thanks for hanging with me.

PB from Minneapolis, MN

What should a fan attending a Packer practice look for? What should his eyes prioritize?

I can only give you a reporter's perspective, because that's what I know. My eyes are always drawn to any one-on-one competitive drills (pass rusher vs. offensive lineman or receiver vs. cornerback), to see individual skill, and the 11-on-11 periods. During the latter, always check the personnel on the first snap of the period, because that's the first-string unit. That'll tell you who's at the top of the depth chart, pending injuries of course. If there's a battle going on for the nickel corner, for example, watch for the first time the defense shifts from base to nickel. Who comes in as the third corner?

Joe from Bloomington, IL

As I recall, there are limits on contact during some parts of the offseason. Is the use of tackling donuts a way to have "contact" without any contact?

Works for me.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Mike, let's say Vic is Julius Peppers (limit his stroke count to maximize production) and Wes is Nick Perry (top draft choice with a chance to shine). Who are you?

Sam Shields?

Jonah from Arecibo, Puerto Rico

Any chance that the 2016 Packers' secondary could be as good as a Nick Collins and Charles Woodson Packers' secondary?

Maybe. Will be interesting to see. The best Woodson-Collins groups were in 2009 (with Harris and Williams at corner and Bigby at safety, going by nickel personnel) and '10 (with Williams, Shields and Peprah). Those corner trios will be tough to match, but there's no telling the ceiling on Randall and Rollins just yet, and the current group goes deeper than prior. Of all the safeties then and now, Collins is/was the best, but the current tandem of Burnett and Clinton-Dix is better.

Duncan from Fort McMurray, Canada

Want to know the best part about the new format? Since my questions still aren't getting answered I now know it's my questions are lacking and not Vic purposely avoiding my submissions.

Don't be so sure.

Tim from Normal, IL

Mike/Wes, your "Three Things" is quickly becoming my new daily fix. I love Larry McCarren, too. What's it like to work with him?

He's a blast. Busted me up with that "Three Stooges" intro line yesterday. Had no idea he was going to say that.

Andy from Oregon, IL

Mike or Wes, what is the key thing Dom Capers will change on the defense this year?

I think he's going to prepare multiple options at slot corner, giving him more alignment choices in the nickel and dime, and I also think we might see him get more creative in how he matches up in coverage against tight ends and running backs.

Nate from Ames, IA

Elephant OLB? That just sounds silly. Sawed-off defensive tackle? Now that sounds like a big, bad man.

Wes likes professional wrestling, you know.

Dale from Buffalo, NY

Out of the running backs fighting for the third spot, who's impressing the most right now?

Crockett is the leader, as far as I can tell, but the preseason games will tell a better story. As I said on an earlier "Unscripted" podcast, I think it's possible – and understand I'm saying possible – the third running back isn't currently on the roster, or they won't keep a third one at all.

Jake from Westminster, CO

Insiders – I appreciate seeing the video footage of practice on the site. Any chance we can see more (11 on 11) or are there restrictions?

Lots of folks asking about this, and glad you're enjoying what we can put on Media are restricted to shooting photos and video only during certain practice periods, which applies to both our website and social media content. The 11-on-11 periods are always off-limits. Eyes only, no camera lenses.

Mike from Waukesha, WI

Mike, Wes said he is not competing against you, he's competing against himself. He said you push each other to be better. What is your cliché response? Are you just hoping to contribute?

Took the words right out of my mouth, but I control only what I can control.

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