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James Starks ultimate change of pace

Jake Ryan impressed with his hustle


Bill from Iowa City, IA

Vic, I was impressed with all the sacks against New England. How much of an indicator is that for this season's pass rush?

Nothing that happens in the preseason should be viewed as an indicator of what will happen in the regular season. Everything that happens in the preseason should be viewed as an indicator of the individual talent that's being positioned for evaluation, especially the backup players and rookies trying to make the team.

Jeremy from Madison, WI

Vic, have you ever written for a team in a losing season, or going through a rebuild? I imagine it must be very difficult to perform at a high level if the team you are covering isn't.

I've done it many times. The storyline changes; that's all. You're not covering the games as much as you're covering the results of the games and how they pertain to the team's future. It's not that it's difficult, it's just not as much fun. Game day loses a lot of flavor. You find yourself being less of a reporter and more of a seer.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

Jayrone Elliot and LaDarius Gunter have been very impressive so far during the preseason. What else would you like to see from these guys moving forward?

Let's slow down a little; they've only played one game. Be that as it may, I'd like to see Gunter continue his quest for a roster spot and I'd like to see Elliott continue his quest for playing time. I don't want to get a speeding ticket on Gunter, just as I didn't want to get a speeding ticket on Elliott last year. This year, my expectations for Elliott have heightened. If Clay Matthews is going to play inside, I'd like to see Elliott aspire to playing time on the outside. I think he has pass-rush potential and I think the Packers have need for another outside linebacker with pass-rush potential.

Jabez from Iselin, NJ

Just saw a Jaguars RB hurdle over a Pittsburgh defender in their preseason game. Seems like an unnecessarily dangerous play that should be outlawed. What's your position?

Hurdling is increasing and it's a result of the change in the culture. Once upon a time, it was considered cowardly for a back to hurdle a defender. A back was told to initiate contact. He was taught to drop his pads and deliver the blow. The intent was to punish the defender. That's the culture we're changing. Don't think with the intent to punish, think with the intent to avoid. Now we have a rule that forbids backs to drop their head and punish the defender. You want a rule that forbids them to avoid the defender, too?

Kevin from Whitehall, WI

Vic, I've seen a lot of comments that the battle for the third RB spot is heating up. The assumption is this spot is behind Lacy and Starks. Is Starks a lock to make the team or could both Neal and Harris, for example, beat him out? Ted Thompson is always trying to keep his team young.

I thought Starks was impressive on Thursday night. He's everything you could want in a complementary back. Eddie Lacy is a pounder; Starks is a slasher. Starks is the ultimate change-of-pace back.

Tom from Bismarck, ND

Vic, Unitas was the man who brought the modern passing game to us. No doubt. Elway consistently took mediocre teams to the playoffs. Peyton Manning has suffered some of the same luck as Elway. They are too good for their teams to ever get draft picks. Andrew Luck might just be following suit. These are the greatest QBs. Could Montana, Bradshaw, Brady, Eli or Joe Flacco do that?

Montana, Bradshaw, Brady, Eli Manning and Joe Flacco have combined for 11 Super Bowl MVPs. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story?

Ray from Harrisburg, PA

Vic, what happened to the fullback being a running back instead of always blocking? I remember Jim Taylor. His running was just as important as his blocking.

Again, stop thinking in terms of formation and begin thinking in terms of function. Taylor was a featured runner; that was his function. It doesn't matter what his scheme name was. This is one of the great frustrations I face in this column. Madden and NFL Network have created a "Cover Two" culture that is missing the point of strategy. Don't scheme schemes, scheme personnel.

Garrett from McCleary, WA

Do teams in the preseason call certain plays just to test certain players, or do they just run whatever plays they want to gauge the players' progress/improvement? Thanks, Vic. This is my favorite thing to read in the morning.

They do both. The coach might have a No. 3 receiver who's done well in that role and he wants to see if he has the potential to be used as a No. 1, so he matches him up against the opponent's No. 1 cornerback. Or maybe the coach does that to determine how much the No. 3 receiver has elevated his game. Or maybe the coach wants the No. 3 receiver to see the difference between playing against a No. 3 cornerback and a shutdown corner. Those aren't things you do in the regular season. The regular season is about one thing, winning. The preseason is about evaluation and experimentation.

John from Cameron, WI

Vic, the sound of you on the around the horn pregame radio show was very comforting. Which is more challenging for you, the show or the column?

The most challenging thing I do is writing a game recap story on the bus on the way to the airport, especially on potholed and patched roads. The story has to be done before we reach the airport, so the challenge is speed and accuracy. I love it! When the day comes I can't write that story anymore, it'll be time to retire.

Chris from Buckeye, AZ

I'm using the mobile app right now and have access to both "News now!" and "Ask Vic Halftime." Is there a difference between the mobile app and the mobile site? If so, just point people toward the app. I find it very fast and useful.

I don't know want the difference is. You might say I couldn't find my app with either hand. Folks, do as Chris said.

Jack from Fountain, CO

After getting stuffed three series, what are your thoughts on the new play caller?

When Mike McCarthy gave the play calling to Tom Clements, my first thought wasn't how it would affect the Packers, it was how it would affect me. I thought to myself: Everything will be blamed on the play caller and play calling next year; my inbox is going to be a festival of playing calling complaints. I didn't think it would begin with the first preseason game. What was I thinking? Of course it would.

Jerry from Orlando, FL

Vic, when Ted Thompson chose not to re-sign Davon House and Tramon Williams, did he believe he already had or could draft superior talent?

He knew he had to challenge himself and his scouting staff to find replacements for Williams and House because keeping them would damage the Packers' salary cap. I have no doubt that was his primary thought.

Jeffrey from Seattle, WA

Vic, there's one guy I thought had an excellent game and, yet, haven't seen any mention of: Jake Ryan. I thought he really played well, albeit in a preseason game against backups. Did he stand out to you?

His hustle did. I watched him closely and he always ran full speed to the ball. On one play, he made the tackle from behind by not quitting on it. As he becomes more confident and comfortable in the pro game, his pursuit speed will increase. I think he's going to be everything we expect of him.

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