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Packers will be facing desperate Lions team


Richard from Indio, CA

What was with all of the missed field goals during Week 10?

When they write the history of the NFL, they will not include Week 10 of the 2012 season. This was not the best weekend of football I've ever seen. It included some curious coaching decisions, head-scratching player behavior and officiating mistakes. Personal foul for cursing? I couldn't stop laughing at that one. The football field is where I learned my best bad words.

Matt from Dulles, VA

Too many quarterbacks got hurt this past week; there needs to be a rule to protect them more. Is the league finally going to put flags on the quarterback?

The league will do whatever it has to do to protect the most valuable and expensive player on the field. We might see the day when tackling the quarterback will be forbidden until he crosses the line of scrimmage. I favor elimination of the intentional grounding penalty. I say let them ground the ball any time they want, as a means for avoiding sacks and contact. I'd rather see that happen than defenders being forbidden to tackle the quarterback.

Sean from Milwaukee, WI

I saw that Sherrod started practicing. What are the chances he will see the active roster this season?

That will depend on his performance in practice over the next two weeks. If he's able to move and block satisfactorily, I would expect Derek Sherrod would be moved from PUP to the active roster.

Matt from Saint Croix Falls, WI

On Aug. 31, the Packers put Vic So'oto on injured reserve. He resurfaced in Oakland, but now we've re-signed him. I thought once you place a player on IR, they were done for the year. Can you explain how this all happened?

The Packers agreed to an injury settlement with So'oto within five days of having placed him on injured reserve. That allows a team to re-sign that player within the time of the injury settlement's worth plus six weeks. In other words, if the settlement was the equal of one week's pay, then the player can be re-signed seven weeks later. That would be the minimum time a team would have to wait to re-sign a player they originally put on IR. The next time you think the only thing a GM needs to know is who to pick in the first round of the draft, think again.

Paul from De Pere, WI

How long can the Packers make do without Clay Matthews? Who becomes the most important defensive player in his absence?

I sincerely hope the Packers don't have to make do without Clay Matthews, because they are heading into a couple of games against top quarterbacks and explosive passing attacks, and the pass rush will be extremely important in defending against those teams. As I've written, I think the Packers have reached the saturation point of their injury tolerance. I don't think they can be as effective on defense as they have been to date, without Matthews. I can't think of a player capable of replacing his importance. Should he be unable to play, Aaron Rodgers might become the most important "defensive" player on the team.

Kenneth from Ballerup, Denmark

Looking at the Texans-Bears game, I came to wonder: Do the Packers or teams in general train in wet conditions, or is that considered unsafe?

They do some of it, but coaches are manic about the quality of their teams' practices and that means coaches are more apt to move their teams indoors when the weather turns bad. As a result, the first bad-weather weekend of the season produces the kind of sloppy football we saw in Chicago and Pittsburgh the last two nights. It'll help the teams that played in those games; they'll be ready to play in that kind of weather the next time they see it.

Jennifer from Tucson, AZ

Vic, I really agree with your statement about football injuries being up because the sensitivity to them is up. I am grateful they are pulling players for minor injuries. I believe it's really going to change the game. No longer are teams going to be able to rely upon that one good receiver or linebacker. Depth is going to be the name of the game, otherwise, being a decent team is going to be out of the question. Any thoughts on this?

I think we're going to see practice squads increase dramatically in size. Heightened sensitivity to injury will demand some kind of reservoir of talent that is being readied to replace injured players immediately without a significant decline in performance. The one player that will have to be protected, of course, is the quarterback, because they are the stars of the league and their ranks are limited. Protect the quarterback, replace everybody else. I think that'll become the mantra of the "new" NFL.

Harry from Waupaca, WI

In your opinion, does BAP-draft-and-develop help a team when the injury bug bites? It seems to be working for the Packers and their next-man-up philosophy.

The BAP-draft-and-develop philosophy has never been more important for two reasons: 1.) A base of reserve talent that has been trained in the team's ways and schemes is critical to being able to replace injured talent. 2.) As games lost to injury increase, the salary cap money lost to injury increases, which means teams will have to get more bang for their buck, and young, low-round or undrafted talent is much easier to fit under your cap than expensive free agents or even veteran talent off the street.

Tyler from Minneapolis, MN

Ever thought about starting up your power rankings again? They sound hilariously entertaining.

No, too many people take them seriously. They're not worth the aggravation. If I was to do a power rankings, however, my No. 1 team would be Houston. OK, you may now begin complaining that the Packers should be No. 1 because they beat the Texans.

Walt from Weaverville, NC

I notice that Andy Reid used to win with the draft philosophy, but now he's going the free agent route, and it may cost him his job. Doesn't he read your column?

He might've sensed that the owner was growing impatient. Or maybe Reid was becoming impatient. Either way, impatience is the arch enemy of draft-and-develop. Impatience is the free agent's best friend.

Ed from Des Plaines, IL

Aaron Rodgers' favorite team as a youth was the 49ers. Now he wants nothing more than to beat the 49ers to prove them wrong.

That's what a pro does. I once covered a team that didn't especially like drafting local guys. The theory, as it was told to me, is that it's good to get players into fresh environments, away from old friends and old ways and into places where the team will help the player pick a new path without interference from others.

Franklin from La Crosse, WI

When a penalty is called near the goal lines, when do they assess the actual penalty yards and when do they assess half the distance to the goal?

They assess half the distance when the penalty yardage is greater than half the distance to the goal.

Joe from River Falls, WI

I don't know what the big rush is to lead the division at this point. We had the division pretty much sealed up by this point last year, and it showed me what a month and a half of missing a must-win attitude can do.

I don't think that'll be a concern this year. This is going to be a weekly must-win grind, beginning this Sunday in Detroit, where the Packers are going to be facing a desperate Lions team. This is it for the Lions. I think this one truly is a must-win game for them, especially considering the Lions' remaining schedule.

Peter from County Durham, England

Vic, after winning the 2010 Super Bowl on the road through the playoffs and losing at home to the Giants last year, do you feel home field advantage is really that important?

Being the hot team is most important, but if you can combine that with home field advantage, you might have an unbeatable combination.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

Napoleon said, "Never fight one enemy for too long, or you will teach him all your tricks of war." Does the same hold true for coaches? Do schemes get stale and the motivational techniques wear thin?

The Packers sweep never seemed to get old, or at least not until the people that ran it got old. Everybody knew about the lead draw with Emmitt, but the Cowboys kept winning Super Bowls with it. The same is true of the Steelers' inside trap and the 49ers' sprint right option. Napoleon obviously liked to scheme schemes. Maybe that's what happened at Waterloo.

John from Conway, AR

If you were a player, what jersey number would you want?

I always wanted to wear No. 22. It was because Bobby Layne wore it, and I loved Layne and his no facemask and his bloody nose that he wiped on the right sleeve of his jersey. When I got older and started hearing stories from sports writers about Layne's legendary free-spirit ways, I liked him even more.

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