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Special teams have a different feel to them

Inside linebacker could soon emerge


John from Aldie, VA

Vic, what team do you see in the NFC North this upcoming season that will be the most improved over last season, and why?

I think the Vikings are the candidate, and it's because Teddy Bridgewater will be a second-year quarterback with a rookie season's worth of experience behind him. I also think the Vikings showed signs in the second half of last season of buying into Coach Mike Zimmer's system. I like their drafts of recent years and I think the Vikings are going to be a serious NFC North contender in the years to come.

Ryan from Wisconsin Dells, WI

How would Gale Sayers fair in today's game?

He'd be even better than he was. He'd be a combination of Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.

Gayle from Dallas, TX

Vic, I've never been to watch training camp, but I find it interesting the fans are cheering when Eddie Lacy explodes on a great run or a QB and receiver connect on a deep pass. Does everyone realize this means our defense just missed a tackle or blew coverage? Arguably, this is an area of greater concern for us right now.

It would be that way in any training camp; the fans love offense. Be that as it may, I think Packers fans have a particular fondness for offense. It's in their DNA; defense not nearly as much.

Jack from Fitchburg, WI

Why are there so few player-for-player trades in the NFL?

I could blame it on the salary cap and the bonus amortization a player leaves behind, but that would also pertain to player-for-picks trades and teams are very willing to make those deals. It's been this way in all the years I've covered the NFL. There is a natural distrust of other teams' players. It's almost as though teams know there must be something wrong with a guy if a team wants to trade him. Shaun Alexander is the perfect example. He was the best back in the league and the Seahawks couldn't get a third-round pick for him. Players, not plays, and picks, not players. Crazy, huh?

Matty from Glendale, WI

I very much enjoy reading your column. After the changes made after last season, and now having seen it live, how do you feel about the special teams?

I have this overwhelming feeling special teams are going to become a major strength of this year's team. Why? Because the head coach made a big-letters promise. Maybe it's because I didn't pay close enough attention to special teams practice periods in the past and I am paying close attention this year, but there seems to be greater energy and intensity in those periods this year. Yesterday, Josh Francis nearly had his head knocked off in a kickoff-return/kickoff-coverage drill.

Nick from Hollandale, WI

What spectacular things has Aaron Rodgers done in training camp?

Easy now, easy. Let me say this: I watch the throw-the-ball-into-the-net drill, partly because it's entertaining and partly because accuracy is critical to a quarterback's success. Also, a wise man told me a long time ago quarterbacks tend to lose some accuracy as they get older; it's a sign of aging. Rodgers has lost no accuracy. Man, he can really hit those targets in the net.

Bernie from Chesterfield, VA

What do you see as the difference between Coach Holmgren and Coach McCarthy?

I can't find many differences. They're both West Coast offense guys who put a premium on the quarterback position and are considered to be quarterback gurus. Mike Holmgren had Brett Favre and Mike McCarthy has Aaron Rodgers, and offense was and is each coach's calling card. The only big difference I can see is Holmgren comes from California wine country and McCarthy grew up in Pittsburgh on Iron City (don't quote me on that).

Tom from Collegeville, MN

Vic, can you explain the difference between 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, and why the Packers implement the former?

One has three defensive linemen and the other has four. The Packers use the 3-4 because Dom Capers is a 3-4 guy. What do I see as the major difference between the two defenses? It's easier to find pass-rushing linebackers than it is to find pass-rushing defensive linemen.

John from Ashburn, VA

Are final rosters always comprised of the 53 best, or are some slots reserved for players who show the most upside?

You're always looking for players with upside. If a guy has upside, you're going to find a way to keep him, but he better have some now side or he can't make your 53-man roster.

Paul from Zanesville, IN

Vic, best paragraph I've read from you. It reminded me of last year's training camp that I was blessed to attend with my family. That's a lasting memory, not the last few minutes of the season.

All memories are lasting, whether we like it or not.

Lee from Claremont, Ontario

When do you think a banger on our defense will emerge?

Based on Coach McCarthy's comments about his inside linebacker's play in training camp to date, I have a feeling a banger will soon emerge, possibly as soon as tomorrow's practice.

Nigam from Omro, WI

From what I've heard and read, I don't think we will have a clear cut starter next to Barrington. I see a lot of rotation. Am I wrong?

The second inside linebacker position appears to be reserved for Clay Matthews and somebody else. The competition to be the "somebody else" is one of the highlights of this training camp.

Caleb from Eau Claire, WI

Vic, can you tell by the cheering at practice and/or chatter in your inbox which new star fans think they've discovered?

Yes, and it would appear to be Jeff Janis. He could become the only No. 4 receiver in the league to have his own TV show.

Adam from Tampa, FL

I love the new videos, but some of us can't watch the training camp review videos while at work. Any way to get articles instead of video so I can read on my lunch break?

Am I missing something? Yesterday, I wrote four "News now!" stories and Mike did a long locker room report.

Shilo from Fallbrook, CA

What in the world is going on with our training camp practice schedule? I can't believe how many days off there are, especially toward the end. How can a team get any rhythm with so few practices?

Rhythm arrives in November. Precision comes in December. It's the new NFL. We must be patient. January is our reward.

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