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The Packers are a homegrown bunch

Competition or by committee? Plus the silent count, helmet care and the Badger band


The regular writer of "Ask Vic," packers.com editor Vic Ketchman, is out of the office. Staff writer Mike Spofford is temporarily filling in to answer your "Ask Vic" questions.

Garrett from Seattle, WA

Mike, did they add touchdowns to soccer games for this World Cup? It seems Germany just scored one. Maybe Vic will be more enticed to watch the games now.

If they haven't started letting players use their hands, don't bet on it.

Jonathan from Leeds, UK

Hi Mike/Vic. I was trying to think how many current Packers players have played for another NFL team and got stuck after two. What do you think is the main advantage of having a group of players staying with one team, and are there any other teams that have this sort of situation?

The Packers are rather uniquely homegrown, and it stems from their full-fledged belief in draft-and-develop. The advantages come in staying young and knowing your personnel through and through, which both factor into cap management. I did a quick perusal of the Packers' current 89-man roster, and I counted only eight players who have spent time in their careers on another team's 53-man roster – Flynn, Harper, Tolzien, Hill, Harris, Kuhn, Peppers and Guion. Maybe I missed one or two others, but that's still a small percentage. I can't say for sure how that compares to other teams, but I highly doubt anyone else's list would be shorter.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Mike, I know you're a baseball guy, so here's a baseball question: Do you think anyone will ever come close to breaking Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game hitting streak?

In a word, no. I remember back in 1987, when I was in high school, Paul Molitor made a run at it for the Brewers. He got to 39, and in game 40 I distinctly recall listening on the radio as teammate Rick Manning knocked in the winning run in extra innings for a walk-off win with Molitor in the on-deck circle. The crowd booed and Molitor was the first guy to run out and hug Manning for getting the team the win. Aside from that classy display of unselfishness and team spirit, which I saw on the highlights later, what sticks out most in my mind is a subsequent broadcast during which it was mentioned that this particular game would have been Molitor's No. 56 had he kept the streak going. It seemed like forever had passed since that night he missed getting to 40. That's when I decided DiMaggio's record was untouchable. Thanks for the baseball diversion, but we'll get back to football now.

Tom from APG, MD

In regards to the 53-man roster, what do you think the split between offensive and defensive players is? I am guessing but I would think you normally carry more defensive guys?

If you take out punter, kicker and long snapper, that leaves 50 players, and if it's tilted one way, it's usually defense, 26-24. I've seen it 27-23 before, too, I think, but that's usually due to an injury anomaly. The 53-man roster is always in flux anyway. The roster chosen at the end of training camp won't stay that way for long.

Marin from West Lawn, PA

Hi Mike, whom do you think will have the toughest challenge this preseason – the players trying to make the squad or the coaches deciding on who to cut?

If the players respond the way pros often do to how tough it is, it'll be that much tougher on the coaches and personnel staff.

Bo from Elsinore, Denmark

Hey, Mike. When training camp practices are free of admission the other teams cannot attend. The Seahawks now charge a $7 transportation fee to attend their 12 open practices. Can our scouts attend now?

Yes, they can. But the Seahawks did the same thing last year and won the Super Bowl, so they're obviously not concerned with what's visible in those dozen practices. Opposing scouts can come to Family Night here.

Josh from Green Lake, WI

Mike, I've been thinking about your response to Damien from Melbourne. Last year I went to an Australian V8 Supercar race in Texas and video cameras were not permitted on the grounds. But my smartphone was permitted and I was able to record all the HD footage I wanted. What's to stop a scout from another team going to an open public training camp and filming it with a smartphone or a hidden camera?

I don't know. Ethics? Justin from Athens, GA, and James from my old haunt of Wausau also seem to think it'd be pretty easy to go undetected. Note to self: Don't play golf for money with Ask Vic readers.

Stephen from Bowling Green, KY

Hey Mike, NFL.com asked on Twitter: "What's your favorite team's most memorable play?" What is the Packers' most memorable play in your opinion?

Well, if I narrow it down to plays I've seen in my lifetime, that rules out the Ice Bowl sneak, so I'd have to go with either Desmond Howard's kickoff-return TD in Super Bowl XXXI or Clay Matthews' forced fumble in Super Bowl XLV.

Chad from Rhinelander, WI

Assuming you have acquired a few autographs over the years. Do you have any unique autograph stories to share?

When the Bears began holding their training camp in my hometown when I was 11, I was all about the autographs. I once chased down Mike Ditka in a golf cart and he actually stopped to sign and ask how I was doing. I also cornered Jim McMahon on his motor scooter (the players rode those all over town) and he pretended to fall off and injure his hand so that he couldn't sign. When he saw that I didn't buy it, he pulled down his shades, smiled and signed.

Eric from Monroe, OH

Mike, can you explain how a silent count works for an offense in a loud stadium? I don't get how all of the offensive players get off the line at the same time without the QB's vocal signals, especially the players who are on the ends of the line.

It's all timing, which is why it has to be practiced regularly. There are variations, but the basics are triggered by the quarterback and the center. If the QB is under center, he taps the center on the butt, or if he's in the shotgun, he lifts his leg. At some point after that, the center will lift his head into a ready position, which begins the silent count, normally one beat or two (think "One Mississippi …"). All the linemen know the mental count, so they don't have to watch the ball, and their movement and the snap are simultaneous. Last fall, Sports Illustrated had a great feature story about how longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd invented the silent count in the mid-1980s with the Browns and then perfected it beginning in the late '90s with the Colts and Peyton Manning. It changed the game without changing any rules.

Terry from Junction City, WI

I have a question about the Packers helmet routine. I see that they all look clean and spotless at the beginning of every game, but then the helmets (especially linemen's) are all scraped and scarred as the game progresses. Are they changed every week? Or if not, are they repainted and the decal and stripes reapplied? If they are not changed every week, how do they not look all gnarly, gouged and uneven with coat after coat of paint? And how do they line up the "G" decal when applying it so they all look the same? P.S. That would be a fun video for Packers.com; show how the helmets are maintained, etc.

A variety of helmet questions came in, so I asked a couple of diligent, dedicated members of the team's equipment crew this question, and they told me that most of the marks you see on a helmet during a game are from the facemasks of opposing players. On Friday night, after the next week's practices are complete, those scuffs and scrapes are taken care of with rubbing alcohol, and if a helmet's decal or stripe is sufficiently damaged, it is replaced. "Practice makes perfect" was their answer for lining those up so well. The shell will be replaced if it has a crack, but that's rare. Next time you see a helmet noticeably banged up during a game, or a decal ripped or scraped, drop Vic a line and we could try that video idea. We won't always see it because we're not watching the TV broadcast.

Aaron from Reading, England

Who on the Packers roster would you want covering a tight end like Jimmy Graham?

I wouldn't stew over a specific player. Ideally, you can bracket a tough matchup like Graham with a linebacker in front and a safety over the top – which the Eagles did to him in the playoffs last year – but that means your corners are singled up quite a bit on the outside. Drew Brees doesn't look at who's covering Graham as much as how many, and he's looking for where any single coverage can be beaten, while defenses are trying to mix up their coverages and not get predictable down after down. Defenders across the board will be put in tough spots time after time, not just the guy or guys covering Graham.

Jeff from West Allis, WI

Mike, your comments about depth at cornerback got me thinking about Jarrett Bush. I know that he is a strong special teams contributor and from all accounts a leader in the locker room. However, I'm not always confident is his coverage abilities. With all of the depth at corner do you think he will be tested for his position on the roster this season, or do you believe he is secure?

Seth from Des Moines and Ron from Rockford asked the same thing. I wouldn't call his roster spot secure, and the reason Bush has played eight seasons is he's never believed his spot is secure. His special-teams leadership means a lot, as did his plays down the stretch against the Falcons last year, but Bush will continue fighting to make the roster, like he always has. He's had some low moments, particularly early on, but his career is one I've genuinely admired.

Shane from Fresno, CA

Mike, thanks for filling in. With all the options at inside linebacker, with Jones, Lattimore and Barrington, do you see us using a LB-by-committee approach? Or do you see a heated battle for a long-term job on the horizon? With the committee approach, it's much more proactive, considering our track record with key defenders going down to injury. However, a competition could be just what our next "wait and see" guy needs to explode on the scene. Your thoughts?

I like the way you think. It could be some of both. Lattimore and Barrington are going to push for playing time, and if they earn it, they'll get their chances. Based on what I saw in the spring, I think Lattimore could have a role on this defense, starter or not.

Mark from Oak Grove, MN

I've always thought that following a personal foul on a touchdown, where the penalty gets assessed on the kickoff, that the kicking team should at least on occasion try an onside kick since you already have the extra 15 yards. Other than the possibility of giving up decent field position, is there any other reason not to try it?

Because the receiving team is on higher alert for it when the kicking team isn't taking as big a field-position risk. The odds of success are even lower for an already low-percentage play when you reduce or eliminate the element of surprise.

Jim from Manteca, CA

More bad news for Vic on soccer (futbol). I noticed that the TV sports guys are even starting to use "nil" instead of zero when reporting scores. Can you see someday when the Packers beat the Bears, "21-nil"?

I had a co-worker at my first newspaper job who started saying the word "Grinch" for a shutout score. "The final today, 21-grinch." It never caught on.

John from Austin, TX

We always try to attend at least one home game per year. One of the best ever was a few years ago when the University of Wisconsin band was there! Tremendous! Any idea when/if they are coming to Lambeau this season? Hoping it's Carolina.

You're in luck. I checked and the UW marching band is indeed scheduled to come to Lambeau for the game against the Panthers on Oct. 19. That's always my favorite halftime of the season. Wish I could stick around for the fifth quarter, but that's when the work begins.

Chris from Burlington, Ontario

Mike: As you know, Vic is great at his job, but you do offer a nice change of pace to Ask Vic. With fans starving for more and more info, would you please do an Ask Mike once a week or something? I would love to read your thoughts during the NFL season. Take care and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Thanks Chris, and I'll remind you and other readers that I do a weekly online chat during the season. Even if you can't participate live, you can read the transcript after the fact. I did a chat yesterday for kicks, in case you missed it.

John from Sunnyvale, CA

I believe I have a condition called "Packers-itis", caused by a lack of actual news and over speculation of draftees. What is your recommended remedy?

Take some time off, which I will do starting tomorrow when Vic returns. On the site, though, it'll be like I never left. I've written our "Countdown to Camp" series that examines the roster position by position, and Vic will post those stories while I'm gone. Hey, maybe if I just email him one story a day, he'll think I'm constantly burning the midnight oil while away from the office. George Costanza would be proud.

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