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The preseason is not meaningless

It's important to express belief in your players


Bob from Oosterhout, The Netherlands

The Packers have some players prone to injury. I assume they know all the schemes and are in good condition, so why would you want them to play in a meaningless game?

The moment I heard Aaron Rodgers use the word meaningless following the game in Pittsburgh last Sunday, I knew what would happen to my inbox this week. Here's my opinion: Preseason games are not meaningless. Rodgers may not need to play in them to prepare himself – yeah, he's that good – but nearly everybody else on a team's roster needs to get some preseason playing time to be prepared to begin the season, and I'm not talking about a couple of quarters of football. I remember covering a two-time defending Super Bowl champion that was "too good" to play in the preseason in 1976 when it was six games, and that team began the season 1-4. Preseason games are practice. They're the best kind of practice, which is to say games that allow you to work on your craft without having to concern yourself with the final score. Something has been lost this week. We've lost our respect for the preseason as a rite of passage to the real season. Pete Rozelle would be alarmed.

Jon from Sterling, VA

I almost don't want to watch the Packers this season, just because one of our biggest playmakers went down. Am I being ridiculous?

You're being so ridiculous I'm banning you. I can't allow that kind of thinking to infect my inbox.

Sicktus from Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Vic, in the "Final Thoughts" video, you looked like you didn't like Mike's "no more major injuries" answer. Do you guys prepare these vids, know what the other guy is going to say, or is it more a live thing?

It's spontaneous, and we try to keep it that way so it's not rehearsed looking. Just before we went out to the bowl to shoot the video, Mike came to my office so we could each pick a topic to accompany each segment. By doing it that way, we each don't pick the same topic when we're on camera. That's as far as we go. The look you saw was my irritation with this injury thing. I can't get away from it. My inbox is full of it. I'm frustrated by the fear that seems to be paralyzing us.

Joe from Oswego, IL

Is it a sickness I feel as much hate for the Bears as I feel love for the Packers?

It's a little nuts.

Jeremy from Williston, ND

Vic, I was told the reason we see more devastating knee injuries today than we did in the past can be attributed to the quality of shoes. Something has to give and if the ankle is well protected by the shoe, the give will just move to the next joint. That rational makes sense to me. Is there any truth to it?

Maybe players won't be wearing bigger helmets 10 years from now. Maybe they'll be helmetless and shoeless. Maybe the intent of the game should be changed. Instead of the team that scores the most points wins the game, maybe the team that sustains the fewest injuries should be declared the winner. You know what Herm Edwards said: You play to not get hurt. Right?

Jalen from Mt. Vernon, IN

What is your opinion of Terrelle Pryor's chances of making the Browns, or any team's final roster for that matter?

Pryor has been victimized by his athletic ability. He is such a sensational athlete, he was able to dominate in college football at a position that didn't fit his future. Had he played wide receiver in college, I think he'd be one of the elite receivers in the NFL today. I don't know where he is in his development. I hope he makes it. He's fun to watch in the open field.

Michael from Sandy Hook, VA

Can you describe the mood within the team thus far? Do you sense they see (and know) how good they can be and what they can accomplish?

There's no doubt in my mind the Packers know what they can accomplish, but there's a process for getting to where the Packers want to go, and you can't shortcut it. I also have no doubt Mike McCarthy agrees with that opinion and he's making sure his team is respectful of that process. What about us, as media and fans? Are we respectful of that process, or do we just want to turn the page to Chicago? I think we all need to slow down. Chicago will come quickly enough.

Bob from Appleton, WI

Vic, can you recall a preseason game that became more about victory than evaluation or practice?

No, not even in the old days when it was six games, but the starters played deep into the last few games of the six-game days, and winning the game was at a greater premium than it is today. Coaches then wanted to win that final game. They wanted to go into the regular season knowing their team knew how to win. Yes, it's changed since then, and for good reason. The salary cap has changed the game. We have to be more respectful of what injury can do not only to your roster, but to your cap. I get that, but at the end of the preseason, the question will be asked, "Are you ready?" and the answer must be an honest yes, or you've wasted the four best practices of the summer.

Tom from Two Rivers, WI

Vic, aren't you worried Lambeau Field will get injured tonight and not be ready for the season?

Nah, Lambeau Field is tough.

Wayne from Silverdale, WA

With Jordy down, why doesn't Ted Thompson go out and get a veteran receiver?

I think it's important to express belief in the men on your roster. They won't grow if you don't think they can grow. Belief is the biggest part of the draft-and-develop philosophy. Chuck Noll liked to say help is not on the way. In other words, it's up to you to get it done.

Devin from Woodland Hills, CA

Vic, did Brandon from Racine ever select his veteran WR free agent?

Yes, he picked Dane Sanzenbacher.

J.J. from Dallas, TX

Why are the preseason games not played on a regular NFL schedule (Sunday), as opposed to irregular days and times?

Mostly, it's to accommodate the training camp schedule. For example, by playing on Thursday night, you have more time for evaluation prior to cutdowns, and more time for your players to recover from the final preseason game and prepare for the opening of the season. I understand the benefits for the team, but it's not great for the ticket-buying fans, and it's another reason for the preseason being unpopular. At some point, the league needs to address the preseason issue, and the league needs the players union's help on this. The preseason needs to be made more attractive for the fans.

Adam from Toronto, Ontario

Vic, to add to your response, "Matt Forte awaits," so do Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles. I don't want to look past Chicago, but the key to these first few weeks will be up front.

You bet it will. I want to see the Packers stop the run tonight.

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