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There's a reason tight ends are en vogue

Are you allowed to still spike the football?


Joe from Amarillo, TX

So, now that "actions to conserve time [are] illegal after the two-minute warning of either half," no more nail-biter finishes? No more spiking the ball to setup the game-winning field goal on fourth down with 3 seconds left on the clock? Does anyone else think this takes a big part of the excitement away from the last two minutes of any close game?

First, this was the most popular Inbox question of the day. Maybe the year. The rule change isn't referring to spiking the ball. This change is intended to prevent teams from committing multiple penalties on the same play to run time off the clock at the end of a half. This was an issue last year when Baltimore purposely committed holding penalties on fourth-and-8 with 11 seconds to go against Cincinnati to allow punter Sam Koch to hold onto the ball and run out the clock. A game cannot end on a defensive penalty, but that didn't apply on an offensive infraction prior to this ruling. The spike is safe, friends.

Dallas from St. Ignace, Canada

The Packers have really loaded up at tight end. Do you think the Packers are planning to spend significantly more time trying to grind out yardage on the ground next year, or giving Rodgers more targets/options through the air?

It starts with giving Rodgers more options in the middle of the field. Mike McCarthy said during the NFC coaches breakfast he believes tight end is "pushing the envelope" for most important offensive position behind quarterback and left tackle. Offenses are attacking the middle of the field more than ever before and tight ends have been the perfect conduit. Keeping tight ends closer to the line of scrimmage should help the Packers accomplish that. Martellus Bennett is also a terrific blocker, which is an added bonus. There's a reason tight ends are en vogue right now.

Tom from Raymond, WI

Let's stay on the QB of the future topic. A better question would be, what grade do you hope the QB of the future is in? My hope is he is in eighth grade. Our QB of the future is getting ready for track and field or baseball season right now.

My dad used to play a similar game with me when I was younger. I wonder what was going on in Chico, Calif., at that time.

David from Orlando, FL

What are the hardest positions for a rookie to step into and what positions would be the easiest?

I don't know if easy is the right word, but running back, linebacker and defensive back tend to be positions where rookies have been known to make immediate impacts. I'd say offensive line, tight end and quarterback are the hardest to step right in. Both physically and mentally, they usually require more development.

Liam from Madison, WI

I believe there's a consensus that either an elite pass-rusher or an elite corner would make a huge difference for this defense. There's also a consensus that Myles Garrett is a generational talent. My proposal is that we give up every single pick this year, and a second- and third-rounder next year to get the No. 1 overall pick and sign Garrett.

I wouldn't hold your breath on that. The "sell the farm" approach hasn't really worked. The best-case scenario is probably the Falcons trading five picks to take Julio Jones in 2011. Mortgaging the future for one player doesn't turn out well in most cases.

Darrell from Norwalk, CA

Insiders, the idea of Tom Brady playing another 4-6 years got me thinking. Why hasn't the league tried to promote a rivalry between Packers and Patriots? Rodgers vs. Brady?

Because the teams play each other in the regular season only once every four years. I'm still holding out hope for a Rodgers/Brady Super Bowl. That would be one captivating QB matchup.

Don from Cedar Rapids, IA

Although a "complete" player would be ideal, what type of defensive player would you prefer to draft: a "sure-tackler" or an "intimidating thumper" who misses more tackles?

I say the thumper. I'd have confidence in my coaches to hone his tackling. It reminds me of the praise Packers safeties coach Darren Perry gave Ha Ha Clinton-Dix near the end of the season. On his way to his first Pro Bowl, Clinton-Dix cut his missed tackles substantially in each of his first three NFL seasons.

JJ from Cape Coral, FL

Wes, you sound so certain Rodgers will be around many years (because he said so?). Broken bones, concussions, etc., happen all the time. We need to prepare for the worst, right?

Sure. That's why the Packers traded up in 2015 to draft Brett Hundley, but there's a difference between Plan B and finding the quarterback of the future. The Patriots waited until Brady was 36 years old to draft Jimmy Garoppolo and there's still no end in sight.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

When the Raiders are stadium-less for a while, are the Packers due to play them, as I would love to see the Pack play over here in London?

Barring a preseason game, they won't travel to face the Raiders again until 2023. The Packers are scheduled to play Oakland at Lambeau Field in 2019.

Michael from Wausau, WI

The Packers, like every good team, should design their schemes and plays to fit the strengths of their football team. As of right now, even though it's an incomplete picture, what are the strengths of this team?

Everyone agrees the Packers need to add some more running backs, but I like the perimeter weapons they've developed over the past two years. They have four proven receivers, three veteran tight ends and a versatile running back. Once they add another back, Rodgers should have an embarrassment of riches to work with.

Jacob from Houston, TX

We've heavily discussed both our three starting caliber offensive tackles and our two new tight ends. I feel like McCarthy is gearing up for an "I dare you to stop the run" formation. Maybe a rookie pounder or maybe Rip in the backfield.

The offense centers on Rodgers, but Eddie Lacy's breakthrough performances in 2013 and 2014 made life easier on everyone on offense. A running back will be brought in at some point. I'm curious to see what type of running back they go with after favoring power backs the past few years. If a guy comes in and shows he can be productive, he'll get opportunities. It's about grabbing that brass ring when it's presented to you.

Jeff from Champlin, MN

The best pass-rushing teams over the years have included a strong push up the middle. Have to get the QBs off the spot. The most important/necessary second-year leap for our pass-rush is Kenny Clark, similar to B.J. Raji in 2010.

You're right. The best way to get pressure on the quarterback is collapsing the pocket inside and driving him toward your edge rushers. McCarthy reiterated at the owners meetings how big of a leap Clark made during the final stretch of the season. If Clark stays on that trajectory, the Packers could have a very dynamic one-two inside punch with him and Mike Daniels. The potential is there.

Jordan from Stockton, IL

From a leadership standpoint, should the Packers be concerned that they have now lost three of their six playoff captains from last season to free agency (Hyde, Peppers, and Lang)? Do you believe that there are currently players on the roster ready to step into these important leadership roles?

McCarthy talked about this in Arizona. The Packers lost three of their six playoff captains during the first week of free agency. You can't replace that experience, but you can encourage younger players on the roster to help fill that leadership void. David Bakhtiari was asked late last season about leadership and said it's on everyone in the offensive line room to play a role. I think that applies across the board.

Carl from London, UK

You mentioned that Clay Matthews has made the Pro Bowl in six out of his seven seasons in the NFL. It seems to me that puts him in strong contention to be a Hall of Famer. Am I mistaken?

I asked Matthews about this early last season and he dismissed it. He probably needs to play at an elite level for another five or six years before we can start those conversations. To be fair, Julius Peppers preferred not to talk about it and he's going into Year 16.

Chad from La Crosse, WI

I have a bet with my co-worker, Andy. I say that Nick Perry will have the most sacks for the Packers next year (and a side bet saying he will have the most sacks in the North). Will I win either or both of these bets?

The Packers will be pleased if that scenario plays out. They believe in his talent. They wouldn't have made that type of investment if they didn't. If Perry stays healthy, I think he could easily lead the North.

Cliff from Denver, CO

With the replay-review rule change, is there a risk that sometimes camera angles might get a call wrong where otherwise the refs would have gotten it right? I'm thinking of cameras being unable to get "irrefutable proof" on something like a turnover, and coaches challenging not because they think their team won the play, but because they know there's no "proof."

That's probably one of those situations where the referee would give his two cents on the play during his conversation over the headset with the league office. My guess is the league office would heavily consider his opinion if they don't have a good angle on the play. Referees still are able to voice their opinion. The only change is the league is the one making the final call.

Dan from Leland, NC

Wes, how about Mark Tauscher as another seventh-round pick who had a great career?

Wow. How do you forget a seventh-round pick who started 132 of the 134 regular-season games he played in? That's on me. Don't tell Mark.

Bob from Colby, KS

I don't believe you guys have covered paying college athletes like Mike and Mike have. I don't believe that colleges should pay them because it's really taxpayer money that we're talking about. Why not the pros paying some money?

I wonder where you draw the line because not every Division I school in the country can afford to pay its players. What's the cap situation? Which sports would get compensated? I have yet to see a proposal that answers all those questions, but I'm all ears.

In his second season with the Packers, FB Aaron Ripkowski appeared in all 16 games of the 2016 season. He accumulated 196 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. Photos by Evan Siegle and Matt Becker,

Mike from Ocean, NJ

How do people become GMs? What do you have to do to get your foot in the door?

*Most NFL general managers have climbed the scouting tree to the summit. The final leap for most seems to come from serving as directors of football operations or college scouting. John Lynch's situation was unique coming from the broadcasting side of things, but I remember John Schneider saying at the combine how inquisitive Lynch was during production meetings before games. *

Michael from Maple Grove, MN

I seriously think they just need to get rid of OT (except postseason, obviously). It will make the end of close games more exciting.

Interesting idea.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

Marty wants to know "why" things are done certain ways or why he's asked to do certain things on the field. If he asked you why we have an Insider Inbox, what would you tell him?

We're here to educate the masses…and I need a place to dispense my favorite one-liners and movie quotes.

Shawn from Blaine, MN

My suggestion would be to answer all questions for the day with lines from "Seinfeld," "Office Space," "Shawshank," etc.

That'd be great.

Will from Knoxville, TN

The other day you answered a question about great players from obscure schools and you mentioned Arian Foster. My question is, when did the University of Tennessee, or any other SEC school, become an obscure team?

I was referring to undrafted free agents in general.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Did Mike or yourself ever search Vic's office and find the "thing"?

I have been in the office but haven't brought my flashlight with me. If the "thing" is in there, it's not in plain sight.

Sean from Arlington Heights, IL

Weston, Weston, Weston, I'm disappointed. Can't think of any other players who got their MBA while still playing? Willie Davis, an all-time Packer great as you well know, graduated with his MBA from the University of Chicago in 1968. He retired as a Packer in 1969. There are many others, particularly from the days before players made money that could set them up for life.

*This is why I opened the discussion to the Inbox. I'm not educated on even current players' educational backgrounds. I definitely tip my cap to Mr. Davis. *

Mark from St Louis, MO

How about this to change things up. For one day only, give all responses that fans want to hear. It'd be hilarious.

Oh, I like that.

Herb from St Paul, MN

In the past, Vic has had an "Ask Vic Raw" column for April Fools' Day (unedited and unrevised questions from submitters). Are there any plans to have a similar column in celebration of April Fools?

Run all your ideas by Spoff. I'll see you guys next week.

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