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Thompson drafts the middle rounds as well as any GM

NFL teams set their own course in the preseason


Jay from Land O Lakes, FL

Guys, it appears Blake Martinez may not only exceed expectations for a fourth-rounder but actually crack the starting lineup in Game 1! My question is twofold. If he is this good, how did he slip so far in the draft, and secondly, how does Ted know about these diamonds in the rough? David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley are similar stories.

I don't have the exact statistics, but Thompson and his scouts seem to draft the fourth and fifth rounds as well as any front office in the league. That's where they unearthed Mike Daniels, Brett Hundley Micah Hyde, four-fifths of their starting offensive line, and their sixth offensive lineman (JC Tretter) over the last five years. If Martinez can play, he'll be in good company.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

There's an obvious pattern for how regular-season opponents are scheduled, but what about preseason? Can teams decide themselves? I know the Packers used to play the Titans regularly in the preseason.

Not sure what the protocol used to be, but NFL teams have been allowed to schedule their own opponents since Houston returned to the NFL in 2002. There are a few restrictions (can't play opponents more than once in preseason, no division matchups and can't play non-NFL teams). It's preferable to play regional opponents for travel purposes, which is why you usually see Kansas City, Cleveland and Tennessee show up on the Packers' exhibition schedule.

Mike from Bella Vista, AR

LaDarius Gunter whiffed on the block during the Raiders preseason game, leading to a blocked punt and Raiders TD. How important was this mistake? Will this make a difference in his ability to make the 53-man roster? Or is it just a preseason thing that we learn from and move on?

I don't think it damaged Gunter's chances of making the 53. The coaches like his upside at cornerback, but special-team reps are critical for proving he can be relied upon in the third phase. Gunter stated earlier this offseason that it's his goal to be active in every game this year after being a healthy scratch in 10 of the Packers' 18 contests last season. It's one thing to make the final roster, but it's another to make the game-day 46. To get there, you need to be reliable on special teams. That's where the Packers want to see growth from Gunter in Year 2.

Ryan from Platteville, WI

How do you view Blake Martinez's second preseason game? He got a lot of snaps, and he looked like a solid defender. I'm very excited to see where he can take his game.

It was a step in the right direction. The coaching staff played him the entire first half (26 defensive snaps) and he responded well to the added workload. It says a lot about the rookie that the Packers are entrusting him with the communication helmet and every snap he gets this summer will help in the long run.

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

So let me get this straight. The Packers find all these undrafted rookies and street free agents, develop them to be great players, and then cut them so that other teams can pick them up and use their talent against us. Shouldn't there be a rule that says if we find them, we have their rights and can negotiate their terms if other teams want to sign them? It just doesn't seem right that we will be cutting players that look to be promising.

Them's the breaks. If an undrafted player isn't good enough to make your 53-man roster, you have to be willing to lose him to another team like Mitchell Henry last year.

Mark from Houghton, MI

Someone suggested on this site a couple days ago that there should be no penalty for a kickoff out of bounds. That kicking and skillfully angling the ball should not result in a flag, but be a strategy to prevent a good return, like punting out of bounds. I have a different idea on all that. I think there should be a penalty for punting out of bounds. Make for more punt-return action, especially since there are so few kickoff returns anymore. What do you think? You're not going to ban me? Please don't, I love this column.

I've always been a proponent of coffin-corner punting, but you raise an interesting point. The advent of the 'Aussie' style punts seems to have removed punting out of bounds from the game in many ways. Most punters are trying to avoid putting the ball out of bounds between the 20s. More often than not, it's a mis-hit whenever you see it happen.

Rance from West Terre Haute, IN

What is the status of Jordy Nelson and his prognosis for the season?

Nelson is still aiming for Week 1 in Jacksonville. It sounds like he'll participate during individual drills of practice this week. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether he plays in San Francisco.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

What are your thoughts on the two undrafted quarterbacks (Callahan and Williams) so far?

Callahan has played pretty well considering the circumstances surrounding Hundley's ankle. Callahan would've started the first two games if the Hall of Fame Game wasn't canceled. Then, he was called in cold against Oakland when Hundley aggravated the ankle mid-series. Callahan lacks the speed you need to thrive as a shorter quarterback, but I like his moxie. In contrast, Williams has good size and speed but isn't polished as a passer. Both should get a lot of reps in the final two games.

Chris from Marshfield, WI

I noticed the players have their own cubby in the circular locker room. Are there enough spots for as many players as there are on the team right now? If not, where do they go? If so, are there just empties all over during the regular season?

I believe there around 60 spots in the main locker room. Any player without any previous NFL experience has a spot in the auxiliary locker room adjacent to the primary one. It used to be known as the "Green Mile" when it was in the southeast corner of the locker room, but I haven't heard that term thrown around very often since it was moved to the northeast side. Once the regular season starts, the auxiliary locker room houses the team's 10 practice-squad players.

Erik from Winfield, IL

So the preseason is really about evaluation of personnel and finding the players to make the final cut for 32 teams across the NFL. I was wondering, does the NFL use the preseason to evaluate the officials the same way?

They certainly do. The NFL uses it to take a look at some potential referees, as well. The league actually had a developmental official working the sideline in Thursday's game against Oakland.

John from Ann Arbor, MI

Hasn't Tim Masthay set Green Bay records in his time here? I was a bit surprised to see competition brought in and I'm even more surprised that so far he doesn't seem to be responding well. My guess is it's because he's never been the best directional kicker and had the occasional choke last year. Am I off the mark? I'm no expert so I'm curious to hear your opinion. Also, have you seen more of the same during practices? I feel for the guy. It's hard being a ginger.

I don't know if I'd go as far as to say he hasn't responded well. Masthay has boomed a few nice punts this preseason, including against Oakland. He's just had his ups-and-downs in practice. Directional punting seemed to be a challenge for Masthay last year (a career-high 14 punts out of bounds), but ultimately it was his kicks that put the Packers in a position to set a franchise record for net punting and fewest opponent return yards. I see the competition with Peter Mortell going right down to the wire.

James from Dakota, IL

Will Dean Lowry see more playing time in the last two preseason games?

Lowry has received a healthy amount of work (34 snaps) in the first two games, starting as the wide defensive end in the 3-4 base defense next to Letroy Guion and Mike Daniels, and then working inside with Kenny Clark in the second quarter. My guess is you'll see him get a comparable amount of reps in last two games. He needs the work. With Mike Pennel out for the first four games, the Packers likely will need Lowry to play right away in the base defense during the first month of the season.

Benjamin from Washington D.C.

Just re-watched the game highlights, and it looked like on all of the ones for Lacy/Starks, Rip was throwing a stellar block. I love Kuhn, but between Rip and our new converted D-end FB I feel good about the Pack at that position this year.

If you can make it to any of the final four public practices, isolate on Ripkowski for a few minutes during contact periods. Dude packs a legit punch. He's not easy to take down in the open field, which you saw in the Oakland game on the rollout pass. He also can play in nearly every situation on special teams, which is essential with NFL fullbacks only playing around 20 percent of the offensive snaps these days. The Packers like what they've seen from Ripkowski. Otherwise, they wouldn't have moved on from Kuhn.

Christopher from Echo Park, CA

Spiffie/Biffy, What moment of the Rio Olympics has stuck with you?

Wow. Too many to count. Michael Phelps' final hurrah was incredible to watch. Simone Biles did some stuff I didn't know was humanly possible. I guess if I had to pick one, I'd have to say Lilly King topping Yulia Efimova in the 100 breaststroke. There's something to be said for speaking from the heart and backing it up in your performance.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Biff, not trying to get you and Spoff into a spat, but don't you think the Oxford comma is a Cambridge too far?

It's inevitable that I'm going to get into some disagreements with Spoff, but English will never be one of them. The guy is a whiz-kid when it comes to grammar. If he wants to rock the Oxford comma, I'm not standing in his way.

Gary from Davenport, IA

I know this will never happen, but what would happen if American football became an Olympic sport? How unwatchable would many of the games be and by how many points would the U.S. win by if they tried hard for four quarters?

We'll never see it. Simply put, it wouldn't be a competition. Even the best international players who make the NFL like Vikings rookie receiver Moritz Boehringer face a huge transition. I remember hearing from several people during this year's pre-draft process how the German Football League Boehringer came from is comparable to the lowest division of college football.

Jay from Flint, MI

A banning from Vic! Awesome! Will the youngsters have the stones to ban? Go ahead. I double-dog dare you. Make my day. Do you feel lucky punk? I need a vacation. I'll be back!

I've banned a few people already, but I'm not going to waste a word to announce it. The Insider Inbox doesn't have a transaction wire. So if I'm answering your question, you're still in the ball game.

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