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Top storylines of training camp


Belto from Canton, NC

Vic, I figured out, watching an NFL special on top defenses of all time, why I didn't know who Bert Jones was. What a time to try and win a championship. A good player could have easily gotten lost in that era, especially with the way defenses were allowed to play. Makes me wonder how many other guys that would have been stars today spent those years face down in the mud or running for their lives.

Kenny Anderson is the first guy that comes to mind. His talents were perfectly suited for today's game. He was born too early. Steve Grogan, Jim Hart and Joe Ferguson are three more.

Kevin from Lake Forest, IL

Who do you think is the most underrated and/or underappreciated head coach over the past 20 or 30 years?

Marty Schottenheimer.

Tim from Albuquerque, NM

Imagine you were invited to speak at the rookie symposium. What advice would you give to young players based on your years of covering the NFL?

Pro football can give a young man a head start into the real world. Live cheaply and save every dollar you can while you're a young player, and prepare for the day when you'll have to get on with your life's work.

Craig from North Chicago, IL

Vic, there are many areas of the Packers' game that need improvement from last year. This obviously leads to competition for roster spots at a number of different positions. At which position do you see the most competition for a job? I'm leaning towards safety.

The competition at safety and what the Packers do there will probably be the feature attraction of training camp. These are the other top storylines, as I see it: 1.) If what the Packers do at safety involves Charles Woodson, then who will emerge at cornerback? 2.) Is Graham Harrell the next Matt Flynn? 3.) Is James Starks ready to take his game to the next level? 4.) Will Marshall Newhouse establish himself as a fixture at left tackle, will Derek Sherrod make a full recovery and compete for the left tackle spot, or will Bryan Bulaga be moved there? 5.) How will the competition at wide receiver play out and what impact will that have on how many tight ends the Packers keep? 6.) Is Nick Perry the missing link in the pass rush and how quickly will it take for him to answer that question? 7.) Have the Packers found the depth they need to create on their defensive line?

Sam from Nashville, TN

Woodson played wide receiver in college some of the time. As far as athletic ability and skill, what's the difference between wide receiver and cornerback? They both need speed and agility. Does the receiver have better hands, while cornerbacks are better at reacting?

The old saying is that if defensive backs could catch, they'd be wide receivers. I've covered at least four cornerbacks with good enough hands and fluidness to have been able to play wide receiver: Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Mel Blount and Rashean Mathis.

Thomas from Buffalo Grove, IL

What makes the garage door opener a better invention then the television remote control?

Once you put the TV on ESPN, you don't have to change the channel again except to see Packers games on Sunday, but you have to raise and lower the garage door at least twice each per day, or they'll turn off your cable.

Robert from Coupeville, WA

Where can we get "Ask Vic" t-shirts?

Let's cut out the middle man: Buy a t-shirt, write "Ask Vic" on it, and then send me a couple of bucks.

Aaron from South Bend, IN

Vic, should Notre Dame join a conference and, if so, which one?

Yes, the ACC.

Greg from Eagle River, WI

I was happy the Packers drafted the way they did. In your experience, have you ever seen a team go from a last-place defense to a championship defense from one season to the next? I'm not saying worst to first, but middle of the road should be good enough with the offense the Packers have.

I covered a Jaguars team that was transformed from a soft, problematic defense into a top-ranked unit that was threatening the all-time fewest-points-allowed record. That was in 1999 and Dom Capers was that unit's new defensive coordinator. Didn't he do the same thing with the Packers defense in 2009? The Packers defense I saw lose to the Jaguars in 2008 was very problematic.

Justin from Christchurch, New Zealand

Is six wide receivers and five tight ends normal? What does that mean for the balance at other positions?

No, 11 receivers would be heavy by at least two and some people might even say it's heavy by three. It would mean you better have some big guys on your practice squad you believe are close to being ready to play. The risk in that, of course, is that you are likely to lose those guys. I don't expect the Packers to keep 11 receivers.

Ben from De Pere, WI

Vic, for the next 10-15 years, what worries you most about the NFL and what are some possible things we have to look forward to?

The player lawsuits worry me, especially if they get to court. If that happens, all bets are off. It could open a Pandora's Box of problems for the game at all levels. Looking forward, I see the game going global. We truly live in a global economy. If you're not worldwide, you're small.

Ron from Chicago, IL

If a quarterback fakes a hand-off and pretends to still have the ball, can he be hit by the defense?

It better happen shortly after he fakes the hand-off, the contact better not be high or low, and the defender better put the quarterback on the ground softly, or you know what will fly. This is a kinder, gentler NFL.

Steven from Birmingham, AL

Who are some of your favorite players that you covered who were not drafted?

The first ones I can remember are Randy Grossman and Donnie Shell, and there was an offensive tackle named Todd Fordham in Jacksonville who's a great guy and played for a lot of seasons, and I've got Diondre Borel, Shaky Smithson, Tori Gurley and Vic So'oto here in Green Bay, and all of those guys have one thing in common: They're great interviews. That's what I love about the undrafted guys. They are truly glad to see you. They have nothing to hide and they want to make sure they get their message out that they cherish the opportunity and they'll do anything to make the team. That message has never changed through the years and it might be the thing I've always liked most about training camp. It belongs to the guys who aren't above it.

Chris from Appleton, WI

Vic, you are only wrong when you lose your convictions.

Then I am never wrong, because I am absolutely sure football is a tough game for tough guys.

Casey from Lynchburg, VA

Vic, what are the main differences between coaching at the college and pro levels?

College coaches are only permitted to spend 20 hours a week with their players during the season. Packers coaches spent 20 hours with their players in two days last week, in May.

Randy from Grand Junction, CO

What do you think Vince Lombardi would have said after the loss to the Giants in the playoff game?

I think he would've said the Packers lost to a very good football team. He would've made no excuses. He would've complimented the Giants and set his mind to fixing what went wrong for the Packers. He always took the high road.

Jaylon from Bossier City, LA

Vic, what do you think of Matthew Stafford? Do you think he can compete with our league MVP?

I think Stafford and Aaron Rodgers are going to be the face of the NFC North for a long time.

Dan from Vancouver, WA

Hey, Vic, I am currently interning to be a high school English teacher. What can I tell my students who are really interested in sports that shows them that good study and school habits will carry over to success in the sports profession? (P.S. "The Moon is Down" is also one of my favorite novels, and I plan on using it in my class next year.)

Tell them a rookie player's greatest challenge is learning the playbook and the techniques he's being taught. The pace at which he applies himself to learning will determine whether he is a success or failure. Tell them knowledge breeds success, and ignorance is failure's steady companion.

Tim from Huntsville, AL

Vic, I've seen you mention that college football is the minor league for the NFL. So, I would like to hear your opinion on whether or not college players should be paid?

A college scholarship meets every IRS criterion for revenue. How much is enough?

Shawn from Shorewood, MN

Why do you think the Packers running back screen game has become so poor over the past five years?

I get this question a lot and I just don't get it. The Packers repeatedly violate one of the tenets of play-calling: You don't screen in the red zone. They do it often and they do it successfully. You can't screen all day long; it's an easy play to sniff out.

Trevor from Oxford, MS

Vic, I will be abroad for your golf outing. I regret not being able to make an appearance and tell you how much I dislike your stuff. I would've even volunteered to caddy for you.

That's a shame. I would've loved to have given you total consciousness on your death bed. For those of you who would like to receive total consciousness on your death bed, please register for the “Ask Vic Golf Outing” now.

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