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What's next in the preseason progression?

These games are not about the big picture


Rob from Hull, England

Vic, looking at the rushing defensive stats for the Patriots game, we allowed one big play of 55 yards for a TD, but then had 16 other rush attempts, allowing only 39 yards. Is this a sign of improvement or is it a sign we faced second- and third-choice backs? Or is it simply because preseason is pass happy?

Again, nothing about the preseason is an indication of the big picture. Everything about the preseason is an indication of how individual players are performing. In many cases, the deck has been stacked to expose a player for evaluation. You have to look at every play and evaluate the people individually that were on the field for that play. In many cases, the combinations of players in the game are combinations we'll never see in the regular season.

Douglas from Louisville, KY

How do you feel about Alonzo Harris?

He's a big back, and I love big backs. He caught my attention with the tackling-drill collision with Josh Francis last week, and then Harris flashed in the game in New England. I want to see more.

Gus from Eau Claire, WI

Would cross-training guards to snap the ball also create enough confusion for defensive lines to give them an advantage at the pro level, or would it just eat up too much practice time?

If you have a guard that can hike the ball, you can use a trick play on the goal line. When the offense breaks the huddle, the guard goes over the ball, creating an unbalanced line that might catch the defense off guard.

Duane from Newnan, GA

Recently, Coach McCarthy made this comment about Tolzien's body of work in camp: "Biggest thing you look for is command and tempo." What does he mean by command and tempo?

Managing the chaos.

Joshua from Mankato, MN

Vic, I don't think you're guilty of it, but I'm tired of hearing about players flashing in training camp. It's stale, generic, lazy writing. Writers should explain specifically what a player did to flash. Agreed?

I'm from the Allen Iverson school of practice. Practice? I think we make way too much out of practice and I think it is grossly over-reported. It's to the point we're providing play-by-play accounts of red zone drills. When I started covering football, if you had covered practice the way we cover practice today you would've earned the coach's wrath. Coaches were sensitive to spying back then and you would've been accused of providing information for the enemy. We would watch practice, get an overall feeling for what happened in it and then pick a player to interview who would represent what happened in that practice. That became our story of the day. It was representative, but not specific. Nowadays, we've got real-time tweeting. Aaron Rodgers throws a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in a red zone drill and the world knows about it seconds later. Practice?

Kabir from Asheville, NC

Ty Montgomery blocked beautifully to cause the three-defender pileup that let Alonzo Harris score. Best Stanford Packer since James Lofton?

I'm not sure. Maybe it's in the media guide.

Corey from Beaumont, TX

Vic, a quick message to the readers who are making much of these preseason games. The 2008 Lions won all of theirs.

It's the ultimate splash of cold water on the face.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

Let's get way, way ahead of ourselves. Would Julius Peppers enter the Hall of Fame as a Packer, assuming he retires with a Super Bowl under his belt?

The busts don't wear helmets. It was duly noted Ron Wolf worked for the Raiders and Jerome Bettis played for the Rams.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Vic, what did you think of the PGA Championship tournament?

I love Whistling Straits. I think it's a visual delight and a wonderful test of golf, but 20 under par isn't befitting a major and it was an affront to a great golf course for the PGA to allow the course to play as favorably to the golfers as it did. The greens needed to be firmer. That's how you bring scores down; repel shots.

Del from Sterling, IL

Vic, you seem to have an appreciation for James Harrison. What do you think about him not letting his sons accept participation trophies?

I don't have a problem with it. He's free to raise his sons as he sees fit. He's trying to teach his sons the difference between winning and losing. If we reward each, then why aspire to victory? That's one view. Others would say it's not losing that's being rewarded, it's the effort. You have to pick the view you feel works best for your children. If you have one who's not athletically gifted but gave his or her all, I think the participation trophy is fine. It rewards the effort and that's a good thing and a good teacher. Harrison is old school. He was taught old-school virtues and now the world is telling him he has to change his culture. I think it's unfair. How do you undo your upbringing?

Eugene from Sacramento, CA

After Week 1 of the preseason, who are you most looking forward to watching make progress in Week 2?

I want to see what Quinten Rollins will do for an encore. I'd like to see Mike Pennel get some snaps against Maurkice Pouncey. Mostly, I want to see Ty Montgomery return some kickoffs.

Ronnie from Chicago, IL

Why is face guarding illegal? If you don't touch the player, the defense should be able to do anything they want to the receiver.

Face guarding is not illegal. Ask Ellis Hobbs. Or ask Pete Morelli, or the Lions.

Michael from Izmir, Turkey

Vic, was there ever a star running back with notoriously bad vision?

I'm sure there have been backs with bad eyesight, but I'm going to submit the name Larry Brown, who was a rookie with the Redskins when Vince Lombardi was their coach. Brown had a hearing impairment and Lombardi lobbied successfully with Pete Rozelle to have Brown's helmet fitted with a hearing device so Brown could hear the snap count. I'm thinking it was the first-ever helmet communicator.

Wayne from Bellevue, NE

Vic, every play called could be a good play if executed correctly. Thoughts?

I agree, and the best chance for executing a play includes strategy that would allow for a one-on-one personnel advantage. Don't scheme schemes, scheme personnel.

Zack from Stanford, CA

I was looking for words to describe James Starks. Your slash runner hit it on the head. Who else was a slasher?

O.J. Simpson was a slasher, no pun intended. There are pounders and straight-liners and cutback runners. Eddie Lacy is a pounder. Ahman Green was a straight-liner who developed some wiggle with the Packers. Franco Harris was a cutback runner. Jim Brown was anything he wanted to be.

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