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Who are candidates to break out?


Adam from Madison, WI

Thanks for the game blog; it was great. It taught me to watch the game another way. Is there any way to make it larger? The polls were taking up about half of the blog and from what I could tell there was no way to increase the size.

I don't know the answer to your question, but the type of blog I'm doing here is teaching me to watch the game a new way, too. I didn't take questions from fans in my previous game blog. In this one, I take questions and post fan observations and it's teaching me to watch the game through the fans' eyes. I'm seeing things I otherwise might not have considered. In this case, another "pair of eyes" truly is a good thing.

Mallory from Saint Paul, MN

How does the NFL decide who plays whom in preseason games?

The perfect preseason matchup is two teams that are geographically close but from different conferences. Green Bay and Cleveland are perfect preseason opponents. You'll see that theme on just about every team's schedule. Green Bay and Indianapolis are two teams that are geographically close but from different conferences. The same is true of Green Bay and Kansas City. Eventually, however, you run out of those types of opponents, so you might have an Arizona or a Seattle on your schedule, but those are kept to a minimum.

Jack from Salt Lake City, UT

What do you think about Ryan Grant? Do you think he's 100 percent after the injury last season?

He told me he is 100 percent confident that the ankle is fully healed, and I believe him, but running backs make their living with their feet and you don't sustain an injury to your ankle that requires surgery and not need time to get your groove back. I've seen flashes in training camp where he has stuck that foot in the ground and exploded. There was such a play at the sideline on Saturday and I detected a slight hesitation. That'll go away in time. Grant had always been a durable runner for the Packers. When he gets back in the groove, he'll become that guy again. That's the real challenge James Starks faces. It's Starks' flash vs. Grant's durability.

Gary from Puyallup, WA

Your coverage of the Packers' visit to the White House was terrific. Did you get a chance to say hello to the President?

Yeah, I bumped into him in the White House Library and he said, "Vic, you gotta do the asterisk." I told him I can't do it because it got me in so much trouble. He just shook his head and walked away.

Benjamin from Saint Marys, GA

What is the most memorable play you have ever witnessed?

The Immaculate Reception. By the way, I love Saint Marys.

Derrick from Owatonna, MN

Did you forget to mention "Remember the Titans?"

I didn't forget. When they started singing at the end, that was the end of the line for me. Football movies have to fall into one of two categories, but not both, to be successful: the sublime or the ridiculous. "Brian's Song" is the sublime, "The Longest Yard" and "Semi-Tough" are the ridiculous. "Remember the Titans" is the sublime that too often borders on the ridiculous.

Tom from Chesterfield, VA

How important are preseason reps for our draft choices, and is someone like House really in jeopardy due to a hamstring injury?

You can't make the club in the tub. That's an old football saying from back when whirlpool treatment was the prescription for all strains and sprains, and whirlpools were in metal tubs in which only one person could fit and getting into it was only possible if you weren't too badly injured. Davon House was lookin' good until the hamstring injury right before "Family Night." He's been out a week, which would indicate it's a significant strain. We'll see.

Patricia from Orlando, FL

How do you think the Bears organization and fans feel about the President throwing Jay Cutler under the bus, when (the President) received his ownership share and immediately wanted to trade for Aaron Rodgers?

I immediately thought to myself that the sportswriters in Chicago just got a Christmas present from the President. Maybe he wanted to make Cutler a sympathetic figure. Hey, he's a Bears fan, right? Maybe the President wanted to rally support for Cutler. Good politics, right?

Jake from Harrisburg, SD

Who in their right mind would give a fan of our biggest rival part ownership of our team? It doesn't matter if he is the President, being a fan of the Bears overrules that, in my opinion. Even if it is only very minor ownership, he can't run America, how can he expect to help run Packer Nation?

Are you being serious or did you just want to make a political comment? Please, breathe on a mirror and let me know if it fogs. The exchange between the President and Charles Woodson is one of the most enjoyable events I've ever covered. It was everything sports should be: lighthearted, playful, respectful. It achieved proper perspective. What did you want the Packers to give the President, a block of cheese? Oh, yeah, that would've been real creative. Here Mr. President, you can cut the cheese. Very dignified. What the Packers did was perfect. The President invited the team into his house, and then he stood up and ate crow and heaped praise on the team and its fans. You wanna know what the exchange between the President and Woodson and the share of stock did? It further distinguished and publicized one of the game's great rivalries. How is that a bad thing?

Amy from Aurora, CO

Who do you think will be the breakout player on the team this season?

I think Randall Cobb is a candidate, but the guy I'm going to nominate is Morgan Burnett. All of the circumstances are perfect for Burnett to explode onto the scene.

Corey from Richland, WA

What stood out the most during your visit to the White House?

The art did. In describing the paintings, sculptures, etc., that adorn the White House, the tour guide repeatedly said they have been appraised as priceless. One such painting had been bought for seven dollars before it was given to the White House. I was looking at the books on the shelves in the White House Library when I came across a rather interesting-looking clock. It was about two feet high; it's called a lighthouse clock. I then looked at the inscription; the clock is nearly 200 years old and it was keeping accurate time. It makes you stop and think about the guy who built the clock and what life in America was like when he did.

Kamen from Bethel, CT

Have you seen ESPN's new "QBR" stat? It's hilarious; you'd love it. It ranks Dan Orlovsky's 2008 season with the Lions higher than Roethlisberger's 2008 season. That's right, a quarterback who helped lead a team to the second winless record in NFL history contributed more to winning games than Super Bowl champion, clutch-performer Ben Roethlisberger.

Trust your eyes, not the stats. Stats love to tell you lies.

Jacob from Heyn, MI

I'm relieved the Packers did not participate in player-led workouts. Too many risks and bad habits involved to not have a coach's supervision.

They've long since been forgotten. Shame on the media that got on its soap box about those practices. Nothing was achieved that hasn't already been overridden by training camp practices.

Tony from Charleston, WV

You mentioned that Starks is perfectly suited to running behind a zone-blocking scheme. Why?

Because he's a cutback runner and that's what works in a zone-blocking scheme. The line is sliding in unison in one direction, walling up the defense and allowing the running back to cut back behind the blocking. Starks is a big cutback runner, which is the kind of cutback runner you want because he's cutting back into the teeth of the pursuit and that can often mean getting hit hard.

David from Manchester, CT

Specifically and in some detail, how are the Eagles able to manage player compensation for all these expensive free agents and not get into trouble in the coming years?

They had the room. They had made room a couple of years ago by locking up core players well into the future and bringing their bonus money into the present by effective use of roster bonus, which is money paid that has to be declared in full in the year it's paid. The Eagles saw that they were in building – not rebuilding but building – and they bit the bullet in the present so they could create cap room to be used at a time when they felt they were ready to go. Obviously, they feel now is that time. The Eagles have long been outstanding cap managers.

Sean from Oconto Falls, WI

During postgame press conferences, when players are describing a play to the media, do they know how much information they can share, or do coaches let them know how much they can give?

They know where to draw the line. They speak in generalities, which is OK. They know not to speak in specifics.

Rich from Chapel Hill, NC

What is meant by possession receiver?

A possession receiver is a guy with soft hands and slow feet. He's not fast enough to get deep, but he has a knack for knowing how to sit down in zones and find soft spots in the coverage, and he also has a knack for knowing how to get the quarterback's attention.

C.J. from Stevens Point, WI

Following your definition for a Hall of Fame candidate, would you consider Michael Vick a potential Hall of Famer?

He certainly has changed the game. With a greater body or work and a Super Bowl win, he'd be a strong candidate.

Andrew from Oklahoma City, OK

Which players popped out at you in Saturday's game? For me, the impressive players had to be Morgan Burnett, Randall Cobb and Tim Masthay.

Cobb was the Packers' star player in the game. Burnett flew up to make a big hit; I like that. Masthay has been booming punts all through training camp. After a slow start, I thought Matt Flynn was impressive in the two-minute drill. I kept an eye on Derek Sherrod and there were times when he stoned his man. I thought being moved back and forth between guard and tackle might have caused him some inconsistencies. Josh Gordy had a sack and an interception. Every team wants to know its quarterback is in a good way and Aaron Rodgers proved in the second series that he's the same guy that lit up the Steelers. I liked what I saw in the Packers run-defense in the first half. Mason Crosby showed a lot of leg on his kickoffs. I thought James Starks looked great in his two runs, but he didn't stay healthy and he told me that’s a goal of his this year.

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