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Will draft-and-develop hit its peak?

Don't be dissing long snappers


Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

The NFL's PED probe concerning Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and their non-cooperation is really odd. Peyton Manning seemed to find time, paperwork and evidence to answer the NFL's questions. What's up with Clay and Julius?

Too many questions to count on the PED deal, and I get the angst and anxiety. I also understand the NFLPA's stance here. The union is not interested in subjecting its members to an investigation by management based on a recanted and discredited media report. That would set an awfully dangerous precedent from the union's perspective. It was simple for Manning. He's no longer playing. The union wants more evidence to justify a league investigation of the players. If such evidence exists, no one has said so to this point. If the players hold the line and get suspended, the union would obviously appeal, and I could see this one staying in court as long or longer than Deflategate.

Bill from Ringle, WI

Hi guys, can you break out the stats and show if there are many more 75-yard TD drives as opposed to 80-yard TD drives. Will five yards make a big difference?

I don't have those stats in front of me, but I think a more interesting way to look at it is regarding field goals. If a team has a strong kicker and only needs to get to the opponent's 35-yard line to try a 53-yarder, the required yardage to get points drops from 45 (from the 20) to only 40. That's a difference of 11 percent. Anyone who knows how I can decrease my workload by 11 percent and still get paid the same, I'm all ears.

Dan from Waupun, WI

McCarthy says they grade the players after games. Could you give us a generic grading card? I would like to see what to watch for in preseason games.

I'm not privy to all of it, but I've heard coaches talk before about three grades for every play – assignment, technique and result – and often it's simply a plus or minus for each (something like that anyway). That won't help you watch the games like coaches, though, unless you know for sure what a player's assignment is on a given play and what technique he's been taught to use in that situation.

Mike from Charlotte, NC

I like what I see on this defense, and I think they have all of the pieces. Patience is a virtue, and I think the Packers' patience with development is about to pay off with some of these young men. What do you think?

Is this year the year draft-and-develop pushes the defense to its peak? Do Nick Perry, Datone Jones, Sam Barrington, Micah Hyde, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and Jake Ryan all have another level to their games we haven't seen yet? That's eight defensive picks from the 2012-15 drafts who may not have fully established themselves.

Kyle from Sheboygan, WI

Four sacks from four different players. That's my kind of pass rush. Keep their offense guessing.

It doesn't impress me in the context of preseason football. Do that in the regular season and now we're talking.

Brian from Superior, WI

Before the draft, Reggie Ragland, Andrew Billings and Sheldon Rankins seemed to be the top considerations for the Packers first-round pick. Now that it looks like all will miss significant time due to injury this year, how lucky are the Packers that they selected Kenny Clark instead?

Lucky is the operative word. I assume you knocked on some wood before you hit send?

Vic from Edisto Beach, SC

It's been my experience that often times when a player is showcased or given a lot of opportunities in the preseason, he is much closer to the chopping block than the 53. Who might be that player the team would like to "hide" and sneak onto the practice squad?

If I told you, then I'd have to kill you. Nice try. I'm not buying the ID.

Mike from Stillwater, MN

Can a player who is put on injured reserve for the season practice with the team when he is healthy enough to do so? Or does that end their season till after the Super Bowl?

Players on IR cannot practice, regardless of their health, otherwise teams could use IR as another type of practice squad.

Amos from Ankeny, IA

Is there any merit to the strength of schedule baloney? Teams jump and flop every year.

I don't pay it much mind. I've always been a believer in the adage it's not so much who you play but when you play 'em.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

The most dangerous kickoffs occur when the returner elects to take it out from deep in his end zone. He has more space to get up to full speed, as does the coverage unit. Perhaps a "pooch kick" would be a little safer because the speeds involved won't be as fast. Either way, a fun storyline to follow will be which teams surrender the 25 and which teams get creative.

I agree, and you raise an interesting point. You can bet the league will study the preponderance of injuries that occur on the so-called mortar kicks versus the deep ones when they are returned.

Greg from Marquette, MI

It's a common injury seen in football players. His finger appears to be the residual of a fracture or ligament tear that was not repaired and has left him with a chronic dislocation and laxity.

Thanks, Doc.

Dan from Houston, TX

Biff, Spoff, enough with the excuses. We demand full consistency. Be nicer than Vic, but get tough. Write more than Vic, but use more one-word answers. Give us a new perspective, but more old stories. Get some more give and take with Larry, but for goodness sakes stop confusing the man! If only you would chase perfection you would reach the greatness we're all looking for!

I had dinner with a friend from Houston last night.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

Could it be possible that the position of long snapper is the over-valued position on the field? It may not even exist if colleges didn't have such huge rosters. With Linsley, Tretter and Barclay all capable of playing center, wouldn't that long snapper roster spot be better utilized for an additional big guy on the D-line or another safety?

You aren't the only one to suggest this, but I'm going to go all math nerd on everyone again. Last year in the regular season, the Packers had 81 punts and 64 placekicks (36 PATs, 28 FG tries) with 100 percent good snaps from Brett Goode and Rick Lovato. If a regular center's reduced practice time on long snaps – because he's either on the regular offense or scout-team offense in practice – resulted in him grading out at 98 percent on long snapping instead of 100, that's three bad snaps per season. You want to take the chance on when those three bad snaps are going to occur?

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

All this talk about the 25-yard line being the touchback position has me confused. Why can't the returner just let the ball bounce into the end zone and then grab it for the touchback, if the kicking team pooches it to land within the 10-yard line?

He can try, but an end-over-end kick does not always bounce forward, and that's a free ball on a kickoff.

Jocelyn from Dallas, Texas

In regards to the topic of an overrated position, running back is the one that jumps out at me. While I certainly remember the two-high safety plague this column faced in 2012, it doesn't seem that having a great running back translates into great success. The 2010 Packers certainly didn't have a great back. Save for the 2013 Seahawks and Marshawn Lynch, has there been a Super Bowl champion with a truly dominant back since the Broncos and Terrell Davis? The Patriots with Corey Dillon perhaps?

I see your point, but you can't discount Lynch getting the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls, and the Packers did find James Starks in the '10 playoff run. Maybe the workhorse back isn't necessary at all times, but production on the ground is, however it materializes. Carolina ranked second in the league last year in rushing but no individual rushed for 1,000 yards. Denver ranked 17th in rushing but had a rare, truly dominant defense that changed the equation.

Josh from St. Cloud, MN

Hey Insiders, what away game are you most looking forward to this season?

Week 2 at Minnesota and the back-to-back prime-timers in D.C. and Philly intrigue me the most, though the night games on the road are the toughest from a work standpoint.

Erin from Eau Claire, WI

Can you please refrain from the lazy habit of omitting the subject of a sentence? (For example: Would like to hear everyone's thoughts.) Wes is the biggest culprit of this sloppy grammar (I counted at least five examples in the last column), but I'm noticing it seeping into the questions and even, God forbid, Mike's answers. Vic never would have stood for this!

Can't believe I'd ever do that.

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