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Will new injury report rules open door to more gamesmanship?

Still a lot of moving parts in Packers' wide receiver competition


Cody from Carlisle, PA

Hey guys, Mike McCarthy has seemed to announce Tretter will be the Week 1 starter. He played great and deserves a role. However, Linsley is really talented. Do you think he could transition to guard since Sitton and/or Lang will probably not be back next year? Or would Tretter transition better because he has played other positions?

Wow, not even one game in and we're already moving Linsley to guard. Tretter is in the final year of his contract, too, remember. There's a lot to get sorted out, for sure, but I don't see any reason to worry about it until March. A lot can, and will, happen between now and then.

Lonny from Aberdeen, SD

Can you explain the new injury report designations?

"Probable" is no longer a game status option, so all players on the injury report at the end of the week have to be listed as either "questionable," "doubtful" or "out." This has the potential to create more confusion with injury reports, and allow even more gamesmanship, but it all depends on what teams do with players who in the past would have been listed as "probable." They will have the option of removing those players from the report entirely at the end of the week. But will they? Or will they just list them as "questionable" to keep everyone guessing?

Kevin from Rice Lake, WI

Hey Mike, what was with the eighth official last Thursday? Will it carry over into the regular season?

The league was experimenting with an eighth official in all the Week 2 preseason games. They're calling him a "middle judge," lined up near the back judge. It's the second year in a row they've tested this (they also tested a second umpire in the offensive backfield last year), and the league is going to study it to see if the results warrant a recommendation to the competition committee for eight-man crews. If that recommendation is made, it would happen next offseason, so nothing is changing for the 2016 regular season.

Thomas from Park Falls, WI

I can't wait to see what this Green Bay offense will look like with Lacy in the backfield, Cook moving around as a TE and both Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson at the WRs, with this group of offensive linemen. Don't you think Rodgers and the GB offense are set up for a huge offensive season?

That's the plan, Stan; I mean, Thomas. But no one has played a real game yet.

Mark from St. Charles, IL

Pete Mortell was assigned uniform No. 1. Seems appropriate given that the last guy to make the regular-season roster with that number was also a Green Bay native. Was this number assignment random, or should we read anything into it? Or is the use of No. 1, not used on the regular-season roster for more than 90 years, simply a function of how many players are in camp?

The latter. I would expect if Mortell wins a roster spot, he will get a new number in the regular season. Ted Thompson makes those decisions, and he's very conscious of the numbers and their history. Other players in camp and on the practice squad have worn Curly's No. 1 before.

Mike from Sioux Falls, SD

Occasionally you hear players talking about reading their keys, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Not having played organized football, what are some of the keys players look for before the snap of the ball?

Reading keys is usually the initial movement at the snap of the ball, not before. It depends on a player's defensive position, but a linebacker or safety might key on the offensive guard's first move, or what the fullback, halfback or tight end does. Those first steps often dictate the type of play that's coming, but then offenses counter with run looks that turn into play-action passes, and the defense must react. Before the snap, defenders are looking for "tells," such as an offensive lineman who is either leaning too far forward (signaling a running play) or sitting back in his stance (ready to pass block).

Darren from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Did Vic speak to you with quip remarks in person, or is it just his "Ask Vic" persona?

You really think it might all be an act?

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Who would be on your Summer Olympics Mt. Rushmore? I have Jesse Owens, Phelps, Bolt, but stumped on the fourth.

Wow, I am so unqualified to answer this, but I'll throw out a few admittedly biased U.S. suggestions. In the interest of hitting on other sports, Cassius Clay maybe, or Karch Kiraly? How about Mary Lou Retton? It could be argued the American women's current dominance of gymnastics was born of Mary Lou's breakthrough performance in '84 in Los Angeles. Good arguments could be made for a number of choices.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Hey guys, with pretty much every team resting starters in the preseason do you think the league will reduce the number of preseason games anytime soon?

I can see it coming up in the next round of CBA negotiations, but the regular season would have to be expanded for the owners to agree. Would the players, who have resisted more regular-season games, agree to an 18-2 or 17-3 format in exchange for less commissioner power? No way to know how this plays out, but the issue will surface again.

Lowell from St. Paul, MN

Packer Nation seemed pretty freaked out about ILB this offseason, myself included. Two preseason games in, that fear seems to have been blown out of proportion. We have two run stuffers in Bradford and Ryan, two three-down guys with Martinez and Barrington, and then a good cover back in Joe Thomas. Were the fans freaking out over nothing or was this a surprise to you as well?

Barrington hadn't played since Week 1 last year, Martinez was a third-day draft pick, and no one could have predicted the jumps made by Bradford and Thomas. So yeah, I think the concerns were legit, but let's see how the group performs when it counts before we declare everything fixed.

Nathan from Scottsdale, AZ

Hi, Insiders. Last year's games against Minnesota featured a great battle between Matthews and Peterson. Do you think Matthews would be best used to rush Bridgewater or to stuff Peterson this year? Can our young linebackers handle A.P.?

Matthews needs to do both, just as he's done his whole career. As to your second question, Lowell has no concerns, but I'm going to wait and see. By the way, I don't mean to pick on you, but you know his nickname isn't A.P., right? It's actually A.D., as in "All Day," a moniker his father gave him as a young player. I think it's one of the best nicknames in all of sports, but so many people get it wrong.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi, Mike. Football injuries can be career-ending because of violent hits from random angles. But, what about Jordy Nelson's injury where he was not even touched and the turf seemed good? It was a play I've seen him make a hundred times. Is there an extra kind of psychological barrier he must break through to get beyond an injury where his body just seemed to give out on him?

Your question is certainly logical on its face, but my years here have taught me that successful professional football players have a psychological fortitude that conquers such barriers much easier than we might think. It's part of how they got to where they are in the first place. Players at that level can be held up by physical limitations, but rarely mental ones.

Jake from Sheridan, WY

I just now caught the replay of the Oakland-Green Bay game. I was impressed by a few guys: Callahan, Crockett, and Davis. The reports say all of the wide receivers are healthy and looking good but after Nelson and Cobb, what will the depth chart look like to open the season in your opinion?

I think Adams is the best bet for the No. 3 right now, but the competition isn't over. Abbrederis has had a great camp, and Montgomery hasn't hit his stride yet after the long layoff. I don't know what's going to happen with Janis and his injured hand. I see Davis helping more on special teams than offense early on. Allison has done the most of the young hopefuls. Still a lot of moving parts.

Bryden from Centerburg, OH

I just have one question. When is Aaron Rodgers going to play?

It sounds like Friday night in San Francisco.

Trent from Red Wing, MN

Are you seeing any concerns with how Starks is handling the ball? Seeing very little of him it's hard to judge but it seems he's letting it hang out there for the pick'n. Ball security has been an issue for him.

I asked Ben Sirmans about this yesterday and he acknowledged that with Starks' running style, his arms and hands get away from the body as a way to stay in balance as he makes moves and cuts. The key for Starks is to sense when he's in tighter quarters or pursued closely and react accordingly. He lost that sense last year at times, but it's not as though he's been a chronic fumbler his entire career. They're not changing his running style at this point, so it's on Starks to make 2015 a ball-security anomaly.

Gareth from Madison, WI

Hey guys, if Hundley's ankle injury ends up keeping him sidelined for the next few weeks, do you see the Packers being forced to keep three QBs on the roster for at least the start of the regular season?

Yes, they would have to, but based on the way I've seen Hundley walking around, I doubt it'll get to that point.

Greg from Danbury, CT

The football gods heard the chortling about TT's amazing ability to draft people who don't get hurt, and these gods have fired two warning shots at Hundley. One shoulda been enough. You'd better nip this thing right off, guys.

I was trying last week, man. Did I not emphasize enough the luck and the knocking on wood, and, you know, the luck? What else am I supposed to say?

Kevin from Louisville, KY

Hi guys. Made my first visit to Lambeau for last week's game, took the tours, etc. As I was walking through the Atrium, I noticed offices overhead and thought, "I wonder if Spoff and Wes are up there typing away?" I noticed one office seemed to have a large baseball-related photo on one wall. Any chance that was yours? Love the Q&A, guys, thanks!

You can't see my work station from the Atrium. I'm on second floor in an area that used to be Curly's Pub. We moved down here last year from third floor, where I spent nine-plus years with no view of the outside world. Now I've got big windows to my left overlooking Lombardi Ave., so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Mike from Tampa, FL

No question, only a request. Will you please fix the roster listing to list players in numerical order? In trying to learn who the new players are, it is much more difficult to be looking through an alpha listing instead of a numerical one. Please try. Thank you.

You can do it yourself. On the roster page, if you click on the number symbol in the green header bar, it will rearrange all the names in numerical order. You can do that with any of the headers, allowing you to group everyone by position or list them shortest to tallest or lightest to heaviest. Have fun.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

Hi, guys. When was the last time the Packers picked up a player waived by another team when they all cut down to 53? I find it hard to believe that in all this time they could not have found one player that would have improved their roster.

Specifically on cut-down day, I think the last player claimed on waivers by the Packers was John Kuhn back in 2007. What we don't know for sure is if the Packers have put in claims on other players, but they were awarded to other teams. When you're in the playoffs every year, you're pretty low in the claim order.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

Do the players have to deal with the same traffic fans do after a game? Do they hang out long enough after a game that traffic in Green Bay has died down? Or do they have a super-secret exit?

Sorry, no Batcave available. There's a private gathering/reception area for the players' family and friends after each game, and the players usually hang out there long enough to avoid the immediate postgame traffic.

Steven from Milwaukee, WI

Is there any preseason stat whatsoever that has even a modicum of correlation to some sort of regular-season success?

Not that I can think of.

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