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Young lineman that has caught my eye


Jason from Summerville, SC

What's your opinion of players holding out to get what they want? I feel it's a childish and selfish move. I believe that getting a better contract can be done in a more professional way.

I accept it as part of the game. I understand why these guys play and even though I believe they should honor their contracts and report for "work," I'm tolerant of attempts to leverage their worth because theirs is a short career. If they can get it, get it, but I won't accept any whining and crying if the team decides to play hardball. I've covered guys who've held out and won, and I've covered guys who've held out and lost. It's all about timing; make sure of your worth. The saddest holdout I've ever covered was Franco Harris'. He waited until the end of his career to do it, knowing it would be his last chance to get a big payday. He was about to break Jim Brown's all-time rushing record and Franco was counting on that, his popularity and the Steelers' loyalty to deliver a big deal. It was a mistake. They cut him, and a wonderful career came to a sad ending. To any player thinking of holding out, I would caution: Be very sure of the cards you're holding.

Dan from Vancouver, WA

Hey, Vic, I know it will be a tough call come training camp to pick between keeping five tight ends or six wide receivers, but isn't this decision going to be determined by which bubble players will significantly contribute on special teams?

Coaches are fond of saying, "The more things you can do …"

Ben from Roscoe, IL

I know during minicamp players get limited on-the-field time during the week. What else do they do during the week? Do they watch film and meetings?

Minicamp is structured to give players, especially young players, a feel for life in the NFL. Practice, meetings, lunch, media interviews, etc., are all structured to ease players into the training-camp and regular-season regimens. As Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday, the field work is meant to emphasize playing the game, instead of learning how to practice. OTAs were about learning how to practice. In the past, minicamps were traditionally conducted the weekend after the draft; they preceded OTAs. The intent was to use minicamp to get everybody together and kick off the spring practice season, but OTAs are voluntary and minicamps are mandatory, so coaches started putting minicamps at the end of spring practices, with the idea that it's better to "guarantee" full participation when everybody knows what they're doing.

Sue from Jacksonville, FL

Any thoughts on what Michigan is doing with their legends, instead of retiring numbers?

I like what they're doing. They're returning retired numbers to service by affixing the names of the players for whom the numbers were retired to the jerseys that bear those numbers. It's a way of honoring your heritage players without toughening the rules for becoming a heritage player because you're running out of numbers. That's the problem I have with retiring numbers. There's a tendency to go overboard with a particular generation of players, which causes a reluctance to retire numbers of future players. What Michigan is doing ends that, but I can see one potential glitch: What happens if another player of the same number is worthy of such distinction? I don't like the idea of multiple patches on the same jersey. There might be a tendency to go patch crazy.

Matt from Murfreesboro, TN

Have you ever asked a coach or player a question and then immediately thought, "I am going to get fired for asking this?" If so, please share the story.

I've never felt that way because I've covered teams that believe in the right to free speech.

Richard from Lake Geneva, WI

How long does it usually take a player to get dressed in uniform?

Not much longer than it takes us to get dressed for work. The equipment staff makes it easy. The jerseys are already pulled over the shoulder pads, and the days of hip pads have long since passed. One of the greatest equipment inventions in football history was the girdle pads, a 1960s creation that allowed players to step into their hip pads as they would their shorts, instead of having to wrap the pads around their hips. Hip pads went away in the 1980s, I believe, and I could never understand how players were able to avoid the dreaded hip pointer, one of the most painful injuries in football. Even for a guy wearing hip pads, a hip pointer sends waves of pain up and down the side of your body every time you hit the ground. When I see the limited padding these guys wear today, I'm amazed at how they're able to avoid and/or play with the normal bumps and bruises of the game. That's why I say it's a tough game for tough guys.

Mandy from Kansas City, MO

Vic, how do you feel about the depth at running back?

I can see why fans are concerned. There isn't a proven star at the position and a lot of faith is being put into Alex Green's recovery from knee reconstruction and into the development of Brandon Saine, an undrafted rookie last season. The Packers' reluctance to address the position, however, says something. It says they like what they have.

Darrell from Atlanta, GA

I would like to see Davon House step up so that Woodson can move to safety, which would make our secondary more athletic. How do you feel about that?

I would agree, but when asked on Tuesday about Charles Woodson's role in 2012, Mike McCarthy said it "may change 6-8 percent from where he played in the past," and 6-8 percent would not suggest a move to safety. McCarthy also said, "that's something we should watch and see and let our opponents see," which is coachspeak for "I'm not going to tell our opponents what we're going to do," and that would suggest something entirely different. My instincts as a reporter tell me this will be a developing story.

Grant from Darlington, WI

Have you seen Justin Tuck's new facemask? If so, what are your thoughts on it?

Connect a hose to it and it's a diving bell. People laughed at me last season when I suggested that's the direction helmets are headed.

James from Wausau, WI

What made you come to Wisconsin and the Packers? I thought the old left Wisconsin to go to Florida, not the reverse.

They do. I came to Wisconsin to cover football.

Ryan from Fredericton, NB

Vic, did you get a single e-mail encouraging the Packers to sign Chad Ochocinco?

Not one, which means one of two things: 1.) The Packers already have enough good wide receivers, or 2.) Packers fans don't suffer from wide-receiver fever.

Mitch from Austin, TX

Marshall Newhouse at LT has me a little concerned with all of the firepower in the NFC North at DE. Thoughts? How has he looked thus far?

He looks great. He's got a good "punch." I think he's a developing guy. I spend a lot of time watching offensive line drills. I watch the hands and the feet and I listen for the thumps. Feet should be seen and not heard, and hands should be heard and not seen. As I've mentioned, I see young linemen I like. Shea Allard, an undrafted tackle from Delaware, has caught my attention. He's got good feet and a quick and forceful strike. I want to see more of him.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, you mentioned "When Pride Still Mattered," by David Maraniss. What did you think of the book? Would you recommend it?

I love it and I've recommended it often. It holds a special meaning for me because it was as I was reading the final chapters, when Lombardi was diagnosed with and dying from colon cancer, that I was diagnosed with the same. I thought David's description of the hospital scene brought the whole book together. I remember having to put the book down and think a while when I read Lombardi's words to his wife after Hornung left the room and Lombardi knew there would be no more visitors. Few books have captivated me more than "When Pride Still Mattered."

Damian from Superior, WI

Vic, it seems through good luck or good planning you write for teams that are perennially strong or are on a good run. Do you think you'd have enjoyed writing for the Packers during the drought years?

I absolutely would've enjoyed covering the Packers during the lean years. The decline of the franchise from the Lombardi years was a powerful story. I remember covering Favre's first start in 1992 and thinking that Lambeau Field had fallen beneath NFL standards. It was shocking. As I've said, an artist needs dark to show light, and the lean years were the darkness that has given Packers fans an appreciation for the bright canvas on which success has been painted since the darkness disappeared. I like covering good stories and the fall and rise, again, of the Green Bay Packers is a good story.

Dan from Little Suamico, WI

You and Mike are employed by the Packers, yet, are in the media. Do you guys only get to watch practices open to the fans?

We only watch practices open to the media.

Dean from London, UK

You said Coughlin and Tomlin are comparable to Lombardi. Who would you compare McCarthy to?

First of all, I was asked to comment on why somebody else compared Coughlin and Tomlin to Lombardi. That's not a comparison I would've initiated. I explained that Coughlin is a Lombardi fan and Tomlin commands a Lombardi-like eloquence of speech. That's all. There's a matter of five NFL titles Lombardi won in nine years. That's all, nine years. Lombardi achieved everlasting fame from only having coached the Packers for nine seasons. That's what makes the Lombardi story so overwhelming, that he was able to rise to icon status in such a small market and in such a short time. It makes Lombardi incomparable. As for Coach McCarthy, I see a lot of Coughlin in him. They have a very similar grasp and application of offense. As for personality and philosophy of football in general, McCarthy reminds me of Marty Schottenheimer.

Bryce from Iron Mountain, MI

Will there be a Q&A session after the golf tournament? I don't golf but I would still like a way to meet and chat with you.

Absolutely, there would be a Q&A. That's the whole purpose of the golf tournament, to talk about football. Golf is just the thing we have to do so we can distribute the prizes. What we're trying to achieve with a golf tournament is some kind of celebration of the return of football. A golf tournament is a good forum for that kind of celebration, but maybe there's a better way to do it here. I'm absolutely sure our readers want to celebrate the return of football; it's just a matter of finding out how to do it.

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