Dustin from Ashwaubenon, WI
What did your eyes tell you after the first round of preseason games?
My eyes told me every team is trying to do the same thing: Get through the preseason with a minimum of effort and risk. I don't think the games are any more important in talent evaluation than practices are. There's no reason to play more than two preseason games, other than for the lost revenue and because the players won't agree to 18 regular-season games.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
When would you trade a draft pick for a proven veteran?
If the veteran addresses immediate need, his price doesn't significantly weaken the team's draft position and the player's contract is favorable to the team's cap and the potential for re-signing him, I say go for it. Those trades are available from time to time. Mark Brunell (though unproven) was a great get for the Jaguars and Jerome Bettis (proven) was the same for the Steelers but, by and large, I think the majority of trades favor the team that got the pick.
Bertha from Canton, OH
You saw both QBs for the Packers. What did you like?
They both moved the ball. They both have the distinct appearance of a quality backup quarterback. In my opinion, the Packers are strong at quarterback.
Kier from Gagetown, NB
Vic, I liked Pettine's first game. Young guys trying to win their one-on-ones. Nothing fancy, just go beat your guy.
It's no different than any other preseason. Frankly, I didn't see much that jumped out at me. I'll be looking for stronger individual performance on defense in the next preseason game.
Matt from Winfield (wherever that is)
Vic, is it safe to be excited about Reggie Gilbert and Montravius Adams?
If it makes you feel good, go ahead, but what's the gain in it? Make them prove it to you. Put the burden on the defense to perform. Tony Pauline loved Adams at the Senior Bowl. OK, show me what you got. That's the tack I'm taking this season in regards to the defense. No more blaming its failures on the coordinator. It's time for the players to be accountable for the performance of the defense.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, I was fortunate to watch Urlacher his whole college career. During it and in the times as a pro I watched him and in his highlight reels it seems he tackled with the shoulder, not the head. Do you suppose he was just taught differently in his early years?
That's not it. All players are taught proper technique, and "hit what you see but see what you hit" is a philosophy that goes back to my high school days. It's been my experience that bigger, stronger players tend to tackle with their head up, whereas smaller, less powerful players tend to duck their head so they can get more force and protection into their strike. Brian Urlacher is a big man and he played that way.
Scott from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, I was hoping to see three columns from you this week. Are you still planning to expand your offerings to us readers?
I plan to begin publishing three columns a week (M-W-F) during the first week of the regular season. The news coming out of training camps is pretty dry.
Terry from Jasper, IN
With Bulaga and Bakhtiari out, Murphy and Bell are the starting offensive tackles. It seems Jason Spriggs is about as low as you can go on the depth chart. Vic, can you comment on his play and what is holding him back?
Based on what I saw last season, Spriggs needs to get stronger at the point of attack. Apparently, improvement in that regard hasn't been dramatic enough, yet, in this camp.
Richard from Clearwater, MN
You have mentioned Marcus Mariota favorably in a few answers in recent articles. His stats aren't bad but not eye-popping, either. What is it about Mariota and his game that intrigues you?
No. 1, he moves with grace and ease; he's an impressive physical specimen. Additionally, I think he's an accurate passer, he moves the pocket and forces defenses to respect his running ability, and I love the grit he showed in the Kansas City playoff game. I think he needs to get stronger in the pocket, make decisions more quickly and throw with more decisiveness from the pocket, and I think all of that will come with experience. I'm inclined to forgive his unimpressive stats from last season and blame them on a nagging, season-long injury. This could be a defining year for Mariota.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, do you think Green Bay has failed to surround Aaron Rodgers with the high-caliber players needed to win a Super Bowl? If so, did they have a similar issue when Favre was QB?
Let's not forget, the Packers have won a Super Bowl with Rodgers as their quarterback. I believe they also surrounded him with the players needed to win a Super Bowl in 2014. Defensively, they've struggled with personnel, but I think we need to remember they were drafting from the bottom of the order during their Rodgers-era playoff run. Defense was also a problem during the Brett Favre years. It's almost as though it's in the Packers' DNA to play great offense but soft defense. I only know of one way to change that: Draft better players. Maybe that's starting to happen. We'll see.
Beau from Lancaster, PA
Vic, did you enjoy the final round of the PGA?
Tiger's birdie on 18 to not win the tournament was thrilling. It's the highlight of the majors season.
Bob from Beaver Dam, WI
What does Tiger mean to golf's popularity?
The 2018 PGA won't be remembered for Brooks Koepka's second majors win of the year. It won't be remembered for Koepka becoming possibly the best player on the planet. The tournament will be remembered for being another leg in Tiger Woods' comeback. I'll remember it for the throngs of fans that cheered his every swing. It made me wonder what it is about the nefarious that excites and attracts the human spirit. Whatever it is, he's back. He played a lot of good golf this year. He'll go into the 2019 season as a majors favorite. His pursuit of Jack Nicklaus will be the No. 1 story of the '19 season. In terms of attracting fans and the lens of the TV camera, he's still the game's most dominant figure.
David from Madison, WI
Would you tell us something interesting about Neil Graff?
I covered one game in which he was the quarterback of record. It was the week after Terry Bradshaw broke his wrist in a game and the Steelers found themselves having to finish that game with Tony Dungy, a safety, playing quarterback. Graff was an emergency signing. I remember him handing the ball off to Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier in a play-not-to-lose offensive scheme that relied on the Steelers defense to beat the Bengals, which the Steelers did. I remember Graff throwing a handful of passes for a meaningless few yards in a really boring game to watch. I wish I could see it again. It was a beautiful game because I was young and just beginning a career that would be full of thrills and memories. What do I remember about Neil Graff? I remember I'll never forget him.
Nick from Seattle, WA
Vic, you mentioned the expansion draft in 2002. How did the expansion teams get their players? Does the process leave them at a disadvantage or an advantage?
It's a simple system: The other teams in the league are required to leave a designated number of players on their roster unprotected, from which the expansion team or teams may select. In 1995, the Jaguars picked first and the Panthers picked second. In the '02 expansion draft, the Texans bailed the Jaguars out of a salary cap mess by assuming the remaining amortization of the Jaguars players they selected, the star of which was Tony Boselli and his huge cap proration. The Jaguars' cap situation was such they couldn't have gotten under the cap without the Texans' help. Boselli didn't recover from his shoulder surgery and never played a down for the Texans.