Jack from Jacksonville, FL
Shad Khan recently put a dog park/pools in the Jaguars stadium. He's also mentioned the possibility of putting in a shade structure for those fans in danger of melting. When did the game not become enough?
Whatever it takes, right? This is going to be a telling season in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have a top contender and the fan base is excited for another run to the playoffs. The Jaguars are a hot ticket, and it might be for the first time in franchise history. It's what I always wanted to happen. I longed for the day the Jaguars would become a hot ticket. Now, the question is: Can they sustain it? This season will answer that question.
Pete from Los Angeles, CA
After two solid preseason showings, is Kizer permanent?
I expect DeShone Kizer to win the backup quarterback job. I don't think the Packers would've traded for him if they didn't expect the same. My hope is Brett Hundley will finish the preseason strong, increase his trade value and give the Packers reason to keep a third quarterback. The value of backup quarterbacks increases sharply as starting quarterbacks are injured. All of a sudden, you have a guy for whom another team is willing to trade. The Bills might be in the market for a quarterback with some legitimate regular season experience, which Hundley has.
Randy from Billings, MT
Vic, the drafted wide receivers seem to have some issues catching contested passes. The QBs are getting the ball to them but they are having trouble winning the battle. What type of drill would help here?
Packers fans have wide receiver fever. Let it go. Depth receivers are a dime a dozen. Pick a guy you think has a chance to develop and put him on the practice squad. The rest is up to him.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
Is your view on trading for Mack driven by how you view his game, the contract situation or just the "one player away" mentality?
My view is driven by an instinct that tells me a trade for Khalil Mack would result in deep regret.
Bill from Chicago, IL
I think you mentioned you grew up going to Catholic school. Was the awful report that just came out regarding Pennsylvania's Catholic dioceses something you were aware of growing up, or was it a shock to you?
It was a shock. I attended a Catholic elementary school. At no time in those eight years -- some of which were spent as an altar boy -- was I treated inappropriately by a nun or a priest. I have nothing but fond memories of my years in the Catholic school system. Be that as it may, last week's news revelation embarrassed and disgusted me. Joe Paterno was crucified for his cover up. I await a credible response from the Pope.
Joe from Waukesha, WI
I’m not sure the Vikings have improved their quarterback situation and they are $84 million in the hole. Bet the Jags are glad they didn’t make a move on Cousins!
The Vikings are betting on Kirk Cousins. The Jaguars are betting on Blake Bortles. I think both teams are counting on their defenses.
Isaac from Abiquiu (wherever that is)
Vic, what, if anything, have you seen in preseason this year that has surprised you?
It appears the fans are buying into and accepting of the preseason being a time for evaluating talent and developing reserves. The fans are beginning to act like coaches. The NFL's popularity is amazing. The league might even be able to pull off this helmet rule thing.
Tim from Sun Prairie, WI
Vic, is it more concerning if a rookie WR has trouble catching the ball or has trouble separating from coverage?
The fastest receiver I've ever covered is a guy named Dwight Stone. He was converted from running back to wide receiver and passes literally bounced off him, but you don't cut the kind of speed Stone had. He was so fast he once lost control of his feet and they ran out of bounds on a long completion. We called him "Hands of Stone," and he was such a good guy he laughed about it. In time, his hands softened and he became a legitimate receiving threat. It was his speed that bought him the time to grow. Stone played in the league for 14 years. Speed is valued above all.
Adam from Chicago, IL
If I'm the Steelers I would tell Bell to take a hike. James Conner looks like the real deal. What did you see?
He's a big, powerful runner. The interesting thing about Conner is he's a high-cut runner; he's not a drop-the-head kind of back. Not too long ago, that would've been a negative. These days, it's a positive. Conner runs through people with his legs and upper body. Eric Dickerson did that. The mistake the Steelers made was not having developed Conner's role deeply enough last year. They never really found out what he could do, therefore, they were hesitant in casting their lot with him when it was time to decide whether to franchise Le'Veon Bell. Had they believed Conner was the answer, they could've allowed Bell to leave in free agency and use his $14.5 million to address other needs, such as the need to replace Ryan Shazier. I'm still waiting to see how they're going to do that. Maybe they have a plan for bringing Terrell Edmunds or Morgan Burnett down into the box. I don't think lifting the tag on Bell serves any purpose now. Bell and Conner could make for an interesting backfield combination.
Enrique from New York, NY
What are your thoughts on Gus Bradley's time as head coach of the Jags? Did you roll your eyes at his "Mr. Positivity" and high energy persona? I remember I liked it at first, but in hindsight it seems ridiculous.
I covered a Senior Bowl at which he and his staff were coaches. I didn't like their practice regimen. It was too choreographed. Everything moved too quickly. It was a lot of clapping and chatter but not much in the way of valuable evaluation action. They'd move quickly from one drill to another, but didn't stay in any of them long enough to learn anything, and the drills seemed kind of weak. Doug Marrone is a no baloney kind of guy. He's more my type of coach.
Matt from Verona, WI
What do teams learn from giving a lot of third- and fourth-quarter preseason reps to guys who look like they’ll never make an NFL roster or practice squad?
A lot of those guys are playing for next year's training camp. You'll see many of them signed when the season ends and the rosters go back to offseason size.
Steve from Minocqua, WI
Vic, I’m currently re-reading Jerry Kramer’s “Instant Replay.” I loved it as a kid when I played football but, now, 40 years later, I am pleasantly surprised at how well it's written. I love its timing of being a diary of what is arguably the Packers’ most legendary season. Have you read it? What are your thoughts about it?
It's one of the standards of sports journalism. It was hailed when it was written for what it revealed about a sport whose popularity was beginning to emerge; "Instant Replay" helped promote professional football. All these years later, I enjoy the book for what it represents: a collaboration of player and reporter to provide information and entertainment for football fans. That's the way it was when I began my career. We were all in this together -- coaches, players and media -- to help promote the game we love. Anyone who reads my column knows of the love and reverence I have for the old guys. It's because they were so cooperative and helpful in assisting me in my career. I genuinely believe they did it because they loved doing it. We all knew we were growing the game, and it felt wonderful. Somewhere along the line, that's been lost, and it's not all the media's fault. Somewhere along the line we lost sight of our mutual purpose: inform and entertain football fans. I've always tried to make that my mission statement.
Dave from Chippewa Falls, WI
Do they have to celebrate after every play?
Yes, they must celebrate after every play because it's now part of the fabric of their culture. Sometimes I get the feeling they're celebrating to let everyone know, including the coach, they really do love football. Sometimes I feel they don't even want to celebrate, they just know it's expected of them. Sometimes it looks so foolish, so contrived, it makes me laugh.
Pat from Seneca, SC
Can you share any interesting stories of the guys you’ve known who’ve served as the turk?
My favorite turk and turk story is of legendary scout Bill Nunn and a scene involving kicker Roy Gerela. Nunn was the Steelers' training camp office manager. He was also widely known as the team's turk. It was a cutdown day and I was interviewing Tony Dungy outside his dorm room about having been traded to the 49ers. As I was interviewing Dungy, I noticed Nunn knock on Gerela's door and I heard Nunn say, "Roy, Coach Noll wants to see you, and bring your playbook." Tony saw my eyes get big, and he smiled. I said, "They really do say that, don't they?" Tony nodded. The words "bring your playbook" are code for you've been cut. It helps the player accept his fate before he meets with the coach. I'm very grateful to a game that allowed me to get that close to its charm. I'm also very fortunate to have begun my career when I did. I would not have been privy to that scene today.
Gil from Galt, CA
Vic, in the past you would let us know what games you had circled for the upcoming season you were looking forward to. What games do you have circled this year for Green Bay, Pittsburgh and the Jaguars and why?
Circle Vikings at Packers (the Vikings are the team to beat in the NFC North) in Week 2 and the Steelers at Jaguars (there's been a lot of tough talk) on Nov. 18.
David from Madison, WI
I read an article stating Jackson broke for an interception "as soon as Dobbs' hands split." I wasn't able to watch the majority of the game. What does this bifurcation refer to?
It means Josh Jackson jumped the route. He saw something that alerted him to where the ball was going. Maybe it was the formation. Maybe the receiver tipped the route or Josh Dobbs stared him down. Whatever it was, it tells us something about Jackson's instincts for the game.
Scott from Hamlin, NY
What should the Bills do? They spent a lot on Josh Allen but word is he isn't ready to start.
He's "The Man." Give him the ball.
Josh (by gosh) from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, I can't help but see the Steelers headed towards a funk. It seems they should have more invested in quarterback than they do with Ben at the age he is and comments about retiring already. There's the Bell situation and an uncharacteristically soft defense. Where is their arrow pointing?
More invested in quarterback? They just traded up to draft a guy. They have four. The Steelers' problem is they didn't address replacing Ryan Shazier; he was their best defensive player. Maybe they plan to get creative with Terrell Edmunds. All we can do is wait to see because they're not going to tip their hand in the preseason. As for Le'Veon Bell, I think they got lucky he didn't sign the tender. You can't pay a running back quarterback money. In the preseason, you can make a point for every team's arrow pointing up and down. I'm not sure we can determine where that arrow is pointing much before November.