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A novel approach to preseason

Plenty of good and not so good from Denver game


Taylor from Des Moines, IA

Guys, our team looked rough on about every level Saturday night. We have important players getting hurt, we have people missing sacks, missing blocks, getting penalties left and right. I know it's preseason but it doesn't make me feel much confidence. Your thoughts?

As I**wrote in my game recap**on the bus ride to the airport, it was a very uneven performance in Denver. For all the good stuff happening – the short-yardage stops on defense, the turnovers, two long runs by running backs, the nice punt return – there was at least as much not so good. My biggest concerns were the early leaks in the run defense, especially on Anderson's way-too-easy TD jaunt, and the play of the No. 2 offensive line. You can't get stopped on two fourth-and-short sneaks. You just can't.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

Which left the biggest impression after the Denver game: A) The 265 total yards on offense. B) The nine penalties in which one killed a drive in the last three minutes. C) The third game in a row giving up five sacks.

D) Jeff Triplette's crew continues to make football almost unwatchable.

Jack from Indianapolis, IN

Do you think the stickum on Jordy's gloves has anything to do with him continually beating Rodgers in their pregame football spinning ritual? Clearly it's a competition for them.

You may be onto something. Rodgers should make him take the glove off and see.

Jon from Wright City, WI

I have very little negative things to say about Aaron Rodgers but his public attitude about preseason is quite disheartening in my opinion. I personally think, being the leader of the team, he needs to a show more support of Coach McCarthy on his decisions to play him. It's obvious A-Rod hates playing preseason and that undertone in his press conferences just bugs me. What are your thoughts?

I actually think Rodgers would be happy to play more if McCarthy let him. The head coach is the one making the decisions. Rodgers has stated he doesn't need the preseason snaps, personally, which supports the coach's call to play him so sparingly. That's how I read it. When you see what happened to Julian Edelman, I don't blame any coach (or star-level player) for approaching the preseason with extreme caution in that regard.

Dan from Houston, TX

Any concern on the offensive line?

I was hoping to see more improvement from the second unit after three preseason games, and McCarthy and Rodgers both suggested as much after the game. I couldn't fit it into the game recap, but McCarthy's comment – "I thought they got after us more than we got after them up front" – said plenty. Rodgers hinted Barclay will be back soon. His absence as a top reserve has been noticed too much.

Kyle from Santa Cruz, CA

Isn't the new roster cut-down date nice? The Packers get to showcase Hundley for an entire game and there can still be a full evaluation of Callahan and Hill during Game 4, where under the old rules one of them may have needed to be cut in order to evaluate other talent. The new cut deadline is a very good thing.

That seems to be the way the Packers planned it out this preseason. I hadn't thought of that approach, but it's a novel idea and makes sense, because this way Hundley got more reps against upper-level defenders, whereas probably no starters will play Thursday for the Rams.

Doug from Poughkeepsie, NY

Pessimism is not allowed; however, the defense looks woefully undermanned with average at best corners and an even greater deficiency with pass rushers this year. We knew this at the end of last year, didn't we?

Well, Matthews hardly played. Perry limped off, but he didn't even go to the locker room, so the ankle can't be that bad. Elliott was fighting back spasms all week and they flared up again. I can't say there's been enough to evaluate, frankly, but injury-wise that's not good in and of itself. At corner, after the layoff, I thought Randall was really solid. His tackling stood out, and the one significant catch he allowed was a strongly contested ball. King broke up a touchdown pass.**Brice and Evans made plays**. I didn't like Denver's runs that broke through to the second level, and offenses are going to keep targeting tight ends until the Packers stop them.

Joel from Omaha, NE

Ahmad Brooks, huh? A possible Julius Peppers fill-in?

There's a media report he's visiting the Packers, which the team is not going to confirm unless a contract is signed. Let's see what happens.

Nathan from Osprey, FL

My favorite play against Denver was Hundley's TD run but it wasn't due to anything Hundley did. If Clark doesn't box out the Denver defender like he was going for a rebound against the "Greek Freak," Hundley doesn't score. Clark may be raw, inexperienced, near the bottom of the depth chart and likely won't make the final roster, but you have to love his instincts, size, and athleticism. I wonder what a season on the practice squad and a full offseason program will do for him at this time next year?

I suspect the Packers are wondering the exact same thing.

Phil from Twin Falls, ID

Your response about kickoff/punt returners got me wondering. Could you explain the key differences in what distinguishes a good kickoff returner from punt returner?

I've always thought of the difference this way. A punt returner has to be fearless when he catches the ball. A kickoff returner has to be fearless after the catch.

Tim from Grand Rapids, MI

In your opinion, why has Jerry Kramer been left out of the Hall for so many years? What could possibly be the reason to leave out the only guy from the 50th Anniversary team to not be inducted?

I didn't think it was a valid argument, but many said when Henry Jordan was inducted in 1995, that put enough Lombardi Packers in the Hall. But that argument fell apart when the senior committee took up Robinson's case in 2013, so really, I've never understood.

Ralph from Elkhart Lake, WI

Insiders, Jerry Kramer is a friend of mine and I had the opportunity to introduce him at a Make-a-Wish fundraiser last Monday. We chatted for a couple of hours and the funniest thing he said is, "Coach had an incredible tolerance for our pain." He is a great man and deserves to be in the HOF.

Great line. I enjoyed**catching up with Kramer via phone**on Friday after we got to Denver. He's a treat to talk to.

Craig from Cedar Rapids, IA

Jerry Kramer belongs in the Hall of Fame for his book "Instant Replay" alone. Every boy in my high school class had that book.

I wish we could say that about a book, any book, today. But I digress.

Stephen from Chicago, IL

True or false: If Kramer makes his way into Canton, he will become less famous than he is today.

False. I don't think his fame changes either way. He remains the Hall's biggest omission, or he becomes the guy who waited 50 years after he was done playing to get in, and was still there to put on the gold jacket.

Matt from Cedar Rapids, IA

Insiders, longtime reader, first time writing. In follow-up to your answer "running backs make the difference," I was wondering how many of the great seasons by running backs were had behind offensive lines that graded out high? I recall Emmitt Smith ran behind some great lines, but Adrian Peterson's nearly record-breaking season was behind a line that seemed awful porous.

That's always been the debate when ranking Smith, Sanders, Peterson, etc. I've never taken anyone's analysis as gospel. Various arguments have merit. Smith ran behind great lines, yes, but I also think he'd have been a great back behind an average line. Does having a Hall of Fame QB and receiver in the same offense, as Smith had, diminish his accomplishments, or make us wonder what he might have achieved had he been relied on to the extent Sanders and Peterson were? We'll never know. I didn't see Smith or Sanders, in person, in their primes. I saw Peterson many times at his peak, and I've never seen a more dangerous, powerful back with the ball in his hands. He's one of the few who got the "man among boys" label for me.

Walter from Brownsville, MN

A sportswriter recently picked the Packers to finish out of the playoffs. Why would anyone in their right mind do that with the talent level of this team?

To get you to read it and make you mad. But look, at this time last year, if someone had said the defending NFC champion Panthers were not going to make the playoffs, would you have believed them? It's the NFL.

Matthew from Manitowoc, WI

With the waiver claiming and practice-squad forming, how much rigidity is there to that time frame? I can see a team cutting to 53, wanting 10 people from their roster on the practice squad, and then finding out there are two guys they want to try to claim off waivers. Maybe they need to call agents about possible practice-squad players as well. Would they need to reduce roster size before claims or can they cut after?

Teams have to get down to 53 by the deadline. During the waiver period, which is 20 or 21 hours this year, you can put in a claim without making a roster move, but if you are awarded that player, you must cut another player to make room. A practice-squad contract cannot be signed until the player has cleared waivers, but if a player has multiple offers, he can go where he wants.

Gaz from Xiamen, China

Very interesting response about coaches having, "incredible memories." I have always been fascinated with AR's ability to place specifics on dates, plays, throws, etc., and was impressed with Bakhtiari's answer a few days ago about a particular game of his. Would you mind sharing a particularly compelling story about a coach and his memory that was intriguingly impressive?

McCarthy's first year, 2006, the Packers were preparing to travel to Seattle to play Mike Holmgren's Seahawks. McCarthy was asked about Favre's first game against Holmgren, in 1999 when McCarthy was Favre's position coach. In describing an interception, McCarthy rattled off this long play call and how the entire play unfolded and how Favre tried to make one of his hero plays. The recall was astounding. I was fascinated.

Tim from Madison, WI

This has no value other than being interesting. Randall Cobb: Age 27. Taysom Hill: Age 27.

The different paths that are traveled.

Hey Wes and Mike, have you guys ever considered charging fees for soothsaying and fortune telling? So many fans ask you to look into the future and tell them who will be making the roster. I figure you could make a fortune from such an "entertainment purposes only" endeavor.

No, but during last season's four-game losing streak, a Lucy Van Pelt psychiatric booth crossed my mind.

Todd from Waterloo, IA

The "why hasn't Colin Kaepernick been signed" stink just gets bigger and bigger. In my opinion, if all of that publicity went away, he'd actually have a chance. There's two factors at play: Can he help a team win? And what will be the effect on the fan support and revenues? It's my belief that his "loudest supporters" are actually hurting him. I don't see him getting signed until a team that has a scramble-and-run compatible offense loses their first-string quarterback. Would one of you please validate or reject my hypothesis?

I realize the Kaepernick situation is a sensitive one for a lot of people, so I don't want to create a firestorm. Looking at your two factors as objectively as I can, given the state of quarterbacking among the bottom quartile of teams, it appears losing fans would be worse to some than losing games. But there are also questions about Kaepernick's commitment to the sport at this point, so I think there are more than two factors at play.

Martin from Koblenz, Germany

Hey Insiders, which player would you rather keep on your final roster: the player who already can contribute on special teams, or the player with more upside but not so much talent on special teams?

It depends how my roster is shaping up. If I'm down to one of the final decisions, feel good about the special-teams players I've accumulated, and one of those "upside" guys is probably going to be one of the seven game-day inactives for a good chunk of the season, I'd probably give him a spot.

Paul from Las Vegas, NV

Looking at the logjam at wide receiver, I wonder what a high end number of receivers you feel we could possibly keep on our 53? Is it possible we could expose our draft picks on the practice squad?

Yes to your second question, it's certainly possible. Seven would be my max number, but then one of those seven has to go when Allison comes off suspension in Week 2.

Aaron from Wausau, WI

What's the difference between a headline and a lede?

A headline would be "Rodgers plays lights out, carries Packers to victory." The lede would be, "He did it again."

Tom from New York, NY

Do you have a favorite '80s power ballad for a "Packers Preparing for the Big Game" music montage? I'm partial to "Hearts on Fire" from Rocky IV.

Loved the Rocky IV soundtrack. Highly underrated.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike, I read the quote in Cliff's article, a gem from Lombardi in 1967 that I had forgotten about. I believe it's as true today as it was then. Do you think any of the coaches or players read it?

I don't know, but I agree it's sort of a forgotten gem.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I'm getting sick of baloney...

T-minus 13 days and counting…

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