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Communication is the key to a turnaround


Eddie from La Crosse, WI

In regards to the elimination of the kickoff: How are they going to start the darn game?

Rock, paper, scissors? Good morning!

Chris from Edmonton, Canada

With Joe Philbin back in the fold, is it possible Mike McCarthy will move on from the play-calling again to allow him to focus on the team as a whole?

No. That ship has sailed. McCarthy is calling plays from here on out. I think Philbin’s return and their history together only solidifies McCarthy staying in that role.

Matt from Westbrook, CT

Wes, I like your 12th man pick in Justin McCray, a jack-of-all-trades lineman like that cannot be overlooked. For sake of argument, I would give my vote to either Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams. Williams performed well in a Rodgers-less offense and had to find his way to the top of the depth chart, but Aaron Jones had the true definition of a 12th man of the year moment, with his one and only rush for a touchdown in overtime against Tampa Bay.

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Take a look at photos of Packers G Justin McCray from the 2017 season. Photos by Evan Siegle and Corey Wilson, packers.com

If I hadn’t said McCray, I would have picked either Williams or Jones. They were bright spots during a difficult season and freely accepted whatever snaps they were given without complaint. That’s the definition of being a team player. A big part of being a rookie is understanding where you fit.**

Evan from Rochester, NY

I'll be honest, when I first saw Jamaal Williams dancing I thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever. He won me over with production. I mean seriously I don't think I've seen a Packers running back with the wiggle and attitude he's got. SPECIAL.

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Take a look at photos of Packers RB Jamaal Williams from the 2017 season. Photos by Evan Siegle and Corey Wilson, packers.com

I don’t think I’ve seen a Packers running back with those dance moves, either. **

Steve from Plymouth, MN

Mason Crosby is my pick for the Packers’ 12th man. Simply because he isn't on the field for any more than a few plays each game, but he always delivers when needed and is as consistent a kicker any NFL team could want.

*That’s a good way to look at it. I can’t believe he’s going into Year 12. How quickly time flies. *

Jason from Tucson, AZ

We have now lost Richard Rodgers. We are back to two TEs. What is Green Bay doing to retain some of the free agents this year? We haven't signed any of our previous players to my knowledge.

Free agency is a long process, which is why only three of the Packers’ nine unrestricted free agents have signed so far. Rodgers did some incredible things in Green Bay. His Hail Mary catch will be remembered forever, but Rodgers’ opportunities were limited last year as the third tight end. It don’t know how much that would have changed with Jimmy Graham’s signing and Lance Kendricks’ return.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I know the draft picks are given an orientation on how to be a Packer. Do the veteran acquisitions get something similar?

Rookies go through several levels of orientation after getting drafted into the NFL. Veterans know the league. Their “orientation” comes more during visits when they gain an understanding of what teams expect.

Mark from Toledo, OH

When will the Packers preseason schedule be released? Does the team have any input into who they are assigned to play?

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If history is any indication, it should be next week. For the past 15 years, NFL teams are free to build their own preseason schedule with a few restrictions (i.e. you can’t play a team in the division or outside of the NFL, can’t play a team twice, etc.).**

Bob from Titusville, FL

I understand your logic on only 46 active players on game day. The only addition that would make some sense would be to let a third QB be a 47th player who could only enter the game if both active QBs left the game with injuries.

*That was the original arrangement – 45 players on the game-day roster and an emergency third quarterback. Then, it just changed to 46 regardless of position. *

Richard from Clearwater, MN

Do you have a preference or higher level of excitement for the pre-draft speculation, or the post-draft speculation regarding the players that could be taken in the draft or were taken by the Packers in the draft?

I favor post-draft speculation. It’s more fun to talk about how actual draft picks fit into the scheme rather than the spray-and-pray approach of guessing who’ll land on the Packers’ roster.

George from North Mankato, MN

Do you think that Aaron Rodgers may see more reps this preseason than in the past coming off his injury and with the fact that Jordy is gone and Graham is in?

Rodgers threw 13 passes in the second and third preseason games last year. I don’t see that changing. The most important reps Rodgers takes with his receivers come in training camp, especially with a reworked playbook. That’s where the QB feels he gets his best work done with new receivers. I don’t see that changing with Jimmy Graham in the fold.

Brett from West Des Moines, IA

Thank you, packers.com, for the Prospect Primers, especially the one on Allen Lazard. As an Iowa State fan, he has been the “man” for four years, constantly every defense’s focal point. I would love to see AR throwing touchdowns and how MM could use a guy like him.

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I think Spoff did that for our digital UX coordinator, Matt Haberkamp, an ISU alum. Lazard is a fun prospect to talk about. It’s one thing to be 6-5, but receivers need to know how to use it. Lazard does. He proved at the combine he has the necessary speed to stay at receiver. His route-running needs work, but that part is coachable. His intangibles aren’t.**

Dan from Marshfield, WI

In response to Dylan from Camden you said you would pick Josh Jackson. I like Jackson also but all I have heard is that he is better as a zone coverage corner. Is Pettine a zone or man to man guy?

That was my initial thought, too, but I finally gave in to the fact Jackson is a special talent and should succeed in any system. It sounds like the Packers will remain a press-man team based on Pettine’s track record and Whitt staying on board. The reason I picked Jackson is because of his size and ball skills. He’s not a burner, but finds the football regularly. Those traits translate to any defense.

Andy from Madison, WI

A lot has been said about Graham "not being able to block." How much of a concern is that? Surely he can't allow a tackle for a loss every time he lines up to block. Doesn't Aaron Houdini mitigate any problem Graham might have?

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The Packers haven’t really been known for blocking tight ends. The best they’ve had under McCarthy is Martellus Bennett and I don’t know how much he improved things during his two months in Green Bay. It sounds like the Packers have in-line plans for Graham. He doesn’t have to be an All-Pro blocker. He just has to be willing.**

Matt from Greensboro, NC

Do you think if a player leaves college early, declares for draft, and doesn’t get drafted he should be allowed to go back to college so long as he didn’t sign with an agent or take any advanced in pay?

Absolutely. Why punish him for trying to improve his situation? Life is about second chances.

Nate from Amherst, WI

 Along with the fondness in his farewell, I think Morgan Burnett would deserve the twelfth man award for all the hats he wore patching up the defense last year.

Burnett would be a good testament to that ‘12th man’ philosophy if he hadn’t started every game he ever played for the Packers, but he definitely epitomized versatility and accountability during his time in Green Bay.

Paul from Beaver Dam, WI

Any word on Herb Waters’ recovery? The only thing I've heard about him is that he's one of the 11 Herbs and Spices followed by KFC on Twitter.

I talked with Waters at the end of the season. He was shooting for a return during OTAs. The Packers re-signed him the day after the new league year, which suggests they’re comfortable with his recovery from the shoulder surgery that sidelined him last year.

Dennis from Cameron, WI

Why don't the Packers hold a walk-on tryout day or two? The Vikes did and found Thielen.

*The Packers bring tryout players each week during the regular season and usually invite upwards of 30 to their rookie orientation every year. The Packers perform the same due diligence with their state schools the Vikings do. *

Jack from Omaha, NE

We all know the Packers are going to draft defense in the first round. But what are they going to do with their second round pick? Could you see them taking a TE if Andrews, Goedert, or Gesicki are available?

*I’ll believe it when I see it. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but 18 years is a long time for the Packers to go without taking a tight end in the first two rounds. *

Jay from Land O Lakes, FL

Guys, given the injury history of our two starting OLBs, would it be wise to draft an EDGE over a DB?

*It could be. The Packers battled injury at both positions last year, so you can’t really go wrong. *

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Wes, in my opinion, you are going to see better play from all our young cornerbacks this year with the new defensive system. Less thinking and more just line up and play football.

There’s something to be said for a streamlined approach in the secondary. We can talk until we’re blue in the face about who is going to breakout or which cornerback the Packers should draft in three weeks, but communication is the key to a turnaround. Joe Whitt Jr.’s new role is a good place to start, but it’s on everyone – cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers – to work out the kinks that pestered the pass defense last season.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Who is in charge of substituting players in and out of the game, mainly D line, to keep them fresh? Is that the position coach or DC? Also, when a coach says we want someone to play about 25 plays, who keeps that stat to let a coach know the player is getting close to or over that limit?

*The position coach typically relays the substitutions. If it’s a position where there are heavy rotations (defensive line, outside linebacker and running back), the position coach or a quality control assistant will keep track of reps. *

Brandon from Fairfield, CA

Can you give any insight as to why a young guy like Breeland is still unsigned? From what I understand, it’s a simple foot infection?

Have you personally examined the foot?

Juan from San Antonio, TX

I was thinking of all the packers who had career-ending injuries you listed. I never see Derek Sherrod’s name mentioned. How do you think his injury affected Packers?

*It’s a conversation I’ve had with a lot of people over the years. What would have happened if Sherrod hadn’t suffered that brutal leg injury? Sherrod looked every bit the part of a 10-year left tackle. He had the height and tremendous arm length, but played too upright. How much of that was due to the injury, I’ll never know. *

Steve from Flagstaff, AZ

So Jim Mora Jr. says the Browns are better drafting Sam Darnold than his own guy Josh Rosen. To me that is a slap in the face. I understand QBs having a fit in a system that suits them but don't you want "your guy" to go No. 1 no matter what and vouch for that?

*I don’t know Mora’s reasons for saying what he said, but I believe you have to support your guys in the pre-draft process. I’ll use the example of UTEP coach Sean Kugler. Aaron Jones left school a year early to enter the draft and the Miners went winless in their first season without him. Kugler resigned midway through last season, but remained effusive in support of Jones before and after he declared. That’s someone I want to play for. *

David from San Francisco, CA

Could the Packers pass on Vita Vea if he were the BAP with the 14th pick?

If the Packers take Vea at No. 14, that means one of two things. They’re either going in a completely new direction with the front or it’s strong evidence Vea was the best available prospect given how deep Green Bay is at defensive tackle.

Chris from Monroe, CT

I like the idea of replacing a kickoff with a punt to save the needed keep possession play. Could you whisper that idea in Murphy's ear and make kickoffs a fourth-and-15 from your own 40. That formula could be adjusted to keep the conversion percentages and starting field position about the same.

If anything like this ever happens, I’m sure it’ll be test-driven in the preseason like extra points and kickoffs before it. This next year will be telling for which direction the NFL wants to take things.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

Another kickoff question. None of the submitted changes address the chance of pinning the offense down inside the 10-yard line, or even the 5. To me, this is an exciting part of the game, regardless of which side you are rooting for. Any chance we can keep this chance?

I have a sneaking suspicion this is one of the elements of kickoff returns the NFL would rather do without. It is exciting, but it’s probably the most dangerous aspect of the play – 22 players crashing a single corner of the field.

Charlie from Morgan Hill, CA

I think it’s interesting what the Rams are trying to do with all of these trades and all-in approach with some questionable character guys like Peters and Suh. They may want to check history and look back at 2011 and the Eagles. They look formidable but so does the NFC.

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Take a look at photos of Pro Football and Packers Hall of Famer Brett Favre on 4/4. Photos by Evan Siegle, Matt Becker, Shawn Hubbard, Harmann Studios, AP & Green Bay Press-Gazette

I think what’s more interesting is the Rams went from one of the league’s most cap-strapped teams to one with the most space. So I don’t blame them for (most of) the moves they made this offseason. They’re looking to make some noise in a new market and got a taste of winning last year. However, selling out for a short window is a precarious proposition.**

David from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Wes, Do you think Eddie Lacy's career is essentially over?

Not necessarily, though last year wasn’t the bounce-back season I’m sure he was looking for in Seattle. I look for Lacy to get another chance somewhere this offseason. If he does, this will be the most important summer of Lacy’s career.

Connar from Lake Nebagomon, WI

All-time favorite backup QB?

Ty Detmer.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I like it when you and Spoff trade weeks on the Inbox. It seems to help with flow and continuity. Does it work better for you when you do it 5-6 days in a row?

*Not really, but there’s only two of us. We have to go on vacation sometime. *

Jay from Minneapolis, MN

Irresistible force meets the immovable object... must be Wes-tleMania season. Which match are you most excited for?

I wasn’t a fan of the build to Undertaker-Cena, but I’m excited for what I anticipate will be Taker’s last match.

Stephen from Green Bay, WI

Who would be your 12th man? The entire practice squad. That takes dedication. I love the fact that the Insider Inbox tweaked the rules so there is no need for replay. You can ask a question or make a comment, so you guys are also part of that 12th man. You keep your fans calm as you can and if you two merged into one person, you might make a halfway decent guard.

*Or a quarter-way decent guard. *

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