Skip to main content
Powered by

Defensive rookies have a chance to play right away

Packers looking to keep veterans fresh for a long run


Ryan from Madison, WI

A lot of talk has been made about the Packers starting with two road games this year. The Badgers play at Lambeau on Sept. 3. As cool as it will be to see the Badgers play there, do you think this played into starting the season with back-to-back roadies?

First off, really good questions today, guys. These were fun to answer. Wish I could've addressed more, but I had to go home at some point. To the best of my knowledge, the preseason finale on the road in Kansas City was the only game directly affected by the Badgers' game. I think the back-to-back road games were more a byproduct of the Vikings requesting to open their new stadium against the Packers.

Dan from Chautauqua, NY

Wes, do you and Spoff draw straws for who stands next to Larry in the "Three Things" videos? Keep up the great work, enjoying the new format and perspective.

Close. We thumb-wrestled.

Spencer from Ames, IA

Hey guys, loved the answer to the Jennings HOF question. It has me feeling nostalgic about the 2010 season. What is your favorite memory from the championship run? Mine is the dominant divisional win over the Falcons in Atlanta. Jennings had a big game if I remember right.

Personally, I'm still blown away by how well James Starks performed after being injured for most of his rookie season. His performance against Philadelphia was the first domino for the Packers' run. You knew about Rodgers, Jennings and the rest of the offense, but Starks' contribution out of nowhere is what championship football is all about.

Jay from Land O Lakes, FL

Hi Mike and Wes, if I could pick only two rookies to exceed expectations this year, the two would be Spriggs and Martinez. My reasoning would be that they could help "fix" the two weakest parts of the team, inside linebacker and backup O-line. Your two picks?

I'm going to go with Dean Lowry and Martinez. The reason I mention Martinez is because rookie inside linebackers typically have a difficult time getting on the field in Dom Capers' and Dick LeBeau's zone-blitz scheme, whatever the reason. That could change this year with Martinez, who already possesses a highly professional approach. I mentioned Lowry because his body type (6-6, 296) is something the Packers' defensive line really hasn't had in Capers' time in Green Bay. He's a true five-technique end and could see a lot of action in 2016.

Tim from La Crosse, WI

I heard Jordy Nelson say there is a hiccup in his other knee. Are you getting any sense of what that might be and if it's anything that might hold him out past the start of the season?

*All indications are Nelson should be ready for the start of the season. McCarthy reiterated in his first news conference of camp that all six of the players who were placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list should be ready at some point in camp. I understand the fears but don't think it's any reason to panic. I'd be more concerned if he suffered a setback with the surgically repaired knee. *

Stephen from Chicago, IL

Wes, what's up with the tackling donuts? What is proper donut tackling technique?

They allow defenders to tackle all the way through the target. It also prevents players from taking unnecessary hits. I know I witnessed a few close calls during tackling drills during last year's camp. So far, the players seem to be receptive to the change.

Jeff from Farmington, UT

I don't understand why they are trying to limit Julius Peppers' snaps when he is making $10.5 million. Don't get me wrong. I think he deserves it, but only because I think he can and should go out and earn it. I wouldn't be limiting someone who I pay that much.

The thinking is you want to keep Peppers healthy and fresh for the long run. It's not about how much he's making. Just because the car has gas doesn't mean you immediately want to run it to empty. You try to find a good pace. It doesn't have anything to do with his salary. Plus, the Packers have enough outside linebackers to be selective with him.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Hi Wes, give me a piece of literature you love so that we can draw all sorts of inferences about you.


Bill Collman from Oskaloosa, IA

Insiders: Have you seen the robotic tackling dummies? Are the Packers using them?

I haven't seen them. The Packers currently aren't using them. Mike McCarthy was asked about them this past week. Seemed intrigued but said those types of decisions won't be made until next offseason. He also added that sometimes it's better to be the second guy to buy something rather than the first.

Trent from Davenport, FL

Hey guys, recently the NFL announced it would be putting three games on YouTube for each team. I have been looking all over YouTube for those games but can't find them. Any idea when they are going to be put up? Thanks.

A set date hasn't been announced. Just that it will be prior to the 2016 regular season. We'll try to post something as soon as we know a concrete date.

Bob from Balsam Lake, WI

We are planning on bringing our 10-year-old grandson to Green Bay to watch a training camp practice and hoping he could see the players on the way to the field. Is there a practice schedule available schedule for the first week in August? Thanks.

Packers have public practices at 6:15 p.m. CT on Monday, Aug. 1, Wednesday, Aug. 3, and Thursday, Aug. 4, during the first week of August. You can find the full schedule here.

Brent from Prairie du Sac, WI

Hi guys. I sure hope that Mike and Wes aren't "competing for the starting job" with Insider Inbox now that Vic's presence has been reduced. I for one have been really enjoying the variety. Thanks and keep up the good work!

I'm not competing against Mike. I'm competing against myself. I think we push each other. Mike pushes me to be a better writer. Any other clichés I can try to throw in here?

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Mike or Wes, what are your thoughts on Christian Ringo? Does he have a shot to play and make an impact this year?

He has a golden opportunity in front of him with so many questions on the defensive line and Mike Pennel unavailable for the first four weeks of the season. Ringo's transition from Louisiana-Lafayette to the NFL was pretty steep, but the Packers still think highly of him. His play on the scout team drew rave reviews last year. Now, can he implement it to make a bid for the 53-man roster? Sawed-off defensive tackles are gaining more respect in the league. It's unfair to compare Ringo to Mike Daniels, but the upside is there.

Dennis from Edina, MN

Wes, the Green Bay run defense has been no better than 15th over the last few years. I still don't see it getting any better with a nose tackle that is suspended for four games, a rookie with no NFL experience, and two very average inside linebackers. Why doesn't Ted Thompson fix this problem?

Thompson drafted a defensive tackle in the first round, a five-technique end in the fourth and an inside linebacker in the fourth. That's a pretty big commitment based on how he goes about building a team. I don't argue the first four weeks will be difficult without Pennel, who's made strides in each of his three offseasons. I'd say give Clark and Co. time to see what they can do. At the very least, the Packers have two established linemen in Daniels and Letroy Guion, who'll likely eat up most of the nickel snaps.

Patrick from Fernley, NV

At the risk of sounding overly concerned, is it unrealistic to think that the Rodgers and Nelsons of the world should play ZERO snaps in preseason games? What are they getting out of those games that they can't get during camp?

Recent trends seem to indicate established veterans playing less and less each preseason. Will we ever reach a day where they don't play at all? That seems unlikely to me, but you never know. I thought the Packers had a pretty good plan for handling Rodgers last summer (played in first two games, sat out of last two). I'm as curious as all of you to see how McCarthy handles his top players this time around.

Chris from De Pere, WI

Datone Jones is technically an OLB but how much has his function really changed since he was a DE? Is there really that much of a difference between the elephant OLB and a five-technique?

The switch has more to do with getting Jones on the field in first- and second-down situations. Previously, his best shot at playing time came as an interior rusher in the dime. He doesn't have prototypical length to be a five-technique end (see: Calais Campbell or Derek Wolfe). Jones fits better rushing from the two-point stance in early downs. The move to elephant allows him to keep doing what he does in passing situations, though.

Eric from Minneapolis, MN

Insiders: Thanks for keeping the column going, loved it before and love it now. The words bold, creative, leader, and corporate have been used to describe McCarthy. Can you give a concrete example of how he is bold and creative, especially in contrast to other coaches?

McCarthy has been pretty innovative when it comes to his use of analytics in keeping players healthy. He always seems open-minded to evolving his program and doesn't leave many stones unturned. The success of his offenses is reflected on the stat sheets, but McCarthy also hasn't been timid with an occasional surprise onside kick or trick play.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Wes, Mike gets called "Spoff" by some. Do you ever get called "Hod?"


Justin from Athens, GA

What is the deal with players, waivers, and the practice squad right now? What I'm trying to ask is, say we really like a player but don't think he will make the roster, could we put him through waivers now when no one is likely to grab anyone so early, to ensure he makes it onto our practice squad?

There's a line of thinking out there of cutting players during the first roster reduction to 75 players in an effort to sneak them to the practice squad. How many teams do this? It's anyone's guess, but I've heard that before. Based on my time covering the team, the Packers typically don't mess around. They're not going to diminish the apparent value of a player purely to their benefit. More often than not, they're able to keep the player.

Justin from Dacula, GA

Okay, so we know Vic's take on the Oxford comma. Question for both Mike and Wes?

Mike says yes. Hod says no.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.