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Experience is a player's best friend

What's next for the Packers' backfield?


Tony from Appleton, WI

With Adams emerging and Jordy being Jordy, do you think this is week we have a 100-yard rusher and with a TD? I feel like this offense knows its capability and it's showing. Romeo Crennel can't be very excited.

I think the Packers would be thrilled to eclipse 100 rushing yards without Aaron Rodgers' scrambling. It doesn't have to be one individual, though. I'd imagine you'll see them use a committee approach the rest of the season with James Starks taking the lead. Mike McCarthy said on Thursday that he hopes to get Christine Michael and Ty Montgomery more snaps in the coming weeks after both carried the ball once in Philadelphia. All three possess different skill sets that could add to the running game.

James from Pyeongtaek, South Korea

I read the Packers didn't practice on Wednesday. Does this mean it was a day off or did they game plan just without doing anything physical?

This has been the Packers' plan since they finalized the schedule during the summer based on the short week and coming off back-to-back road night games. They still performed a walkthrough in the CRIC (conditioning, rehab and instructional center), so they went through their usual Wednesday progressions. They just did so without going full speed.

Ralph from Oklahoma City, OK

After listening to several MM interviews, I would follow him into a burning building. Do you get the same sense of leadership being in the room? Do you think the players feel that certain vibe he broadcasts?

I thought the biggest testament to McCarthy's approach was how many players supported him both in the locker room and social media during the skid. His words and positivity resonated with this team. I can only speak for myself, but I've always found constructive criticism to be the best option. These guys are professionals. They're not oblivious to what was going wrong during the losing streak. It's in those moments you need to accentuate the positives and remind everyone what they do well. Monday's outcome would indicate they responded to it.

Chris from Ottawa, ON

Insiders, when analysts speak of the Packers' chances of winning the division, several refer to the Packers' "easy" remaining schedule. Remaining opponents are 28-26 (including the 2-9 Bears). I have every confidence they can do it, but do you think their schedule will really help?

I don't know who these analysts are, but I wouldn't call the Packers' remaining schedule "easy" by any means with three division leaders and a very game Vikings team on the docket. The Packers have their work cut out for them, but it's a chance to really propel yourself into the playoffs if successful.

Jim from Mesquite, NV

I follow the Pack very closely, but missed where John Kerridge came from. First I heard was in the comment section.

The Packers signed Joe Kerridge to the practice squad at the beginning of October before activating him to the active roster last month. A team captain at Michigan, Kerridge is a smart, physical fullback who has a lot of experience on special teams.

Josip from Zagreb, Croatia

The Packers finally scored a rushing TD from the RB position. But still there is no rushing TD from anyone else than Aaron. What would you predict, when somebody else not named Aaron scores a rushing TD for the Packers?

Here's the thing – Starks already scored a touchdown a few weeks ago on his screen pass from Rodgers. Yes, I know that's not a rushing touchdown, but it counts the same on the scoreboard. This isn't as much about the Packers not having a rushing touchdown from a running back, but more about establishing a consistent threat inside the red zone. They're working at it. I think it'll happen in one of the next two home games.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

Wes, two things. One, I agree that the Big Ten champ should be in the Final Four. Second, regarding the question from Toua from Houston, TX: I think Toua was asking if we should be able to activate an additional IR player for the playoffs.

My apologies for the misunderstanding, but my answer remains the same. I think one activation per season is the way to go regardless of whether a team makes the postseason. I don't want to get too specific, but there are contractual incentives for players to be on the field during the regular season, including games counted toward an accrued season.

Randy from Des Moines, IA

What position group do you think has the brightest future based on growth potential?

I'm still excited about the cornerbacks. I know, I know, it's been a tough season for the pass defense, but all of these guys have their best football ahead of them. We'll have to see what happens with Sam Shields, but Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins have gained a lot of valuable experience in their first two NFL seasons. Those early snaps are what set the foundation for the Pro Bowl careers of Shields and Tramon Williams, and they'll benefit Randall and Rollins down the road, as well. Experience is a player's best friend. Plus, you also have Joe Whitt, who's as knowledgeable as they come.

Bob from Abilene, TX

Regarding the hit on Matthews, as a 32-year football official I say that it was not illegal. Was it unnecessary? Yes. Was it dirty? Maybe. But as Clay said, "It is what it is." Just be glad that it wasn't worse than it was and that he will be on the field this weekend (hopefully). Clearly he is the motor that runs the defense and when he is playing, the pass rush is pretty dang good.

By the letter of the law, I can't find anything that warranted a flag, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a bit excessive. Obviously Barbre wants to fulfill his assignment on the end-around, but a lesser hit would've achieved the same outcome. Again, it is what it is.

The Packers were back at practice Thursday afternoon inside the Don Hutson Center ahead of Sunday's matchup against the Texans. Photos by Evan Siegle,

Adam from Wausau, WI

Do you think the Matthews hit was schemed by the Eagles? It sure looked like Barbre was head-hunting and knew just where to look.

It would be difficult to draw that up on paper, especially with Matthews playing out of position. I think Barbre was just putting a hat on a hat.

Nate from Naples, FL

Hold your horses, Mike! Do you really want to propose adding a "targeting" penalty for an O-linemen who gets his head in front of a defender, hits him square in the chest and lays him out? I'm a Clay fan, but that block was a thing of beauty. That block is was what's been missing in football as of late.

It's all based on your perspective. Was it a good hit in the traditional sense? I suppose, but you could make an argument that Matthews was defenseless since he didn't see the blocker and couldn't avoid contract. Again, I'm not blaming anyone. If I'm Barbre – who's making a spot start at right tackle – all I see is a six-time Pro Bowler coming after my guy. Obviously I'm going to do everything I can to prohibit that. The only question is whether there's something we can do to help a defenseless player in this circumstance. Given the emphasis on player safety, I think it's a conversation worth having.

Jon from Omaha, NE

I believe, in order to win against Houston, our defense needs to stop the pass. Putting them in obvious passing situations helps so much. That being said, we could use some healthy linebackers to shut down the run. What are the status of Clay, Jake, and Blake?

The two go in hand-in-hand. If you contain Lamar Miller, the more pressure you're going to be able to generate on Brock Osweiler. Houston hasn't had many explosive plays this season, but the potential is there if you're not careful. If you want a key to victory, consider this: Houston is 5-1 when Osweiler surpasses an 80 passer rating and 1-4 this season when he falls below that. The defense gives him a larger margin for error, but there are limitations.

Mike from Whitefish, MT

I'm confused about Makinton Dorleant. Recently, it was announced that he was being returned to the 53-man roster. However, still lists him as being on IR. Is he the "designated one" or is there still hope that either Lacy or Shields can come back this year?

This might be the most popular question in our Inbox the past few days, so I'll answer it again. As I understand it, there's a two-week window in which players who are designated to return may practice with the team before being activated to the 53-man roster. The Packers have designated Dorleant to return. That declaration already appeared on the NFL transaction report, but Green Bay doesn't have to immediately add him to the roster.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, while the focus seems to be on Rodgers as a passer, I love his decision-making on when to run, slide (head or feet first), or go out of bounds. He has maximized the yards and minimized the chance of injury. Age brings wisdom.

He's been running for years, but he's really developed a sixth sense for when to give himself up and avoid taking an unnecessary hit. It's another reason he's one of the greatest all-around quarterbacks of our generation, if not NFL history. He's been driving defensive coordinators bonkers for years with the number of ways he can beat a defense, including with his feet.

Joel from Green Bay, WI

What determines a "neutral zone infraction" on a defender? On one of Perry's two such penalties on Monday night, he moved forward, but never got as far as the football, which I thought was where the neutral zone started. As a result, I felt the proper call should have been a false start, since an offensive lineman moved.

The rule is that it's deemed a neutral zone infraction if it triggers the offensive lineman to move. You saw the Packers benefit from it in the fourth quarter when Brandon Graham jumped, causing David Bakhtiari to go into his backpedal and draw the flag. It's based on reaction time.

Bill from Osseo, MN

Mike, if "...split leagues with divisions have always felt a bit contrived...," does that opinion carry over to the NFL too? Should it continue to be AFC champ vs. NFC champ, or should the playoffs change to a format where the top two teams make the Super Bowl, even if they're from the same conference?

I don't think that carries over to the NFL. There's a lot more history and tradition that goes into the NFC vs. AFC rivalry than the college football conferences that undergo a platonic shift every decade it seems. The Super Bowl was born out of the merger and frames the very foundation of professional football. I don't want to speak for Spoff, but I think his argument is the creation of the bowl system has created a championship system that's far more subjective.

Gene from Milwaukee, WI

The punter holds for Mason Crosby's FG attempts. Why not let the backup QB do that? That way, in the event of a broken play, a QB would have a better chance of making something happen. Also, there'd be the option of a trick play/fake field goal.

Every place does it differently, but the argument for many teams is the punter usually has more time on his hands (no pun intended) whereas the backup quarterback is taking reps with the scout team and assisting in other individual drills. The specialists work closely together and aren't as preoccupied in practice, allowing them more reps and opportunities to work on the field-goal operation.

Rob from Madison, WI

If Clemson and Washington lose this week, do you think the committee takes three B1G teams?

I'm not a college-football expert like Spoff, but that seems highly unlikely. I will say I'm openly rooting for the Buffaloes. I have nothing against Washington, but I don't want to see a team rewarded that played no one in their non-conference schedule.

Myke from Janesville, WI

I worked for decades in a highly competitive business. I made mistakes. Lots of days I wasn't perfect. I get the impression a minority of the fans NEVER made a mistake, or missed an assignment at work. Have any of you ever faced firing for making an error while on the job?

I purposely burned a burrito for 11 minutes during my time at the Press-Gazette in hopes that it would pop for a Packers video on our website. Well, it never did. None of the windows on the second floor could be opened, so the smell and smoke lingered all afternoon. Our sales department was not pleased. There also was a time I reported a player getting cut because I have a short attention span and misread an e-mail. Fortunately, there were no cameras and my superiors were forgiving. To err is human. To derive pleasure from others' failure is Schadenfreude.

Dan from Atlanta, GA

When are you going to unban me from this website? Quite ridiculous how I am dead honest with how this team plays and yet you get paid to play patty cake with the fans while you make your six-figure salary. What a joke.

You pulled the wrong paystub, Daniel. Have a nice day.

Jacob from Decorah, IA

Wes, Vic has "players, not plays" and Mike has "Don't confuse results with intent." Both of those are in the same vein as far as I'm concerned. What is your contribution to the catchphrases?

Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.

Cliff from Denver, CO

Hope you guys are well. I'm surprised no one asked about Denver's overtime field goal decision. Do you agree or disagree? I think they made the right call, even though they didn't get the expected outcome. Play to win, not to avoid losing.

I've always been a believer in the ideology of a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush – hey, I guess I have another catchphrase – so I wasn't too keen on the decision. I get playing to win and having confidence in your kicker, but I thought it's too risky to give a divisional opponent that kind of field position in what was a sudden-death game at that point. I have the luxury of hindsight, but I wasn't a huge fan. A tie doesn't hurt you, but the loss drops you to third in arguably the best division in football.

Brett from Pocahontas, IA

What are your thoughts on putting Brett Hundley in for a series or two and run the Bazooka formation...seems like a nice change of pace to me?

You mean The 'Zooka?

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