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He's counting on them just as much

Aaron Rodgers says things for a reason


Bobby from Parsippany, NJ

When Rodgers says he's not coming back to save this team, what exactly does he mean by that?


The most popular question in the Inbox since late Wednesday. I took it as a message to his teammates he's counting on them just as much as they're counting on him.**

Jay from Fairport, NY

A couple of years ago when the Packers had some big games late in the season, they named playoff captains before the season ended and gave out "C" patches contrary to Packer norm. Given the "playoff" games coming up, do you see them doing that again this year? I love seeing 12 with that golden "C" patch.

That was in 2014, after the loss to Buffalo in Week 15, and it was a bold move because the Packers hadn't clinched a playoff spot yet. But they needed to win only one of their final two games (they won both) to get in. A move like that in these circumstances, with three games left and no control to clinch, would be foolish and distracting.

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

While the current IR policy does allow for more flexibility than in the past, do you see the NFL getting more like baseball and have a 30- or 45-day IR (DL) for even more flexibility moving forward?

It's possible, but it would have to be structured so as not to open the door to abuse and manipulation, such as stashing players rather than exposing them to waivers. Baseball has minor-league systems for young players, football doesn't. Maybe a DL structure could be implemented, but it wouldn't be as simple as you think.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Is there any merit to thinking that Lance Kendricks is the forgotten man on game day, and that with Rodgers playing again, he could light up a Carolina team that likes to blitz a ton with their MLBs? I look for a lot of screens, draws and TE revival in this game.

Rodgers briefly mentioned on Wednesday the offense getting away from some concepts in his absence that are being put back in, which is to be expected. We'll just have to see what that looks like on Sunday.

Patrick from Elm Grove, WI

With the playoffs coming up and all the hypothetical situations, what would happen if three teams were tied for records and the head-to-head tiebreak was similar to rock-paper-scissors, where Team 1 beat Team 2 but lost to Team 3, and Team 2 lost to Team 1 but beat Team 3.


It would go to conference record, and if one team is eliminated but not two, then it reverts back to head-to-head to break the remaining two-way tie. Just beat the Panthers.**

Amir from Fox Point, WI

No one probably remembers this fact, but upon re-watching highlights from the Packers' OT victory over the Bengals, I noticed there was 17 seconds left when Rodgers threw the game-tying touchdown pass to Jordy to force overtime. What do you know, Hundley's back-shoulder fade to Adams left 17 seconds on the clock this last week also.


Cue "The Twilight Zone" music.**

Zach from Clarkfield, MN

We all have seen how many players have gone out with season-ending or multiple-week injuries. Do you think that in this day and age, players are becoming too fast and too strong for their own good? Tendons can only stretch so far and it would seem that bone structures could only handle so much pressure. I'm no doctor, but one would assume the human body has its limits.

There's no question the bigger-faster-stronger growth of the game's players is a (if not the) major factor in the lengthy injury lists we see today.

Dusty from Rice Lake, WI

I know both of our rookie backs have already had snaps with Rodgers. Now that he is coming back again, I hope Williams and Jones do not try to overthink things and make too much happen and they just keep running hard and making plays.

Their experience thus far in the offense and as featured backs at different times should have them feeling comfortable with their assignments and playing instinctively. Rookies never start out that way, because there are so many adjustments to the pro game, a new system, etc., but by this time, their talent should take over.

Josh from Denver, CO

I'm looking forward to the return of the back-shoulder Rodgers-Nelson connection.


Rodgers went out of his way at his locker on Wednesday to mention No. 87, twice. He says things for a reason.**

Alan from Mount Auburn, IL

I was glad to see the Panthers have a longer list of players on the injury report. It seems the Packers were always "winning" that phase of the game.

I was surprised, given Carolina's bye week was just a month ago. But on Thursday they listed 15 of 19 guys as full participants at practice, so I would suspect we'll see them remove several players from their report today.

Luke from Oconomowoc, WI

The selfish side of me wants Hundley to stick with the Packers as we head into 2018, yet that might not be in his best interest. Has he done enough to get serious attention from other teams?

I don't see anyone giving up a real high draft pick for him, but that'll be determined as QB-needy teams study who's potentially available both in the league and in the draft. It might be in the Packers' best interest to keep him for the final year of his rookie contract to back up Rodgers, given how he won three games and improved considerably.

Jordan from Auburn, AL

Say you weren't a Packers fan for a minute. Would you actually think the Packers deserved to be in the playoffs?


The Packers were back inside the Don Hutson Center Thursday afternoon preparing for Sunday's game against the Panthers. Photos by Evan Siegle, packers.com.

You get what you earn in this league.**

Andrew from Memphis, TN

Wow! Dorsey really hit the ground running in Cleveland, didn't he? Quite the first impression and message to send your team. While not my style, he is obviously quite glib and very confident. I guess he only has two options now: put up or shut up. I hope it works for him. What were y'all's thoughts on his statements?

Dorsey is an old-school football scout through and through. He made that clear, and he declared that will drive the decision-making process in personnel with him in charge. When your franchise has been in need of a quarterback for as long as the Browns have, and the previous regime passed on both Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, you need to listen to an accomplished scout.

Jake from Madison, WI

Wes is 30? He doesn't look a day over 16.

I was thinking back to when I turned 30, and we figured out that Wes was a freshman in high school. He makes me feel old while keeping me young.

Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, now that Aaron has returned, could this team be better than the team that made it to the NFC championship last season?

This team has a better running game, but unfortunately the secondary is in similar straits, injury-wise. I think this could be the toughest of the three games, given the opponent (and a hot one at that), the location, and the fact that it's the first one with Rodgers back. Win this one, and then let's see where this team stands.

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

Hey fellas, with all the hype both locally and nationally about Rodgers' return, we have to be careful about what the Carolina Panther players are thinking right now. Seems like no one is giving them a chance to win this game because many are looking at Rodgers returning and the Packers automatically winning the next three games. Those guys get paid too and if anything, I think it adds more fuel to the fire for them to win. Would you agree?

I don't think Carolina is feeling disrespected, if that's what you're asking, because I haven't heard anybody talk about the Packers automatically winning anything. Vegas still has the home team as the favorite, for what it's worth. But I'm sure the Panthers don't mind all the attention being on Green Bay when Carolina is coming off an impressive takedown of Minnesota. It's a seasoned bunch that has no interest in taking a back seat to any NFC playoff contenders.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

I know it's way too early for this, but...the NFC could have five 10-6 teams and only two make the postseason. I think it's time to expand the playoffs.

No thanks. Six out of 16 in each conference is close enough to half getting in, regardless of the records that qualify, and I'll say the same thing if the Packers get to 10-6 and don't get in. Any closer to half and you just become more like the NBA and NHL, which have far less meaningful regular seasons.

Kyle from Spooner, WI

I just saw a "mock draft" on ESPN already. C'mon man! There is way too much football left to watch to start that nonsense.

Which is why I have ignored all Inbox submissions asking about draft priorities. There will be plenty of time to discuss all that. Focus, people.

Derek from Houston, TX

Insiders, if Peppers has a clear shot on Rodgers, do you think he drives him into the ground? Do you think he tries to drag him down or hit him in the midsection? I understand the professional aspect but also I'm sure they're still friends. Maybe he just doesn't add anything extra?

Peppers is a true pro and will play the game like one. Several readers have pointed out that Rodgers is facing Peppers for the second time in a collarbone comeback game. Cue more "Twilight Zone" music.

Trent from Lakota, ND

People like to classify quarterbacks as being "clutch" for getting it done late in games. Can we classify Davante Adams as a "clutch" wide receiver? He has made absolutely monster plays late to win three games this year.


You'll get no argument from me, but I think Rodgers feels he can count on several guys at crunch time.**

John from Denver, CO

In reference to the gentleman using the coin toss for a bathroom break, my good friend and a Green Bay firefighter came out here for the Packers vs. Broncos game and completely missed the Favre-to-Jennings 80-yard strike to end it. Do you know if that's the shortest OT in NFL history?

It's not. The kickoff return took four seconds and the pass to Jennings took 12 more. The 16 seconds total was two longer than Chad Morton's OT kickoff-return TD for the Jets in 2002, a regular-season record later broken by the Saints in 2015, 13 seconds, on a TD pass to C.J. Spiller. The playoff record is actually 12 seconds. Tebow.

Joseph from East Moline, IL

On top of the Packers game, and all the games that affect their season, we also get to watch Steelers vs. Patriots. Who do you have winning that game? It seems like the Patriots never lose two in a row, but I have to go with the Steelers. I don't see how anyone ever beats them with the players they have.

I picked the Steelers to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl after seeing them in person, so I'll stick with them, though the unfortunate loss of Ryan Shazier changes the look of their defense.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

A-Rod was 4-1 with strangers on his O-line and a D that gave up 31 points in one game, 34 in another. Only Pitt has scored more than 23 points on our D in the last five, and the O-line is in great shape with Spriggs taking over seamlessly for Bulaga. Odds, schmodds. This team could be for real if it can catch a break or two.

If the special teams can continue making high-impact plays, they might provide the break or two of which you speak.

Scott from De Pere, WI

Mike, thanks for posting that Paul from Cumming, GA, thread. It literally made me LOL at work while I was on lunch. We all need something lighthearted this time of year. Side note, since you are a "Seinfeld" guy I was hoping for your Inbox to be titled "I'm back baby," or at least work in the George reference somewhere. You missed a golden opportunity.

That's a shame.

Justin from Danbury, CT

When Hannibal crossed the Alps, his army atrophied from nearly 100,000 to 29,000. Prior to the Battle of Cannae, the Carthaginians faced an army of 80,000 Roman soldiers. One of Hannibal's officers, a man named Gisgo, scouted the enemy army and returned with the bad news: the Carthaginians were hopelessly outnumbered, and the odds were stacked against them. Hannibal made no speech. Instead, he simply replied, "You have failed to notice, Gisgo, that although there are so many of them, there is not one among them called Gisgo." Gisgo laughed. The joke passed through the ranks. No, there was no Gisgo among the Romans, just as there was no Hannibal. The Carthaginians went on to win what is perhaps one of the most stunning victories in history. Packers fans would do well to remember that while the odds are stacked against them, no other team has an Aaron Rodgers.

Are you trying to say the "G" on the helmet stands for Gisgo?

Kevin from Janesville, WI

Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.

Never tell me the odds. Happy "Star Wars" release, everybody.

Justin from Atlanta, GA

Right after Rodgers got hurt, you replied to my statement on Insider Inbox. I said that I thought the Pack would have to find a way to eight wins before Week 15 to have a good shot at the playoffs. You told me you thought seven was the number. I guess we will see who was right in three weeks.

I was targeting the minimum to stay alive, not getting greedy, but I certainly wish Rodgers and the Packers had some margin for error. Then again, it can work in a team's favor this way. Win this one with everything surrounding it, and hope finds some footing in reality. Just beat the Panthers.

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