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Inbox: Everyone can take something from it

The Packers missed a practice but gained something so much more

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QB Aaron Rodgers and Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Dave from Middletown, CT

I laughed out loud at Spoff's closer. Team scrimmages are the best option available to simulate real game experience, but how do coaches evaluate performance? Since our team is on both sides of the ball, any offensive success could have been a defensive breakdown and vice-versa.

Don't let Larry hear you calling that a scrimmage. I made that mistake after Sunday's practice and he set me straight. I think the most valuable part of that practice was the unscripted element and coaches calling in plays from the sideline or booth. It was the closest thing the Packers are going to get to a preseason game this year and the best part is everyone can take something from it – from Aaron Rodgers all the way to the 53rd man on the roster.

Chris from Clive, IA

With cuts looming, do you foresee teams gradually releasing players throughout this week? Or, especially this year with no preseason film, do you think they'll do more mass cuts later as to not tip their hand regarding who they might want to try sneaking back onto the practice squad?

I don't see early releases. For starters, the Packers still have three more practices to evaluate players. Secondly, cutting a player early to sneak them through to the practice squad is somewhat passe, especially since the league no longer requires a cut to 75. I think it's better to give the players every opportunity to make the roster. If they don't, keep your fingers crossed you can get most of them through to the practice squad like the Packers. Every team is battling the same numbers crunch, after all.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Is this the deepest and best the Packers have been on the O-line under Aaron Rodgers?

The Packers have a lot of depth there but I don't know if I'd go that far. Those lines in the mid-2010s were stacked, when Lane Taylor and JC Tretter were the primary backups to David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, T.J. Lang and Bryan Bulaga.

Matty from Janesville, WI

What player(s) this camp, so far, have surprised you? A player(s) that you've said "wow" a couple of times to yourself and why?

Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He looks like a different player.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

Will Rashan Gary be allowed to do his hump move on Sundays?

I made this remark to Spoff after Sunday's practice. I hope what Gary and Valdes-Scantling did during training camp translates to games this year. Not for any personal reasons, but because I need this whole process to make sense to me. I need for all of you to see what the reporters have seen throughout the Packers' 12 practices. Because those two guys were consistently two of the top performers. In a practice setting, they've done everything the coaches have asked. Now, it's time to do it on the real stage.

Karen from Kaukauna, WI

If Gary's doing Reggie White's "hump" move, he must be studying Reggie's tapes. With observing, and learning from the Smiths last year, and studying Reggie White's moves, Rashan Gary has quite a future ahead. He has picked the best of the best to emulate; and, based on showing he has the ABILITY to copy Reggie's move, we just might be looking at Reggie White Jr. in the making!

It was an exciting play and an excellent one-on-one rush off the edge, but we also need to keep expectations reasonable right now. One of the reasons we are where we are is everyone wanting Gary to have 20 sacks out of the gate as a rookie. He's still only 22 and there's a long way to go. But the potential is very much real.

Jared from Tampa, FL

There have been numerous examples of veteran players assisting with the development of the younger guys. Do you ever see a veteran WR, like Davante Adams, mentoring a young QB, like Jordan Love? It seems there would be a unique perspective to be gained on your performance from such interactions.

Yes, it happens quite a bit. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb did that all the time, too. I think a lot of it starts with Rodgers. A lot of the national pundits want to take digs at Rodgers' leadership, but they're also not there when he's working with young receivers or running backs on the sideline during practice. He's very deliberate about what he wants on the field and communicates that message thoroughly. Players who have succeeded, such as Adams and Allen Lazard, took those words to heart and adjusted accordingly. Love hasn't taken many snaps with a veteran like Adams but you can tell the entire offense is rallying around him – no different than Tim Boyle the last two years. Because a rising quarterback lifts all offensive players.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

My son is 12 and we've been having discussions about a new bike. He made a case that his old bike needs to be kept because "it was ridden by someone famous" (Scott Tolzien and Khyri Thornton). I can't disagree and had to nod my head, thinking when the new bike comes we will need another vacation trip to training camp. The world is so different, but some things will never change.

My two cents – buy a new bike but save a spot in the garage for that old one. Call me sentimental but I don't think you'll regret it. And I look forward to seeing the new one down at practice next summer.

TK from Grafton, WI

Is it tough to evaluate backup QBs in live action when they play with backups against backups?

To a certain extent. But if a player performs well enough against lower competition, he'll get more opportunities against the top guys. I don't have a QB comparison, but look at Chandon Sullivan and Allen Lazard last summer. They shined in both camp and the preseason against a lot of guys who were cut at the end of camp. But once both players got their chance in regular-season games, Lazard and Sullivan continued to impress.

Scott from De Pere, WI

This offseason has been dramatically different for you guys than any other. What do you miss the most (i.e. going to the combine, interviewing players in person, working in the office versus working from home, etc.)?

Well, I got to go to the combine. That was like the only part of this offseason that was "normal." I obviously miss interviewing players in person. I commend our communications staff for the job it has done facilitating interviews but I miss being able to work the locker room and get to know players. It's tough to do that as a faceless voice behind a computer screen. I also missed covering the owners meetings. That's one of my favorite events because you get a lot of face time with coaches and owners since the media contingent is small. I can't complain, though. I'm happy, healthy and still collecting a paycheck.

Ronald from Iola, WI

Insiders, looking at the pictures of camp, I was surprised I didn't see any special gear for COVID-19. Did I just miss it or have players tried some visors and masks and didn't like them?

Most of the precautions the team has taken are inside the facility (plexiglass separating lockers, reworked team meetings, masks, to-go meals, etc.), but there also have been a lot of noticeable changes on the practice field. Some players, like Lucas Patrick, have shields built into their facemasks. The trainers and equipment staff also have separate water bottles and clean towels for position groups and the breakdown huddles are more spread out.

Tom from Emerado, ND

I have not seen any news on Tipa Galeai. He is my undrafted rookie that I think could make an impression. Is he on the field and showing any promise?

He's unlike any other outside rusher on the roster. Galeai is somewhat undersized for the position but he finds way to win. He impressed me this summer.

See headshots and action shots of the complete Green Bay Packers 2020 roster. #BuildingOurTeam

Nic from London, UK

I've been roped into playing fantasy football again. I know it's fake but it's still fun. I usually try to keep personal preference out of it but were I to draft a representative from the Green Bay Packers, who would you recommend? Tae?

If it's a PPR league, the answer is definitely Davante Adams. While Adams has been a difference-maker in any format, he's a monster in PPR. Aaron Jones is also valuable in both.

Fernando from Madrid, Spain

Is AJ Dillon involved in receiving duties during training? More than expected for a RB I mean. I have this theory about Matt using RBs as WRs often, which would explain some decisions during last draft. Am I wrong?

If you're a running back in this offense, you gotta be able to catch the ball. Period. Dillon wouldn't be here if the Packers didn't think he could do it. The Packers expect their RBs to be well-rounded playmakers.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Do you think the Vikings' locker room could be particularly stressed this year? A huge extension for Kirk Cousins, no new contract for Dalvin Cook, a large contract this year and a second-round pick for Ngakoue and now asking RT Reiff to restructure his pay. A bad loss here and there and that locker room could devolve. Any thoughts?

You're not wrong. It's also not my problem.

Ethan from Iowa City, IA

The Vikings traded for Yannick Ngakoue and have given themselves an elite pass-rushing duo I would say could rival the Chargers duo for best pair in the league. What effect do you think this is gonna have on the Packers and the rest of the NFC North?

I don't get all the hubbub about Ngakoue going to Minnesota, to be honest. The Vikings have had really good defenses for the past decade. It's not like Minnesota acquires Ngakoue and now it can suddenly rush the passer. As long as Aaron Rodgers has been the quarterback in Green Bay, the Packers have had to deal with NFC North teams stacking their fronts with talented pass rushers. This is no different.

Dale from Lima, NY

William-from-South-Milwaukee's comment ("what is with outfield walls being different heights and depths?") got me thinking. Wouldn't this be like one NFL team making their goalposts higher or narrower or whatever? And another maybe putting an on-field cul-de-sac on the sidelines, just for yucks? And another installing sand traps and water hazards in the red zones? I'm all for stadiums having individuality, but if the field of play isn't the same, how can we say they're playing the same game?

I can't argue with any of this – well, maybe the sand traps – but I think that's what makes baseball unique. You do have different stadiums that play to hitters', and pitchers', strengths. I mean who doesn't love being a right-handed batter in Fenway in the "MLB: The Show" video games? It's baked in with the cake and everyone accepts it.

Fred from Apalachicola, FL

I have been listening to/watching press conferences for some time now. I have noticed that some, not all, reporters will ask a question followed immediately by a statement of their own before allowing the interviewee to answer the question. Having been interviewed several times myself, I find this annoying. Is there anything taught in journalism classes regarding the making of a statement and then asking your question?

I think sometimes it's important to lay the groundwork before asking a question but what I try to do is always end my question with a question mark, not a period. That's when people can get confused about what you're asking.

Scott from Grovetown, GA

Please let me know when the thank-you gift arrives for all of the hard work (hey) you guys put in. I'm hoping it's something you'll both like. How long do you think the impact of COVID-19 will last on the NFL?

Scott, the "RELAX" paperweights are beautiful. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into them. Only time will tell what the long-term impact of this pandemic will have on the league, both in terms of financials and the on-field product. That's something every professional sports organization is figuring out at the moment. All we can do is get these games in and now we're less than two weeks away from taking the first bite of that very large elephant.

Don from Milwaukee, WI

Avid reader with no questions answered so… loved the answer to Andrew from Fullerton, Calif. Laughed so hard. Around 8-10 years old, I don't remember what I said but my mother "soaped" my mouth...good. Never happened again :). Really enjoy your knowledge of the game and humorous remarks. Stay safe II.

You may not have had a question answered but you have now been published in Inbox, my friend.

Ken from Racine, WI

I visit other NFL websites now and then, but I've never encountered one as comprehensive or fan-friendly as ours. And I've never seen the team unity, social conscience or respect toward competitors displayed elsewhere equal to this franchise. Am I just a "homer," or do you guys have a similar perspective from within the organization? It seems to permeate throughout, from the front office all the way out to us fans. It makes me proud.

The answer to that probably depends on whom you ask, but Spoff and I make it a point to hear all of you. We might not reply to everyone, but I feel confident in saying we engage more with our readers than any other entity that covers the NFL, whether it's a team website or traditional media.

Alan from Mount Auburn, IL

A comment about the Packers skipping a practice. When coaches, of any sport, are asked if their team is ready to start the season, you are never ready, you just run out of time.

The Packers missed a practice but gained something so much more. I know there are a lot of opinions out there but I just wanted to say how proud I am to work for this organization at this critical point in our country's history. After Billy Turner and so many others called for NFL owners to get involved, Murphy was the first to step forward. That takes courage, compassion and empathy.

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