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Inbox: He is the difference

It’s not how a team starts, it’s how it responds to that start

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Wes, so the Packers play Oakland and Kansas City in the regular season also this year. How about some subterfuge, like Rex Ryan did with the Bills vs. Lions in 2016, with running the wishbone in preseason?

Let it be known I am here for running nothing but the wishbone the next two weeks. That is my dream. Good morning!

Cam from Pekin, IL

I don't get all the angst over exhibition games. Sure, you'd like to win all four. But a lot of the guys getting PT won't even make the 53. I trust the coaching staff to use these games to evaluate THE BEST 53 for when the games finally do count.

I rarely draw conclusions from the preseason – and draw even fewer when Aaron Rodgers isn't on the field. You either win the first regular-season game or lose. Neither outcome has anything to do with the exhibition slate.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Hey Wes, do you know the difference between Antonio Brown's old helmet and the one they want him to wear? Is it about the weight of the helmet, does it cut off some of his vision, or is it just how it feels on his head? I thought they mentioned that Rodgers and Tom Brady had to switch to different styles also. Was just wondering if Rodgers commented on that at all?

I don't know much about Brown's helmet other than it was produced in 2011. I couldn't tell you how that technology has evolved over the eight years, but I'd imagine it's substantial. Rodgers has switched after the one-year grace period expired after last season. He said he's currently deciding between Schutt and VICIS helmets.

John from Green Bay, WI

With the talks of getting rid of the preseason, do you think more teams will do joint practices in upcoming seasons to be prepared for the rest of the season?

I felt Matt LaFleur made a salient point Sunday when he mentioned how the joint practices with the Texans allow the coaches to potentially hold back veterans from playing extensively in the preseason due to the quality of work. The preseason is crucial for players on the bubble but less so for established players.

Parker from Lisle, IL

With Danny Vitale still being out, does Tommy Bohanon have the upper hand in the fullback battle? Can Danny come back and slowly get back to full speed without any worry? Vitale has been with GB since LaFleur came on and knows the offense, reaching back to his days in Evanston. It would be sad to see him go.

Before his injury, Vitale didn't just look like a player capable of making the 53-man roster – he had the makings of a legitimate weapon in the offense. So I don't think Bohanon necessarily affects Vitale's chances because they're just such different players. The key for Vitale right now is getting healthy and reminding the Packers of what he can do.

Caroline from Olympia, WA

Is there any reason for concern with our running back health and depth?

The Packers are as healthy as they've been since the start of camp with Jamaal Williams returning to practice Sunday. Aaron Jones also was reinserted into team drills Sunday, so there appears to be a decent chance he plays against the Raiders. Dexter Williams and the rest have to prove they're worthy of that third spot and keep progressing.

Terry from Sun Prairie, WI

How do you see Tim Boyle progressing so far this year?

I've seen a lot of progress, but Boyle also is competing to be the Packers' No. 2 quarterback. The stakes are higher now. His big thing right now is accuracy and consistency. Boyle looked phenomenal on that scoring drive in Baltimore but the key for any backup is stringing those series together.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

The last two years the Packers' offense appeared to be more scattershot compared to more successful offenses that seemed to perform consistently and smoothly. Have you noticed anything so far this year that suggests the offense will return to its former efficiency?

I do and I think we saw it in practice Monday. That was one of the best days the offense has had, whether it was the ones or the third team. The tempo, energy and efficiency is so much higher with Rodgers suited up. He is the difference. Beyond that, there was a good symmetry between the run and pass. We'll see how Thursday goes, but practices like Monday are what truly matter the most.

Bryan from Jupiter, FL

If you were in your first season with the Packers, and "on the bubble," during the preseason, would you Lambeau Leap knowing this may be your only shot but it doesn't really count, or take the risk and hold off for your first Leap to be for something that matters during the season?

I would leap. That could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But I also get why certain players would have to hold off. Motivation comes in different forms.

Josh from Mystic, CT

How much weight do you put on the first two games? It seems as though going 0-2 versus 2-0 against the Bears and Vikings will have a large impact the rest of the season. 1-1 is bittersweet, and let's hope the Pack doesn't tie the Vikings again.

It's not how a team starts. It's how it responds to that start regardless of whether it's 2-0 or 0-2. If it's 2-0, then how do you handle success and build upon it? If it's 0-2, how does your team process early-season adversity? I value building towards a long-term goal, not overselling short-term results.

Zach from Stevens Point, WI

How has Billy Turner looked in camp? What position has he been practicing at mostly? I feel like I haven't heard anything about him all summer.

I'm not an offensive line coach but Turner has passed the eye test for me this summer. I love his size, athleticism and versatility. Turner is not only positioned to be the Packers' starting right guard, but he's also looked good when stepping in for Bryan Bulaga at right tackle.

Richard from Whitewater, WI

With Jake Kumerow seeming to be a lock (my opinion only) to make the team, who do you think is the best DIII player to have played in the NFL?

In the modern era? Pierre Garcon.

Dale from Aurora, CO

Am I the only one concerned about our ILB situation? We have Blake Martinez and a group of maybes.

Curtis Bolton is more than a maybe.

Ross from Roswell, GA

Gents, appreciate the column each day. Does Ty Summers or Bolton look like he can fill the ILB position for the duration of the year, if needed?

As I wrote on Saturday, I think Oren Burks' temporary replacement is on this roster. The ball is in Bolton's court right now and he's only helped his cause. Summers is smart, but he has to clean up the missed tackles.

Aaron from Seymour, IN

In reference to the question on Rashan Gary, what's the benefit to having him do things in preseason he wouldn't be asked to do in season vs. having him hone his technique that he will be asked to do, considering he's a rookie?

I don't know the specifics of the Packers' plan but I'm guessing it's teaching him how to play the outside linebacker position from the ground up.

Bill from Lenexa, KS

Several players around the league have stayed home while the team traveled for their game. Are the Packers leaving anyone behind Wednesday when they go to Winnipeg?

I'm sure they will but that'll get sorted out Wednesday. While most veterans who aren't playing stay back, Burks, Josh Jackson and Aaron Jones all attended the Ravens game.

Al from Green Bay, WI

How much do practices change once they are closed to the public?

The offseason program and training camp are for installing a system of offense and defense. Once the practices move behind closed doors (and fences), the team begins working on more opponent-specific material. After Tuesday's practice, the focus shifts to the Bears.

George from Olympia, WA

How many TEs are we looking to keep on our roster?

George, have you ever met Caroline from Olympia, WA? I believe the Packers keep four. I feel as strongly about that prediction as any other position on the roster.

The Green Bay Packers held their final public practice of training camp on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.

Jim from Buchanan Dam, TX

I know that concussion protocol is very hush-hush which it should be but have we heard anything about Jace Sternberger? I sure hope this doesn't put him in any jeopardy of not making the 53. Kid's a special talent we want to keep around.

Sternberger is in the concussion protocol but he's been allowed to attend the last few practices. That usually indicates he's close to a return.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

Some of Matt LaFleur's comments about the tackling problems indicate he doesn't want the injury risks associated with taking a ball carrier to the ground. This made me wonder whether he was only referring to training camp, or might this be a new strategy in games? I've always thought the Bears were onto something by stopping momentum, standing the guy up, and the second, third, fourth defenders rip away at the ball. I think they get a lot of turnovers this way.

The Packers preach the same technique you're praising Chicago for. You have to remember Vic Fangio and Dom Capers came from the same coaching tree. Mike Pettine understands the urgency for his defense to tackle better, but he's also not going to compromise player safety to deliver that message.

Richard form Menasha, WI

What is the name and position of the guy that screams the different drills at the Packers practice?

Tim Odea, the Packers' equipment assistant. I foolishly thought we'd go an entire camp without getting this question.

David from Oak Hills, CA

Now with Raiders and Winnipeg week upon us you know what that means? Let the "Hard Knocks" talk begin. Looks like the Packers will be on HBO "Hard Knocks" after all.

That counts as being on the show, right?

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I'm looking at blocking beyond the LOS or open/downfield blocking and it appears you're no longer allowed to actually block or deliver a blow, just get in the way and provide interference. Is that accurate? Sad that just doesn't feel like football. Like something you'd see on a soccer pitch.

But you can still deliver a blow as long as the defender is lined up square to you. That's fair competition. What the NFL is trying to curtail is throwing a shoulder into a defenseless player when he doesn't see it coming. That's not football. It wasn't when Warren Sapp hit Chad Clifton in 2003 and it still isn't today.

Mike from Augusta, GA

With cut-down time looming, it seems like every team "stashes" a player or two on IR right before the deadline (concussion or soft tissue injury). 1. Are teams ever challenged by the league on this? 2. Are IR players allowed to practice at all for the rest of the season?

Nobody stashes players on IR. Trust me – it's too expensive to keep a healthy player on IR just to prevent him from signing elsewhere. What happens is players who get injured near the end of camp cannot be outright released on cut-down day. So they are placed on injured reserve until the two sides either reach a settlement or the player can pass a physical and be waived.

Cliff from Brockport, NY

I realize traveling into Canada isn't as involved as traveling and playing overseas, but I wondered if players and all other staff need passports. I know every time I am at a doctor's visit (way too often these days) the common question is, "Have you been out of the country in the last 30 days?" Does any of this come into play? By the way, keep up the great work. I visit the Packers website every day and enjoy all the articles that are put out.

Everyone traveling for the Raiders game – from Aaron Rodgers to Wes Hodkiewicz – needs a passport. The Packers made arrangements for those who didn't have one – such as Jamaal Williams and Wes Hodkiewicz – months ago.

Nick from Fredericksburg, VA

My understanding is there is no game check during the preseason, but our game in Canada got me thinking: How are taxes handled in overseas games during the regular season? Are work visas needed to work in a foreign country? Keep up the great work guys!

That's a better question for Spoff.

Ivan from Little Chicago, WI

Just heard the list on our walking wounded. Is this a "normal" year, or am I losing sleep for no reason.

I actually think it's been a healthier-than-normal camp compared to previous years.

John from Flanders, NJ

Morning Wes. I've always found those foam team fingers kind of silly but what if we had one of Larry's hand? That would be unique! Thanks.

You obviously never attended "Larry McCarren's Locker Room." They used to hand those out at tapings. I have three or four at my childhood home (including one signed by both Keith Jackson and "The Rock").

Jacob from Superior, WI

I suggest since the game is in Canada they play on the 150-yard field with 20-yard end zones.

Only if Henry Burris gets to throw at least one pass.

Geoff from Beaver Dam, WI

What stadium has the worst layout for journalists? There have to be a few that forgot the flow of travel for your profession.

Washington. Press box is in the end zone, food is not good and the visiting locker room is a closet. It's a tough setup.

Jamie from Rhinelander, WI

The Pro Shop could do a three-pack of bobble heads, of Wes, Mike, and Larry with your microphones.

Great idea. Except it should have John and Larry outside, with Wes and Mike detachable figures you can plug in between the two depending on the day.