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Inbox: He's back at the front of the rotation

It’s always been a bit of a mystery

G Lucas Patrick
G Lucas Patrick

Chili from Muskego, WI

How 'bout Larry with the cross-platform synergy, one guy with four things? The Rock is a living legend.

He was just avoiding copyright infringement.

George from North Mankato, MN

Well, it looks like it could get a little dicey this next couple weeks. Time to buckle our seat belts and trust that the evaluators get it more right than wrong. Do you think not having any preseason last year made cut-downs any easier?

No. I think the absence of preseason games made a lot of teams less sure of some of their decisions, but everyone was in the same boat.

Katherine from Milwaukee, WI

Which player showed the most improvement in preseason game No. 2?

Almost all the young guys made strides to one degree or another, but the answer to this question might be Lucas Patrick. He didn't start the game, but he's back at the front of the rotation this week with the No. 1 offensive line.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Mike, has Equanimeous St. Brown been playing in preseason? Is he in the mix or outside looking in?

He has not played in either of the first two preseason games due to injury. He is back in practice this week and could really use a big game Saturday.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I always thought the "can" call was in reference to the other play being canned and ready to go. Not that you are trash-canning the first play, but that you are opening up the ready-to-go can that holds the second play. Now I'm curious which it is.

Me, too, but we're on the same page as far as the general concept.

The Green Bay Packers continued training-camp practice on Ray Nitschke Field on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

Brian from Quarryville, PA

Has there been any word if Za'Darius Smith's back injury is muscular or structural?

No information has been divulged.

John from Denton, TX

Wes with "The Office" reference, I love it! With Z nursing a back injury and if he has to miss Week 1, Rashan Gary and Preston Smith will get the start at OLB, who do you think will rotate in behind those two? Does Oren Burks have a chance at that position or is he primarily rotating in with the MLB group?

Burks is back inside. My best guess right now is the No. 4 outside 'backer is Jonathan Garvin, based on how I've seen the practice reps divvied up. Given Z's uncertain status, Ramsey's season being over, no experienced depth behind the Big 3, and the lack of edge rush in the first two preseason games, I could see the Packers looking to the waiver wire next week for some reinforcements there.

Russ from Henrico, VA

I know we need to wait three years to judge a draft class. Stokes might start by default depending on Kevin King's status, certainly will see playing time. Josh Myers starts. Amari Rodgers returns punts and gets some gadget opportunities. Royce Newman starts? T.J. Slaton slides into the rotation. Shemar Jean-Charles plays special teams. Kylin Hill returns kickoffs and slots into the No. 3 spot presumably. All this on a team with back-to-back 13-3 records. Do you remember another class ready to contribute at this level?

To see this many draft picks potentially jumping in this early, I'd have to go back to the classes of 2013 (Datone Jones, Eddie Lacy, David Bakhtiari, Johnathan Franklin, Micah Hyde) or 2014 (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers, Corey Linsley).

Sean from Chicago, IL

Good morning, Mike. I know this question might be a little late, but I recall you mentioning your belief that Julius Peppers will likely only represent the Panthers when his inevitable Hall of Fame ticket is called. Do you think his locker would look different if the 2014 season ended differently?

I won't speak to how the Hall will construct his locker, but if he had been part of a Super Bowl championship team in Green Bay, with that his lone ring, I think hypothetically the Packers would give stronger consideration to claiming him as one of "their" HOFers.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

I'm really taking a liking to Hill. He's his own man, definitely – but does he remind anyone of like a hybrid between Jones and Williams (Jamaal, I mean)?

If you remember back to the 2012 playoffs, Hill actually reminds me of a little more compact, and perhaps slightly more powerful, DuJuan Harris.

Matty from Lakeland, FL

Just watched the Jack Heflin interview … Man, how can you not help root for a guy like that?! I would not want to be Gutekunst or LaFleur after next week. My question for you, do you keep a guy with higher upside potential with a longer delivery date vs. a guy who might help you more now but has a limited ceiling?

Teams deal with those types of decisions all the time, and they vary because different situations vary. I've always felt the stronger your overall roster, the more you can place a wager here or there on a "longer delivery date."

Curt from Algonquin, IL

When discussing roster cuts, it's been asked whether management shows a preference to their draft picks over undrafted free agents to save face. Looking at it logistically, drafts picks are locked into affordable four-year contracts instead of two years for a UFA, and the dead cap hit is minimal to cut UFAs. When assessing the razor thin margin of players on the bubble, how much do you think that factors into the decision-making?

Undrafted players can be on one-, two- or three-year deals, non-guaranteed. That aside, teams want to keep the best players, and the cap comes into play when determining whether the player is worth what he's getting paid. Teams might occasionally keep the lesser player, but only if the supposedly better player's salary does not align with his expected playing time/production.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Hi Mike, I now know why math isn't allowed in Inbox. I think Wes was low and would think the locks are closer to 85-90 percent. With Taylor's performance in the first two games and Devin Funchess in first game, you have said that the sixth or seventh WR would need to be a core special-teams performer. This comes down to a numbers game; keeping seven would be at the expense of another position. I think this would favor Taylor. If that is the case, would Funchess be possible trade bait? I like him.

It's hard to get a read on where things go with Funchess now that he's injured.

Ross from Roswell, GA

Gents, what was the reason for the "bye" week before the start of the regular season? Just extends the season out even farther.

To give the players time off between training camp and Week 1. It was one of the CBA stipulations for extending the regular season to 17 games.

Brandon from Orlando, FL

You walked us through a day in the life of a player, but how about the coaches? Obviously the practice times are all the same, but it's always hard for me to wrap my head around how they find time to review tape, have meetings with other coaches, game plan and so much more.

When the players are in position or group meetings, the coaches are running those. The coaches might have a meeting of their own at the end of the day/night after the players' responsibilities are done. They don't get into full-fledged game-planning until the regular season, and the bulk of that is done on Tuesdays when the players are off (during a normal Sunday game week).

Steve from Bloomington, IL

While channel-surfing I wandered across the PIT-DET preseason game and noticed that during a punt, Pittsburgh had two players both wearing No. 44. No penalty was called. Is that allowed during the regular season? Have the Packers ever had two players wearing the same number simultaneously?

It's common in training camp, but it is not allowed during the regular season, to my knowledge.

Dennis from Denver, CO

I have a hard time believing taunting is a major issue in the NFL. So, who came up with this rule and why? Wouldn't an unsportsmanlike penalty serve the same purpose? C'mon, I double dare you to answer this question, if you think you can.

Ha. Taunting is an unsportsmanlike penalty, and has been one for a while. It's not a new rule. The league has told all the clubs it simply will be a point of emphasis in 2021, which means it's a rule the competition committee feels hasn't been enforced properly or adequately of late.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Were you surprised by the release of Martin? It is a head-scratcher for me. I thought he was someone they were grooming for the future and were excited about. Wonder if the injury or other issues played into it.

It's hard to say. LaFleur's comments Tuesday didn't indicate there were other issues, though he said nothing specifically about his health. Generally speaking, draft picks earn their right to stick around by showing the progress that was projected, which led the team to select them in the first place. If that progress isn't seen, for whatever reason, there's a good chance others have passed them by.

John from Temple City, CA

With other teams cutting their rosters, how important is the scouting of other teams and how many people are assigned to the scouting? Do scouts look at position of need or someone they feel will work well in our system?

Both, and the personnel department has at least three individuals dedicated to the pro scouting side of things, along with Gutekunst's top three lieutenants.

Jason from Huntsville, AL

With the Falcons losing McCarron for the season, I could definitely see them showing interest in Kurt Benkert, given his familiarity with their system and his recent play. I won't ask what you think the Packers could get for him, but I do wonder how a team determines an X- or Y-round pick is a fair trade, particularly for a player who doesn't have a whole lot of film. Any insight?

It's always been a bit of a mystery to me. It can depend on how acute a team's need is, where it is in the waiver claim order, and other factors. Seventh-round picks get swapped around like snack-size candy on Halloween. I sort of assume if a traded pick is higher than a seventh, there was interest from more than one team out there.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Assuming no injuries, who do you think will have the second-most targets after Adams this season?

Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

David from San Antonio, TX

Is it just me or was the Kevin King media session fascinating? I'm pulling for him.

I thought King was forthright, introspective and a little entertaining all rolled into one. I'm posting a story later this morning that, hopefully, puts his thoughts and all the circumstances in proper perspective.

Steve from Colorado Springs, CO

With the comments about the thunder and lightning, the first thing that came to mind was Mark Twain. "Thunder is loud, thunder is good, but it's the lightning that does the work."

It makes Wes run really fast, I know that. Speaking of Wes, we're changing up the schedule a tad this week, so I'm with you again tomorrow, and then Wes will take you up to Saturday's game. Happy Wednesday.