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Inbox: He's capable of another playmaking binge

It shouldn’t be some newfangled concept

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S Darnell Savage

Robert from Machesney Park, IL

"And when we spit on the sidewalk…it cracks." Where can I get that T-shirt? THE best quote ever!

Larry came out swinging, or spitting as it were, in Week 1.

Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, what changes do you experience going from preseason to Week 1?

A much bigger audience for the live blog. No more ramp up for me and my keyboard.

Daniel from Miami, FL

Hello Insiders, do we have any information regarding captains for the regular season?

They are being announced today.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

Good morning Insiders! The season's first injury report means the season is really and truly upon us. I was surprised to see 11 Packers on the report versus only one for the Vikings. Are they really that much more healthy than the Pack, or do teams just have radically different definitions of what constitutes a reportable injury? Are there any rules governing this reporting?

The primary rule is a player must be on the injury report if he's not taking his normal amount of practice reps. The Packers generally list anyone spending time in the training room being treated for an injury, even if he's practicing at full capacity, in case something changes during the course of the week. What matters most is the game status announced on Fridays. With "probable" no longer an official designation, players who fully participate in practice all week are often removed from the report.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. Will we learn who the starting five O-linemen are when they trot out on the field or any time prior to that?

That depends on the final injury report later today. If the Packers are going to list David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins as questionable, then we'll probably find out Sunday afternoon. If there's a more definitive announcement on their status, we'll know sooner.

Larry from Colorado Springs, CO

Before I die, I don't need to see the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, or climb Mt. Everest. My bucket list is short ... before I go, I just want somebody to say, just once, "No, they got a warrior ..." Congratulations, Jack Coco.

One of the best quotes this year to appear on our website. If you haven't checked out Wes's feature story on Coco yet, please do.

Brandon from Atlanta, GA

What's the dress code in the press box on gameday? Should we expect to see young Spoff and ole Hod in the Duluth Packer overalls on game days?

Speaking of bucket lists …

Jim from Albany, WI

Well, I guess the Rams are out of the Super Bowl...what? There's still 16 more games and playoffs? Win or lose with the Pack, let's not overreact.

If that lesson wasn't learned last year, it never will be.

Jake from Decatur, GA

The season's inaugural game, two heavyweight contenders for the championship, and…seven combined turnovers.

Welcome to the most unpredictable week of the most unpredictable sport.

Joseph from Vermillion, SD

You get a turnover! You get a turnover! And YOU get a turnover!

So you're saying it was a season Oprah-ner like no other? I'll see myself out.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

You see, this NFL business is so easy. I don't understand what's so hard about it. Take last night's game for example. Clearly Stafford should have played in the preseason and obviously Sean McVay is responsible for that terrible decision. On the flip side, Sean McDermott got his starters plenty of rest and was able to work them into game shape without risking injury.

Ha, sure. Or it's just as simple as Allen significantly outplayed Stafford and the rest was rather academic.

Ethan from Farley, IA

Is there anybody more fun to watch play quarterback right now than Josh Allen?

He's a treat, and the AFC is full of young guns like him now. There will be some wild games in that conference.

Greg from Taylorsville, UT

My eyeballs told me the Rams' offensive line might be their biggest problem going forward. What did yours tell you?

Yeah, as I saw pointed out by analysts in the Twitter-verse, offensively the Rams missed Andrew Whitworth more than they missed OBJ last night.

Mike from Grovetown, GA

Looks like the Da Bears are moving inside. I think that's a shame, but it's the world we live in. What are your thoughts?

Two of the four has been bad enough, but three of the four teams in the ol' Black 'n Blue division playing indoors? Your word is the right one. It's a shame.

Jay from Altoona, WI

The Vikings are making the transition from 4-3 to 3-4 defense. I remember some growing pains when the Packers made the switch in 2009. Some players, notably Aaron Kampman, appeared to not fully embrace the transition. Do you think there is any vulnerability that the Packers can exploit or do you expect the transition to be seamless for the Vikings?

I doubt it'll be seamless, but teams utilize so many different personnel packages that players can adapt rather smoothly to other concepts when they have an entire offseason and training camp to process the changes. Bringing on a 3-4 edge rusher like Za'Darius Smith will help them because only one of their edges, Danielle Hunter, is making the transition from defensive end to outside 'backer. Eric Kendricks worked so much "in tandem" with Anthony Barr previously that I don't see the new scheme being much of a switch for him.

Al from Green Bay, WI

In many games last year, the Packers got off to a slow start. Their average of 3.2 points in the first quarter was among the worst in the league (tied for 23rd). Does this suggest the "scripted plays" need to get better? Or the execution? Here's to a year of fast starts out of the gate.

That was one of the great mysteries of last season after the Packers were one of the best teams of all-time on opening drives in 2020. It was like a switch flipped. The reason? Probably a number of things. Defenses might've been more prepared for what the Packers liked to run early in games, and/or the execution just wasn't as sharp as it needed to be. But they know what it looks and feels like to be successful from the jump, so there's no reason to think they can't get back to that.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

What is it like on the charter plane? Do you have peanuts and your choice of soft drinks? Leg room situation? Have you ever found yourself in a middle seat between Kenny Clark and Yosh Nijman?

Ha, no. We sit in an area of the plane with other colleagues from our department, and the players have their own space. Middle seats are generally left empty.

Steve from Toronto, Canada

Considering they were both members of Sean McVay's staff in LA during the 2020 season, would it be fair to say that there should be a decent level of familiarity between Joe Barry and Kevin O'Connell scheme-wise? O'Connell was the O-coordinator of the offense that year, so I would have to think Barry has a pretty good idea of what to look for, and vice versa.

Most certainly, and I'm just as certain both men have spent months conjuring up different ways to surprise the other. The question is which surprises will they be most confident in and have the opportunity to call.

Tom from Lakewood, CO

Do you have an "under-the-radar" player that you are rooting for this season? Someone that fans and analysts are sleeping on? I'd love Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb to just light up some teams. We know they can.

I'm going to go with Darnell Savage. I still remember him having four INTs in a span of five games late in 2020, and I think he's capable of another playmaking binge like that one.

David from Sheridan, WY

How much of a challenge will it be for the rookies on offense playing their first game in a dome likely relying on silent count?

The noise at U.S. Bank Stadium is not to be minimized, even if it's not as loud as the old Metrodome. It's still a factor. But all these guys have used a silent count before. It shouldn't be some newfangled concept to anyone.

Rich from Manitou Springs, CO

Good morning II. Hope all is well with you and yours as we begin a new season on Sunday. You mentioned Aaron Rodgers being one of the best at hard counts. Vic always thought it was a cheap trick and didn't care for them. How do you feel about them? I'm one who feels whatever it takes to win is OK with me.

To my recollection, Vic objected more to the 12-men shenanigans (in his view) than hard counts to possibly get free plays. In my book, both are done simply to take away an edge the defense is trying to create. Hard counts can slow that first step off the ball, even if they don't draw flags. Hurrying up to catch the 12th man only occurs when the offense is not substituting but the defense is (because if the offense subs, the defense must be allowed to). Why concede that advantage?

Larry from Carney, MI

Good morning. I understand that at this time there are more important things to have in mind, but salary cap has to be thought of all year so here goes. With 12% of this year's cap paid in dead money do you see that percentage going down next season?

As long as Aaron Rodgers is still playing, then most likely. Almost half of this year's dead cap figure is signing bonus money paid to Za'Darius Smith that hadn't counted against the cap yet, and that number vanishes next year.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

What are the keys to victory over the Vikings this weekend?

We discussed several on "Unscripted." So yeah, this is a shameless plug to send you there.

Jeff from Vandenberg SFB, CA

Saw Shemar Jean-Charles with a yellow No. 39 jersey in the practice photos. Was that him playing Chandon Sullivan on the scout team? If so, I would assume every scout-team player wears a numbered jersey?

Not everyone. Just certain guys to point out the key players in a given concept being run by the opponent.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

Interesting article by Cliff Christl about the Hall of Fame "blemish" for the politics involved in their voting in the early years of football. Shame on those voters, and shame on the Hall of Fame for not correcting this issue now. I would suggest everyone read the article.

It's definitely worth the time. The Hall really missed a huge opportunity with its expanded "Centennial class" a couple years back. The panel should've more fully examined the original old-timers Cliff discussed, but instead, induction slots were used for a number of modern-era players like Harold Carmichael, Jim Covert, Cliff Harris and Donnie Shell – worthy cases the senior committee still would've had plenty of time to revisit in the coming years.

Isaac from Columbia, TN

You have both warned about expectations for any defense in today's league. That said, all of our expectations (including yours, it seems) are high for the defensive back trio the Packers have. What do you think is a good metric to gauge success on for the first game of the season? What about for the whole season? Passing yards allowed? Passing touchdowns allowed? Interceptions? Some combination of all of them?

DBs earn their keep on third downs and with takeaways. Both categories need the pass rush to work hand-in-hand with the coverage, but those are the areas that matter most to a secondary.

Christopher from East Troy, WI

What are your three chief concerns heading into Game 1 of the 2022 season?

1. Can I get the Game Recap story finished before the bus gets to the airport? 2. Can I get my Editorial piece written by the time the plane lands at GRB? 3. Can I then polish off the morning Insider Inbox column quickly enough to get a decent night's sleep? Oh, you probably meant concerns about the team. Sorry, tunnel vision.

Andrew from Chicago, IL

I know this is likely to go unpublished, but I had to write in to give Wes some kudos and appreciation for his deployment of Bart Scott's "Can't wait" line. It's one of my favorite lines from any NFL player at any time.

They're called classics because they never truly go out of style.

Dale from Owatonna, MN

Paul Allen, radio announcer for Vikings on a morning show I listen to: "I would not be surprised If the Vikings lose, but I think the Vikings are going to run up and down the field on them and win handily." I respect the optimism, but this matchup has and is most likely to come down to one score the fourth quarter.

I concur.

Stephen from Winchester, VA

Mike (walks into the office Saturday wearing a dark suit and sunglasses): "It's 278 miles to Minneapolis, we've got a full cooler of bratwurst, half a pack of squeaky curds, it's fall and we're wearing cheese heads." Wes: "Hit it."

You forgot the root beer.

Augustus from Eureka, CA

Ask not for whom the baloney stops. It stops for thee.

It really is time to play a game, isn't it.

Susanne from Eustace, TX

Are we there yet?

Almost.

Jim from Hollywood, CA

There is the known and the unknown. Just kick the ball.

And just beat the Vikings. Happy Friday.

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