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Inbox: He's settling into that role nicely

Keep adding to the foundation

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LB De'Vondre Campbell

Dave from Sparta, WI

Pythagoras may disagree with Gary from NJ. Right?

Yeah, I didn't follow the math … um, I mean, calculations there.

Brandon from Pleasant Prairie, WI

Does anyone else have a feeling this is going to be Pittsburgh's bounce-back game and it'll be a fight from start to finish?

I'm raising my hand.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

Who took over defensive communication on the field after Krys Barnes' injury? If he cannot go, will we see Adrian Amos filling that role or will they use a mixture of the linebackers? Is De'Vondre Campbell ready to help in that regard or is he still perfecting his knowledge of the playbook?

Campbell has been wearing the communication helmet quite a bit already. He's settling into that role nicely.

Brian from Ontario, NY

I have been calling for this offense to use the no-huddle more to switch things up, especially when the offense is not quite in rhythm. When I saw it last week my heart stopped. Any thought on if we might see more no-huddle to come? It's a tool Aaron Rodgers had been very effective using throughout his career.

Rodgers said Wednesday he liked the attempt at it and wants to try more. His explanation of the "push-pull" with that decision was interesting. LaFleur's scheme allows multiple plays to be called in the huddle, and pre-snap Rodgers can pick the best one. But there's also something to be said for going up-tempo to keep the defense in reactive mode. "At times the desire to be perfect can butt up against the ability to go fast and adjust within the scheme," Rodgers said. "That's the stuff we talk about every week." Stay tuned.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. In Matt LaFleur's press conference he was asked about improvement in the defensive line and pass rush. A small part of his response was "cut down on the number of loafs." We're not talking about baking bread here. At this high level of competition are there actually players loafing and not hustling to perform their assignments? Does fatigue and a short bench factor in when a player feels the need to sit one out? Thanks.

I heard that, too. It's hard to say if he was talking about guys in the game taking a play off, or just fatigue taking its toll. Perhaps some of both. Either way, I took the comment to mean it's a team-wide effort – players monitoring themselves, coaches watching from above – to keep guys fresh and able to attack.

Dan from Eagan, MN

It's tough to lose a starting spot due to injury, but it seems like this was inevitable. Is the job Eric Stokes' to lose now?

That sounds like a decent bet. But the Packers are going to want Kevin King back soon. I'd still say this defense is at its best if the nickel group has Alexander, Stokes and King as the corners, plus Sullivan in the dime rather than going to a third safety.

Josh from Holgate, OH

On Mike's mid-week chat, he stated kickers get a range of where they feel comfortable kicking in both directions, which gets passed along to the coaches for in-game decisions. Do you think Justin Tucker felt comfortable from 65-67 yards, which went along with the decision to kick the field goal?

There's the comfort zone, and then there's the push-it-to-the-max for an end-game scenario when there are no concerns about field position on a miss. Crosby said Sunday night he felt good from 54-56 but would have tried up to 60 if it came to that.

Tim from Spokane, WA

Regarding Mike's discussion in Wednesday's Inbox about field goals longer than 66 yards being unlikely, it's definitely possible. Austin Rehkow of Central Valley HS in Spokane kicked a 67-yarder with two seconds left to tie a game in 2012, the national HS record is 68 yards, and five players in NCAA history have kicked 67 yards or more, including the record at 69 yards. Admittedly all of these used a kicking tee. How much difference is there between kicking off a tee and not?

I think the fact that it took 102 years before a professional kicker made one from 66 yards, and prior to that the only one in league history longer than 63 was kicked in Denver, says the difference is significant.

James from Appleton, WI

I've been hoping to see more T.J. Slaton. Should I just be happy thinking of him playing in the seasons to come, or do you think he'll get more snaps as the season rolls on?

If Tyler Lancaster stays on the Covid list all week, I would expect Slaton to get more snaps Sunday.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

After hearing about both Allen Lazard and De'Vondre Campbell taking on special-teams duties even though nobody asked them to, I've stopped worrying about that phase of the game. How common has it been in your time covering the Packers to see guys with major roles on offense/defense volunteer for special teams because they feel like they can make an impact?

If it's happened before, it wasn't publicized that I can recall, except maybe guys wanting to be the returner and get the ball in their hands. But grunt work on coverage? Tells you a lot about those dudes.

Jake from Lansing, MI

Insiders, thanks for all your work and wisdom. Hats off to Mason Crosby for his accolades. However, I'm surprised I haven't seen a lot of love for his TD-saving tackle. I think the tackle is the cherry on top of his exceptional game. How many kickers can boast a game-winning, walk-off 51-yard field goal AND saving a touchdown?

I think the tackle gets more attention if the defense gets a stop and/or forces a field goal on the possession. Just the nature of it.

The Green Bay Packers held practice on Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

What are Mason Crosby's career stats for tackles?

The one last Sunday was his 30th, including postseason games. He had 11 his first two years in the league (2007-08).

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

I was surprised that SF called timeout as early as they did in the process of the final kick. Usually in an attempt to ice the kicker an opponent waits until the kicker has gone through their routine and is about to take the snap. It seemed early to me as I don't think Crosby had even completed his walk back. Did I miss something on the broadcast?

Crosby said after the game he felt the 49ers called the timeout when they did to prevent him from getting a practice rep, which often happens when it's popped right before the snap.

Hanly from Bozeman, MT

Respectfully must disagree with the notion kicking a field goal to go up by six was an obvious call late in the fourth quarter. A failed first-down attempt leaves the opposing team deep in their own territory (say the 5-yard line) so they would need to go 60 yards to tie and 95 to take the lead. Kicking the field goal allowed the 49ers to go only 65 yds to take the lead. Sure, kick the field goal if on the opponent's 25, but not when so close to the end zone. Embrace arithmetic!

The line of scrimmage on the fourth down/field goal in question was the 20. Embrace the facts of the situation.

Larry from Sheboygan, WI

You have mentioned a couple of times San Francisco went to a "Cover-2" defense. What exactly is that, and there's also "Tampa-2." Could you elaborate on those defensive backfield schemes?

In the simplest terms, Cover-2 keeps both safeties deep. Tampa-2 is a variation of Cover-2 from a 4-3 alignment in which the middle linebacker (think Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks or Chicago's Brian Urlacher) takes an exaggerated drop against the pass, almost like he's playing deep middle. The corners jam at the line of scrimmage before falling off into zones, and the outside 'backers help on shallow crossers.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

The Vikings seemed to find some footing on Sunday. Kirk Cousins looked comfortable. The bottom line is that you need to stack wins like cordwood. Might need them when winter comes.

All in favor of a Browns victory, say aye.

Chris from Milwaukee, WI

The pattern the past few years for the defense especially has been to start slow and build to a strong finish to the season. Fans, of course, would prefer a defense that plays at a high level consistently over the season. Tampa Bay's defense is perceived at least, as achieving this, but they gave up a lot of yards and points against LA. Is "full consistency" on defense a pipedream, or at least something rarely achieved?

C'mon, man. You put it in quotation marks yourself, so you know the answer.

Larry from Chubbuck, ID

I believe back in the summer one or both of you said the defense would have some growing pains with a new coordinator. Is that what we are witnessing? I saw improvement over the last six quarters and I hope that continues. If it does, look out, especially when the other Smith brother comes back.

The second half vs. the Lions was the initial building block. That extended to the first three quarters against the Niners. Keep adding to the foundation, keep expanding the size of the blocks.

Tim from Rochester, IL

Good morning Mike, could you explain how the rules differentiate between intentional grounding and spiking the ball to stop the clock?

The spike to stop the clock is simply an exception carved out of the grounding rule. It must be immediate with no hesitation. If a QB doesn't follow the proper mechanics of the play – e.g., by faking the spike to catch the defense off-guard, as we've seen Rodgers and others do – the exception is no longer available to him.

Eric from Tucson, AZ

Good day, gents! Not a question. I just wanted to say I loved the anecdote Davante Adams shared about Yosh Nijman telling him during the game: "Man, it's just a blessing to play with you guys. I really enjoy this." We have some great characters on this team.

That's as revealing about how Nijman perceived and handled the pressure of his first NFL start as anything he did between whistles.

Rick from Kenosha, WI

To complement the sky judge and help the officials I would propose also allowing the officials to choose to go to replay. They are professionals, and are far better at their jobs than any of us would be in the moment, and my guess is they would know when they didn't have the best view of something and want to take a look at it to make the right call. It is a thankless job that gets more difficult every year. A solution should involve helping them rather than making their lives more difficult.

I wholeheartedly agree with your concluding line, but while your initial thought is a nice theory, it's not viable. You'd only be opening the door to coaches who are out of challenges (or don't want to use one) begging the on-field officials to look further at certain plays. Get rid of the challenge system then maybe? I don't see it going away entirely.

Alex from Eau Claire, WI

I think the league likes, no it LOVES officiating controversy. It doesn't deter fans from continuing to tune in on gamedays and it keeps the conversation going all week, driving up internet clicks, more viewers tuning in to the network shows to hear the talking heads validate or disagree with the fans' opinion, etc. Just my theory, but they aren't in any rush to fix the problem, no such thing as bad publicity in the NFL.

There's more than a kernel of truth to that. Nicholas from Baltimore expressed similar sentiments, which also connect to a point by Paul from Las Vegas about former officials scrutinizing close calls on broadcasts. But that doesn't excuse the disregard for getting safety-related calls right whenever possible. We're supposedly talking about the players' well-being here (I also saw you, Chad from KC). I maintain, as I have for years, if the safety rules were reviewable and the officials on the field didn't feel solely responsible for them, they could devote greater attention to the more germane aspects of the game and perhaps miss fewer of those calls. It's at least worth an attempt in the interest of overall improvement.

David from Janesville, WI

Can an image of a stitched pillow be screen printed on an Insiders T-shirt, or is that not allowed?

Have at it. Best of both worlds, right?

Perry from Ishpeming, MI

So the Steelers beat the Bills in Buffalo, then lose two in a row at home. They have an anemic running game and their defense has been slightly above league average. What aspect of the Steelers as a whole can the Packers not afford to overlook?

Their hunger and rather acute need for a victory.

Greg from Long Beach, CA

Just beat the Steelers.

I love it when a crowd catches on. Happy Friday.

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