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Inbox: He wanted the role and publicly embraced it

LB Za'Darius Smith
LB Za'Darius Smith

Brian from Sussex, WI

Does Larry know what Larry is going to say before he says it?

Ha, great question. I think the answer is both yes and no. I’ve never worked with anybody better at improv with the camera running.

Linda from Lyndon Station, WI

Is it hard to keep up with the changes in rules that are made from year to year?

The longer I do this, yes. There’s only one rule change that’s going to generate excessive coverage this year, though, and that’s with pass interference and the replay provision.

Raymond from Marquette, MI

When the team for a preseason game goes “on the road,” surely (I'm not calling you Shirley, Mike) they don't take all 90-plus players, do they? And how is it determined who goes and who stays home?

Anyone healthy and scheduled to play, even if just a few snaps, travels. In the past when the Packers have been on the road for the first or fourth preseason games, healthy starters have been left behind on occasion. This week and next will be our largest travel groups of the year.

Jeff from Tucson, AZ

Always fascinating this time of year to see who will make the grade, and who won't. The big question is are we improving more than the other teams.

That’s what the next four months will tell us, not this month.

Mike from San Antonio, TX

My wife and I are full time in our motorhome traveling the country but I read you every day. My question is where are the press conferences being held during training camp? At times there seems to be a lot of noise (children, traffic, etc.) in the background. Does not appear to be the regular briefing room.

It’s a storage room/garage area in the Don Hutson Center adjacent to Nitschke Field.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Am I crazy to hope that Aaron Jones takes zero preseason snaps? Fresh legs trump in game action.

I’m not sure I’d want his very first carry absorbing a live hit to come on Sept. 5, just from a ball-security standpoint, but I have no major objections saving him for the games that matter.

Russell from Lexington, KY

I recently had a conversation with someone, Patriots fan, who said that AR should just keep his mouth shut and play. Keep all the noise behind closed doors. His argument is that Tom Brady never says a bad word about BB, that they keep it behind closed doors. Which would you rather have? An open and honest view into the HC/QB relationship, or to never let it see the light of day.

As a reporter, I’d always prefer authenticity. It lends far more credence to anything else the person says. It’s just unfortunate in this day and age that even the slightest philosophical disagreement makes for major headlines. The media’s behavior pushes subjects to be disingenuous, which makes for bigger headlines when they’re actually honest, which leads to more disingenuousness. It’s a vicious cycle.

Harison from St. Paul, MN

Out of the three receivers we drafted last year, who has developed the most?

Definitely Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He’s received far more reps with the No. 1 offense through the spring and summer than the others.

Richard from Clearwater, MN

If you are making final roster decisions, what positions would you try to have maximum depth?

Cornerback and offensive line.

Josh from Rochester, NY

In regards to Bill's question about "11", "12", and "21" personnel, etc., with Matt LaFleur's propensity to incorporate more fullbacks into his offensive scheme, where does the position fit into these "traditional" formations? Does it typically involve replacing a receiver, tight end, or running back?

Typically a two-back set has the fullback replace a receiver, just as a second tight end would replace a receiver. But this offense also has formations with the fullback as the lone back on the field. I wouldn’t call it a primary concept, but it’s there.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

What position battle are you most interested in seeing play out?

Right now, definitely inside linebacker.

Ryan from Schofield, WI

Who do you think will get more time at the third safety spot in the rotation between Josh Jones and Raven Greene?

We’ve seen Jamerson, Redmond and Tyson all get their share of reps, but it’s still a bit of an unknown how Campbell fits into the mix once he’s medically cleared. Stay tuned on this one.

Joshua from Appleton, WI

When will we see more of Wes's signature defensive moves?

We’re down to just two more public practices, which means “Three Things” is winding down, too. If I see him working on any moves at the hotel gym in Baltimore, I’ll let you know.

Baylor from Lafayette, IN

Of the new free-agent signings, which one will become a leader to make others in his unit grow?

Za’Darius Smith became a leader on this defense the day he walked in the locker room. He wanted the role and has publicly embraced it. But I also get the sense that Adrian Amos became a leader right away, too. He’s just done so in more understated fashion, and that’s OK.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

Robert Tonyan says he weighs 250 pounds now so if he makes the team will you change it on his profile?

The roster weights come from the personnel department. If they tell us, we’ll change it.

Adam from Rochester, NY

I think the preseason games are perhaps just as important for ML as they are for the players. As a rookie head coach, doesn't he need to find his feel for the flow of the game, especially when he is calling offensive plays as well as the regular head coaching duties?

I don’t think a preseason game really simulates those, frankly. The pressure to win in this league is immense, and there’s no simulation for calling plays and managing all the other duties with that on top of it.

Bob from Cortez, CO

About one in three players on NFL rosters will become available at cut down. Are trades viable before then? Also, what's our waiver position?

Trades are always possible. The Vikings just traded a draft pick for a kicker. The waiver claim order is the same as the draft order right now, so the Packers are No. 12. But even then, trades can happen if a team doesn’t want to risk losing out on a claim. Back in 2007, the Packers were No. 16 in the waiver order, but Ted Thompson still traded a sixth-round pick to the Giants for Ryan Grant on cut-down day.

James from Sidney, MT

Do you think Rodgers would warm up to joint practices if he wasn't installing a new offense when doing them? I can see why he wouldn't like them this year especially.

That’s how I look at it. To him, the progress with learning and repping the new offense was halted with all the schematic limitations in the joint practice. It’s the same reason he doesn’t get much out of preseason games. If there’s a year he’s allowed to be a tad selfish when it comes to his own preparation in training camp, I think it’s this one, when he’s learning a new offense for the first time in 14 years. But LaFleur’s view of the benefits for the entire team, and particularly young players, is just as valid.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Actually, "tilt" predates pinball a millennium or so, going all the way back to the "days of King Arthur" and chivalry when tilts and tilting referred to the fabled jousts of armor-clad, horse-borne knights.

I appreciate everyone’s medieval history lessons, but I confess I read the question wrong. I wasn’t thinking of “tilt” as a noun. Rather, my mind went to Ron Wolf’s age-old reference to having players who “tilt the field,” so pinball popped into my head first.

Andrew from Graettinger, IA

It was said the preseason game vs. the Raiders was moved due to the A's having a homestand. What happens if the A's make a deep playoff run or even make the World Series in late October? Where would they play then?

I believe the preseason conflict arose this year because when the 2019 baseball schedule was released at this time last year, the Raiders were supposed to be playing somewhere else before moving to Vegas in 2020. As for possible postseason baseball, the NFL scheduled a Raiders home game on only one Sunday in October (with a bye week and two road games otherwise), and baseball has already worked around the date with only National League playoff games slated for that day (Oct. 6).

Michael from Dover, PA

After watching the Texans game I noticed that Jake Kumerow also did a good job of blocking in the run game. He helped get the outside seal to open the door for Williams and wasn’t afraid to get his nose bloodied. Oh yeah, and he also catches just about anything thrown his way. His stock has to be rising at this point.

It’s interesting you mention his blocking because LaFleur made a very pointed comment over the weekend about wanting to see the receivers get more involved in the run game. As for Kumerow’s hands, I’m still waiting to see him drop a pass for the first time.

Jeremiah from South Bend, IN

Will you comment further on the impact special teams has on the performance of the offense and defense? Is it all about field position or are there other factors? If there are other factors, are there stats you look at in accounting for the influence of special teams on variance in offensive or defensive performance?

Aside from the occasional return TD or turnover, special teams are all about field position, and that’s why penalties in that phase are hidden factors in games. A 40-yard drive from your own 25 puts you in field-goal range. From the 15, you’re punting.

The Green Bay Packers held their 14th public practice of training camp on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019.

Andre from Recife, Brazil

Is there anything wrong with Geronimo Allison? I haven't heard of him from you guys. How is he doing on that WR competition?

As I mentioned on Monday’s “Unscripted,” I thought Alison was having a rather quiet camp, and then had frankly a poor practice on Saturday. Then he showed up on Sunday and practiced like the player everyone expects him to be. He was the best player on the field that day. Maybe it was just part of the process of coming back from a season-ending injury, or maybe he was motivated by seeing all the plays other receivers have been making. Either way, I think he’s going to be fine.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Which is more important when trimming the roster at WR, staying young and cheap, or paying talent to stick around? Davis, Allison and Kumerow will all get paid handsomely in the next 1-2 years, while Lazard, Shepherd and Moore are younger, cheaper and have huge potential. My question revolves around paying the bottom end of your WR depth chart millions, rather than rookie or minimum contracts.

Allison is the only one with a 2019 salary significantly higher than any of the others you mentioned, and it’s far from prohibitive. I don’t anticipate cost being a factor in those decisions at all.

Andy from Verona, WI

Two weeks prior to the start of the NFL regular season is the start of the prep football season. How much do you follow the area or state prep football teams?

For close to a decade it was my lifeblood, but those days have long since passed. I do picture myself someday quietly sitting in the bleachers at high schools on Friday nights, with popcorn instead of a notebook.

Craig from Cedar Rapids, IA

I know there is still a lot of football to be played before the 53 are decided, but a reliable punt and kick returner has me more concerned than inside linebacker. Your thoughts? I also haven’t heard anything on Jace Sternberger since the cheap shot. What’s the word on him?

Sternberger is still in the concussion protocol, as far as I know. I’m confident the Packers will have good options in the return game when they select their 53. The key to me is keeping the returner(s) healthy so some continuity and consistency can develop. Last year, the Packers had 12 different players return a punt and/or kickoff during the regular season. That’s way too many. It wasn’t the main reason for the struggles on special teams, but it didn’t help.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

I know lots of questions have been asked about this general topic, but I don't believe this specific question has ever been asked: If you could pick one stat to lead the league in on offense and on defense this year (not including points), what would it be?

Turnovers. Fewest on offense, most on defense.

Lydia from Madison, WI

Which rookie do you think will have the biggest impact on the regular season?

I’m going to stick with my original post-draft answer and say Darnell Savage, but based on what I’ve seen in camp, Rashan Gary is a close second. Injuries and early performance also have made Ka’dar Hollman and Ty Summers legitimate candidates among the draft picks.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Assuming Aaron starts on Thursday, do you think Boyle will play second and Kizer third? This will allow Boyle to play with first- or second-team players and provide a more level playing field for evaluating the backup QB position.

I’m not sure if that’ll happen Thursday, but the coaches may change up the QB order at some point over the next three games for that reason.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

You always say when AR speaks, his words are deliberate, carry meaning and there is plenty of thought behind it. That is why I will be expecting the slashed beer prices when I come to town for the last preseason game vs. the Chiefs. Honk that foghorn if you agree.

As Aerosmith so eloquently sang, “Dream on.”

Richard from Menasha, WI

What is the deal with the helicopter flying low and slow at the practice yesterday?

I figured it was searching for Wes’s lunch. Happy Wednesday.

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