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Inbox: I'm sure both teams feel that way

Everything fits together on the Packers’ defensive front

RB AJ Dillon

Ross from Summerville, SC

Gents, this upcoming stretch of games should reveal a lot about the 2022 Packers. Two quality opponents in U.S. and an improving Giants team abroad.

And it all starts Sunday. Giddy up.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

Do you think the running game will be enough, against Tampa Bay?

By itself? No. But I believe it is the fuel injection to get the offensive engine turning. The Packers must make the Buccaneers respect the run game – and early. I believed that even before all these hits Green Bay has taken at receiver this week. Tampa is too fast and too physical to allow that defensive front to pin its ears back every play. It all starts up front on Sunday. I'm sure both teams feel that way.

James from Appleton, WI

It would be nice if Josiah Deguara delivers a breakthrough performance against the Bucs. Sunday's game seems to call for a lot of double-tight end sets. I'd like to see him and Robert Tonyan get three or four catches each. I'd also like a pony.

That probably depends on the availability of the receivers. Aaron Rodgers knows he'll have Allen Lazard and Romeo Doubs available. If Randall Cobb can't go, maybe you see more run through tight ends and running backs. Tonyan and Jones, specifically, could become a more primary read.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

Historically, getting pressure on Tom Brady up the middle has proven to increase a team's chances of getting him out of rhythm and winning the game. Do you think early pressure and maybe a sack from Mr. Kenny Clark can force TB to double inside, opening up a big second half for Rashan Gary/Preston Smith against a beat-up offensive line? I see that as a decent game plan to get them into third-and-long situations and keep our defense off the field, giving Rodgers and Co. the chance to eat clock and score TDs.

My biggest keys to this game are containing Leonard Fournette on first and second down, and the pass rush getting pressure up the middle from there. So, I would say you're spot on with your analysis. If Clark plays as well as he has the past two weeks, Tom Brady is in for a long afternoon. And we saw two years ago what's possible when the Bucs have to take to the air. Jaire Alexander gets picks.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

Jerome from Omaha commented that Gary is not living up to his training camp excellence so far. Mike answered stating that his numbers are quite good, and other teams need to focus on him. I would like to add that Gary gets double-teamed often, which opens up opportunities for other D-linemen. Kenny Clark has a great start to his season, and part of that can be attributed to the fact there aren't enough guys to double-team him too. Gary is a beast!

Every defensive front wants to create pick-your-poison decisions for the opposition. I asked Smith on Thursday about how Clark is making life easier for the outside rush with the pressure he's generating up the middle. Really, it works both ways. The quicker Smith and Gary close the sides, the more it drives the QB towards Clark and Co. Everything fits together on the defensive front.

Matt from Chicago, IL

In your opinion, should David Bakhtiari immediately be given the starting LT spot back? It feels like if we weren't talking about the highest-paid LT in NFL history, we'd be tempering expectations and saying nearly two years is a long layoff. Not to mention, Yosh has been playing well.

David Bakhtiari. No matter what. For nine months, I've said Nijman could be a starting offensive lineman in this league, and perhaps Green Bay. But David Bakhtiari is a five-time All-Pro left tackle and potential Pro Football Hall of Famer. That is his spot. Contrarians will contraire, but I believe there's plenty left in the tank once Bakhtiari's car's back on the road.

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. With so many WRs missing from both teams, the run game will be even more critical to the outcome of this game. Do you expect the Packers to promote another running back up to the active roster?

Most likely, though Green Bay probably will need to elevate a receiver or two from the practice squad even if some of the veteran wideouts play. Patrick Taylor played just on special teams against Chicago but my guess is the Packers wanted to have a RB3 available with how run-heavy the game plan was against the Bears.

Tim from Charlotte, NC

The question about Mason Crosby's range reminded me of a recent story told by an NFL coach whose kicker hit a game-winning FG. I paraphrase: "I went to him and asked him where we needed to be. He said, '42, left hash.'" I was amazed at how well the kicker knew his limit and the current conditions, to be able to tell a coach the specific yard line and side of the field. I would have thought he'd say something like, "Yeah, I can hit it from 58-59 yards."

Specialists are part-athlete, part-meteorologist. They know their stuff. You'd have to go all the way up to our facilities department to find somebody who knows Lambeau Field better than Mason Crosby.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

A note for Junior from Town of Wilson and others concerned about Mason Crosby's age: In the 1970s, a fella by the name of George Blanda kicked for the Raiders until he was 48. Also, he played as a backup quarterback! As Casey Stengel used to say, you can look it up!

I'm not mentally durable enough to field age-related questions about Mason Crosby. I barely made it through Rodgers' mid-30s. He's a kicker. Who knows how long Mason might do this?

Nathan from Manitowoc, WI

Do you think the defense should play more man coverage this game with the lack of quality receivers on the Bucs?

The Packers have the talent to run man, but coordinators also can't live exclusively in one scheme against a quarterback as talented as Brady, who has seen it all. As Matt LaFleur said, they'll mix it up.

Michael from Pound, WI

Gents, the Pack has invested in larger offensive linemen the last couple years. They all seem to be good players and/or have high potential, but due to their lack of experience and all the rotation due to injuries, I would be surprised to see the Pack win against TB...and TB. For the last couple coaching staffs, the Pack has never been able to run the ball against a good front line, especially when that front knew the Pack needed/wanted to run the ball. Hope the passing game is improved this week.

With Elgton Jenkins and Jon Runyan back, none of the rookies played last week against Chicago. Even if Bakhtiari isn't back yet, Green Bay isn't throwing a bunch of inexperienced O-linemen out there who have never played ball before. The Packers have the tools to run against this defense. It's just a matter of execution.

Samuel from Skokie, IL

ML always talks about getting the best five offensive linemen on the field. I think Nijman is one of the best five. When/if Bakhtiari gets back, is there a spot for Yosh Nijman? Elgton Jenkins could go back to guard and Nijman to right tackle. Do you see this as a problem or opportunity? I think we are stronger at tackle than guard.

It's definitely more of an opportunity than a problem, but let's cross that puddle when we get to it. Once Bakhtiari is back, we'll see how all the dominoes fall. But I agree, Nijman should be in the conversation for a starting job. He's played that well.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning. What a week for injuries to WRs. And what a few days for Travis Fulgham. Did he even get to pack his bags? Hope he stayed in town for a few days. Do you think the Packers might have told him to stay around or close to his phone?

Unfortunately, that's life on the NFL bubble. There have been countless players in Green Bay, and across the league, who have had to do the practice-squad shuffle before becoming established players. Either way, Fulgham is back in the building. That gives you a chance.

Jeff from Denver, CO

Hey Insiders! I am loving the Pack's brand of September football. Not quite perfect yet, but with so much to look forward to – like special teams that might actually become special; young receivers looking to break out; and a stout defense that could dominate – I'm kinda glad we aren't playing our best yet. Much better to have that occur in December and January.

One more reason why I've become so preseason-averse. A few August series don't do for a team what 60 full minutes of football accomplish. Veterans can get a team going but it's sometimes the young players who develop over the course of a season that make the biggest difference.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, when punter Pat O'Donnell is "calling his pitches," does he communicate which type of punt is coming to special-team members or are they as surprised as the opposing team?

I think so. You'll see the punt team huddle up beforehand, so I'd imagine that's the unit getting the call. If O'Donnell can "audible," I'm not sure how that's communicated.

Richard from Menasha, WI

How much does wearing the green jerseys impact the heat or is it more of a psychological tactic?

Darker colors absorb more sunlight and radiate heat, making players hotter.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

Whether it is 72 or 102 degrees in Tampa, remember that sun is a scorcher. Getting shade can be as important as staying hydrated.

I'm sure the Packers will bring extra coverage on their sidelines.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi II, there's a lot of talk about the heat in Florida for the game (and I think too much about it). The Pack has several players on the roster who played their college ball in the south. Could it be a mitigating factor? Two things: hydrate, and just scuttle the Bucs!

It is what it is. Stretch, stay hydrated and just be smart.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022.

Bob from Port Saint Lucie, FL

Much has been written this week about Bruce Arians' sideline behavior. Where do you think he will be tomorrow?

"I don't…care, John." Pretty sure only the diehards are gonna catch that one.

Tom from Douglassville, PA

I know it's only two weeks in, but I'm more concerned about the Lions then the Vikings. How about you?

I agreed back in May, and I still agree now. The best-case scenario is Detroit is a viable playoff team in the NFC this season. But even if the Lions aren't, they're still going to be a pesky team for every opponent on the schedule.

William from Palmdale, CA

Just another thank you Spoff for the indubitable informative game blog you provide us, when blacked out. What you provide inviting participants to remark, and you sometimes reply, is remarkable. We turn on Wayne and the Rock as well, what a dual threat! Even when the game is nationally broadcast, you are still a go-to Mike!

Mike does a great job with the in-game live blog…and I'm not just saying that because I don't want to do it. OK, maybe I am saying that.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I would like to go on record saying this is not the last Battle of the GOATs. The next one will Sunday, Jan. 29, and Lambeau will be a little cooler than Tampa Bay will be this weekend. Enjoy the Battle of the Bays everyone!

Derek calling his shot.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, by the time this is published, I'll be in Tampa, wearing my new "Dar from Mansfield" T-shirt, and getting ready for the first Packers pep rally in three years. I just wanted to say how grateful many of us far-flung fans are to again have the ability to connect in-person. You and Spoff have done a superb job of extending that community here, but big thanks to the entire organization for helping us to meet formally. It's not Lambeau, but for a few hours we feel a little closer to the Tundra.

I'll see you there with my "Spoff from Platteville" T-shirt.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

A trip to Tampa with a mountain to climb. Do not waver. The way to the top will be one step at a time and your patience will be tested.

That rhymed, Dean. I feel like that rhymed. Now, if you'd excuse me, I have a plane to catch and rally to pep. Have a sensational weekend, everybody.


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