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Inbox: It becomes a force of nature

LB Za'Darius Smith
LB Za'Darius Smith

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

“If you don’t know the entire picture your analysis, quite frankly, isn’t worth that much.” Can we get Spoff a pulpit and a megaphone so the people in the back can hear?

\Spoff-drop\ Good morning!

Steve from Ankeny, IA

While I enjoyed the interview with Lucas Patrick, I think everyone should read it with an eye towards what was said about Rodgers. With all the bad press the guy has been getting, it shows what really happens behind the locker room door! I can't imagine how much it means to the players struggling to make the roster when Aaron sits down with them and builds their confidence. Thanks for the great article!

Lucas Patrick is as real as it gets. He’s a scrappy, straight shooter who is incredibly intelligent and articulate. Lucas also has a huge heart. I don’t want to speak for him but I’d venture to guess a lot of that came from his mom. I know how much that would mean to me if that was my mom or dad in that car. Whatever has been written or said about Rodgers, there also is a large crowd of current and former teammates extremely loyal to him. From eventual Hall of Famers such as Julius Peppers and Charles Woodson all the way to a former tryout player like Patrick. At the end of the day, that locker room is the only voice that matters and it has spoken.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

It's an interesting year when you can watch the punter come onto the field and have some excitement over how he might flip the field! Also, Spoff, is it okay if I lift your phrase "in no mood for pleasantries" and put it on a T-shirt? That seems like something I'd want to walk around wearing.

To any Packers Pro Shop employees who read this, who do I have to talk into printing a JK Scott shirt that reads: “Have leg. Will punt.”

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Should JK Scott continue to dominate and if possible get better at his craft, do you think he has enough public popularity to make it to the Pro Bowl? Punters don't normally get noticed like other skilled positions in the NFL. Other than his youthful appearance, there is not much discussion about him.

Pro Bowl is a difficult accolade for specialists to attain because only one in each conference gets selected unless someone’s team is in the Super Bowl. The kickers and punters who make it truly are the best of the best. Scott is only 23 and has a lot of potential, though.

McCain from Brookland, AR

Am I the only one who feels like there is just a completely different atmosphere around this team as opposed to the past couple of seasons? I don’t know how to explain it but this team feels more confident and connected. They are out there just playing the game they love and it looks great.

Winning is always going to make life a little bit easier, but there is a comradery and chemistry in that locker room. It reminds me a lot of the 2014 season when Julius Peppers was signed. There is still a lot of work to do in all three phases, but the positive energy permeating through the locker room leads you to believe this team could be special.

Greg from Sacramento, CA

Just a statement here: So far the best thing about the offense, our two outstanding bookend tackles! Please give Bryan Bulaga a new contract, he is like a fine wine. He is just getting better with time. Big Dave is awesome also! Just ask "12.”

There’s a phrase scouts and coaches like to throw around about how offensive linemen don’t reach their zenith until they’re 28. Bryan Bulaga is a prime example of that. I think people forget he’s still only 30 years old. Andrew Whitworth and Jason Peters are 37. The Packers have been incredibly fortunate to have David Bakhtiari and Bulaga as their bookends for the past six years – and neither is showing any signs of slowing down.

Logan from Lamar, CO

We have heard a lot about the trio of defensive players we signed as free agents and rightfully so. Their collective impact on Pettine’s revamped defense is clear even to the untrained eye. My question is what your early take is on Billy Turner. I feel offensive linemen are often overlooked in favor of the “playmakers” by many fans. What have you gentlemen heard/seen so far from our new O-lineman? Thank you!

I feel like he’s brought a lot of athleticism and stability to that position. To my untrained eye, he and Elgton Jenkins were unsung heroes in Aaron Jones’ 182-yard performance. The Packers went through a small carousel there after T.J. Lang left in free agency in 2017. Turner has calmed those waters.

Max from Urbandale, IA

Has there been an explanation as to why David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga switched tackle positions on the last kneel down in Dallas?

That’s a heck of an observation that I missed at first. But sure enough, Bulaga and Bakhtiari switched spots on the third and final kneel-down. They must have wanted to sneak in a snap at the other’s position.

Magdalena from Northfield, MN

Not much of a question, really, only my two cents. Expectations (or lack thereof aside) this season up through Week 5 has been a lot of fun. I can't remember the last time I sat through a loss without feeling sick to my stomach, much less feeling this happy about a winning record in October. This team still has so much left, and they're all just plain fun to watch together – both for their play and who they are. Small wonder Rodgers had such a grin on his face after the win in Dallas.

It’s a fun group of personalities, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Packers already had a few characters with Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Tony Brown. Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith have been the galvanizing presence bringing it all together. When you factor in the overall talent on this team, it becomes a force of nature.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

How did Oren Burks look in his first game back?

Good, especially considering the plan wasn’t for him to play on defense. Burks is a really talented football player. Hopefully, he can put these injuries behind him and grow comfortable in this defense because the talent is obvious.

Drew from Rogers City, MI

The NFC North is now a collective 12-6-1 with only two losses (and a tie) coming from outside the division. Is it possible our division sees three playoff teams come January?

Possibly, but the NFC West is going to have a lot to say about that, as well. I see the wild cards running through those two divisions right now.

Gary from Chippewa Falls, WI

Darrell Bevell is the key to Matt Stafford’s growth. He understands offense better than any of his predecessors in Detroit.

I made a similar comment to Matt Patricia during his conference call with Robert Demovsky, Bill Huber and myself on Wednesday. Bevell gets a bad rap for what happened in the Super Bowl. He’s a talented play-caller who always seems to be one big win here or there away from becoming a head coach, in my opinion. I like what I’ve seen from Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense so far. They’ve already exceeded my preseason expectations.

Tom from Raleigh, NC

I find it amazing gunners on punt returns can see a quick arm wave for a fair catch while sprinting 45 yards and getting hit by often two blockers. Do the gunners just see (or not) the arm wave or do they view the returner’s body language on whether a fair catch has been called for? Do refs help by indicating a fair catch is called for?

While gunners are sprinting 45 yards at full speed toward the target, they have to stay under control and see the signal. It has to be that way. The play develops too quickly for a referee to throw a hat or flag down to indicate the returner is giving himself up.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

Do you think that the Lions' defensive line could be the most dominant we've faced this season? The other teams the Packers played have had dominant pieces like Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Danielle Hunter, Brandon Graham and DeMarcus Lawrence, but Trey Flowers, Damon Harrison and a very motivated Mike Daniels together sounds like a lot for a banged-up offensive line to handle.

Daniels is listed as a backup in the Lions’ 4-3 defense. That tells you everything about how deep and dangerous Detroit’s front is. The Packers have to be prepared to bring it for another 60 minutes Monday night.

Jay from Sheboygan, WI

I've been searching for any credibility to Ray Lewis' comment on the defense not having leadership and can't find anything to suggest what he said. Do Z. Smith and Ray know each other? If so, maybe Ray knew it would light a fire for our defense. There’s really no other explanation for the comment otherwise.

I don’t know whether Z and Ray have ever met, but Packers outside linebackers coach Mike Smith played with Lewis in Baltimore. He said he exchanged a few texts after Ray made those comments and left it at that.

Cris from Westcliffe, CO

My wife is a Cowboys fan and one of us had a great time at the game. Cowboys fans really bring it in that stadium. Did you hear the “Go Pack Go” chant at the end of the first quarter? My dad said he heard it on TV. What's the loudest you've heard GB fans at an away game?

Last October vs. the Rams at the LA Coliseum. That was the loudest Packers fans were all season, home or away.

Jim from Huntertown, IN

Is San Francisco for real?

I think so. I compared them to “The Big Fundamental” Tim Duncan on “Packers Unscripted.” They do all the little things well. We’ll have to see how much time Kyle Juszczyk misses. He’s a critical component to that offense.

Chris from Ashland, WI

Do you guys think of Kirk Cousins as a really good bad quarterback or a really bad good quarterback? This is in regards to him being prone to dominate bad teams and play terrible against good ones.

I think he’s a good quarterback whose fan base probably has unrealistic expectations for him.

Chuck from Neenah, WI

An observation on kickoff and punt returns: Knowing that it is so hard to come up with a kickoff return these days, I am wondering why the Packers obtained Tremon Smith earlier. I understand he did a pretty good job for them while he was in Kansas City. What's his upside now that he's in GB?

The temperatures eventually will drop, Chuck. Smith, a waiver claim, will get a chance to show what he can do at some point. The Packers also were heavy on receivers and acquired a sixth-round pick for a soon-to-be free agent in Trevor Davis.

Dale from Rochester, MN

Insiders, is there a rule for taunting in the middle of a live play? I could be wrong, but I cannot recall a player ever receiving a flag for taunting during live play.

Yeah, it’s a no-no. Aaron Jones probably could’ve been flagged for taunting, which is why I don’t think that movie will have any further showings.

Jon from West Des Moines, IA

Ibraheim Campbell is eligible to return next week, correct? Will he be available immediately or is there still some recovery time needed? I'm sure either way they'll work him in slowly, but I've been excited about him all year and was looking for some updates!

Campbell is eligible to practice starting next week. Whenever he practices, that opens a 21-day window in which he can practice before he must be added to the 53-man roster. He hasn’t done any on-field contact drills since the injury last December, so I expect the Packers to be smart with him.

Ashley from Chicago, IL

If the Packers beat the Lions to go up 3-0 in the first round of NFC North games, how likely are they to make the playoffs?

I don’t know the exact percentages but it makes the lifting drastically easier during the second half of the season.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I'm looking for a rules clarification. On Kevin King's interception in Dallas, replay showed lots of contact during the route, causing concern from Packers fans that the pick would be nullified by pass interference. I believe the contact by King was made prior to the release of the pass, so any penalty would have been "illegal contact" or "defensive holding" and not pass interference. Am I right that only PI can be called via replay review? Thanks for your tireless efforts!

That’s correct. I know a lot was made about the contact but I never felt like the play was in jeopardy of being flagged. Maybe that’s me tailoring my expectations to the way PI has been officiated through the first month of the season.

Scotty from Lombard, IL

Insiders, many of the players wear their hair long where it is coming out of their helmets. If a player is tackled while his hair is pulled, would that be a penalty?

No. Players can wear their hair as long as they like, but beware – you can be tackled by it.

Travis from Superior, WI

I can't help but look at "good" AFC teams' schedules. The level of competition just is not there. That is why you have the same teams rising to the top in that conference every year. The Patriots schedule is almost laughable. How many championships would the Pack have under its belt in the last decade if they were in a different conference and division?

Maybe an extra Super Bowl appearance here or there, but credit where credit is due – the Patriots keep winning the big one.

Dave from Edina, MN

So Gronk is making his debut as an analyst for the pregame show on Thursday. How do you think he'll do?

Really well if utilized properly.

Tim from Green Bay, WI

Help settle an argument. Cheese curds are better: A. Fresh and squeaky, or B. Deep fried in beer batter.

Fresh and squeaky. It’s one of the few ways I eat cheese.

Forrest from Suamico, WI

Wes, I have seen you just out and about no less than five times since I've moved to the Green Bay area in May. Do you handle strangers coming up to you in public well? Or should we the readers let you be as you buy your Wheaties?

The fact I’m a 28-year Suamican may explain that. Say hello next time.

Phil from Hackensack, NJ

What's a slice of Hodkiewicz cake go for anyways? For some reason, I'm thinking around $29,000.

I’ll have to get Ryan Maes to appraise it.

Daniel from La Crosse, WI

The NFC North teams need to be aware: Winter is coming.

We can only help the ending of this Packers season is better than that of “Game of Thrones.”

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