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Inbox: It may sound trite, but the challenge is real

There’s plenty of playing time to divvy up

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

Mike, Wes deserves a mental health day or possibly two after what the Packers organization and the Insiders put him through during your vacation. See to it that he gets some time to recover before the preseason starts, otherwise he might be on IR.

I took the column for a second straight day so he could catch his breath. After today, our rotation returns to normal.

Correy from Desoto, MO

Is the team excited to have full stadiums again?

Not just the team.

Renate from Milwaukee, WI

Will Aaron Rodgers have another MVP season?

I wouldn't put it past him.

Thomas from Rowlett, TX

I know it is way too early to tell, but do you think there is a path forward after 2021 for Rodgers and the Packers? If they continue to show progress organizationally by addressing his concerns?

You said it yourself. It's way too early to tell, and I plan on spending as little time as possible thinking about the 2022 season over the next several months.

Dave from Minocqua, WI

I was hoping the clickbait would be over after Wednesday but from what I'm seeing although not clicking on it looks like it should continue for a very long time. What's your estimate on when it's going to become yesterday's news?

The question above answers your question.

Tom from Two Rivers, WI

I had the privilege of attending practice on Thursday morning. I had two observations: 1) The hardest working person at practice was the young lady working the bleacher sideline moving support equipment (water, garbage can, etc.) up and down the sideline for 1 1/2 hours, non-stop. 2) The coolest person at practice was The Rock, standing on the sideline in his signature hat, just taking it all in, without using notepad or a smartphone to take notes. I bet he can perfectly recall all that he saw.

There's nothing he hasn't seen before. Just the names and jersey numbers change for a guy who's forgotten more football than I'll ever know.

Brock from West Lafayette, IN

Whoa. I asked when "Unscripted" was coming back and a few hours later I had a new episode in my podcast feed. So instead I'll ask – will the Packers win the Super Bowl this year? (Let's see if my luck holds out!)

I think that's the first time I've gone from unlocking my front door upon returning from vacation to sitting on the "Unscripted" set in less than 12 hours. And I wrote an Inbox column in between. Nothing like diving right in.

Matt from Burlington, WI

II, will Joe Barry implement new techniques for specific players?

Perhaps, but a lot of that could be more subtle than we'll be able to recognize on our own.

Glen from Green Bay, WI

With only three preseason games and the need to protect starters' health, how much will the new defensive system be impacted by one less game to learn to "play fast" and be instinctive? Is it likely it will take several regular-season games to tell whether the system is an upgrade?

Everyone will want a hot take, but I'll be doing my best to reserve any macro judgments about the defense until mid-October.

Jeff from Lake Forest, CA

It's interesting reading 5 things about Randall Cobb and how 12 stated back in February what a true slot receiver would do for the offense. Management goes and drafts a guy specifically for that role. To me, Rodgers wanted Cobb then and management was looking for the next Cobb; a microcosm of the disconnect. Does a relationship 12 has with Cobb on the field help mitigate perhaps losing a step in that Rodgers will know exactly where he'll be as opposed to another QB that doesn't know him as innately?

I think there's some validity to that. LaFleur's comments Thursday morning suggested as much, too.

George from Kennebunkport, ME

I am pleased that Randall Cobb is back in Green and Gold, and my enthusiasm might be different than most. Cobb was a triple threat at Kentucky, yet in his eight seasons with the Pack he never threw a pass. I know taking the ball out of Aaron's hands is not desirable, but I think a well-timed "gadget" play with Cobb throwing could be pivotal at the right time. I look forward to the opportunity to "burn" a team with such a play. How likely is it that we see Cobb throw a pass this season?

Seeing the photo with my story yesterday of the left-handed Cobb prepping to throw the ball makes a TD from Cobb to Amari Rodgers on a jet-sweep option pass appealing to envision. But if it happens it won't be Cobb's first NFL pass attempt. He was 0-for-1 in 2011 and 1-for-1 for 10 yards in 2017.

Jason from Blaine, MN

Dear II, now that we are back into it, I find it hilarious that two years ago everyone said we had no talent at the WR position, and now our sixth-best wideout was a WR1 on a team less than two years ago. All due respect to the other wide receivers on the roster, but with the resume, size and speed of Devin Funchess I cannot see Equanimeous St. Brown or anyone else beating him out for that spot. Is there anything you have seen during practice that makes you think someone else might rise to the occasion?

Juwann Winfree was one of the stars of the spring, and he had another good practice on Thursday. The pads have yet to go on, though, so I'm curious to see if he continues to show up when the game gets more physical at the line of scrimmage.

Mike from Chamberlain, SD

How often do you test for COVID?

As a vaccinated individual, I'll be tested once every two weeks. Unvaccinated players are tested every day.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

I enjoyed hearing "Bobby" Robert Tonyan speak about being a vibes guy, and how much he enjoys seeing people smiling again – how it lifts him up. It has to be a pretty unique time around 1265 right now considering what they went through in 2020!

Even with having to wear a mask in the media auditorium per NFL rules, it's incredibly refreshing to be asking questions in person again, I'll say that.

Michael from Hammond, IN

Will JK Scott be punting for the team during the regular season?

I'd label him the favorite but he still has to win the job.

Larry from Chubbuck, ID

I'm not sure I cared for Gute's response to the question about the Cobb trade. I feel a better answer would have been to say, "After a discussion that included Aaron we all felt it would benefit our football team." I don't think saying it was something he wouldn't do without Aaron isn't helpful to the current situation. What are your thoughts on this?

A reporter by trade, I'm never going to criticize someone for answering a question honestly.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

Very pumped to have AR12 back, but I also feel for Gutey. He has the nearly impossible task of anticipating when great, beloved players are no longer worth the cap hit. He's expected to re-sign every star player, but has limited resources. He has to be prophetic about unproven talent. Second-guessing those calls after the fact is unfair, I think. The Packers have an excellent roster and an annual shot at the Lombardi Trophy. You really can't ask more than that of a GM.

I tend to agree. He also acknowledged over the past couple of days that a willingness to share thought processes behind decisions with a player of Rodgers' status might prevent small disagreements from becoming larger issues. I think that's meaningful.

Phil from Plymouth, WI

Happy Friday. I was mentally prepared, and excited, to see Amari Rodgers playing a whole lot of football this season. Love Cobb, but how is his return going to reduce Rodgers' play time, if at all?

It'll cut into it some. I don't see a way around that. But there are at least 17 games on deck, and perhaps up to 20 or 21. There's plenty of playing time to divvy up.

Joe from Swansea, IL

What does the signing of RT Dennis Kelly say about the Packers' thoughts on the depth of their offensive line? Is he a candidate to start, allowing others to shuffle along the line until David Bakhtiari is ready? What insight can you give us about his possible role on the OL?

Depth is one thing, veteran depth is another. Kelly gives the Packers veteran depth specifically at tackle they otherwise didn't have. So say, for example, if Bakhtiari isn't playing Week 1 and something happens to Elgton Jenkins at left tackle or Billy Turner at right tackle, someone brand new won't necessarily have to be thrown into the fire to block a premier edge rusher.

Randy from Arcola, IN

How often during the season do the No. 1 offense and defense play against each other during practice? If one side dominates the other, can that be dangerous to the self-confidence of the team the next week?

The top units go against one another a lot during training camp while the playbooks are being installed. In the regular season, not so much, except maybe during the occasional two-minute drill. In camp, a rough practice usually makes one side come back the next day more determined rather than demoralized.

Dylan from Cary, NC

Have the injury designation rules changed from last season?

Not to my knowledge. I believe any number of players can be brought back from IR after three weeks again. It's a rule that I think has a chance to stick around post-COVID if teams don't abuse it to manipulate their rosters and stash talent.

Cody from Round Lake, WI

To Mike's point, we were able to retain pretty much everyone outside of Linsley. Which newcomer do you see outside of hopefully Josh Myers and Eric Stokes having the biggest impact on the team this year? P.S. Cobby isn't a newcomer in my book ;)

Outside of the draft class, De'Vondre Campbell is certainly a candidate.

Tom from West Palm Beach, FL

OK, you got me to bite. Why T.J. Slaton vs. Runyan? How much information can you gather from two unproven guys going at each other, as opposed to unproven vs. proven? Seems to me this would be akin to watching Mike vs. Wes in the Oklahoma drill.

Those two came to mind because I'm intrigued by Slaton's size, and it would provide an interesting inside test for Runyan, who's in his second year converting from tackle to guard and a player I expect to make a strong run for a starting job.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

Is Randall Cobb's contract just a one-year deal? Before all this went down with the Rodgers drama Vegas had the Packers at 11-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. When he said he wasn't playing it dropped to 15-1. Now that he's back (and Cobb) it only went to 14-1. Bizarre. But, might be a good bet to make as we're in it to win it.

In the immortal words of Han Solo – with which my daughter decorated her graduation cap this spring – "Never tell me the odds."

Markus from Aurora, CO

Insiders, now that No. 12 is back in the office and No. 18 comes back home, I think it's important to maintain the perspective and sober expectation(s) instead of putting the cart before the horse: the 53-man roster has yet to develop and then there are 17 games to be played and hopefully won, but I am feeling much better now about our chances. What say you?

With everything that went on to get us here, I sense a serious Super Bowl-or-bust aura surrounding this team, and to be honest, it makes me uneasy. Not because I don't think the Packers are capable or that they shouldn't have lofty goals, but because that type of mentality can take on a life of its own, often to a team's detriment. High expectations, coming off the recent disappointments, mixed with the tumultuous offseason, have now converged, and I think it's going to take every ounce of leadership Matt LaFleur and his staff can muster to get this deep, talented roster to truly embrace the grind – not just through the 17 games, but starting now, this week, with Game 1 still 44 days away and all the work required leading up to it. It may sound trite, but the challenge is real.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Just a comment; as sands through the hourglass … so are the days of our Packer lives.

About three months ago, I dubbed professional sports "soap operas with scoreboards." I'll wait for someone to prove me wrong. Happy Friday.