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Inbox: It's going to be a fight to the finish

Elgton Jenkins is a tough matchup at any of the five positions on the offensive line

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WR Malik Taylor

Israel from West Allis, WI

Oh, Wes. "The Packers will have a difficult time matching their record from last year. Some would even call it impossible." I thoroughly enjoy Inbox, but these subtle quips especially make me chuckle. Question, though: Is there too much implicit math involved for the Inbox?

There might be. But when ball is placed on the tee right in front of me, how do you expect me not to grip it and rip it?

Doug from Westford, MA

Hi. So Wes, how hard is it to go from 80 to 53 in roster cut downs? Trying to tee it up for you.

I appreciate that, Doug. But it is a new day, which requires fresh thoughts and ideas. Let's get after it.

Malcolm from Fennimore, WI

Who is your No. 1 player to watch on each team Saturday when the Packers take on the Bills?

Kylin Hill is my guy to watch for this game. I think he's positioned himself to make the 53-man roster and another strong outing would go a long way in solidifying that. My Bills player to watch is Josh Allen. It sounds like he and many of Buffalo's starters are going to play. That's an excellent test for whichever players, especially on defense, take the field for the Packers this afternoon.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

Wow, Wes. What a great story about Isaiah McDuffie! While I admire a young man, who gives his father credit for his work ethic, being willing to do 800-900 pushups in a day as a youngster shows this wasn't just caught. The fire is burning inside this young man. I wish him every success!

I appreciate you checking it out, Bob, and thank you to everyone who passed along kind sentiments. Those stories are the most fun to write because they're the guys most readers know nothing about. I think it helps humanize them when fans watch their number flash across the TV screen on gameday. Isaiah and his father, Steve, share such a unique bond and a rich history with Ralph Wilson Stadium/New Era Field/Highmark Stadium. It's cool the McDuffies will get to enjoy another unforgettable moment in their home stadium today.

Terry from Sun Prairie, WI

Which player will have a big impact on defense?

Rashan Gary.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. If Reggie Begelton has another strong performance returning punts against Buffalo, does he secure a spot on the final 53? Would he also get a chance back there against New Orleans in the opener or has Amari Rodgers already been named the guy? Thanks.

While I'm convinced the Packers keep at least six receivers, I don't have a feel for who that individual will be. All the candidates bring something different. My gut says Malik Taylor but Begelton has been a solid special-teamer this summer and Equanimeous St. Brown knows the system well. It's going to be a fight to the finish.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Wes, I would like to revisit Joe from Wausau's question about Marquez Valdes-Scantling never having a catch rate above 55%. In basketball, players typically have a lower shooting percentage from 3-point land verses shots in the paint. In baseball, home run hitters typically have a lower batting average than contact hitters. If MVS is a league leader in yards per catch, I think a lower catch rate is quite acceptable. Are you on board with this line of thinking?

Sure, and I'm not taking issue with his catch rate. My point was I could easily see MVS setting a new career high for receptions this year based on the number of intermediate passes he caught in camp. It's more than I can recall in his three previous summers in Green Bay.

Ed from Windsor, CO

How do you process the details of cutting 37 football players who are all elite athletes? I thought my job was difficult.

I'd say it's 90% evaluation and the other half is luck. I don't know how Brian Gutekunst and NFL general managers do it. There's so much prognostication involved, and also a little gambling as far as deciding who a team thinks it might be able to sneak through to the practice squad.

Josh from San Marcos, TX

What do you make of Jadeveon Clowney's comment about "guards not being real athletes"? Don't tell that to Elgton Jenkins. Haha.

We might find out on Christmas. Big E is a tough matchup at any of the five positions on the offensive line. He makes for a long afternoon for even the most elite pass rushers.

Dar from: Mansfield, TX

Last season, Brian Gutekunst took a very pragmatic approach to COVID-19, keeping a kicking specialist on the practice squad and under protocols, just in case illness befell Mason Crosby or JK Scott. For the same reason, do you think that gives JJ Molson a leg up to stick around town this year in some capacity? (And yes, I'll see myself out for that pun.)

A big reason the Packers kept an extra kicker and punter was because of how many days free agents were required to quarantine before being allowed to join a team. If you didn't have a kicker or punter on the practice squad – or a tryout player in town quarantining – you'd be out of luck if a specialist fell ill a day or two before the game. Although the NFL has since relaxed the rules for tryout players, practice squads are large enough (16 players) that a team could validate stashing an extra specialist there.

Josh from Seattle, WA

What you said Friday to two questions got me thinking. If going from 90-53 is so hard, and someone like Tipa Galeai can fill in at long snapper, why not take a special-teams stud, someone who is a athletic beast like an OLB on the bottom of the depth chart at his stacked position, and train him as the No. 1 long snapper? With a team this deep, if he can do the job to the standard needed, then this move could open a spot for one more person somewhere else, bolster special teams, save money, and boost depth.

I'm sure Galeai's knack for snapping played a role in the Packers not carrying a backup for Hunter Bradley late last year, but long snapper is still too important a position for a part-timer to do it. Games can be won and lost there. With the expanded practice-squad rules allowing for increased mobility to the gameday roster, I see no reason why a team wouldn't carry a snapper in favor of an extra player.

Randy from Clarksville, TN

Piggybacking on Doug from Neenah's question, is Jordan Love the backup holder for field goals and extra points? Also, if Scott is the backup placekicker, how good is he, and does he get to take practice reps?

That's correct on Love. I've never seen Scott kick a field goal but Jaire Alexander apparently is pretty good at it.

Cindy from Mesa, AZ

Good morning! In terms of crowd noise, how big of a challenge do you anticipate in Week 1 at the Superdome?

I've only been to the Superdome once (in 2014) and believe you me it's not fun. That place and Lumen Field are the two loudest stadiums in the NFL. It's no coincidence the Packers reintroduced extremely loud music to their team periods this past week. The page is beginning to turn to Week 1.

Eric from St. Paul, MN

Can you remind me what happened to Tyler Ervin?

He's still a free agent. Ervin has had a couple workouts but has yet to sign anywhere.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Top of the morning Mike (I think). Did you take anything out of Aaron Rodgers's comment regarding David Bakhtiari not being available for game one when he stated, "He's not?" Does he know something or just having some fun?

Maybe both?

Steve from Harlem, GA

We keep hearing that guys like LeRoy Butler (or others that aren't first-ballot guys) are "gaining momentum" and phrases like that. All the factors that should or should not warrant a player making the HOF were in the books long ago. Is this just a political campaign? Does LeRoy need a campaign manager or start making stump speeches? Can you give us some insight on this HOF induction process?

What Butler needs is people with a higher profile than Wes Hodkiewicz stumping for him. Aaron Rodgers did a nice job last year and I hope more current and former Packers continue to use their voice.

Nick from Iowa City, IA

Comment, not a question. But Rodgers continues to astonish during his pressers this year. We all know he has always provided quality interviews but the honesty and clarity that he is speaking with this year is ice cold, truly bone-chilling. If I were a coach or player around the league watching Rodgers speak, I would be shaking in my boots to step on the field against him. You can feel his belief in this team through the words that he selects. He is a true leader and I'm proud he plays for the Pack.

Rodgers has been one of the best soundbites in the NFL for the past 10 years. He's the kind of guy who can singlehandedly help write a story on any player in the locker room. But Rodgers has taken it to another level the past 2½ years with his thoughtfulness. Part of that is his mental growth over the years, but Rodgers also has a photogenic memory. Combine that with the fact he's the longest-tenured Packers player of all-time and you end up with some pretty good anecdotes.

David from Niedernberg, Bavaria, Germany

Thanks for keeping our sanity over the offseason. I just watched the press conference from Rodgers. Did he actually lose a bet to fit in the happy birthday to Tom four of five times? And also, he first said 47 and then 46 years. Was I the only one who recognized that?

Rodgers was referring to Packers assistant director of communications Tom Fanning, who is a gentleman and a scholar. He's one of the best this organization has to offer…happy 38th birthday Tom!

Jack from Edina, MN

Wes, hearing Aaron say "Go ahead Spoff" in his presser yesterday was cool to hear. To be on a nickname level, with someone many of us idolize, is pretty crazy to think about. That is one perk of your job I didn't really come to appreciate until now. I am envious of that. So, does "12" call you Hod?

Wes.

Tom from Douglassville

When do the teams have to make the final cuts by?

Going up on a Tuesday.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Aaron Rodgers is looking a little rough around the edges in his appearance lately, kind of a new look for him. I like it, kind of like Wes when he had that beard going. I think it's Bakhtiari's influence on him.

I promise the beard will return, Jeff. Winter is coming and so is the regular season. Enjoy this last preseason game, folks. One more until the wins and losses matter.

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