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Inbox: It's good to have options this time of year

Who is your breakout Packers player of 2020?

WR Allen Lazard and RB Aaron Jones

Kevin from Janesville, WI

Spoff was on top of his game Wednesday! Hopefully this means he's peaking at the right time. If he can carry this through to the postseason then LOOKOUT!

Still alotta Inboxes left. Gotta stay sharp. Spoff needs to keep that same energy through the holiday season. I'll be sure to tell Ma Hod to pack an extra turkey sandwich or two.

Chase from Fort Leonard Wood, MO

Has Tavon Austin ever lit up the scoreboard against the Packers? Being a veteran, when do you think he'll pick up the offense and be on the field? More importantly, what (and how long) will it take to earn Aaron Rodgers trust?

In two career games vs. Green Bay, Austin has three catches for 19 yards, four carries for 36 yards and five punt returns for 22 yards. I don't expect Austin's learning curve to be too steep with his experience in Sean McVay's scheme in Los Angeles and the time he spent with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco this year. If needed, Austin probably could return kickoffs and/or punts as soon as this Sunday depending on Tyler Ervin's status.

Tanner from Chicago, IL

Tavon Austin is bringing up flashbacks to Andre Rison and Desmond Howard and their impact on our Super Bowl run in '96! What kind of impact do you think he could have within the gadget/return role?

That's what we're going to find out. But when you're an eight-win team staring at the playoffs, it's good to have options this time of year. And the Packers have that at their skill positions with Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Robert Tonyan, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Marcedes Lewis, Ervin, Austin, and the list goes on. The more toys in the chest, the more games you can play.

Tom from Douglassville, PA

It was nice to see Preston Smith finally have a good game. Who do you think is next in line for a breakout game?

It's officially December…which means it's Kenny Clark season.

John from Richfield, WI

While watching WYMM regarding Clark and Jaire Alexander, I cannot help but see the impact Rashan Gary is having: 300-pound tackles getting eaten up and shoved around, and TEs and RBs chipping to slow him down. My favorite is where he plants one hand in the middle of the OL's chest and just shoves him backwards. He's starting to show that teams need to account for more than just the Smith brothers. His arrow certainly seems to be pointing up.

Gary is a strong dude and you can tell he's playing with more confidence in that previously injured shoulder this year. I liken Gary's development to soup on a stove. It warms up and it steams a little. Then, bubbles faster and faster and faster. I think this year we're starting to see the bubbling process begin.

Ryan from Somerset, WI

I think we need to do our due diligence and get more Packers voted into the Pro Bowl! If everyone that reads the Inbox votes once today and every day for the next two weeks it would greatly increase our boys chances on making the Pro Bowl. Right now, it looks like only Rodgers, David Bakhtiari, and Hunter Bradley are in. I think we need to get votes out and in bunches for players such as Adams, Elgton Jenkins, Mason Crosby, Preston Smith, and Alexander. All of which that I've mentioned are worthy of the Pro Bowl.

The fan vote typically hasn't been an issue. It's getting the rest of the NFL (players and coaches) to get on board. Fan vote is only a third of the equation.

Col from Ludlow, UK

Hi Wes. In a Sports Illustrated magazine in October 2006, Runyan was ranked second on a list of the dirtiest players in the NFL. How's junior shaping up?

Jon Sr. was No. 2? Who was No. 1? Jon Runyan is a natural grinder and a "Day 3" draft pick like his dad, but doesn't take it as far as his dad did on the field. Jon Sr. mentioned when I talked to him this past offseason even he'd probably have to tone it down in today's NFL. I've heard Jon Jr.'s personality is a good blend of both his father and his mom, Loretta. He's been a great fit for Green Bay.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Regarding Mike's observation that Runyan "has some road grader in him," with TT's and BG's practice of drafting tackles and making guards out of them, great feet and accompanying pass-blocking skills have been expected of those Packer guards. However, run blocking maybe not so much, especially early on. Imagine how much an offseason of NFL weight room strength and conditioning are likely to elevate Runyan's bulldozing.

There's no question a full offseason in Green Bay would've helped Runyan from a physical standpoint but I also don't think he was that far behind after doing what was asked of him from afar. In general, the Packers have done a nice job of finding athletic and durable interior offensive linemen who can run block at the point of attack and also accelerate into the second level.

Jim from Prairie du Chien, WI

During the interview with Jon Runyan, I believe I counted Wes getting called on to ask five questions in the 10-minute interview. Is it safe to say the Wes talks softly and carries a big mic?

Take a bow, Jim. You deserve it. Thankfully, Bill Huber was there so I didn't have to ask every question in a 10-minute Zoom interview. That's happened a few times this season.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Just one year ago, the Eagles had a highly rated OL and were able to dominate the LOS specifically against us in putting up 30-plus points. What happened in a single year to see such a precipitous decline? Add to that a review of the Bears' 2018 offense and since then and how their OL issues have neutered what, for one year, was a potent attack. For all the talk of WRs and RPO QBs, it seems that without a consistent pocket no offense works.

It starts up front. You must build that wall to keep the cavalry out. Without it, your QB is defenseless. It seems like most struggling teams will point to injuries but there is something to that with the Eagles, who have lost Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks for the season. Sua Opeta also was placed on IR this past week with a neck injury. And losing Zach Ertz has created a bunch of other issues for this offense. It's been a tough go for Philly.

Darin from Madisonville, KY

I watched the game Monday night, and it seemed even the throws that Wentz made when he wasn't pressured (there weren't many of them) seemed rushed and inaccurate. Do you think a good quarterback like Wentz can still hear footsteps where there aren't any, due to the hits he's been taking?

I haven't seen enough of Wentz to say that with certainty, but I could see it. He's been through a lot, which is unfortunate considering he was playing at an MVP level before his knee injury in 2017. But the numbers this year are what they are – Wentz has been sacked 46 times in 11 games. Russell Wilson is the next closest with 35. His 15 INTs also are the most in the NFL, four more than the three-way tie for second place among Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady and Drew Lock.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

Do you think it wise for GB to be prepared for a Jalen Hurts sighting behind center? He brings an added dimension, and Doug pulling a fast one on the game plan wouldn't surprise me, a Philly special 2.0.

Absolutely. He attempted a pass last week and has played a handful of offensive snaps in every game this season. The Eagles have their backs against the wall and are looking for a spark. If I'm Green Bay, I make sure I'm ready for what Hurts brings.

Cindy from Mesa, AZ

Good morning! What are the remaining questions about the Packers that you'd like to see answered in the last quarter of the regular season?

Can they win a defensive battle? As great as the offense has played for most of this season, I think it'd do this team a lot of good to be forged in those type of fires by the postseason.

Matt from Sea Girt, NJ

More of an observation on all those fans that are hung up on stats. Statistics can be the most misleading indicator ever.

Who won this game?

Game Passing Leader - Mitch Trubisky (242)

Game Rushing Leader - David Montgomery (103)

Game Receiving Leader - Allen Robinson (74)

Arguably the most one-sided game of the year. I get it fantasy is a huge driver behind the viewership, etc., but sometimes you have to just root for a team.

The Packers produced yards when it mattered, scored points when it mattered, and won the game…which is all that matters.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

Do the Packers have the tallest receiver corps in the league? E.Q., MVS, and Lazard are all 6-4 or 6-5.

That's the way the league is trending but the Packers have to be up there, especially if you throw in Lewis and Tonyan.

Clint from New Berlin, WI

What can you tell us about Anthony Rush? The thing that stood out to me is he's a BIG man. Not to place any expectations on him, but it sure would be nice if he has a Howard Green (ala 2010)-type impact for us.

Rush isn't a proven player like Green was when the Packers claimed him in 2010. But Rush is a very, very large man at 6-foot-4, 361 pounds. The Packers haven't carried a defensive tackle on their 53 who weighs at least 340 in five or six years now dating back to B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett. Rush needs to catch up on the scheme but Billy Winn did it rather quickly after signing in September.

Lloyd from Rancho Cordova, CA

The Packers' time of possession against the Bears really helped the defense in the first half. Is that the key to beating the Eagles?

Sure, but I don't think you go out with the goal of winning time of possession. It's just an indicator of efficiency. If an offense is efficient and productive in the red zone, the TOP statistic will indicate that.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, any idea how many total players the Packers will have on active roster, IR and practice squad over the course of this season?

The Packers have had 66 different players play in at least one game for them so far this year.

Paul from Park City, UT

Wes, on Monday you said Miles Sanders' role was increasing after returning from injury. Actually in his three games back from injury, his touches have gone from 77% to 70% to 50% consecutively, showing a steady decline in use. In that same time Boston Scott's usage has increased from 18% to 41%.

That's a fancy way of writing Boston Scott's touches spiked from four to seven in that time. Regardless, Sanders still presents a lot of challenges to the Packers' defense. Teams will look to run the ball until Green Bay's front quashes it.

Keith from Dodgeville, WI

Hey guys, any news on when AJ Dillon will return to the lineup?

Dillon attended Wednesday's practice but didn't participate. That is a big sign of progress, though. Krys Barnes also was activated off COVID-19/reserve Wednesday and practiced for the first time at Hinkle Field.

David from Minneapolis, MN

Who has the best name out of current players? I haven't been able get Hercules Mata'afa out of my head. I am picturing someone trash talking, "Who the heck you think you are?" His response being "A Herculean Mata'afa, that's who." My favorite on the Packers' roster is BIG Bob Tonyan, but only when pronounced Tun-yan.

Is this even a question? Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown.

Mark from Angels Camp, CA

Elton John in the Inbox, that rocks! Thanks for all you do to keep us entertained. I thought I'd see a comment or two about how Tonyan tossed Danny Trevathan with one hand near the sideline after a catch. That dude is strong!

I loved the energy. Tonyan could've easily gone out of bounds when Trevathan put his hands on him but instead he fought for the extra yard. Tonyan has to be on the short list of the breakout stars for the Packers in 2020, right? If not him, then who?

Tom from Pine River, WI

Since we're giving credit to versatile offensive linemen, I think we might want to recognize that Forrest Gregg made the Pro Bowl as both tackle and guard in the mid-'60s.

Pound-for-pound, Gregg is one of the best to ever do it. I maintain if put a prime Forrest Gregg in today's NFL, he'd still be an All-Pro with modern strength and conditioning.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

Good morning. Is Darrius Shepherd gone for good or might the team re-sign him to the practice squad now? Love the Austin signing – great flexibility with Ervin battling injuries and hopefully gives return team a boost plus maybe some new looks on offense.

We'll find out soon enough. After clearing waivers Wednesday, Shepherd is now free to sign to any NFL practice squad – including Green Bay's.

Jason from Olive Branch, MS

I was going to save this for the Detroit game, but I'd probably forget by then. When a head coach is fired and replaced by an interim coach who was previously on the head coach's staff, does that interim coach get a raise in compensation?

Often times, yes.

Patrick from Oronoco, MN

Good morning Wes. Do you look in on Mike's live blog to get his or the fans' thoughts of the game?

No…but it's not for a lack of caring. I have my hands full with the in-game updates, keeping my running game log and watching the game.

Dale from Prescott, WI

I guess I'm against laser goal posts now after considering Mike's answer yesterday. If the laser is set up on the outside edge of the upright, when a ball barely touches it, it explodes. Now you've completely eliminated the chance to make a four-doink field goal. What fun is that?

Fair point.

Sue from Tomah, WI

Gentlemen: Could you please consider replacing your pictures on your bylines? While they are both very nice portraits, they are a bit outdated. I would suggest you replace them with one of the shots used to promo any of your other articles. There have been some really good takes there. Just a suggestion. Love your work.

It's funny you mention that. My goal is to never have two headshots taken during my time with the Packers. If I stick around long enough, my plan is to take a new one the year before I retire and/or leave. I'm going for a very drastic change in the media guide year over year.

Cheri from Joliet, IL

Do you know if Joan is working on her sign, "Philly Cheesesteaks are overrated"? I'll be watching for it Sunday.

I'll be sure to pass that along.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Spoff, level with me here. In your response to my comment "I like the name Elgton," did that just come to you on the spot or did you have to think about it for a minute or two? I'll be honest, it took me 10-plus minutes to figure out what you were referring to, but once I did, I laughed for the rest of my lunch break.

Hopefully Spoff can get you an official time on that wit in Friday's Inbox.


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