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Inbox: It's important those be earned

There are benefits to continuity as well as competition

T Rasheed Walker
T Rasheed Walker

Terry from Knoxville, TN

Sports news networks running 24/7 rehash the same material several times a day because there's only so much to talk about. Has this similar issue with II during the offseason ever caused you to rethink posting the column on a daily basis, or is it mandated by your employment agreement?

It's mandated by our friendly sponsor, for whom we're extremely grateful. We were just glad to do away with the offseason Saturday posting.

Jayson from Fayetteville, NC

I've noticed recently on X/Twitter that @packers is more witty, alive, not bland. Is there a new hire(s) in control of the handle or new approach to engagement?

Yes, that would be our new manager of social media, Renae Gabriel, who came on board shortly after the draft. We're thrilled to have her, and her stamp on things is already evident, I agree. Though next year, since she'll be involved from the early planning stages of the schedule release video, I'm a tad trepidatious, personally.

Jack from Chicago, IL

Coach was asked about a visitor named Chris attending practice. I couldn't make out who the question was in reference to. Could the II share this delicate knowledge?

Former Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst was a guest at practice Tuesday, just observing.

James from Appleton, WI

I'm taking a moment this morning to raise a Diet Coke to the hard salary cap. In the NBA and baseball, with veterans' exceptions and luxury taxes, fans are often led to question whether their teams are in it to win it or just to make money. In the NFL, we may question a front office's priorities or skill but not their will to win. Despite the rising cost of QBs, I would strongly caution against creating cap exceptions.

Amen. How many fan bases in the NBA and MLB truly can believe, when the season starts, their teams have a chance to do something special? It doesn't compare to the competitive balance that exists in the NFL.

Herbert from Palm Desert, CA

Hi guys, while the new technology will keep officials from pulling out an index card to decide whether a team has gained a first down, it won't change the way the ball is spotted. That will still be done by humans. Officials will still get bumped off their path as they run to spot, and the left foot or right foot will still be used to place the ball. It's a nice piece of technology, but simply adds to the illusion of perfection. Do you think it will change the game in a meaningful way?

Not really, until the computer chips inside the ball are used to spot it, which might not be far behind.

Brian from Madison, WI

Mike, you said on "Unscripted," and I'm paraphrasing, Ted Thompson was more apt to play vets than rookies. My knee jerk reaction was that he never signed FA older than 30 and always preferred younger players with "their best football in front of them." Anyway, thoughts…

In the Thompson era, I was referring to when rookies would get reps with the first units at this time of year, in OTAs, not to actual playing time in games.

Al from Green Bay, WI

It's interesting that no rookies worked with the first-team defense in Tuesday's OTA. With that said, color me surprised if Edgerrin Cooper and Javon Bullard are not in the starting lineup in Week 1 in Brazil. Do you see this as the coaches' subtle reminder that the rookies have to earn their starting spots?

It could be that, or they'd rather keep the rookies together on the same unit at this stage as they're learning the defense. I don't really know.

David from Janesville, WI

Gents, pro athletes are different mentally, and generally have an internal drive and competitiveness level I can't fathom. While this keeps them working to be their best, I think subconsciously humans get complacent. If you're starting and life is good, you may relax a bit. Having someone rotating snaps with you undoubtedly rekindles that competitive drive. In addition to the offensive line are there other position groups where this tactic may also be used? The rest seem to rotate anyway.

There are benefits to continuity as well as competition. When it comes to in-game snaps/rotations, it's important those be earned, not just implemented for the sake of it. Players losing snaps to others who haven't earned them, just so the coaches can say they're pushing guys, is a great way to lose buy-in from veterans whose buy-in matters most.

Rob from Springfield, IL

I recently saw a few headlines that both Kraft and Tom tore pec muscles during the offseason. I am curious as to what type of recovery timeline an injury like this has. Did each player require surgery? If this was done lifting weights, is it possible another part of the body could have been injured as well?

Both players had surgery and with a recovery/rehab timeline of 8-12 weeks, they're expected back for training camp. Whether that means the start of training camp or sometime during remains to be seen.

Michael from Houston, TX

After sending Christian Watson off to have his hamstring studied and a plan developed on how to fix the problem, my question is whether that plan is implemented with all players on the roster or does that plan have to vary from player to player because of difference in body types. Thanks.

There's no one-size-fits-all answer or everyone would subscribe to it and no one's hamstring would pull. Will tips from the plans for Watson and Eric Stokes be shared amongst other players to see if they might help? Sure.

Tim from Macon, MO

Good AM guys & crew. Rick from Caledonia's question about the attendance record at Lambeau got me wondering. If every game is a sellout then what changes these numbers? Are there places to put in temporary seating or what? It's been since 1999 since we took the tour so I'm sure things have changed. But I don't remember any "extra" seating then. Many thanks!

The south end zone expansion in 2013 and addition of standing-room only tickets in 2014 increased the stadium's capacity to 81,041. The Packers' attendance figures are based on number of tickets scanned for entry, not sold, so there can be variations based on secondary market tickets that go unsold/unused, whether or not SRO was made available for a given game, whether every suite is maxed out, and other minor factors. I do have to make a correction, though. That attendance record of 78,526 I cited from the Lions game in 2015 was for the regular season only. Three times in the playoffs, the crowd has been larger – 78,998 vs. Seattle in '19, 79,132 vs. SF in '21 and 79,704 vs. Dallas in '14.

Sue from Centennial, CO

Do you think the Packers will ever replace the aluminum benches with actual seats that have cup holders?

Not if they don't have to. If the bleachers in the Lambeau bowl were replaced with traditional stadium seating, the Packers would lose about 10,000 seats.

Elias form Los Angeles, CA

Are joint practices typically held the day before the preseason game? I'm going to Denver! Any idea when the time will be announced?

A joint practice is typically two days before the preseason game.

John from Beloit, OH

How many days will the Packers be in Brazil for opening game?

I don't know yet. I just found out this week I'm going to Denver a couple of days early in August. I take it one trip at a time.

Stephie Rae from Flowery Branch, GA

Piggybacking on Dwight from Brooklyn's question about how scout teams work, I've often wondered, if the scout team is made up of our practice-squad players learning how to play like our next opponent, where do they ever get their opportunity to work on the Packers' playbook and earn a spot on the 53/48?! I guess if they can learn to play like a different team every week, they could learn to play like a Packer when they get called up! There's got to be more to it than that! Thx! GPG!

Folks have to understand that the scout team isn't really learning the other team's playbook, just running some plays off of diagrams they're shown quickly during practice. Their primary job is still to know the Packers' playbook for any reps or opportunities they get, and there's so much crossover with concepts and schemes they're still learning things the Packers do while running other teams' plays.

Joe from Liberty Township, OH

There's been a lot of discussion about Hafley's aggressive defensive scheme and its vulnerability to the big play. Joe Barry's scheme was predicated on preventing the big play, but they still happened too frequently. Is it an oversimplification to suggest the defense is no more at risk of the big play than the past few seasons, but gain the advantages of the more aggressive scheme?

Only time will tell. But if you've spent several years emphasizing one thing and not getting it, I don't blame anyone for trying to emphasize something else.

Paul from Manitowoc, WI

Hi II. Don't know if this has been answered yet, but how well protected from hacking are the playbooks if they're on tablets? Also, what would you think the punishment would be for an organization trying to obtain this information? Thank you for II, I always look forward to my daily "fix."

Considering how many security hoops I have to jump through around here just to schedule my vacation time or fill out an expense report, I can guarantee you those tablets are as un-hack-able as they come. They can also be locked up and wiped remotely if they're lost.

Joe from Swansea, IL

All the talk about playbooks has me pondering: If you take the QB out of the equation, which position group requires the most cerebral players? O-line? Secondary? Something I'm not considering? I'd love your insight here.

There's a larger mental component for every position at this level compared to what players are accustomed to, but receivers (choice routes and route adjustments), O-linemen (protection changes and blitz pickups) and DBs (different coverage concepts and passing off routes) probably rank at the top for me.

Tom from Highland Village, TX

Follow-up plus a question to my post yesterday about flying sports teams. The 7-footer I mentioned was David Robinson. I have never seen someone so exhausted, yet uncomfortably crammed into his row 2 seat. His knees seemed to be level with his shoulders. He played 43 minutes in PHX, stats 34p+14r. He then had to get up about 4 a.m. for our 6 a.m. commercial flight to SLC, connecting to SEA. That night he had 39+11, in game 65. To me that is superhuman. What stories can you share about the Packers?

I remember early in my time here, in 2007, I was in the locker room right after a blowout win over the Vikings and I saw Ryan Grant, who had just carried 25 times for 119 yards, taking his jersey and shoulder pads off. His upper body looked like it had spent two weeks in a torture chamber. Bruises, scrapes, cuts, you name it. All over and unsightly, to be honest. Seven days later, he ran 20 more times for 88 yards against Carolina.

Darrel from Pueblo, CO

II, with all of the questions about sub-.500 division winners making the playoffs, I was wondering what is the best record of a team that did not make the playoffs?

ATMR (WCBW), two 11-5 teams missed the playoffs – the 2008 Patriots and '85 Broncos. From 1990-2019, when six teams from each conference qualified, I found 11 teams with 10-6 records that missed out. Post merger and pre-1978, with a 14-game schedule when only four teams per conference (three division champs, one wild card) qualified, I found five 10-4 squads that missed out – Miami and Houston in '75, St. Louis and Cincinnati in '76 and Miami again in '77.

Craig from Appleton, WI

If a 16-team playoff is inevitable, do you think the possibility exists the league would say the top two teams from each division make the playoffs regardless of records? Not too dissimilar to the division champs being protected.

No, I don't see that being the format. They'd add another wild card based on overall record and the usual tiebreakers. The 16-team field would not only eliminate playoff byes but sorely devalue the NFL's regular season, in my opinion.

Pat from Hudson, WI

Lori from Brookfield refers to Jordan Love's contract situation as "unsettled" but I thought they gave him a two-year extension last year and are now working on a long-term deal, isn't that the case?

Yes, and now that Love's current deal leaves him vastly underpaid for the coming season, a new one is in the works. But I'll repeat what I said the other day: I have zero concern this will get done in due time. In my opinion, the new contract not being done is not a story unless it's still not done well into training camp.

Cliff from Alexandria, VA

We all know football is a business. So why don't more players hold out on signing contracts? Or, put another way, why would it not be in a player's best interest to hit free agency rather than sign early and let the market run their price up, even if they intend to re-sign with their current team?

Injury risk. It's greater in this sport than any other.

Bil from Stateline, NV

Thanks to Jim from Cadott, WI, for the crappie cooking tip. Uh, rather, the tip for cooking crappie. Though, if the "asparagus on a brat" man concurs, I may hesitate on the cornmeal.

Nicely done, and with that I'm off to find some crappie myself. Enjoy the long weekend, everybody. Happy Friday.

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