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Inbox: It's not as though the opposing defense gets one, too

That’s when you find out a lot about a team

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RB Jamaal Williams

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

What has been the most satisfying part of being back to covering live football?

Feeling like there's a meaningful routine to life again.

Steve from Phoenix, AZ

I'm sure others will point out that "Those Atlanta players looked like a curling team without the brooms" is actually a simile and not a metaphor. I try not to be one of those people but its kindof become an II thing, hasn't it?

I'll take any helpful legacy you're willing to bestow upon me.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

Knowing how cautious the Packers have always been with all injuries, especially soft tissue injuries, does 17 have to be 110% healthy to see the field Sunday night?

I don't know if I'd go that far, but I think the doctors are going to have to feel the risk of re-injury or aggravation is relatively low to put him out there.

Pete from Chippewa Falls, WI

I was surprised to see the Packers this week worked out two punters and a kicker. Is that just standard operating procedure so they can get an idea of what's available should an injury occur? Not sure why they would be looking at potential replacements for Mason Crosby or JK Scott.

The objective is to build an emergency ready list if needed.

Russ from Henrico, VA

Concerning those big fines to the teams/head coaches for failure to wear masks: The refs, chain gangs, camera crews, etc., aren't part of the team bubbles. Seems to me a coach standing next to the guy with the down marker, jawing in the face of the ref in front of the camera guy might just be a threat to the bubble.

The teams aren't in bubbles, but your point is valid. Carmen from Trimbach, Switzerland, also points out that tests aren't 100% accurate, so if a precaution is reasonable, it's worth taking.

Tim from De Pere, WI

With the strong, high-scoring start for the Packers against NFC North opponents, what will be the keys for the Packers to maintain that momentum heading out of the NFC North? And how does the defense ensure fewer points are scored in case the offense can't produce at such a high level?

The offensive efficiency, in part, has been built on limiting negative plays. Rodgers has been sacked just once, and the offensive penalties have been minimized, so down-and-distance situations have stayed manageable. Defensively, better play in the red zone is needed. Opponents have scored TDs on five of six red-zone possessions.

Will from Green Bay, WI

Hey guys, David Bakhtiari recently made a comment alluding to the idea that the Packers can basically figure out a way to afford him and several of the other upcoming free agents if they want to. Is this a realistic possibility (restructuring others' contracts, etc.)?

It all depends on how much cap charge a team wants to push into the future. Every team does some. Some teams do a lot. It's why the teams that manage their cap successfully set priorities first and then proceed accordingly.

Dan from Decatur, GA

Those of us sitting at the intersection of "Georgia State University employee" and "lifelong Packer backer" are looking forward to the Pro Shop adding No. 39 to the jersey section. In the estimable opinion of either purveyor of II, what does the former Panther need to do to build on the success he had vs. Detroit?

Stay grounded, which by all accounts is not a problem for Sullivan. At that position, this game can humble you in a hurry. He's not going to make every play and stop every pass thrown his way. Nobody can. But keep grinding and seize the opportunity when an ill-advised one floats your way.

John from Livermore, CA

I know it's early in the season, but what do you guys think is the most under-the-radar story so far?

Jamaal Williams averaging 5.6 yards per carry. It's only two games so far, but last season was his first over 4.0 (at 4.3). When Aaron Jones takes a breather, it's not as though the opposing defense gets one, too.

Brian from Ridgefield, CT

After two weeks, what has been the biggest surprise in your opinion? The explosive offense? Gary's explosiveness? Z's lack of pressures? Something else?

57-3. That's what the Packers have done in the second and third quarters thus far. That's nuts. For all the talk about starting fast and finishing strong, which was generally last year's recipe, the Packers haven't had to yet. They will have to, but we all know they can because they proved it in 2019.

Malcolm from Fennimore, WI

Any games you guys will be watching during the day Sunday?

There are plenty to keep an eye on. In this market, we're getting both Bears-Falcons and Titans-Vikings at noon, then Cowboys-Seahawks later. What's not to like? The underrated game of the day is Rams-Bills.

Meagan from Wausau, WI

After Waller having a great game Monday night, which TE do you see hopefully having that kind of night on Sunday?

The Packers don't have anyone like Waller, but I can see LaFleur probing some routes with any of his tight ends, just to see the defensive reaction.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

What can the Packers do to help shore up the offensive line?

I'm not sure what you mean. That unit has dealt with the most difficulty yet held up exceedingly well, and the only two linemen on the injury report (Linsley, Turner) are currently practicing.

Kyle from Mt. Juliet, TN

Which 2020 rookie will have the best career?

I have no idea, and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Todd from Loja, Ecuador

Has another plague been added to 2020? First COVID, then riots, then wildfires, then election commercials, and now torn ACLs. Has the NFC just become a war of attrition?

If there's anything that has stayed relatively normal in 2020, it might be just that. Yes, some big names have gone down with injuries, but call it health or attrition or whatever you want, it's always a factor in this game.

David from Valdosta, GA

While scoring on consecutive possessions around halftime is awesome, it is in no way a guaranteed outcome. I have always favored deferring for the reason that is guaranteed (minus a turnover) – you assure that the other team doesn't get a shot at two consecutive possessions. Play the odds. If a team can't overcome a 7-0 deficit, they have other issues to address.

Couldn't agree more.

Aaron from Scottsdale, AZ

I think James from Appleton, WI, was more focused on fans' psyches. Stress is a killer.

Fair enough, but I've learned over the years you have to embrace crunch time, not dread it. That's when you find out a lot about a team.

Don from West Chester, PA

Have the Packers ever scored 40-plus points in three consecutive regular-season games? What is the record for 40-plus points scored in a season? Keeping my fingers crossed that 2020 will be a year of new individual and team records! Keep up the great work!

I'm not touting my quick research as gospel, but I did not find any time the Packers have scored 40-plus in three straight games except for the inaugural 1919 season, when they did so in eight of their first nine games. Some of the better three-game stretches I found were in '61 (45-49-33 for 127), 2011 (45-45-35 for 125) and '14 (55-53-24 for 132).

Agrim from Sahkopee, MN

If New Orleans is one of your least favorite places to cover, what is your favorite (obviously putting aside Green Bay)?

Like Wes, I will not miss the three-day headache and ear ringing that's part and parcel of covering a night game in the Superdome. As far as places we don't travel to regularly that I enjoy, Philadelphia ranks up there. Those fans bring an atmosphere to that place that's hard to describe, but you can feel it, yet the enclosed press box makes the noise level tolerable to work the game.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

Based on snap counts, Allen Lazard would be our No. 2 receiver, but I'm wondering if that's how other teams are playing us. Have you been able to tell if other teams view Lazard or Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the No. 2 guy?

I'm not sure defenses look at it that way. I think they have to decide how they want to match up with the more physical receiver (Lazard) vs. the speed guy (MVS), and they go from there. It can also depend on an opponent's plan for Davante Adams. Some will shadow him with their No. 1 guy. Others will use the No. 1 guy elsewhere and keep a safety shaded to Adams' side all the time. Yet another way it's a week-to-week league.

Wesley from Kellogg, IA

Listening to Aaron Jones mic'd up made me proud to be a Packer fan. No wonder my mother likes him.

He's a treat.

Richard from Menasha, WI

Do you have any idea who won the Minnesota hotel cornhole tournament? My guess is David Bakhtiari because beer chugging and cornhole go hand in hand.

I'm not privy to the results, but my guess is if the players took to the event, there are more hotel competitions to come.

Paul from London, England

Lifted from another piece: "These factors all make it feel like the Packers' 13-3 record in 2019 was less of a fluke than it might have seemed." Both you guys have been banging this drum and yes, we're only two games into this strange season, but perhaps the "lightbulbs" are starting to come on in other people's minds? If we go 3-0 this weekend I expect the street lights to start coming on as well!

The Packers and Aaron Rodgers can't ask for a better opportunity to get the Saints and Brees in that building. No fans, Thomas might not play or be less than 100%, the offense as hot as it's ever been to start a season, the Saints on a short week off a West Coast trip … it's gotta be now.

Brian from Eau Claire, WI

What is the best record for a starting head coach for the Green Bay Packers in the first two seasons?

McCarthy, 21-11 (22-12 including playoffs).

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

There have been several mentions of the continued use of times on O when the play clock runs down. The most noteworthy instance from this past week was when the TO came from the sideline. Rodgers and ML are still growing in their partnership and learning about each other. I would hope that ML just learned that he should leave the play clock TOs to ARod since he always seems to be aware of the time left. ML's TO nullified a quick-hitter and angered his QB.

LaFleur admitted that Rodgers made a check to get the offense into a good play against the defensive look, but LaFleur didn't think he had the time on the play clock to accomplish that. You're exactly right, the partnership continues to grow.

Matt from Bozeman, MT

Although the offense has looked great and the defense good at times, would you say the special teams, particularly JK Scott, have held their own over there when they've been on the field those few times? Hey thanks.

Scott has punted four times, all four have been inside the 20 with no touchbacks, and the opponents have zero punt return yards. Anyone would take that.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

I thought Larry's pinkie was bad, but then I saw Brian Baldinger's in the Za'Darius Smith film session video. Yikes! That finger bent at 90 degrees must be a badge of honor for retired linemen.

Indubitably.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

Which Packer do you think has shown the most improvement since last season?

The easy answer is Rashan Gary. The less obvious answer is Kevin King. He doesn't have any picks yet, but so far he's been more consistent.

Jeff from Ely, MN

II-some: My heart goes out to Lane Taylor. To fight his way back after a tough injury in 2019 and earn a spot on the 2020 starting line. Then to go down to another difficult injury and be placed on IR. I feel for the guy. Can you recall other previous Packers who have made comebacks after two major injuries? I can think of many who have come back from one season-ending injury, but two?

Bryan Bulaga came back from three – a hip in '12 and ACLs in '13 and '17.

Michael from Portland, OR

Without fans the home team is 19-13 though two weeks. I know it's a small sample size, but how does this compare to the "norm"?

That's 59% for the home team. I randomly found a couple of statistics to compare. From 2002-14, the home team won 57% of the time in the NFL. Last year, it fell to 52%, lowest since 1972. So take all that for what it's worth. For me, it's not about the league-wide numbers. As the season unfolds, it'll be about the specific places known to be unbearably loud – Seattle, Minnesota, New Orleans – and how a lack of fans impacts those teams.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Most notable this year is how the offense is starting slower in the first quarter and building up consistent production as the game goes on. I compare this to last year when we would have explosive first quarters and then long droughts of ineffectiveness that would leave the defense on the field for long periods of time. The complementary football still holds true.

Always will.

Megan from Quincy, IL

I would much rather have football played in an empty stadium than no football at all, but seeing an empty Lambeau Field on Sunday was very sad. I really hope that before the season ends that we can see players leaping into stands with at least a few fans.

We'd all love to see that, but given how the last six months have gone in this country, I'm content and grateful at the moment for what we get. Happy Friday.

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