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Inbox: It's the next man up, but he isn't walking alone

This is Jordan Love’s chance to prove he can excel at the game’s highest level

QB Jordan Love

Craig from Elkton, MD

Good morning Insiders. Usually, I think you guys have the coolest jobs on the planet but I wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole today. I wish you the best of luck helping Packers Nation understand that "next man up" applies to every position on the field. Even MVP quarterback. I would like to have your job on Monday when it's time to dissect Jordan Love's win over the Chiefs. I guess every job has its ups and downs.

The day unfolded differently than I expected while gleefully walking into the building with a large coffee and my bowl of oatmeal at 8 a.m. Like I'm sure many of you, I was caught somewhat off-guard by all of it and still am processing everything as I sit down to write the column. It's another unexpected twist in a season of surprises.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

And here I thought playing Arizona without the top three receivers was the coaching challenge of the year...

With a sixth-month season, the challenges are infinite.

Geoff from Omaha, NE

Good morning (and good luck). Do you think Aaron Rodgers' previous comment about being "immunized" was disingenuous? Given said statement was made in response to a question from the media, do you feel different than ML who said that question was better reserved for Rodgers?

I completely agree with LaFleur. I know Wednesday's developments drew a wide array of emotions from Packers fans. As much as I'd love to help bring clarity to the situation, these are questions better suited for Rodgers to address than for me to speculate on during these complicated times. With patience, I believe you'll get the answers you seek – just like you did last summer. But until then, the Packers have a game to plan for, and Matt LaFleur and his staff are tasked with preparing a talented, albeit inexperienced, quarterback for his first NFL start.

Hap from Graham, WA

Good morning, Wes: Is the glass half-empty or half-full? While nobody is happy about Rodgers to the reserve/COVID-19 list, this is an outstanding chance for JL to show the talent Brian Gutekunst, the front office and scouting department noticed when they moved up to select him. Actually, I am excited about the KC game and would not be surprised if JL lit up Arrowhead. I see the glass as half-full. GPG.

This is the moment we've all been waiting for, right? I mean, I didn't expect it to be under these circumstances but the No. 2 QB is always one play away. Love came such a long way during his first full offseason in Green Bay, and the accuracy of his throws and his command of the huddle grew substantially this summer. The arm talent and the tangibles were apparent from Day 1, but he now appears more comfortable in the fire. He played with so much more confidence, especially with how he delivered the football. Now, the Packers need him to do it when everything matters.

Nate from New Lisbon, WI

I'm getting some "Packers vs. Cowboys, 2007" vibes, except this time Favre isn't starting the game. Let's watch the future unfold.

It's a litmus test, that's for sure. I think that Dallas game opened the eyes of Packers fans, and maybe the team itself, to Rodgers' ability. Now, this is Love's chance to prove he can excel at the game's highest level against a formidable opponent coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.

Harry from Bessemer, MI

With Rodgers and Kurt Benkert on the COVID-19 list, what will Love have to do to keep the ball moving forward?

Just trust his training. Love has a talented offense around him and a creative coaching staff that'll be building a game plan tailored to his strengths. It's the next man up, but he isn't walking alone.

Stuart from Chesterfield, UK

Wes, I trained as a professional actor and once had to understudy on a national stage tour. While I was excited to step up, it was tough to control the pre-show nerves. It took the support of my colleagues to settle me. In your opinion, who in the locker room is going to put an arm around Jordan Love's shoulder before he steps onto the turf? I hope he knows we've all got his back on Sunday!

I expect it'll be every coach, player and personnel member in the building – from Love's childhood friend Krys Barnes to team leaders such as David Bakhtiari, Marcedes Lewis and Aaron Jones. The guy has attacked it the right way from Day 1. He's done everything to be ready to lead this football team.

David from Florence, AZ

I'm sure the playbook will be pared down for Love on Sunday. Do you think we might see any flashes of brilliance? I would be happy with no turnovers and no long-yardage sacks. Your thoughts?

June 9, 2021. That date will forever be etched in my mind if Love becomes an elite NFL quarterback because it was that minicamp practice where he took over and became the best player on the field. If that Love shows up Sunday, I think Packers fans will be impressed by what they see.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, usually no math is allowed in the Inbox. However, is missing AR in the Kansas City game <. >, or = to three receivers, two top cornerbacks, an All-Pro left tackle, an All-Pro pass rusher, the starting center and the defensive coordinator who were missing in the Arizona game?

It's a good question, Lori. What the Packers did against Arizona was one of the more impressive feats I've witnessed considering the Cardinals' 7-0 record coming into the game. If Love picks up his first NFL win in Kansas City on Sunday, however, I'd probably have to move this one past that in the hierarchy of victories because of how heavily the quarterback position – and the way Rodgers plays it – impacts the game.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

We're just never going to get a Rodgers-Mahomes matchup, are we?

Never say never.

Katherine from Milwaukee, WI

Will the defense step up this week without A-Rod under center?

Yeah, the job doesn't get any easier for the defense this week having to contend with Patrick Mahomes and a dangerous Kansas City offense. But even with Love standing in at QB, the Packers' defense must continue doing what it's done all season – stick to its assignments, play fundamentally sound football and make plays when opportunities are presented. That's how the unit has reached this point despite being deluged with injuries.

Brad from Nampa, ID

Good morning II, with both AR 12 and Benkert out for this week, if the Packers don't pick up another QB, does that mean Randall Cobb will be the backup Sunday? The Packers must have a "next man up" mentality regardless who goes down. Do you believe in this team to adapt and overcome? I sure do.

The Packers are picking up another quarterback. We'll likely have more on that later today.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Earlier in the season, tight ends were having a lot of success against us. Lately, we have played them better. Have you noticed any changes to defensive scheme or is it just guys doing a better job winning the one on ones? The matchup against Travis Kelce this week will matter.

The defense has just played better. Plus, the Packers can go a variety of different directions against tight ends with Chandon Sullivan, De'Vondre Campbell and even safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage able to cover them in the middle of the field. As you said, Kelce presents unique challenges that defy his position. The Packers need to keep a hat on him and Tyreek Hill at all times.

George from North Mankato, MN

With limited film on Jordan Love and enough time to change the game plan, I expect ML to have the team ready to go. Could this be a benefit to the Packers?

That's one way to look at it. The Packers have four days to make turkey soup out of gizzards. To your point, LaFleur and his staff have proven to be creative and malleable with their "emergency" plans over the past two years.

Robert from Verona, WI

Losing Robert Tonyan is certainly a gut punch, but I'm excited to see what Josiah Deguara can do in an expanded role. He started Week 1 last year as a rookie despite the pandemic-induced training camp challenges, which is certainly an indicator of how the coaching staff feels about him. Aside from some of the challenges Deguara's had staying healthy, how does he compare to Tonyan's physical skill set and football acumen?

This is huge for Deguara. The tight end position requires so much on-the-job training. You saw it with the two years the Packers invested into developing Tonyan. It's the same position Deguara is in today. We've talked a lot about Deguara's versatility but don't forget he's still a tight end by trade. This is his chance to show what he can do.

Clyde from Iron Mountain, MI

Are the rest of the QBs considered close contacts with AR? Why or why not?

Vaccinated players, who are deemed "close contacts," can remain with the team so long as they continue to test negative.

Mike from Austin, TX

G'morning! To break up the surfeit of questions on a certain topic, here is something a bit different. With the recent elevation of Steven Wirtel as our rostered LS, how many different snappers and holders has Mason Crosby now outlasted? Serenity now.

I'm not going to get into the holders right now but Crosby's long snappers have included Rob Davis, J.J. Jansen, Brett Goode, Rick Lovato, Taybor Pepper, Hunter Bradley, Zach Triner and now Wirtel. At least, Wirtel and Corey Bojorquez have some experience working together beyond the eight weeks Wirtel has spent on the practice squad.

Rick from Bluffton, SC

So, what's the impact of the trade deadline? The only means that teams can't actually trade a player for a draft choice or swap players. We're still able to add to our roster by using other means.

The only big change is every player, whether it's a vested veteran or rookie, is now subject to waivers. The Packers have done well during this "second" season, picking up Jared Veldheer and Tyler Ervin in recent years.

Dale from Port Washington, WI

So, did the odds for the Big Giraffe, MVS and others being activated for this weekend go up or down?

Honestly, it's probably the same but certainly it's a good sign both Bakhtiari and MVS continue to practice without interruption.

Robin from Flagstaff, AZ

So, the Rams essentially traded draft picks for cash? Has there been a time or will there be when teams do this without attaching a player?

No. The closest the NFL came to that was when the Houston Texans shipped Brock Osweiler to Cleveland with a second-round pick to rid themselves of his guaranteed contract.

Douglas from Union Grove, WI

The NFL only needs to give one week's notice to flex the final game of the year. I would suspect the odds are greater that the Packers' final game will be canceled, rather than flexed.

That's for the networks to worry about. The Packers just need to keep winning. Like Spoff said, a first-round bye would go a long for the Packers – not only because of how banged up they've been but also the opportunity to potentially have two breaks over six weeks.

John from Stevens Point, WI

It's still very early in the playoff race, but who do you see as the top four teams in each conference?

The Packers, Cardinals, Rams and Bucs, though Dallas is going to be in this thing for the long haul with the schedule the Cowboys have in front of them. In the AFC, I'd go with Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Kansas City.

Nathan from Manitowoc, WI

How many times in a year can you be activated from the practice squad?

Players can be elevated from the practice squad to the 48-player gameday roster twice during a season, but also can gain additional eligibility as a COVID-19 replacement.

Randy from Freedom, WI

Now that we're about halfway through the season are you glad you got one more regular-season game or would you have preferred the four preseason games to evaluate talent?


Bob from Rome, NY

Gentlemen: And you honestly thought you were settling into some place called normalcy? Never a dull moment!

Yeah, my words came back to bite me there.

Donna from Darien, WI

Now I guess we'll find out how gritty this team really is.

That we will. Sometimes, adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful, right? The Packers have walked through those flames all season. Sunday is the next step towards hopefully achieving greatness in spite of it all.


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