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Inbox: It's time to let it fly

There are two sides to every coin in the NFL


Ken from Fitchburg, WI

I just want to tell Wes what a fantastic job he did on the fan Q&A on the roster. It is rare that you see someone answer so fluidly, intelligently and insightfully when he is essentially operating on the fly. Well done!

Thank you, Ken. It's not easy doing those things solo, but I felt I owed it to those asking me questions throughout cut-down day. The extrovert in me doesn't like silence, so hopefully I didn't blabber too much and you guys gained something from it. Good morning!

Christopher from Columbus, WI

Is Bryan Bulaga ready for Khalil Mack? This will be a good game. Did the NFL scheduler know Mack was going to the Bears?

Or is the question is Mack ready for Bulaga? In 2015, Bulaga held the league's sack leader in check after Mack had just racked up nine sacks in the three games leading into that Week 15 contest in Oakland. It's a test, but Bulaga will be ready. He's been building to this moment.

Randy from Mukwonago, WI

How much of an impact do you see Khalil Mack having in the opener after having missed training camp and starting with a new team? There's gotta be a bit of a learning curve.

I remember Ahmad Brooks saying last year when he signed that he didn't anticipate a big learning curve because rushing is rushing at the end of the day. However, I think there is bit more to it than that. I'm sure Vic Fangio will try to put Mack in advantageous situations, but I'll be curious how much he plays.

Randy from Raymond, IA

I admittedly was one hoping for a Mack signing. But after listening to Brian Gutekunst's press conference Sunday, I'm kind of glad we didn't. Most fans (myself included) have no clue how difficult it is to fit everyone under the cap and still field a competitive team. How could we afforded to have the best offensive player and one of the best defensive players on the same team? I have faith that our GM and staff know what they are doing.

As I've been saying all along, this wasn't just about what it was going to take to acquire Mack in a trade. It's also what it costs to keep him long-term.

Matt from Waterford, WI

Where's the hole in my logic? Everyone's up in arms that the Packers face Mack twice a year. I only respond with, "He has to face Rodgers twice a year."

There are two sides to every coin in the NFL. I also am old enough to remember when Doomsday hit with Jared Allen going to the Vikings in 2008 and the Bears signing Julius Peppers in 2010. The Packers will adjust accordingly.

Joe from Las Vegas, NV

It's not a Toomer! I'll see myself out.

Go. Just leave. No. Don't turn around. Out. Get out.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

How speedy is Korey Toomer?

He was speedy coming out of Idaho in 2012. I think he ran like a 4.53-second time in the 40 at his pro day. It's obviously six years later, but Toomer had a solid two-year run with the Chargers after having to take the long road to an NFL roster.

The Packers were back at practice for the regular season Monday afternoon inside the Don Hutson Center.

Mitchell from Waukesha, WI

In the last column someone said Randall Cobb should take some more punt/kick returns; I think if anyone would be a good second option to Trevor Davis, it would be Davante Adams. He is so agile and is known for juking out defenses. What do you think?

Maybe in a pinch, but Adams is too valuable on offense to expose him to special teams in my opinion. I'd send everyone maybe outside of Aaron Rodgers back there before Adams, especially having just signed that extension to be the Packers' No. 1 wideout.

Chad from La Crosse, WI

You really have to love Gutekunst's professionalism. The way he listens to questions and gives insightful answers without giving too much information. How refreshing is it to work with professionals like MM and AR who rarely act abusive to the media?

Gutekunst has handled the media responsibilities of his new position extremely well. You don't have to give away all your secrets at the podium, but it is important in today's NFL to be a voice for your organization because that's the message you are sending to your fan base. He stepped up and addressed the media after the team released Jordy Nelson earlier this year and did it again Sunday after what I have to believe was a gut-wrenching weekend. Kudos to BG.

Bret from Port Angeles, WA

Too bad Jake Kumerow is on IR. I was looking forward to the new eight-receiver formation to take the league by storm.

Put a pin in that idea for a couple months.

Zach from Fort Wayne, IN

Ecstatic that Robert Tonyan made the cut. I've been watching him since his time at Indiana State and I know what he can be capable of. With Jimmy Graham there to mentor him, he could be a great TE for years to come. Also, I believe Kendall Donnerson not being claimed by anyone else is a BIG win.

Tonyan played himself onto this roster – both in the preseason and in practice. As I told Spoff on Monday's "Unscripted," I don't think you could ask for a better group of tight ends to learn from in Graham (pass-catching), Marcedes Lewis (blocking) and Lance Kendricks (H-back). Plus, Tonyan can continue to grow at a comfortable pace. I've liked Donnerson from the start. The practice squad is a good place to develop his natural ability.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

Would you agree that the Bears have a three-year window to win? No first-round picks in the next two drafts, cap space tied up in Mack, and Mitchell Trubisky will be due a QB-sized extension, if he shows promise, in three years.

On paper, yes, but we don't know what the salary cap will look like three years from now. It appears Chicago opted for a win-now mindset with Trubisky in just his second NFL season and it makes sense. Ryan Pace probably needed to do something bold in Year 4. This certainly qualifies.

Steve from Chesterfield, VA

Big shout-out to Alex Light for making the 53-man roster. There are not many Richmond Spiders in the NFL. What can you tell us about the rookie lineman?

I don't know if Light took a single second-team rep in camp, but the Packers liked what he did with the No. 3 offense enough to keep him on the 53. He's a good reminder to any undrafted rookie that there's more to making a roster than what the depth chart reads. Great story.

John from Richfield, WI

I was somewhat surprised Vince Biegel was cut and even more surprised he didn't get signed to the practice squad (or any practice squad). Is there a reason for that?

Biegel joined the Saints' practice squad.

Noel from Norwalk, CA

With the cut down to 53 showing signs of change, and the practice squad still evolving, I am curious. When a player doesn't make the initial 53, what factors drive a player to sign to the PS, instead of accepting an offer to play elsewhere? I get it they want to play, but how much does playing for an organization factor? Thanks guys! I'm beginning to acquire a taste for your column. Keep up the great work!

It depends on the player and the agent. I know Reggie Gilbert considered signing elsewhere after the Packers cut him last year, but he and his representation agreed Green Bay was his best opportunity. These guys put in so many hours learning a system. In my experience, it's better to stay put in hopes of a call-up than starting over somewhere else during Week 1 of the regular season.

Mike from New York, NY

Daily reader. Keep up the great work! What is the reason behind the exclusion of veterans from the practice squad? Seems unfair to keep them from having a spot, but I'm sure there is a method to the madness.

It's intended to develop young players. It's actually come a long way in the last four years with the addition of veteran exemptions (players with up to two accrued seasons). Prior to that, any player who was on an active roster for more than nine games in a single season wasn't eligible for the practice squad. I think it would be beneficial if the league allowed anyone who isn't a vested veteran (four NFL seasons) on the PS, but you take what you can get.

Andrew from Breckenridge, MN

How does a contract look for a guy like Reggie Gilbert? He was undrafted and spent two seasons on the practice squad. How many more years do we have him under contract before he becomes a RFA or UFA?

Gilbert remains a first-year player because he was only on the active roster for two games last year and years spent on the practice squad don't count toward accrued seasons. So the Packers hold Gilbert's rights for the next three seasons until he becomes a restricted free agent. Regardless, he's a young, hungry player who's excited to have a role in this defense. He's put in a lot of work to get to this point. It's time to let it fly.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

If the Rams were to win the Super Bowl this year and the Bears were to win it next year, do you think that makes the mortgages they've both taken on worth it?

If they win, yes. But all of those acquisitions don't guarantee a Super Bowl, either.

Jon from Winona, MN

What do you make of the Tony Brown pick-up? I remember one Deion Sanders being very impressed with him coming out of Alabama.

Great pick-up. Brown was the No. 2-rated cornerback in the nation when he committed to Alabama in 2014. He ran a 4.35-second time in the 40 and could have a direct path to the roster if he lives up to his reputation on special teams. Good prospect for the practice squad.

Tom from Riverside, CA

Insiders, if my count is correct, the current roster has 31 players who were on the active roster or practice squad last season. Twenty-two new faces is sizable turnover. Unusually high, or just about typical?

It's a little more turnover than usual. I think last year the breakdown was like 35 returning players and 18 new.

Dakota from Randolph, UT

Let's talk about Kyler Fackrell for a bit. He made the 53 but how has this offseason been for him? How big of an impact do you see him having in his third season? Seems like he needs just one more step to go from good to great. Hopefully that will be this year.

Fans get fixated on Fackrell because he was a third-round pick, but the guy has been fine. He's smart, accountable and contributes on special teams. The coaches think highly of him. Now, they need him to take another step in Year 3.

Scott from Salem, OR

Is there any difference between being placed on injured reserve as Jake Ryan was and being placed on injured reserve as Mays, Murphy and Rollins were?

Since Ryan's was a season-ending injury, the Packers placed him directly on IR. By waiving players injured as a precursor to IR, the team and player/agent have the option the work out an injury settlement. Another difference is with Jake Kumerow being placed on IR Monday. By keeping Kumerow through the cut to 53, that keeps him eligible to be one of two players designated to return later this season.

Stefan from Walenstadt, Switzerland

You said before that to be brought back from IR someone has to be on the 53 at a certain point. Does this mean that Kyle Murphy will not play this season or is there a possibility?

Teams are permitted to reach an injury settlement with a player, effectively releasing him, and then re-sign him later that season. Green Bay did that last year with Brett Goode. However, there is a catch. In order to do that, the team must wait (I believe) six weeks after the settlement ends before it's allowed to re-sign the player.

Lloyd from Turnhout, Belgium

It really surprised me to see Aaron Ripkowski getting released. Although last year wasn't as productive for him, I always viewed him as a nice battering ram for our run game and extra protector for Rodgers. Does this mean the team is moving away from using fullbacks?

The Packers kept Joe Kerridge on their practice squad, so the position obviously remains in the playbook. Green Bay views fullback and tight end through a similar lens. The hope is Lance Kendricks and Tonyan can hold down those "H-back" duties for now, along with their potential contributions on special teams.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Gute classified Oren Burks as "day-to-day." The Chicago game is on a day. So you're tellin' me there's a chance!

Burks appeared to be in the rehab group during Monday's practice. We'll see what the first injury report of the week looks like Wednesday.

Karl from Fort Collins, CO

Do the guys on IR, such as Devante Mays, stay in GB and have contact with the team? Can they attend team meetings? How much contact do they have with the team during the season?

It's up to the player, but IR players are allowed to use the team facilities and attend meetings. I think Herb Waters did that for most of last season after he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in training camp.

Ed from Fort Bragg, CA

Do we know how much practice-squad players are paid and is that figure uniform or are there variations?

There is no maximum to how much a team may pay a practice-squad player, but the disclosed minimum for 2018 is $7,600/week, per the collective bargaining agreement.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Did Mike have to work on Labor Day or choose to?

As John Rooney once told Michael Sullivan, "This is the life we chose. The life we lead and there is only one guarantee – none of us will see (Labor Day)."

Charlie from Eden Prairie, MN

I would totally buy a "Keep calm and Inbox on" shirt.

I really need to start my own Etsy page, with shirts, stitched pillows, welcome mats and other assorted Inbox items.