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Inbox: It's valuable any way you slice it

Kenny Clark has been making those plays for years

WR Jayden Reed; WR Dontayvion Wicks
WR Jayden Reed; WR Dontayvion Wicks

Pancho from Neshannock, PA

I loved your answer to the question, "Did you ever not recognize a player...?" You said, "I don't know." Broke me up. But I may have been just as delighted with a "Yes" or "No!"

Well, I didn't want to lie about it.

Scott from Palos Park, IL

I know it is way too early to grade the most recent draft. However, do you think it is safe to say that the kids have aced the pop quiz pre-test?

I'll never rush to grade a draft class, but the numbers Tom Fanning and the Elias Sports Bureau have been spitting out about this year's rookies are astounding. According to Elias, the Packers had two players in the first 63 years of their existence register at least 45 receiving yards and 45 rushing yards in the same game (Don Hutson and James Lofton). Christian Watson and Jayden Reed just accomplished that feat in back-to-back seasons. Meanwhile, Reed, Luke Musgrave and Dontayvion Wicks are the first trio in team history to have 20-plus receptions as rookies since Fred Cone, Carl Elliott and Ray Pelfrey did it in 1951. This group is getting better every week and it's making a ton of plays while doing so.

Matt from Madison, WI

I appreciate Mike refusing to take draft questions for the rest of the season. In a similar vein, how valuable (for 2024 and beyond) is it for these young players (especially Jordan Love) to find success and win games down the stretch? I assume this is more valuable than being in the 11-20 spots than the top 10 in the draft.

It's valuable any way you slice it. If the Packers are playing for a spot in the NFC playoffs, then Love and this roster gain the experience of playing must-win games in the NFL. On the other hand, Detroit provides a great example of how important it is for a young team to end its season on a high note regardless of record. I think the Lions would be the first to tell you their 8-2 start this year began with how they finished 2022 and even 2021.

Lori from Broomfield, CO

Are we utilizing middle field passes more than what we've been accustomed to?

I'm not sure what the analytics say, but it sure feels that way with the way Reed, Wicks and Musgrave have been utilized in this offense. That's a threat defenses have to account for.

Don from McFarland, WI

Can't believe this question hasn't been asked … What would have happened if AJ Dillon was hurt in the fourth quarter? What was the Packers' "Plan B"? What is NFL "Plan B"? And has that ever happened, no running back available? Thanks guys, great job!

Probably Reed and a bunch of end-arounds. One thing I hadn't thought about until watching Larry's 1-on-1 with Matt LaFleur after the game was how the Packers also lost Josiah Deguara (hip), who would've been the backup QB protector on third downs if Dillon wasn't available.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

With the Packers losing two running backs in Sunday's game, will they be looking for a trade?

We're past the trading deadline, but Green Bay brought back Patrick Taylor on Monday. The veteran running back was on New England's practice squad, so he's guaranteed three game checks now from the Packers. Taylor has three years of experience in LaFleur's system. Green Bay also re-signed James Robinson to the practice squad for additional depth.

Theresa from Sylvania, OH

A few games ago, my kids nicknamed Kenny Clark "Clark the Shark" because he's lethal when he smells blood. After Sunday's game, I started to think perhaps they're on to something. Is Clark's year really turning out that good? Or are my kids just enthusiastic about the nickname they've created?

Clark has been making those plays for years now. Earlier this season, Clark quietly moved past Cullen Jenkins and Mike Daniels for most sacks (30½) since 1982 by a Packers interior defensive lineman. Clark is all business. If he makes a play, Clark isn't tooting his horn all the way to church. But you know what you're getting with him every time he steps on the field. Obviously, your kids do.

Chris from Voorhout, Netherlands

How big a game is it for Love on Thursday? No. 12 left his mark in Detroit, especially on a Thursday. You will say it is just a part of his development; but this feels like a key part of his progression.

And then I'd argue we're saying the same thing. It's a big test for Love because it's a road game on a short week against the leader in the NFC North. The Packers got the job done at home. Now, can they claim their first road win since the opener in Chicago against one of the best in the NFC.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Wes. A win is a win but still a lot to clean up. Are we in better position today even with the injuries to take on the Lions Thursday? Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

You need a good plan to beat a team like the Lions but there isn't always a lot of rhyme or reason to the outcome of these Thursday games, either. A lot of times it comes down to which team protects the ball better and finishes drives. That's how Detroit outlasted Green Bay in Week 4.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

The Lions rushed for 211 yards on 43 carries for an average of almost five yards a carry earlier this year against the Packers. You don't need a Vince Lombardi on the sideline to know what's coming on Thursday. Do you have any confidence the Packers can stop the run against David Montgomery and company?

I do, but the defense needs to wake up with its, uh – the defense needs to be fired up on Thursday morning. All 11 need to rally to the ball to fill gaps and tackle. Because David Montgomery is still David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs is a much different running back than the one Green Bay saw earlier this season.

Bob from Dundas, MN

A comment, but first I'll quote Wayne Larrivee: "Jordan Love, league leader in completions of 30 yards or more." This is one big indicator of why I think JL's got a bright future in the NFL. In his first season starting, he's not just completing short, dink-and-dunk stuff. He's showing, right now, the ability to throw long.

Downfield accuracy remains an area of growth for Love, but he throws the football with such confidence. That often is half the battle, and it helps on those deep connections with receivers.

Jake from New Richmond, WI

With Green Bay and Detroit playing twice on Thursday this season, that has to be a first in the Thursday Night Football era. This seems like another example of the quirky NFL schedule this year. Why would the NFL make divisional opponents play each other TWICE on short weeks?

That's correct. This is the first time that's ever happened.

Jim from Maple Grove, MN

As far as Dan Campbell is concerned (and our disappointment in his lack of interest in the Texas A&M job), there are some media outlets that would like us to believe that his success lies in his ability to give impassioned locker room speeches. My estimate is that the locker room speech makes up about one percent of it. To what would you attribute the other 99 percent?

I don't know, but there aren't nearly enough people talking about the job Brad Holmes and his personnel department have done in Detroit. This is the most talented team the Lions have had during my 12 years on the beat. Campbell certainly has punched all the right buttons with the roster he's been given, though.

Dan from Richmond, VA

This ongoing rotation at LT and RG has me perplexed, and it appears the same is true for the two of you. Mike commented in Sunday's blog that GB has to determine which men are best for the jobs. But if we haven't figured that out 10 games into the season, perhaps the answer is "neither" and we'll keep "rotisserie-ing" for the rest of the season?

Again, using a rotation of offensive linemen isn't a new concept for LaFleur. The Packers rotated Elgton Jenkins and Lane Taylor at left guard in 2019 before Taylor tore his biceps and missed the rest of the season. I believe Jon Runyan and Lucas Patrick might have done that, too. Green Bay is giving opportunity to all those offensive linemen right now to see who steps up.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Wes, these final seven games will help BG determine what players can be difference-makers, the kind that can win games for you, not just be serviceable. I think Wicks has clearly shown he's a playmaker with potential to be a difference-maker. Doubs, Reed, and JL are there, too. The OL, well, not so much. How do you see it?

The offensive line has played better than it gets credit for. Everyone, including myself, thought David Bakhtiari was going to be Love's left tackle this season. It didn't happen, but the Packers didn't cry in their Cheerios about it. They got back to work. No, it hasn't been perfect, but I suggest watching some of these other O-lines across the NFL this weekend. You might gain a little respect for what Green Bay done with the hand it was dealt.

Steve from Beaver Dam, WI

With Keisean Nixon quickly becoming a key part of the Packers' secondary, when does the injury risk on kickoff returns start to outweigh the potential reward?

Nixon is playing well at a key time for the banged-up secondary, but he's far too valuable to come off kickoff returns with the winds of winter starting to blow. Plus, the No. 2 option is Reed who's currently Green Bay's leading receiver.

Lloyd from Jacksonville, FL

Anthony Johnson Jr. and Anthony Johnson. Huh. When was the last time the Pack rostered two guys with the same name?

Safety Johnathan "Rudy" Ford and defensive lineman Jonathan Ford have the same name other than Rudy having the extra "H" in his birth name.

Josh from Napoleon, OH

Good afternoon II. Like most of the team, Anders Carlson is young and will go through growing pains. It is how he learns and responds to those pains that matter most. My question is, in today's NFL where games so often come down to the last two minutes, would you rather have a field goal kicker who can kick it from 60 yards if needed but not as accurate, or a kicker who is almost automatic from within 50 yards but doesn't have the leg to kick a 60-yarder? Thanks for all you guys do.

I do think Carlson can do both, but I will always take the kicker who's automatic inside 50 than the scattershot. Too many games are won in lost on "mid-range" field goals.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

I'm intrigued with the league going away from the near and over 40-year-old kickers and instead opting for younger booters. It seems like experience and reliability have been kicked to the curb. It's understandable why Mason Crosby is unemployed under these circumstances. I guess 48-year-old George Blanda's record as the oldest kicker is very safe.

It's just a bad time to be an aging kicker in the NFL. Five or 10 years ago, I bet Crosby is kicking right now. After years of kickers playing well into their 40s, the league is now trending young at the position for some reason.

James from Panama City Beach, FL

It's a Victory Monday! On that note, sending out prayers, prayers, prayers for Aaron Jones! Such a class act on and off the field. Now the game – these two defenses mirrored each other giving up big plays and thank goodness the Packers finally got the breaks it needed to win.

True story: Aaron Jones asked me how I was doing in the postgame locker room before I could even ask how he was doing. He is that dude.

Brian from Pleasant Prairie, WI

I probably won't be the only person to ask this. Are you looking forward to watching any other games this holiday weekend? Perhaps one with a certain ex-GB QB starting for the Jets?

I will be tuned into the Jets-Dolphins game on Friday. Hopefully, Tim Boyle balls out. I will never stop pulling for Tim, both the quarterback and the human.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Allen Lazard fought through a PI and still made a completion against Rasul Douglas. A sentence I only thought I would be typing following a session at Nitschke Field. You just never know in the NFL.

If you live long enough, teammates do become rivals. I hear it happens in football, too.

Charles from New Berlin, WI

Hello II, the gold package fans really brought it on a beautiful Sunday! My favorite non-football moment was as the wave was going around and the Packers were about to go on offense the stadium announcer said "The wave now? Really?"

To put on my Lawrence baseball cap for a minute, Sunday's wave was the double to the gap that broke up the no-hitter. It was the only blemish on an otherwise strong day from the gold-package crowd.

David from Riverside, CA

We made a spontaneous decision to buy tickets for the Packers/Chargers game on Sunday, and I am so glad we did. It was a beautiful autumn day, the crowd was energized, and we came away with the W. Lots of great memories from the game, but the funniest thing was when the crowd started doing the wave and the stadium announcer asked over the PA system, "The wave? Really?" I am STILL laughing about that. Such a humorous and effective way to shut it down :)

I laughed way too hard at that. It was a welcome addition to the game presentation.

Check out photos from the Week 11 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Chargers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 19, 2023.