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Inbox: It's a chess match played at full speed

A productive run game trickles down to the rest of the offense

Raiders WR Davante Adams
Raiders WR Davante Adams

Eric from York, PA

Just watched David Bakhtiari's locker room interview. While I hope Bak has successful surgery and comes back, I got the feeling of a man realizing his mortality that all athletes eventually reach. He wants to be able to function later in life and I applaud him for that. He will give his all in his rehab in an effort to play again, and I applaud that. He has had a great career with the Pack, but I am afraid we've seen Bak take his last snap as a Packer.

Those are discussions for another day. I'm just disappointed for Dave. He's been through a lot the past three years while doing everything he can to get the train back on the tracks. It just hasn't happened. I know fans are frustrated. I get it. But this is a human game played by actual humans. We can't lose sight of that. On the field, the Packers will persevere and move forward. On a personal level, I'm just hoping for the best for Bakhtiari and what likely will be a grueling rehabilitation for the five-time All-Pro tackle.

Mark from Westminster, CO

Well, hate to see it, but at least the team can focus on the long-term plan at LT now that Bakhtiari is out for the season.

It does bring some clarity to the Packers. It's not easy for the team or the player when there's so much week-to-week uncertainty. If Elgton Jenkins can get through tonight, Green Bay can start to solidify its "best five" and build around that nucleus.

Rose from Fitchburg, WI

Good morning, II. Couple questions lately about moving Elgton Jenkins to tackle. I want Jenkins to stay healthy. Does it lessen the risk of injury if a player plays at their more "natural" position?

Perhaps, but football is such a physical sport and ACL injuries occur everywhere. Moving Jenkins back to guard was more about comfortability and allowing him to settle back into the position where he's now been twice selected to the Pro Bowl. If Jenkins needed to move to tackle, I wouldn't have any more injury concern for him there than at guard.

Beeks from Kronenwetter, WI

Where would you rank Bakhtiari's injury on a list of most impactful injuries in the history of the franchise? In my opinion, if Dave never gets hurt, the Packers make it to at least one more Super Bowl. Nick Collins and Sterling Sharpe are some other ones that come to mind, but I'm curious what you think. More than anything, I feel for Dave and hope he can put this behind him and continue doing what he loves at a high level (hopefully for the Packers).

It's up there because of the 2020 squad's limitless potential if Bakhtiari stays healthy. He was the best left tackle in the game that season and the Packers still came within one score of beating the eventual Super Bowl champion in the NFC title game. Ifs and buts, but that's one moment I'll probably keep replaying in my mind until the day I leave this earth.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

I'm hoping the Packers will minimize their offensive adjustments against the Raiders' defense. The Packers should do well if they use Aaron Jones early and often throughout the game. That was certainly not the case at home against the Lions. After a few unsuccessful plays, Coach LaFleur has an unfortunate tendency to throw out the baby with the bath water. Go Pack.

It's not all on the play-caller. There are other elements in play. I agree with your initial assessment, though. If Aaron Jones is good to go tonight, the Packers need to get the ball in his hands. Gain two yards? Fine. Feed him again – run, pass, pitch, end-around, whatever. The best 15 minutes of football the Packers have played all season came when Jones was tearing up Chicago's defense. That wasn't a coincidence.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

Establishing the run or stopping the run? They both are obviously important, but which is necessary in the game versus the Raiders?

Establish the run. Because it has such a huge effect on the rest of the offense. Jordan Love has made some spectacular plays in each of the last two second halves, but that isn't a recipe for sustainable success. A productive run game trickles down to the rest of the offense. Getting the ground game going against the Raiders moves the team closer to getting back to what it is fundamentally. It's important to shut down Josh Jacobs tonight, but the Packers also must deal with Davante Adams and the passing game.

Erik from Mansfield, TX

I get the impression from the interview with Davante that he's excited for the test of going against Jaire Alexander again. He seems like the kind of competitor who always wants to test himself against the best opponent, at their best ability. The mutual respect between the two in their respective interviews was impressive.

I enjoyed covering Alexander covering Adams every summer. It's a chess match played at full speed. If Alexander broke up a pass, Adams wanted to break a big play on the next snap and vice versa. I'm sending positive vibes to Jaire's back and Davante's shoulder. If Alexander and Adams are both good to go, my eyes will be glued to that side of the field whenever they're matched up.

Walt from Toms River, NJ

With the possibility of Eric Stokes coming back sometime within the next few weeks, have you any insight as to where he might line up? Last year after he was pulled, and he was placed at slot, he did a good job and was aggressive. Do you think he will be moved to the slot or slide outside? Difficult choice for the coaches.

Stokes will play wherever the Packers want whether it's perimeter, nickel, or dime. He fully admits he's missed a lot of time and needs to take advantage of his next opportunity. I am intrigued at the thought of using Stokes inside in the dime. The Packers don't play six DBs often, but that's one way to get their "Best 11" on the field. We'll see what happens, though. These things often have a way of working themselves out.

Scott from Salem, OR

Stokes is still listed as "physically unable to perform" on the official team roster. Is it normal that he would be listed in the injury report?

That's a rule change the NFL made this year. In the past, teams weren't obligated to report practice participation or game statuses on players eligible to come off injured reserve or physically unable to perform. Since a player can be activated at any point in that window, it makes sense for greater transparency. Otherwise, there's an advantage to not volunteering that information to the opponent.

TK from Grafton, WI

I know Gutey is big on RAS, but, with all due respect, is there a numeric way to reflect tackling ability?

Oh, I'm sure the personnel department has that data, too.

Donna from Oak Creek, WI

Which Carlson brother do you think will win the kicking battle on Monday?

Nils. He gets to sit back and watch. What an amazing experience for Daniel, Anders, and the entire Carlson family*. They'll talk about this day for the rest of their lives.*

Dave from Waterford, OH

I was at Lambeau for that 1999 Bears game (my first Packers game), the "Hand of Walter" game. We had signs commenting on Walter Payton, as did many of us Packers fans. I was interviewed by a female reporter from a Chicago TV station because she liked/noticed our Payton sign. He was loved and respected by Packers fans. I still feel he was the greatest all-around running back ever. I was in the fourth row behind the Packers' bench on that end of the field, so I had (Mike's) same vantage point on that final-play failed FG.

The memories make us rich and sometimes are more meaningful than the final on the scoreboard.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. What last-minute advice would you give Jordan Love before his first MNF start with a national TV audience on the road? Thanks.

"Don't seek advice from the senior writer." In all seriousness, Love will be fine. He's built for the primetime lights.

Jim from Westland, MI

Good morning. As Ja has said, the season is a marathon not a sprint. The Lions hammered the Packers last week Thursday, but their injury report posted two players out, two doubtful and eight questionable for this weekend. They certainly won but paid a price.

Perhaps they did, but it sure didn't look like it affected them much Sunday. Jared Goff and David Montgomery are on a tear right now.

Vince from Auburn, WA

I love how you both talk about and explain the importance of complementary football. The Lions did an outstanding job of that against the Panthers. Their defense is making plays and putting the offense in positive situations while their offense is keeping defenses on their toes with a variety of ways they can attack you. Would you agree the Lions and 49ers are currently playing the best complementary football in the NFC?

I would. The Lions have gone from a pushover to the team doing the shoving. You gotta keep doing it consistently but Detroit is off to a good start. And San Francisco has been so darn consistent under Kyle Shanahan. Rain or shine, healthy or injured, the 49ers always come to play. They have a lot of talent this year, as well.

Richard from Madison, WI

When coaches calling in plays from the sidelines use their laminated play sheets to cover their mouths, are they concerned about lip-readers from the other side or just cutting down on the amount of crowd noise possibly garbling what they're trying to say?

All of the above…It also looks cooler.

Ryan from Sun Prairie, WI

I know the players can't step foot in the casinos, what about the team writers?

No, sir. Not even gonna joke about it.

Bil from Stateline, NV

If you like defense and didn't get to experience the Packers-Bears rivalry when Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke were on the field, then you missed some smashmouth football with both men trying to slobber knocker the other team's players to the sideline. Neither man could play in today's NFL, they'd be ejected every game. By comparison, the game today is tame. I wish I could make the trip to Vegas to meet you guys. Unfortunately, it is an eight-hour drive each way and I have an early morning commitment on Monday (work, work, work!) Have a great trip and enjoy the game. GPG, beat the Raiders!

Thank you, Bil. I already was familiar with Butkus but re-watching his highlights the past few days was a real treat. Yes, he made some huge hits but also was a natural entertainer. Butkus handing the ball to the defender after his touchdown on a Bears botched field goal is one of the funniest things I've ever seen in the context of a football game. I think I mentioned this after Luke was hired here in 2019, but I also was a huge fan of "Hang Time."

Bob from Bement, IL

Ever see this? Classic. Nitschke and Butkus together in an Oldsmobile commercial, maybe the only time?

Haha, I had not. A true classic, indeed.

Bob from Myrtle Beach, SC

Growing up in Connecticut, I started being a Packer fan when I was 7 in 1961. I now live in SC. The Carolina Panthers started, and people started asking me if I was going to switch teams. My reply was, I have rooted for GB for almost 30 losing seasons; why would I change now? Do you think some fans aren't ready for the real NFL world, post Favre and Rodgers? Constantly picking in the mid to late 20s of the draft will catch up with you eventually.

I don't fault anybody for cheering for the new team in town, but that franchise was late to the party. You should be allowed to cheer for whichever team you've already cheered for. Just because they built a Wal-Mart Supercenter down the block doesn't mean you can't still buy groceries at the mom-and-pop shop you've supported for the past 60 years.

Scott from St. Cloud, FL

"You can't eat an elephant in one bite." When adversity comes knocking this season, I shall defer to those wiser than I.

I remember the first time I ever heard that phrase. It was 2008 and longtime Ashwaubenon wrestling coach Jody Van Laanen uttered it after his Jaguars upset Wisconsin Rapids to advance to WIAA team state for the first time. That line has stuck with me ever since.

Lydia from Edgerton, WI

What is your favorite part about working for the Packers? What is the hardest part?

Getting to see places in this beautiful country I wouldn't have otherwise seen. The most difficult part is the kiddo not wanting me to go. Those moments are hard for me.

Vic from Livingston, TX

Speaking of forces beyond our control...I took a stadium tour before the Detroit game and when our group exited the elevators to where most of the offices are located, I asked our tour guide where Wes's and Mike's were. He said, "Who?" I said, "The Insider Inbox guys." He says, "Oh, probably in editing somewhere." I was going to take a picture and everything. You guys just don't get the respect you deserve. Just sayin'.

Unacceptable. On your next tour, you should ask for my Uncle Mike. He'll show you what's up.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Inconsistency remains the constant for the Packers

The defense looks to reset and rebound

On offense, weapons return and look closer to full strength

Control the line of scrimmage and avoid self-inflicted wounds a must

Adams vs. Alexander in primetime for all to see

For years a legendary matchup seen only by a select few

Now all can witness

Stay focused and stay the course, Green and Gold

Get a win, then get some rest. Enjoy the game, everyone.

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