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Inbox: Listen with an open heart

The offensive line is an everyman’s position


Vishnu from Granite Bay, CA

I'm glad Aaron Rodgers is the face of this franchise. What a great ambassador for the game and for the state of Wisconsin.

You know, for as much as pundits try to pick away at Aaron Rodgers' leadership, he always knows what to say and how to say it during moments of true adversity. That's leadership. Football is just a game but the men wearing those uniforms are real human beings, with thoughts, emotions and feelings. This sport is only a small part of who they are. Rodgers is in touch with that and frankly we need to be, as well. The wins and trophies are great, but the yards and the touchdowns will all be forgotten at some point. What we do with our lives while we're here, that's what lasts. That's what generations that follow will remember. We're at a crossroads right now. No doubt about that. There are people who are hurting in this country pleading to have their voices heard. As Rodgers said, we have to listen with an open heart, educate ourselves and ultimately turn thoughts into action.

Norm from Boston, MA

Last weekend I saw a father and son playing catch with a football. There is still hope.

As a wise man once said, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And hope is what I'm clinging to.

Gary from Hayward, WI

How about a 2-5 defensive alignment? Two OLB, one MLB, one hybrid LB/DB, and one hybrid LB/DL. It might allow more short runs but would be able to project force to stop long runs (three LB converging), or to drop back in pass coverage and have big guys to cover TEs. It would be more confusing to pass blockers trying to decide who is coming, and generally more flexible. Not for every situation but another tool in the bag.

The Packers actually used that type of package late last year, using Za'Darius Smith as the hybrid LB/DL you're talking about. If everyone stays healthy, I think Mike Pettine will find ways to get the Smiths and Rashan Gary on the field together.

Dale from Lima, NY

The Packers' four primary backup offensive linemen were each signed by Green Bay as rookie free agents: Alex Light, Yosh Nijman, Lucas Patrick, and Lane Taylor. Is there something about this position group that makes it easier for a UDFA to beat out a drafted player? Or is this just cold, hard math: The OL doesn't have as many substitutions over the course of a game as, say, the you can get away with filling those spots with cheaper players?

If I could put my finger on one thing, I think this position gets more time to develop because of what you outlined. It was a solid three years before Lane Taylor became a starter and Lucas Patrick's development has followed that same path. The more you put in, the more you'll get out. It's an everyman's position. If you're a grinder – mixed with a little nasty – you have a real chance to make it.

Richard from Menasha, WI

Davante Adams is going to be featured on "Film Session." Do the Packers provide him any guidance on what not to say? How do you keep from giving away too much?

The show is position specific. In that regard, a lot of the superstar-level players are already comparing notes about the nuances of their positions. Adams has spoken in the past about how often he talks with Michael Thomas, Adam Thielen and others.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Baseball has career milestones like 300 wins or 3,000 hits that are considered to be near locks for Hall of Fame induction. I know it doesn't translate well for all positions, but why do you feel football doesn't have career milestones that we can point to as numbers to be considered a near lock?

The game keeps changing – not just the forward pass and rule changes. Free agency changed things, we've added more games and keep changing the overtime rules. There are a couple of defensive milestones (e.g. 150 career sacks) that hold up as indicators, though.

Miranda from Rochester, NY

Good morning, everyone. The last decade, the league has become more centered on passing offenses, and defenses adjusted accordingly by getting lighter and faster. Do you think some teams are now trying to get ahead of the curve by shifting back to a more running-style offense to catch those passing defenses unequipped to handle a physical, running game? Or is that my brain trying to make sense of our drafting strategy and the success of teams like the 49ers and Ravens?

Absolutely. That's what I was trying to get at on Tuesday. To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And as the tide shifts, everyone has to account for those changes across the league.

Joe from Hartford, CT

Good day, this is not meant to be a political question. Do you think if the country doesn't suffer a COVID spike during the current events, that will lead to opening up with fans in the stands come September?

Ultimately, it's going to be what happens over these next three months that dictates whether there are fans in the stands. We keep learning more about COVID-19, day-by-day and week-by-week. We need to keep that momentum going. I went to the grocery store Wednesday morning and was encouraged by how many masks I'm still seeing. It's a small sacrifice to get our everyday lives back to relative normalcy.

Lucas from Carrboro, NC

Knowing that "what-ifs" are rather pointless, based on the schedule, it looks like the Packers could potentially benefit from a scenario where there are no fans in the stands until November. They play seven games against playoff teams from last year. Three of the four away games would be played without fans, while all three home games would have fans. The Vikings, Saints, and Texans would lose their dome advantage. And the matchup with Brady and the Buccaneers would also be fanless.

Whatever happens, it benefits the Packers to get the Vikings and Saints road games out of the way in the first month of the season and then finish with four of their last six at home. Again, we're speculating on what the forecast is going to be months from now. You just don't know.

Brian from Minneapolis, MN

Mike and Wes, I appreciate your good work – II has been a welcome and entertaining forum during extraordinary and difficult recent weeks and months. Quick question: What former Packers left the team during free agency and won a SB ring with their new team while under their next contract? I racked my brain and couldn't think of any, but I'm sure there are a few.

Bashaud Breeland and Adam Timmerman were the first two names that came to mind. Will Blackmon, Rick Lovato and Anthony Levine were released but they all won Super Bowls immediately afterwards.

William from Palmdale, CA

Matt LaFleur sustained a significant Achilles injury roughly a year ago as a concerned Packers fan base looked on. We watched how he handled it and stayed very connected to his new job! How's he doing today? Secondly, very much appreciate II covering so many "bases" giving fans insights to such a great organization. Thank you both for being good at your jobs.

LaFleur's doing great. He told Jason Wilde last week that he's back playing basketball again.

Dave from Sparta, WI

Since being released by the Rams, is there a higher chance that Clay Matthews will retire prior to the 2020 season? Or, will he find another team to join in his final chapter?

Free agency has grinded to a halt right now. Unless there is a specific dollar amount for Matthews that teams won't meet, I still think he plays somewhere in 2020. He was having a solid year before breaking his jaw.

David from Riverside, CA

I think the Denver Broncos were the last team to go "all-in" and win the Super Bowl that year.

I've seen a few of you trying to make this point. Y'all are misremembering history. First, I wouldn't quantify signing Peyton Manning to replace Tim Tebow as going "all-in." It's signing a future Hall of Famer when you didn't have a quarterback. That also happened in 2012, not 2015. The Broncos barely made any moves the offseason before winning Super Bowl 50.

JR from East Moline, IL

In response to Wes, in 1976 the Flint, Mich., Tropics went all-in, trading their washing machine (even though they needed it) to acquire Ed Monix. Led by Monix and coach/owner/player Jackie Moon, the Tropics went on to win the first ever Flint MegaBowl, an event often mentioned in the same breath as the discovery of fire and invention of the submarine. Other than that, though, I can't think of any other examples.

JR wins. I stand 100% corrected and bow down to the comment of the spring.

Caleb from Rosemount, MN

Hey Wes, we've gotten Spoff's opinion in the past but I'm curious what your take is if Eli Manning should be in the Hall of Fame someday.

He was a very good quarterback who won two Super Bowls. That's a heck of an accomplishment. But I don't know how many teams feared playing Eli Manning. Maybe one day he gets in with how the Hall of Fame is finding more ways to open the floodgates, but I don't expect him to be in Canton for a while.

William from Lyndon Station, WI

The league has informed teams that training camps will be conducted only at team facilities this season. How will that affect the Packers staying at the St. Norbert dorms?

That sounds like a TERRIFIC "Murphy Takes 5" question, which runs this Saturday.

Zak from Muskego, WI

Is Yosh pronounced with a long or short vowel – e.g. Josh, but with a Y, or Yoshi sans second syllable?

Yes. Ya-OSH.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Looking at the roster on, I see four players without photos by their names. They are Marc-Antoine Dequoy (CB), Zack Johnson (G), Jordan Jones (FB), and Jalen Morton (QB). These may be the "Mount Rushmore" of anonymity. As No. 4 on the QB depth chart, Morton has almost no shot at the 53. Among the others, which longshot has the best chance of cracking the roster and getting a real photo by his name?

Dequoy. The University of Montreal evidently didn't do headshots. Since players haven't reported yet, we haven't had a chance to get one.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Wes, in your response to Steve from Silver Spring's question, you said that if Simon Stepaniak or Cole Madison were still hurt they would go on the PUP list. Do players on that list get paid and does that count toward the salary cap?

They still get paid and it counts toward the cap. Nearly all young players on a first contract, who were drafted after the third round, have split-salary clauses, though, so it wouldn't be for the full amount.

John from Austin, TX

With the lack of minicamps, OTAs, any and all typical spring and early summer team activities, are the Packers (or any other) teams asking (even demanding) players work out in pads?

No. That's the worst thing you could do right now. There's a reason NFL teams – with the best equipment and staffs in the world – take the first three days of training camp to allow players to recondition themselves before putting pads back on.

David from Riverside, CA

I have no problem with Winnie the Pooh, Smokey, Teddy, and the others. All I ask is there be no Chicago Bears in the end zone. Thank you for your cooperation.

I didn't know I'd upset so many fans with the bear thing. Hey, like they say, don't let one bad bear upset the apple cart…or something.

Matthew from High Point, NC

I'm just saying, does Coach Nathaniel Hackett know how unstoppable the Hod Split would be?

Are we talking about drawing up an actual play or is my leg becoming physically detached from my body?