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Inbox: Never underestimate what players put themselves through

It’s up to the GM to trust all the homework


Courtney from Butte, MT

Nope, that didn't work. Still bored!

Hang in there. We get to interview some players today. Maybe that'll help.

Brandon from Fairfield, CA

I can't be the only one who noticed, but Raiders twice in one season? This can't be normal. What would prompt the Packers and Raiders to schedule each other in preseason, the same year they play each other in the regular season? Is there an advantage either way? Raiders are Week 3 of preseason.

I don't make much of it. It happened in '08 with Tennessee, '09 with Arizona and '11 with Kansas City, and it would have happened as recently as '16 with Indianapolis if not for the most infamous paint job in NFL history.

Paul from Bay View, WI

Guys, I heard that the Packers will be practicing with the Houston Texans. When two NFL teams practice together, is each team's scheme a bit hidden as to not give too much away? Or since we may not be playing them this year, does it even matter? I guess I'm wondering how the new coach implements his scheme under the radar.

I don't think you worry about it in a joint practice. Unlike a preseason game, no one else has access to the film except the teams involved. You install your stuff and run it against someone who doesn't know it. I don't see any gamesmanship necessary.

Tom from Douglassville, PA

When will they announce the full schedule for the upcoming season?

In all likelihood next week sometime.

Johnny from Grand Chute, WI

I understand the subjectivity of grading out prospects. What intrigues me regarding the two tight ends from Iowa is that Fant's measurables seem much better than Hockenson's. Is there an obvious reason for Hockenson to be constantly ahead of Fant in the many mocks we've seen?

From everything I've seen and read, Hockenson is the more powerful and polished blocker, which is the more difficult element to make a reliable part of one's game in the NFL. But Fant is no slouch as an in-line player and, as you said, tested better athletically. It's in the eye of the beholder.

Jeff from Redondo Beach, CA

Insiders, tremendous news on Cole Madison reporting yesterday and being added back on the roster. Foremost, I wish him luck on a personal level, and with his overall health. And if he is ready to go again, he can really help the team obviously. It is as if the Packers received an extra draft pick this year, at a position of need. I am looking forward to seeing him in action.

One step at a time. He'll be able to use the offseason program to ease himself back into things. Frankly I suspect his biggest adjustment physically will be when the pads go on the third day of training camp. He hasn't played any full-contact football since the last game of his college career, which will be about 20 months ago come August.

Daniel from Los Angeles, CA

Rodgers said he was playing with a fracture and MCL sprain in his knee. I've idolized the man for so long now but it's just something else at this point. He (and everyone else in this league) should be nothing but respected.

We all suspected there was more than meets the eye with his injury. He suggested late last year he'd tell us more when the season ended, but then the concussion in Week 17 precluded his postgame presser with the media that day, and then the offseason was upon us. I never underestimate what these players put themselves through to play this game.

Evan from Polonia, WI

Why wasn't Aaron Rodgers' injury in Week 1 against Chicago disclosed to the public?

Rodgers was listed on the injury report the rest of the season with a knee injury. Any specifics divulged beyond that are up to the team and the player.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

I read AR's quotes about MM and feel like nothing else important needs to be said. AR often seems guarded and speaks with a lot of nuance, and I think a lot of that comes with all the pressure on him. But, not in this case. He asked the fans to thank MM when they see him and treat him with respect. He said he would not have signed a long-term deal if he had a bad relationship with MM. It tells a lot about MM and his relationship with Green Bay that he still lives there. Thanks, MM. Thanks, AR.

Good night, John Boy. Good night, Mary Ellen. Good night, Grandpa.

Lawrence from Milwaukee, WI

"If Adams is open, get that man the ball." We already know, Mike, Adams is open.

Rather frequently when he's one-on-one, yes.

Kevin from Des Moines, IA

After seeing the video the other day of Sterling Sharpe's greatest moments it got me wondering your opinion on Green Bay receivers. You're building a team and can choose any three Packer receivers former or current to play for your team. Who would you pick and why? Which trio would be most dangerous?

No disrespect to Nelson, Driver, Adams or any of the other top-flight receivers I've covered, but if I were only allowed to pick three, I'd have to go with Hutson, Lofton and Sharpe.

Dale from Caledonia, NY

What is your single favorite drive in a Packers game? My No. 1 pick: converting three fourth downs as the game drew to an end – the last one that sweet, sweet Rodgers-to-Cobb game-winner to cinch the NFC North. But a close second: Bart Starr's quarterback sneak in the Ice Bowl, my introduction to the Packers specifically and to football in general...and one of the few fond memories I have of my dad. We rarely agreed on anything, but we could always talk football.

Outside of dramatic game-enders, my favorites are always those that take a lot of time off the clock and contribute to a big victory without being splashy or otherwise memorable. As such, for a refresher I looked up the long fourth-quarter march in '16 at Philly on Monday night – the game that started "run the table" – and I was reminded how much I liked it. Backed up to their own 4-yard line after a holding call, the Packers used 17 plays to consume 8:21 and kick a field goal. They overcome a second holding call and converted a fourth down. Philly punted down 11 with 10:18 left and got the ball back down 14 after the two-minute warning. That's how you finish a game and send a jolt of confidence through a team. Drama is difficult to avoid in the NFL, but when you can, successfully, it's awfully satisfying.

Nate from Plymouth, MN

Point of clarification: Yesterday Spoff said that if Josh Rosen stays in Arizona, that helps the Packers. I was thinking the opposite. If the Cardinals trade Rosen, that implies they could be picking a QB at No. 1 overall, which would push non-QB blue-chip talent down towards 12. What am I missing?

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I think the Cardinals are taking Murray at No. 1, so my point was if Rosen isn't traded before the draft, it helps the Packers because another QB or two could get picked before 12.

Kris from Blue River, WI

Who do you feel has the most potential of the rookies this year?

Can I wait to find out who they are first?

Carroll from Madison, WI

Gutekunst, as GM, makes the draft picks. But he relies on both coaches and scouts for input. Do you have any insight into the process by which this occurs in the run up to the draft? It would seem like a process that requires both structure and excellent personal relationships and communication.

As Gutekunst and his scouts build the draft board, they discuss their evaluations of players. Sometimes scouts will ask assistant coaches to review film on a player and write a quick report, to add another opinion to the bunch. There's a series of personnel meetings leading up to the combine, then all the info from Indy, pro days, etc., is added to the mix and another series of meetings takes place in April to finalize the board. Then, in the heat of the moment, it's up to the GM to trust all the homework and collaboration involved.

Jake from Athens, GA

Weather isn't the only reason I moved back to the South, but it's a big one. Y'all stay safe up there.

Monday and Tuesday were nice this week. We take what we can get.

Tucker from Temple, TX

Regarding the pass interference reviews, I hadn't thought about being able to review whether or not a ball was uncatchable. I feel like that's already an incredibly subjective rule and replay doesn't make it any less so.

Catchable-uncatchable has been probably the least controversial aspect of these calls over the years. Hopefully that doesn't change.

Steve from Minocqua, WI

I am so thrilled for Tony Bennett, his father Dick and his uncle Jack. Not only are they great basketball coaches, but anyone who has ever met them knows they're even better people. My connection to them occurred long ago yet left an impression that endures today. What did you think of the game?

Can't help but feel good for a Green Bay native, and for seeing a style of basketball that has been criticized and denigrated by national analysts take a team all the way. I enjoyed getting to know Jack a bit at my first newspaper job in Wausau while he was coaching at UW-Stevens Point, and from everything I've heard no apples fall far from the tree in the family. I hope they can cherish this for a while.

The Packers Tailgate Tour made a stop in Marshfield, Wis., on Tuesday to visit with patients at Marshfield Children's Hospital.

Jim from San Antonio, TX

The video reversal of the out-of-bounds call in the college basketball game the other night was a perfect example of replay being used outside of the reason it was created. When a ball is slapped out of a player's hand by a defender, and goes out of bounds, it should be the offense's ball. Super slo-mo shows the offensive player's finger was on the ball 1/100th of a second after the defender last touches it, and it goes to the defense. If football goes that way with PI, we are in trouble.

That replay reversal disturbed me, too. It was a clear overreach on a call no one even questioned in the first place. The first rule needs to require a dispute or reason to review. Common sense needs to take over at some point, but there's no simple fix as long as the TV networks are going to show the frame-by-frame stuff.

Anthony from Southington, CT

Re: PI review. If Robey-Coleman was correct and the ball was touched before it got to the receiver, there would be no pass interference. If no PI was determined under the review, could the review officials still call for hit on a defenseless receiver or helmet-to-helmet contact? Or is the review for PI restricted to just the PI? Seems like fans might still be upset if that play was reviewed and no penalty was assessed.

As of now, it's restricted to PI, but I think we're headed for fewer restrictions and broader scopes with reviews, especially as it relates to safety rules, but also with something plainly seen that's missed. It's only a matter of time as replay continues to evolve and the viewing technology improves. Getting back to the basketball o/b call noted above, the Texas Tech player was clearly fouled from behind by a Virginia player before the other Virginia player knocked the ball out of his hands. Reviewing the o/b call was silly in the greater context. No one is willing to take the full-blown leap now, but all these incremental steps will eventually lead there, because the networks paying billions to broadcast the games aren't going to be told how to broadcast them.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, if you're Matt LaFleur (and you're not, but play along), it's opening night, the iconic rivalry with the Bears. Green Bay receives the kick (naturally a touchback). It's first-and-10 at the 25-yard line. What play do you call to announce your presence with authority? You only get one chance to call that first play of your head coaching career.

If the outside zone is a building block of the offense, you run outside zone. The more intriguing question is, what's the second play?

Jon from Hortonville, WI

Challenging question that will require some homework, so thanks in advance if you look into it. On average, how many playmakers (difference-makers, high-impact players, take your pick, it goes by different labels) come out of the first round? Let's say you are a GM and are 50:50 in the first round the last couple of years. Are you considered a failure or just average?

It depends where you're picking. I'm not going to subjectively grade every first round in recent years, but if there are roughly a dozen high-impact players per year, you can bet many more come from the first half of the round than the last half. I think the Packers did well to get Kenny Clark at 27 three years ago and Jaire Alexander at 18 last year. Can this year's 12 and 30 turn into two more picks like that in the same draft? That's the opportunity that awaits.

Jesse from Akaska, SD

"I don't know." I like that. Why did we not see any credit given to Mr. Spicoli on Monday, Mike?

I didn't have time for Mr. Hand's lecture.

Jeff from Madison, WI

Not too much longer until the draft.

T-minus 15 days and counting. Happy Wednesday.