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Inbox: No one is going to be handed the job

Everyone is still waiting for all the specifics to be spelled out

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LB Kamal Martin

Connor from Berkley, MI

I think you may have forgotten Mason Crosby as a potential retired number from the XLV team. Not a lock but I think it will be after he hits the game-winner in Super Bowl LV.

I'd be on board with that.

Bob from Racine, WI

Gentlemen: A few weeks ago you stated the GM makes the decision on those who suit up each week. I was surprised. It would seem the head coach would make that decision based on the players and schemes needed against the opponent's offense and defense. Can you explain the communication that takes place between these two men to arrive at who suits up? Thanks.

Whatever was said, you must have misunderstood. The GM has final say on the 53-man roster, in consultation with the rest of the personnel department and the coaching staff. Roster acquisitions and subsequent cuts throughout the season are also the GM's purview. But the head coach chooses the 46 (now 48) who suit up on game day.

TK from Grafton, WI

Let's say a young receiver is trying to "make a splash" (and make the team), but in "live" action throughout camp the ball is NEVER thrown his way. Is he up a creek without a paddle? (I'm noticing old sayings are disappearing, so how about: "Is he in an internet cafe without the Wi-Fi password?")

It depends what the practice film shows. If it shows he's regularly getting open but not getting the ball – perhaps because he's third or fourth in the QB's progression on those plays – then the coaches in all likelihood will give him reps higher in the progression to see if he can produce. If he's not getting open, the film will show that too.

Mike from Pittston, PA

How has Christian Kirksey been looking in camp? Packer nation is very excited about him. Also, who do you feel is the leading candidate to start next to him in the base defense?

Kirksey looks like he fits right in, and he also appears to be really enjoying himself after a couple of injury-plagued seasons. As to your second question, I'll just say no one is going to be handed the job. The competition is in full swing.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

I'm intrigued by the frequent topic of getting Rashan Gary more involved this year. Because last year, I recall Pett saying several times it is hard to get Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith to come out as one of the factors related to Rashan's low playing time. Won't that still be the crux? Or is there some scheme that could allow all three of them on the field at once?

Pettine has mentioned several times he wants to reduce the Smiths' workload over the long haul, so if the coaches trust Gary, they'll have him take some of the Smiths' snaps. Also, Pettine has always had packages that get the defense's best pass rushers on the field together in certain situations.

Team photographer Evan Siegle's favorite shots from the team's practice on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020.

Chase from Ft. Wood, MO

I wonder how Mike Smith feels about sacks being used as the benchmark for a good pass rusher...?

That was an epic rant, but done in a measured and respectful tone I thought. Not that Coach Smith was intentionally being pre-emptive with the media, but he intuitively understands how difficult it will be for the Smiths to replicate their 25½ combined sacks (29½ including playoffs), and there are going to be questions if this year's numbers don't measure up. It's clear Coach Smith won't be evaluating his namesakes by one stat alone.

Estillac from Belem, Brazil

AJ Dillon looks really strong, but how fast does he seem to be?

Plenty, as far as I can tell.

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

It's funny that Mike mentioned "Kuhn cutting across the formation to clip Peppers on the fourth-and-8 from the 48 at Soldier Field in '13" in his answer Friday about pass protection. Kuhn did a podcast with Jason Wilde this past year, and I think that he said that there was a miscommunication on the line call that led to his last-second block on Peppers.

I hadn't heard that before. If so, that makes Kuhn's block all the more remarkable. And for those who thought I was suggesting Kuhn committed a penalty because I used the word "clip," that was not my intention at all. It was a legal cut-block.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

It's been quite some time since we used the franchise tag on a player. If we cannot get an extension done for David Bakhtiari, do you believe he will get tagged?

I'd never rule anything out, but I'm sure both sides would prefer to avoid that outcome. That type of decision is roughly six months away at this point.

Mike from Pittsfield, MA

Can you imagine this defense with Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde still on the team? I'll never let the front office live this down.

That's an unrealistic perspective. I'm not going to relitigate the initial decisions, but you have to understand subsequent moves resulted in part from those made before. I seriously doubt Adrian Amos is here if Hyde still is, and I'd question whether Jaire Alexander and Kevin King are both here if Hayward is. The draft is different from free agency with the best-player-available approach, but need breaks any close calls, so it's easy to see the Packers going different directions with some of those high picks if the roster is different at the time of those drafts. In a similar vein, while I understand fans' frustrations at passing on T.J. Watt in the '17 draft, and it clearly did not work in the Packers' favor in '17 and '18, there's no way both Smiths are here, and maybe neither is, if Watt is on the team. I'm not saying the organization never makes mistakes, but the context of your premise is fantasyland.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Are there any rules that you're aware of regarding the ambient noise? Could the home team turn it off, or down, when on offense and crank it up to the maximum allowed decibel level when on defense?

I think everyone is still waiting for all the specifics to be spelled out by the league.

Tom from Charlotte, NC

In the pictures of the QBs throwing in practice drills, they are straddling a red pad placed on the field. I assume this is some sort of training aid to teach proper form. Can you expound on that?

Straddling the pad forces the QBs to maintain a wide, solid base while shifting left or right in the pocket. A solid base keeps the fundamentals in order and helps execute throws amidst contact. Aaron Rodgers' accuracy at hitting the targets in the nets – which are called out at random while the QB is shuffling back and forth – is always impressive.

Sam from Brentwood, CA

Who would have thought that the drafting of Jordan Love would put a fire like this under Tim Boyle? Sounds like Boyle took it personally and stepped his game up. Great to see a competition with this much skill behind a future HOFer.

I don't think there's any additional fire under Boyle than when he was a longshot two years ago with a college statistical record that created many serious doubts. I think we're just seeing the natural progression of a young QB with the physical tools, the confidence to apply them, and an invaluable mentor. In my opinion, he was headed this direction whether Love was drafted or not.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

Am I correct when I think that when players are brought in for a tryout, it's more about their physical condition and seeing if they have their heads on straight? The team most probably has more on film on the player than we can determine in a two-hour session.

But some of that film can be rather old, and they want to see how a guy looks now.

Dennis from Batavia, IL

The cuts go from 80 to 53. And then under the new rules 16 players can be on the practice squad including some veterans. So depending on if a player doesn't get picked up by another team after being cut, between regular roster and practice squad, we might be talking only 11 guys not connected with the team come mid-September. Can you explain the exact rules for practice-squad eligibility for this weird COVID year?

With practice squads expanding to 16, either four or six of those players (I'm still trying to nail down which) have no limitations on their number of accrued seasons. Also, teams can protect four players from being poached by other clubs, and those four protected players can change week to week if desired.

Vic from Flint, TX

Will the Packers play the Cowboys next year? A close friend of mine is a Cowboys fan and I would love to bring him to Lambeau Field for a most awesome experience.

The Cowboys are scheduled to visit Lambeau in 2022. The two teams also would play next season if they finish in the same place in their respective divisions this season, and I believe that game would be in Green Bay as well.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

Everyone knows being a demon on special teams can lead to a spot on the 53. Any Jeff Janis-type gunners standing out in 2020?

We normally get to gauge that during preseason games, but there haven't been any fully live special-teams periods in practice, and there won't be time for many. Guys who have proven before they can do it well have a clear leg up there.

See headshots and action shots of the complete Green Bay Packers 2020 roster. #BuildingOurTeam

Karen from Kaukauna, WI

We're hearing a lot about the other receivers, but unless I missed it, not a whisper about Allen Lazard. Is he giving a good showing? If he continues as he is now, what do you think his chances are of becoming No. 2? I hope he doesn't get cut again like last year.

I don't see Lazard getting cut again. How he performed in games last year puts him in a very different place than a year ago. He's been quiet in camp thus far, but two-thirds of the practices remain.

Josh from Houston, TX

Jerry Gray was a bit more specific than coaches typically are in his discussion of changing Josh Jackson's play style. Did that surprise you? Would an opposing receivers coach derive any value from hearing that Josh has been coached to be less physical at the line of scrimmage?

Not really. As a rookie in 2018 (when he played far more snaps on defense than he did last year), Jackson was flagged three times for defensive holding, twice for a facemask, and once for illegal contact. I think the expectation is he would be coached differently, and so far the early returns are promising.

Steve from Bloomington, IL

The Packers appear to have several position groups that have question marks for the upcoming season (RB with the expressed emphasis on the run game, WR No. 2 and beyond, right side of the OL, TE, inside linebackers, DL after Kenny Clark). Which group do you think is most critical to come through in order for the Packers to succeed, and which do you think we can still succeed with even if that group has below expected performance?

I'd rank the defensive line the most critical, because opposing offenses are going to test the run defense based on last year's film. This may sound a bit contradictory now, but the last of my priorities from your list would be inside linebacker, strictly because the spot alongside Kirksey is a part-time role in Pettine's defense. That 'backer doesn't play every down.

Evan from Los Angeles, CA

While I appreciate the updates on training camp and am getting genuinely excited for football again, there's one hard-hitting question that I'm shocked hasn't been covered yet. Who has the better handlebar mustache, Mike Smith or Aaron Rodgers?

That's for others to decide. Happy Monday.

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