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Inbox: Packers found diamond in the rough where hardly anyone was looking

If you’re not looking ahead, then you’re falling behind

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QB Tim Boyle

Dave from Gainesville, VA

Nick from Hamilton may have the question of the year. I'm sitting here at work laughing. Great job Nick!

Perfect.

Jared from Tampa, FL

Gentlemen, loving the feature pieces following the player press conferences. How do you go about determining who gets the feature? Is it planned or do you wait to see which story presents itself? Thanks for all the content and all the work covering practice.

We get the schedule for media availability about 24 hours in advance. Then, I turn to Spoff and say, "I think I'm going to write the feature on Player X. Is that cool?" And he says, "Yes." As you can tell, Spoff and I have a very sophisticated process.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

In Aug. 20, "5 things" noted that AJ Dillon caught a ball down the seam which is encouraging. Was this an "over-the-shoulder" catch made in stride like a WR or a "square-up-to-the-QB" body catch like a non-WR would make? Catching with the hands while at full speed is the key to being a receiving threat.

It was a great bang-bang play. Dillon was kind of running a skinny post and turned his hips toward Tim Boyle to bring in the pass. It was on the money. Boyle has been pinpoint precise through the first week. Those two had a similar pass-and-catch earlier this week from the left hash. I forget which scout it was that found Boyle but he should take a bow. The Packers found a diamond in the rough where hardly anyone was looking. Anyway, it's an extremely small sample size, but Dillon has looked natural catching the ball for as maligned as Dillon was for only having 21 receptions at BC.

Jeff from Greenville, SC

Great to see all of you back at Lambeau Field! I am so pumped for the season to start! Also, excited to see, as you stated, players practicing and in training camp! How much does a fourth-year RB have over a rookie RB?

Quite a bit. I always remind folks Aaron Jones was a healthy scratch in the 2017 opener. It can take time for rookies to get their feet wet, especially in these unusual circumstances, but running back is a position where you see young guys catch up relatively quickly. I expect Dillon will get reps this season if he's earning them in practice.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

A follow-up to Greg from Combined Locks question on encouragement from other players. Does encouragement come from same-side players or the opposing players in camp?

It can be both. On average, it's probably more on the same side of the ball, but it's not uncommon to see David Bakhtiari work with Rashan Gary or Davante Adams talk through something with Jaire Alexander after a rep. The greats understand they need those talented, young guys to push them in practice. Because if you're not looking ahead, then you're falling behind.

Michael from Chanhassen, MN

Wow! Thanks for the detailed information! Holy buckets, all that being done before the play clock hits zero, amazing.

I had to chuckle to myself when Spoff asked me to proof that response to make sure it was comprehendible for readers. I don't think I could've written it any better.

Dave from Sparta, WI

Players have spoken highly of coach Jerry Gray, and after listening to a couple of his interviews, I find myself leaning in a bit more when he speaks. What is it about him that resonates with so many?

Gray was a former first-round pick who played for years at a high level. His coaching resume in Minnesota also speaks for itself. That being said, I think it's the conviction with which he speaks. The guy isn't talking for the sake of talking. Every word serves a purpose. There's no fat there. I think his players respect that.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

The speculation for the last six months has been that Allen Lazard will be WR2 (I concur). Only one week into camp so it's early but have you seen anything in the last week that might make you think that might not be the case come Sept.13?

He's going to have a role in this offense, but we also have such a long way to go before the opener in Minnesota. A lot of these receivers have had good days. The most consistent one will line up opposite Davante Adams on Sept. 13.

Roger from Eau Claire, WI

You may be tired of questions about how individual players have looked during the first week but I keep pulling for Jake Kumerow and haven't heard much about him. Any insights on how he is stacking up in the WR competition?

More of the same. The guy puts everything he has into every route he runs. There hasn't been like this seminal moment in practice, so to speak, but Kumerow brings it every day.

Dale from Lima, NY

With the increase this year in the size of practice squads, how would you assign the 16 players? I don't mean specific real-life players. I mean which positions would you be sure to cover on the squad, and how many players for each of those positions? Or would it be entirely about which real-life players you wanted to keep around? Or a combination of both? Or would you break out a ouija board and let the spirits of dearly departed Packers make the call?

I'm not getting into exact positions but I would keep one or two veteran free agents on it. The NFL has loosened its restrictions on who's eligible. With all these COVID questions, I'd look to take advantage of those extra spots with some experience, in addition to developing your other 12-14 prospects.

Dave from Germantown, TN

How far from Lambeau Field will the ambient noise be able to be heard? Will the noise become cheers for Packers' first downs and boos if penalties are called in key moments? Inquiring minds want to know.

You got a laugh out of me with that one. No, it's just one steady flow of ambient noise. It kind of sounds like a crowd of people chattering, with hornets buzzing underneath it. To everyone worried little Tommy or Susie will hear naughty words on TV, I can tell you that shouldn't be a problem if the NFL keeps the maximum decibel level where it is. Any louder and I wouldn't be able to hear myself think.

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

Marc from Aachen, Germany

Don't know about you but I don't like the artificial sound in (half) empty stadiums. I was skeptical about those UFC non-audience events but I honestly love it. I was really looking forward to listening to pure football. But I guess where the NFL is coming from regarding equal game conditions for all 32 teams. I guess I have to take it as it is, lean back and enjoy football.

I don't know this for a fact but I wonder if that's something the league wants to level the playing field if some stadiums are able to host fans. I'm with you on the UFC. The silence actually works well as far as TV production is concerned.

Travis from Caledonia, WI

With the QB's communication with coaches cut off at the 15-second mark on the play clock, do you see having no fans/noise in the stadium resulting in more communication being yelled from the sideline after the offense breaks the huddle and the play clock winds down past 15? I could see the entire offense looking towards the sidelines all at once (like college teams) because upstairs saw something 12 didn't and now it can be relayed in. Will there be much of an impact, pre-play? Thoughts?

Not if that noise I heard in practice Thursday is being piped in.

Mike from Algoma, WI

As a Packers fan, I feel I have a better knowledge of the game than fans of other teams. Do you know why? The biggest reason is Larry (aka "The Professor") McCarren! I've learned more from his "Chalk Talk" presentations than from any other source in the NFL. Add our local historian Cliff Christl, and our English/writing teachers Spoff and Hod and packers.com is practically a university education! Thank you all.

I have learned so much about the Packers over the years from Larry and Cliff. They are true icons.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Wes, the best thing missed this whole offseason would be the players riding the kids' bikes. What a tradition and a lasting impression on those kids' lives. There was nothing like seeing Donald Driver on one of those little bikes with a huge smile.

I miss it, too. I think that really hit home for me when Corey Linsley spoke to the media a few weeks ago. He was talking about how he couldn't even visit his bike kid, Travis Kohlbeck, let alone go down to practice with him.

Albert from Crystal Falls, MI

When the team brings in players for a tryout, do the players on the roster know what's going on? Does the team try out the players in the Don Huston Center while the players are practicing on Ray Nitschke Field? How does this all go down?

The scouts want to watch practice, so tryouts are always scheduled at a different time in the day. They're such a normal part of the NFL process that players on the roster don't think twice about incoming tryout guys. Tryouts are mostly used to update the rolodex of whom a team might look to sign if a spot comes open on the roster or practice squad.

Craig from Elkton, MD

Some of the II questions got me to thinking, how do we stack up age-wise to the other teams? Are we on average more experienced? Or are we banking on youth to carry us to the Super Bowl?

This year's team feels younger but it's impossible to accurately measure that until the roster is down to 53.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

How are backup QB reps in live (7-on-7, 11-on-11) action being divvied up between Jordan Love and Boyle right now? Roughly equal?

As Matt LaFleur has talked about, the Packers aren't doing as much 7-on-7 this year. It's only been team 11-on-11 so far. I haven't been charting numbers rep for rep but I'd say they have been fairly even. If someone told me Boyle has taken a few more, I'd believe them.

Greg from Las Vegas, NV

What will likely happen with Simon Stepaniak as he recovers from his injury? Practice squad or PUP? Thanks.

Any injured player like Stepaniak who starts training camp on physically unable to perform stays there until he can pass a physical. If that doesn't happen by the roster reduction, he remains on PUP for at least the first six weeks of the season. It seems many don't realize Stepaniak is working his way back from a pretty serious knee injury. The Packers knew that when they drafted him. He's a long-term investment.

Travis from Bremerton, WA

As of Friday morning I'm not seeing many cuts with more than two weeks before the 53-man roster deadline. How many are still on the roster, and will we start to see the more cuts next week?

There no longer is that roster reduction to 75 players prior to final cuts. The NFL and NFLPA changed that a year or two ago. The next cut goes from 80 to 53.

Darren from Oklahoma, OK

Y'all know what's fun? Watching rival teams play with a buddy who is on the other side! No physical aggression, just bustin' on each other. That's what I wanna get back to! Love II!

That's what the game is all about.

Joe from Sherman, IL

Wes, my wife is a big fan of Starbucks. She is even a stockholder, and she told me that they are going to start selling their pumpkin spice coffees starting on the 25th. I told her I would pass it on to you.

Please tell her thank you for me.

George from North Mankato, MN

Somewhere over the rainbow, way out there is a Spofford...Why, oh, why not in "Three Things"?

It was a scene right out of '80s pro wrestling. He was walking over for the shoot and I hit him in the back of the head with a steel chair and proclaimed, "IT'S MY TIME!"

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