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Inbox: Packers won't need a break like that this time

There may not be a lot of time to decide


Jonnie from Garden City, MI

Sometimes you're Gallagher and his hammer, and sometimes you're the watermelon. But sometimes you're the front-row observer getting hit with the results of those two things meeting. I think that describes what brings some of us readers to the Inbox. Do you have any comedic influences you tend to try to emulate? My wife will be the first to admit that I've got a strong "dad joke" game, though not necessarily in those words. She'd roll her eyes and groan.

My biggest comedic influence is my father, though there's no effort involved. It's purely genetic. As he would say, "Sounds like you've found the problem."

Jeremy from Surprise, AZ

Pretty sure Ed Oliver just tested out of the Packers' reach with his pro day. Which sucks, because the thought of Oliver, Clark, Daniels, Preston, Za'Darius, Fackrell being constantly rotated to hunt the QB put a smile on my face.

I fully expect Gutekunst to have his choice of high-impact players at 12. I'm not a draft historian, but it feels like sitting at 12 is as good as being at 8 or 9 in other years. The Packers got Raji at 9 in '09 primarily because the Raiders stunned everyone with the Heyward-Bey pick at 7. The Packers won't need a break like that this time.

Paul from Bay View, WI

Welcome back, Spoff. Aaron Rodgers had to wait until pick No. 24 to get drafted when he really thought SF was going to pick him at No. 1. Do you think NFL teams show interest in a player just to throw other teams off? I've heard many stories like this with other draft picks and it just seems to me like it's a much bigger game out there than we really know.

It is, but it isn't. I think the smokescreens are digested more fully by the media than by the teams, who know not to trust what anyone says or supposedly says this time of year.

Eliot from Denver, CO

What's wild is if New Orleans had taken the ball in OT and scored a TD, the DPI would have been forgotten and KC's huff about unfair OT rules would have grown to a chorus with LA offering the same complaint. "Bad overtime cost us a rematch of the highest-scoring game ever! Two of the best offenses ever and they never saw the field!" We'd have new OT rules and no PI reviews. Cookies be crumblin'.

A valid perspective.

Rob from Buckinghamshire, UK

There has been much talk about revamping the right-hand side of our O-line, however Jason Spriggs' name hasn't come up much. Could a move inside be in the cards for him? Or will he get another chance to show he could be a starter on the outside?

I would expect to see Spriggs working at tackle until further notice, and as the Packers' prepare for a potential post-Bulaga future at right tackle, Spriggs' continued growth can put him squarely in the conversation. But I anticipate added competition through the O-line depth chart this year.

Tom from Birmingham, MI

Gentlemen, interesting that the discussion(s) about PI rules and replay brought up how calls/no-calls on Hail Mary passes would be affected. We're told those calls would stay pretty much the same. So, now that you mention it, what IS the threshold for a call/no-call on a Hail Mary? Clearly if a defender actually tackled a receiver before the ball got there a flag would be thrown, but how much leeway is really given?

I think your standard jockeying for position, bumping, boxing out, etc., is all fair. But the blatant shove or grab of a player who's in position to get his hands on the ball is going to get called. I guess we'll see.

David from West Fargo, ND

Is the pick or rub route about to get some serious slo-mo attention or can a hurry-up offense get plays off fast enough to avoid offensive PI challenges? Seems like another rule that greatly favors the offense.

I agree, and I hadn't thought about this aspect of PI challenges until you mentioned it. A key third-down conversion, or a quick hitter off a pick play that ruptures into a big gain, is definitely a play the defense's head coach will consider challenging. But you're right, there may not be a lot of time to decide.

Jim from McLean, VA

Will the question of "what is a catch?" be replaced by "what is PI?"

I sure hope not.

Karl from Bruce, WI

Last year roughing the passer was the new rule du jour and Clay Matthews, and ultimately the Packers, paid the price of over-emphasis early in the season. I really felt it effected the team's psyche. Thankfully the NFL relaxed that rule a bit. I hope with the new PI rules and the Packers being first up for the season opener that we don't go through that again.

I'm not going to compare this to the RTP fiasco from last year. It's not a new rule governing pass interference, just that it can be reviewed. The officials on the field have nothing different to call, unlike last year, which led to new calls that weren't subject to review at all.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

Instant replay was originally intended to correct obviously wrong calls, but has evolved into controversy over the slightest of ball movements and blades of grass. The new rule for PI intends to correct obvious PI like the one in the NFC Championship Game, but aren't we going to end up down the same path of splitting hairs if the slightest contact is made before the ball arrives?

Probably, but to me judgment can still be applied as to whether that contact noticeably hindered the receiver's ability to catch the ball. I think replay is going to allow that type of standard to be applied more judiciously and effectively, rather than "see contact, throw flag."

Kent from Lewiston, ID

With replay change on the horizon, will the Packers dedicate more resources to the review process prior to signaling Coach LaFleur to throw the flag? Do you think that will be a trend in today's NFL? Appreciate your perspective on this.

I don't think it's ever been a question of resources, but more so timing, and the opportunity to get a definitive look at the play before deciding to throw the red flag. It's dependent on TV, pace of the game, situation, etc., not resources per se.

Mitch from Caledonia, WI

Regarding the fourth-and-15 as opposed to an onside kick, Mike's comment about owners not wanting fans to turn off their TVs during late-game blowouts was concerning. Implementing admittedly gimmicky rules to drum up late-game drama as a means of making more money is wrong and goes against the integrity of the game. Leave the onside alone.

I tend to agree. Before implementing a gimmick solution, I'd rather see what many in the Inbox have suggested, where the onside is declared and the old alignment and formation rules are restored for the attempt. The onside kick is based on kickoffs being free kicks, but they aren't so free with the new safety rules. I think there's a reasonable fix.

Mike from Yonkers, NY

With regards to your answer to Eric's question about MLB and the Minor League system, my university radio station used to run yearly segments called "Life in the Minors," about the prospects struggles making to The Show. It was eye-opening how difficult and unforgiving the road to the majors can be for these men. Minor League baseball survives, but only because MLB needs it to. It's not glamorous by any means.

Not at all, yet when I was playing the game, I would have given anything to get drafted in the 53rd round and assigned to the lowest of low-Class A teams.

Jason from Lake View, NY

You mentioned that in 2014 Jordy and Aaron set a record for big plays. I did a little digging and noticed that season Eddie Lacy had 1,139 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. The running game opens things up for the big play. Will be interesting to see how LaFleur's emphasis on the run game will help out Rodgers and get him back to his MVP ways again.

I've been referencing the Packers' 2014 rushing stats all offseason. Lacy and Starks combined for 1,472 yards and 11 TDs on the ground. Rodgers attempted 520 passes that year, his fewest in a season with 16 starts.

Mark from Atlanta, GA

You now have the great Larry doing Prospect Primers too!? I can't believe you guys found a way to make them better than they already are!

Big props to Larry for lending his expertise and insight on some Primers this year. Multiple folks on the video side are also grinding behind the scenes on those, giving us a great variety of presentations. We're ramping it up to two Primers per day starting next week.

Jerome from White Bear Lake, MN

A lot has already been said about Jordy Nelson, but I'd like to share this. The local radio station here was interviewing Xavier Rhodes at training camp after his rookie season. They asked Rhodes who of the NFC North receivers he learned the most from. They expected him to say Megatron, or Brandon Marshall, but Xavier immediately said Jordy Nelson as if it were no contest. As solid a player as Rhodes is, that's high praise in my opinion.


Rod from Chugiak, AK

Leading up to the 2008 draft, I was seeing Aqib Talib touted as one of the highest-rated CBs. So when I watched in a video a receiver who had been a walk-on torching him for 10 catches and 137 yards, noted the widening distance as Talib chased him, and saw not a hint of "look at me, ain't I great" in his makeup, I hoped against hope Ted would draft him. The way TT targeted Jordy and moved to get him was Ted at his finest.

The '08 draft might be a tad underrated for Thompson, considering he didn't technically get a first-rounder (trading back six spots to get Nelson at 36). He also found Finley, Sitton and Flynn that year.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

One of my all-time favorite Jordy Nelson plays...picking up McCarthy's challenge flag before the refs saw it on the field!

I had forgotten about that one. Another classic.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

I understand the current CBA expires soon and my question revolves around that. Are there any rumors or talk flying around the league that the negotiations won't be as smooth as the last contract? What do you think will be the players "must have" demand that the owners may balk at?

As smooth as the last one? The players were locked out for six months. There will be contention, there will be unwelcome demands on both sides, and there will be elements to the final deal neither side will like. That'll mean it's a good deal.

Nate from Kewaskum, WI

John Fiedler, voice of Piglet from 1968 until 2005, was born in Platteville, Wis. The Chicago Bears held training camp for 18 years in Platteville, ending in 2001.

You didn't just connect Piglet to the NFL, you connected him to my hometown. Wow, I had no idea. And for all of you who lazily went the "pigskin" route, The Duke is made from steer hide.

Mike from Lake Villa, IL

Spoff, legend has it that Eeyore is a distant cousin of Gus, the donkey that kicked field goals for the California Atoms in the movie "Gus" from 1976. This movie (along with a number of other factors) has helped propel the NFL to the popularity it enjoys today.

What have I done?

Elliot from Minneapolis, MN

Yelich starting where he left off, Chacin on pace for 162 homers in a season, and Cain robbing a home run to win the game! Great start off the bat!

161 more to go, at least.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Here's my prediction...Just beat the Bears. And you don't think we pay attention?

T-minus 160 days and counting. Happy Friday.