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Inbox: Pass protection could very well decide it

That’s always a challenge for rookies

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RB Patrick Taylor

Martin from Orlando, FL

I've been in a coma since the blocked punt versus San Francisco. Did I miss anything?

Mid-to-late March was pretty busy with key transactions, and the draft was important. If you get caught up on those, you should be good.

Liam from Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

The road team does not always stay in Appleton. The 49ers stayed in the same hotel as me in downtown GB in January. The look of disgust I gave one of their players in the elevator on game-day morning gained a smirk. Had I known they were staying in my hotel the fire alarm may have gone off at 3 a.m.

I have heard of playoff games and other instances when the Paper Valley is not available to visiting teams and they have to make different arrangements. I believe one time in my tenure here the Bears stayed at the Holiday Inn in Manitowoc.

Sal from Hailey, ID

Every position on the field requires skill, practice, training, hard work…but which position do you think requires the most intuition? I'd say DB, I think, but arguments can be made for RB and QB, too.

No position is more cerebral than QB, but as far as pure instincts go, I'd put DB and RB at the top, along with inside LB. The sooner the defender in the middle of the field can diagnose the play, the better off the defense is going to be.

Jason from Austin, TX

Mike, I'm 100% on-board if Aaron Rodgers does not play a snap in preseason. If we do see him out there however, do you think it was because he told LaFleur that he wanted to play, or do you think there is any chance LaFleur would tell Rodgers he needs to dress for a preseason game?

We will not see him out there, he will not tell LaFleur he wants to play, and LaFleur will not require him to dress. I do not like green eggs and ham, …

Jon from Laramie, WY

The best part about living in the Mountain time zone is the 11 a.m. kickoff time. Not too early, not too late, just right.

I have to admit, I have no problem with the regular 11 a.m. kickoffs for Big Ten games on Saturdays around here.

Jim from Las Vegas, NV

Spoff, conversations about teams playing Sunday and then again the following Thursday always make me think of two things: 1.). How it seems so hypocritical of the league to talk about "player safety" while subjecting them to this short turnaround. 2.). Your story of seeing Ryan Grant (the RB) in the locker room after a game and the bruises he was covered with.

1. I believe the league does take player safety seriously, just not as seriously as billions of dollars in revenue from Thursday night games. 2. I'll never forget that sight. I gained a valuable perspective in that moment.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares his favorite photos from the 2021 Green Bay Packers season.

John from Albuquerque, NM

Mike, I don't think I want to know when you intend to pull "delicious torture" out of its holster. What position group's health (not QB) do you predict will have the biggest impact on the outcome of the season?

Edge rusher. That's where the Packers' depth is the most unproven, and therefore questionable.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Hey Spoff, great to see things going back to pre-pandemic normal as you begin to travel with the team again. I wonder if there are things you will miss from the last couple years or things you will now do differently as a result of that experience.

If we are indeed traveling with the team again, I will miss the extra time at home on weekends and not having to write my stories on buses and planes. But how I go about my job won't be any different, really.

Jan from Frankfurt, Germany

Hello Insiders, Tuesday the ticket sale for the first NFL game in Germany started at 10 a.m. CET. At that time 750,000 people were logged into the sales platform and tickets were sold out after 45 minutes. I'm expecting the same for the Packers' London game ticket sale next week, so log in early and be quick! Good luck Packers nation!

Yet so many folks still wonder why the NFL is playing games overseas.

Steve from Hurricane, UT

Saw Wes's countdown article about the backs. I know it's hard to judge the new guys based on the work without pads but, who do you think is the best blocker? Don't you think that would be the fastest way to the final 53? If Rodgers and the coaches trust him to pick up or help on a pass rush and blocks downfield, seems like the rest of their job is gravy. I mean they've run and caught the ball all their lives.

Valid points regarding the No. 3 spot. Pass protection could very well decide it. Taylor certainly has an edge there, just knowing the offense, and he's physically the biggest of the reserve backs, too, which helps. It'll be interesting to watch Tyler Goodson and Baylor in the blitz pick-up drill in camp. That's always a challenge for rookies, though it doesn't define them. Aaron Jones really struggled in that drill back in '17 and now he's a very adept pass protector.

Tom from Woodbury, MN

As a high school QB I was instructed to make play calls in the huddle last the same length whether it was a run or pass play. Obviously there is deception at the highest level to do that as well.

Hadn't thought of that, but no detail is overlooked, for sure.

Ron from Broken Arrow, OK

Mike, I know the rookies show up this Friday and the veterans next Tuesday. Did the coaching staff report back to work this Monday or earlier?

I think the coaches are still officially off through today, but I would imagine some have been popping in and out of the office this week.

Ron from Bellaire, MI

Mike, on the question on answers wanted, you missed the most important one. The one the fans want, the talking heads want, the media wants and the world wants, the one the Packers have done nothing about, who will be the WR1.

I didn't mention that because the question was about what gets answered during training camp. I don't think that gets answered until we're well into the regular season.

David from San Antonio, TX

Mike, when I think of the loss of Davante Adams the San Francisco regular-season game comes to mind. He and ARod made that happen by sheer chemistry and will. Can that happen with others this year or can we assume a loss or two will happen this year because of the vacuum created by losing Adams?

I'm not going to assume anything, because not all two-minute drills are created equal. But I'm also not going to lie to you and say needing 40-plus yards in less than 37 seconds will be as easy for Rodgers without Adams. That level of crunch-time execution may be the most difficult piece of all to re-create with others.

Will from Milwaukee, WI

Good morning Mike, I am well aware of the first rule of Inbox, but I'm hoping this slides by on a technicality. How many hours a day is the average day for you? I can't imagine you could finish a "normal" day in less than 10 hours with all that you do, and game days must be something much greater, away games must be over 16 hours. In the Army we say Uncle Sam only has to give you four hours sleep in a day. But those days are few and far between. What's Uncle Murph's requirement of you?

Ha. In the offseason, I do everything in my power to keep my work days to eight hours. Other than this column, there's almost nothing that can't wait until tomorrow from February to July. During the season, nine- and 10-hour days are the norm, and on game days, if I arrive at the stadium a few hours before kickoff, 12-plus is the expectation.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The Packers ran away with the NFC North last year. Minnesota, Chicago and Detroit had a combined record of 17-33-1. We know gambling is illegal at Bushwood, but what would you peg as the over/under for wins among those three teams in the season ahead? (I'm going with 21½.)

I could see five to seven more wins, collectively, for those three teams, so I guess I'd put it at maybe 22½.

David from Richfield, WI

What do you think the Packers record will be this year?

Good enough to win the division.

Joe from Whitefish Bay, WI

When I watch Christian Watson run jet sweeps in college, his stride reminds me of James Lofton running what was once called the end-around, so that's obviously one play we all expect him to run as a rookie. I'd also like Coach Matt to dust off an old play from the McCarthy era in which Aaron would roll out to his right, just to the hash mark on that side, Jordy would fake an out and run a deep post, and Aaron would hit him in stride. I don't know what they called it, but it worked every time.

I talked to Rodgers and Nelson about that once and they called it "fish," for the shape of the route. The reason it seemed like it worked every time is Rodgers rarely threw the ball unless he was confident Nelson would be open, based on the coverage. When it was defended better, he took the checkdown or scrambled.

Dennis from Appleton, WI

Once training camp starts do you think the Packers will release information on the health status of players recovering from injury? That news seems to be kept quiet from the public.

The Packers don't like to share injury information. Never have. When players return from injury to the practice field, it'll be reported. Until then, I've learned any update is always subject to change anyway.

Terry from Deadhorse, AK

Insiders, I know last year is long in the books, but what is your assessment of Allen Lazard's hot finish in the last five games? Three of the last five he had more than 70 yards each which is more than any of his first 13 games and tied Kupp, Renfrow and Chase for second-most TDs (five) during that span, second only to Adams' six TDs. With Adams gone, can't you see Lazard's numbers going up especially feeding off the end of last year's hot finish?

Sure. He had his best game of the first half last season in Week 7 (five catches, 60 yards, TD), then got COVID. A few weeks later he missed a game with a shoulder injury. After returning from that, Lazard produced at a consistent level.

Donald from Lexington, KY

Mike, I love the salary cap and revenue sharing, but plenty of people defend other league's rules. Sparked by Jeremy from Red Deer's question, if you could implement them in baseball, would you? If yes, would you do it the same as the NFL or change it some way to better suit baseball?

I'm not versed in baseball's financial structure, but I know it's messed up and practically beyond repair. When the difference between the league's highest (Dodgers, $260M) and lowest (Orioles, $45M) payrolls is approaching a quarter of a billion dollars, annually, that's absurd.

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

Welcome back, Mike. Wes mentioned his favorite piece of sports memorabilia. Are you a collector of sports history? What's your favorite, most unique, and/or most rare piece of sport?

All the autographs of the mid-'80s Bears I collected as a kid are still pretty special, particularly my autographed 8x10s of Walter Payton.

Matt from Chesterfield, MI

Watched the video. Quadzilla left Elvis all shook up.

Please see yourself out.

Scott from Seattle, WA

Are we almost there Papa Spoff?

Officially one week from today. Happy Wednesday.

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