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Inbox: Run defense is as team-oriented as it gets

It’ll be a process to figure out what works best


Nathan from Williamstown, MA

Are there any plans afoot among the coaches or players for late-night film sessions in Plato's cave?

A new week is upon us, thankfully.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

Does the predominance of youth work for or against GB in the national broadcast Week 1 vs. your biggest rival? How much of a tone-setter could that game be for the season?

Honestly, it'll set the tone for Week 2, but not much else. It's a long season.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

Curious, do you fellas have a "pre-practice" confab where you determine themes or specifics you'll be looking for, or do you simply attend the practice, observe, and report on what you see? Thanks ...

I just see what unfolds, on the field and in the locker room interviews. I consider myself a reporter first and foremost. I don't know what exactly it's called, but entering a given day with a preconceived notion of what you're writing about isn't necessarily reporting.

Mark from Apollo Beach, FL

Good morning all! Forgive me if this has been asked already, but will the Cincinnati game be blogged?

Yes, the live blog will return for the preseason games.

Pat from Hudson, WI

Wes's piece on Kenny Clark was very inspiring and I'm hoping for a follow-up once Kenny Sr. gets to see his son play at Lambeau for the first time. What a great story!

To anyone who missed Wes’s story over the weekend, I encourage you to check it out. It's been a long, hard road for the Clark family.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Outside of this forum, I'm reading about the need to bring back Mason Crosby after the FG team went 1-for-6 on Saturday. What is your take on the state of this critical special-teams unit?

Anders Carlson went 5-for-6 from 40-45 yards in his first FG period of camp. Then he went 1-for-6 from mid-40s to low-50s distances, into the wind, on Saturday. What matters now is not that it happened but how he responds to it. His next kicking session will be revealing, followed by the progression to brighter lights on Family Night and in the preseason games.

Randy from Billings, MT

I was skeptical of Nathaniel Hackett being hired for the Denver head coach position due to a lack of experience, having not even called plays. I still was rooting for him to be successful since he is a bright light. I think Sean Payton's comments were out of order and I will be rooting for the Jets to hammer the Donkeys when they meet. Hope the Jets' offense has a great day. Do you know if Hackett will be calling plays for the Jets?

That's my assumption. He called plays at previous NFL stops, just not in Green Bay under LaFleur.

Jacob from Brighton, MI

Will a Green Bay Packer be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame before Aaron Rodgers?

Probably Sterling Sharpe. More on that below.

Etienne from Saint Joachim de Tourelle, Canada

Good morning, Insiders. Based on the competition they face, I think, in my humble opinion, that Sterling Sharpe as a better chance to make the class of 2024 than Mike Holmgren, who is facing a lot of valid candidates.

I agree. If the Hall of Fame continues to put multiple senior candidates in annually (they'll be moving three forward for consideration in the '24 class, and it's been a long time since a senior nominee was voted down), Sharpe has a great chance to get in this year or next. While I do believe Holmgren will eventually get in, the coach/contributor category gets just one per year, and with Robert Kraft plus two-time Super Bowl-winning coaches Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan all on the docket, Holmgren might be waiting a while.

Mark from Eureka, IL

So why aren't all players required to wear the guardian helmet? Maybe some positions are more prone, but it can happen to any player.

Receivers and DBs don't have to wear them, but rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks got a concussion the other day. If there are more such incidents around the league, I could see all players being required to wear them eventually.

The Green Bay Packers hosted a public training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Saturday, July 29, 2023.

Mike from Algoma, WI

Mike mentioned again the future being linemen in the two-point stance. He's probably right, but I feel that will be a massive mistake by the NFL. You can't possibly have injury-free sport, but you can make a sport unwatchable. Who's ready for some two-hand touch?!

That projection is not about injuries in general, but what I believe will be the eventual step to remove more head contact from the game in the trenches, and thereby reduce concussions and long-term brain impact further.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

What are players on the PUP list allowed to do/prohibited from doing during training camp?

They just can't practice. They can attend meetings, rehab, work out, etc., but they can't participate in any practice drills with coaches and/or teammates without being activated off PUP.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

In your response to Harry from Bessemer about Crosby's range you set the bar for cold weather at 20 degrees and mentioned the game against the Lions in Week 18 last year since it was 21 degrees that day. I think honorable mention should also go to the longest kick he ever made at Lambeau being a 56-yarder a week earlier when the temperature was in the mid-30s.

Duly noted, and I was going to mention that one until I looked it up and saw the official game-time temperature that day was 40. Sorry, but I just can't count 40 degrees as cold weather.

John from Portland, OR

With the running game expected to be the backbone of the offense, will the loss of two of their top run blockers (M. Lewis and A. Lazard) have a big impact or is it not a real concern?

It's significant, especially at tight end, where there's no replicating what Big Dog provides. That said, formations and misdirections can create opportunities to run the ball, too, and make the main five up front more effective. Like everything else on offense this year, it'll be a process to figure out what works best.

Chad from Marinette, WI

During the '96, '97 Super Bowl years, we had Reggie White. In 2010 we had Charles Woodson. That prominent player that could singlehandedly change a game. We don't have that player. Last attempt was Julius Peppers. Who could be that player? Is there anyone?

On defense, I believe both Rashan Gary and Jaire Alexander are capable of being that player, but they aren't there yet. We shall see.

Charlie from Morgan Hill, CA

I don't feel this way but allow me to play Devil's advocate. How do we know all the positive, supportive comments from teammates about Jordan Love aren't just cliche and player speak?

I'd like to think I've been around long enough to know when the media is being fed a line. That's not my read. The comments feel genuine to me. That doesn't guarantee anything about how Love will play, but I believe his teammates really do like him and believe in him.

Andy from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

I think Mike nailed it with "both parties needed the reset. It was time." Ted Thompson was famous for preferring to let players go a year too early than a year too late. While it's still fresh and not too much hindsight yet, is the transition we are currently in too early, too late, or right on time? It feels on time to me.

This is admittedly an oversimplification as well as small sample size, but if you compare Love's performances in '21 at Kansas City and Detroit with his outing in '22 at Philadelphia, I think you have your answer. There's an argument to be made with the Adams trade that last year would've been a more appropriate time to start the transition, but I don't blame the Packers for trying to run it back one more time. Sometimes (stuff) happens. Watson didn't hit his stride until after midseason, mostly due to injuries. The special teams took awhile to find itself. The defense rode an underachieving rollercoaster for three months. The QB broke his thumb. My only lingering question from '22 is whether Love should've been given a shot during that stretch of seven losses in eight games while Rodgers' thumb healed, but the extent of the injury wasn't revealed publicly for six weeks and decisions were made. It's all hindsight now.

Green Bay Packers players rode down the DreamDrive to Ray Nitschke Field for training camp practice on Saturday, July 29, 2023.

Mike from Lake Geneva, WI

I have the ultimate trust in BG and the front office, but we seem a little thin at safety. With mixed results from Darnell Savage and unknowns/reclamation projects opposite from him I'm concerned. Talk me off the cliff or give me a hard push. My fate is in your hands.

The Packers have question marks at that position, for sure. They need the Savage from the second half of 2020 to return, and the personnel department needs to be right that one or more of the others in that competition hasn't played his best football yet. If neither scenario evolves as hoped, that'll put undue pressure on a strong cornerback group.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Could this be the deepest ILB room in recent memory? If Dre is fully healthy and Quay Walker takes a big step in Year 2 the starters should have a huge impact. Isaiah McDuffie and Eric Wilson will play lights out on special teams and provide quality depth if called upon. Throw in Tariq Carpenter with a super unique skillset learning the position. If the D-line can eat blocks I'd like to think our run defense will be vastly improved.

I like the promise and I like the depth inside, but as you suggest, run defense is as team-oriented as it gets. A lot of moving parts have to do their jobs for the overall performance to improve.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Mike, how is Brenton Cox Jr. performing? My understanding is this young man has early-round talent, but troublesome behavior kept him from being drafted at all. It's a low-risk, high-reward gamble which makes it interesting to follow.

I'm eager to see him with the pads going on. I'll be keeping an eye out in the one-on-ones, and then obviously in the preseason games.

Tom from West Palm Beach, FL

Potentially silly question here – in Mike's piece on Jayden Reed, Reed mentioned being able to "attack guys, step on their toes." Is that just a turn of phrase or do receivers actually try to step on defenders' toes to slow them down and get separation?

It's an expression, but it refers to giving the defender as little room as possible to react to the receiver's move at the top of his route stem. If the receiver can be in so tight as to be "stepping on his toes," the defender's momentum can take him an extra step in a wrong direction as the receiver makes his cut.

Sean from Belvidere, IL

It sounded like Daniel Whelan had a pretty good Saturday with his punting. Does he have any chance of taking Pat O'Donnell's spot?

I want to see him in a preseason game before gauging those odds.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

What Packer assistant coach, or coaches, bring the most energy at practices?

Rich Bisaccia is close to a class by himself in this category. It's truly entertaining to watch him coach.

Jack from Chicago, IL

First day of pads always makes me think of coach Greene saying, "It is time." What drills/positions/battles are you watching for to give you info on an interesting player or unit?

The pass rush/pass blocking one-on-ones are always worth a look-see with the pads on. Same for route/coverage one-on-ones. In 11-on-11, when a defender up front gets penetration, you know it's more legit.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Hi Mike, so how do you and Wes cover all the areas of training camp with so much going on? Do you split sections of the field; do you each focus on one area (e.g. offense, defense); do you concentrate and rotate different position groups; or focus on specific players? There's so much going on that I'm curious as to how you both split up and organize how you view and cover training camp practices. It's not like you have instant replay to review the prior play as they're on to the next rep.

The primary portions we're watching for our coverage are the 11-on-11, and we often stand next to each other and verbally compare notes play after play to help one another not miss anything. Wes is charting and tweeting a lot more than I am, but in the interest of keeping my eyes up as much as possible, I also like seeing what makes a strong enough impression to stick with me mentally a few days later.

Phillip from Wonder Lake, IL

When will we know when the team is going to have a winning season?

At the moment a ninth victory is recorded. Happy Monday.

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