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Inbox: That's a great wild card to have

The Packers’ leadership council is an important part of the process

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RB Tyler Ervin

Bruce from Arbor Vitae, WI

I've been a reader for years, but I don't think I have ever read a better response than Mike's reply to Brian on Monday. It was something for everyone to reflect upon. Thank you!

It was perfect and very well-articulated. I couldn't have said it better if I tried. Good morning!

Geoff from Omaha, NE

I've never really understood the concept of a change-of-pace back. Is it similar to going from a fastball to a change-up in baseball (e.g. the batter needs a pitch or two to get acclimated) or would you equate it to something else?

He gives the starter a breather and shows the defense a different look from what it's accustomed to seeing. It can be as simple as a power back like Jamaal Williams coming in for the shifty Aaron Jones or how the Packers used Tyler Ervin on offense late last season. The ultimate change of pace was probably Randall Cobb because it forced the defense to show its hand on who was covering him if he split out wide.

Scott from Grovetown, GA

With all the talk of having a three-headed monster (A. Jones, J. Williams, and AJ Dillon) in the backfield it seems Swervin' Ervin is getting overlooked. Isn't it really a four-headed monster?

Sure. The more heads on the monster, the better. The 49ers use so many running backs the casual fans lose count. Ervin showed me a lot last year in his brief stint with the Packers. He can do a little bit of everything and that's a great wild card to have, both on offense and special teams.

Doug from Storrs, CT

Is the move to more focus on the running game real, or does it just seem like it? If it is real, is there a reason other than just a change in NFL fashion? Were there any rule changes that have led to it? Or someone noticing that running backs are cheaper than wide receivers?

There's room for interpretation but it's definitely not the price tag. Personally, I think the resurgence of the run game is a product of the bunch formations and misdirection that have become prevalent in recent years. It's easier to run the ball when there are two in-line tight ends on the field than in a spread offense routinely lining up four receivers.

Paul from Hewitt, WI

I have a few questions with regard to the Packers' players council referenced in recent articles on packers.com. Is this something new or are we now being made more aware of it? Are all team captains on the council? Do you have a list of those on the council? Who selects this council? Thank you.

The leadership council has been around for as long as I can remember but it gained headlines last year when Matt LaFleur and the veterans started holding weekly meetings. It's only one or two players per position group but there's not like a set limit or anything. I know Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Marcedes Lewis, Corey Linsley, David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, Adrian Amos and the Smiths are on it. It's an important part of the process.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

I faced a HS pitcher in the early '90s that was throwing in the low 90s and I struck out swinging at everything over and over, so I feel for Mike. The three OL draft picks this year all have a ton of upside and I hope that Bakhtiari and Linsley will both be holding down spots for a long time, along with Elgton Jenkins. The right side of the OL is completely up in the air, in my opinion. Who are your picks at RG and RT in 2020 and beyond?

The right side will be Billy Turner and Rick Wagner. They're being paid to start and see no reason why they won't (barring injury). Beyond that, I'm not sure what the future holds for the starting five. The Packers have great depth on the offensive line and also some crucial decisions to make in the next year.

Tom from New Berlin, WI

Do you feel any of the rookie linemen drafted will get any playing time? If they do, will Cole Madison be in jeopardy of being cut?

I think it would be difficult for any of the rookie O-linemen to see significant playing time in 2020. Lane Taylor and Lucas Patrick appear to be the "next men up," while Alex Light and Yosh Nijman also have NFL experience. Out of all of them, Jon Runyan might have the best shot. As far as Madison goes, he just needs to get healthy.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Spoff said he expects a lot of conversations about what forms of protest the league will and will not support. I hope he's wrong. The conversation should be one sentence. Use the platform to enact positive change. If we've learned anything, it's that peaceful protest in any form at any place and any time needs to be lifted up. It sure beats the alternative. Let these influential players be influential in a way this country desperately needs.

As complicated as social justice reform is, this part of it seems relatively simple – listen to your players and let their collective voice guide you. As it relates to the Packers, I was encouraged on Friday to hear Matt LaFleur has already had meetings and brainstorming sessions with his coaching staff about potential initiatives. LaFleur gets it. Words are great but actions are what matter most.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

I'm not sure how I think about this, but I'll throw it out there. Professional sports players are paid for their time. They are paid to play and entertain the fans. Once they put on the uniform and step onto the field, their obligation is to entertain. The fans do not pay to hear or see their feelings or thoughts. In street clothes, they are free to make their feelings known, and still have the impact they want to have. At that point, most fans will still listen.

Most won't. I can assure you of that. I've written the stories. I've seen metrics. They generate little to no buzz. What's more, we've gone down that road before and the issues persist. When given the option to remain quiet and comfortable, that's typically the direction the public leans. These conversations often need to be uncomfortable for real change to happen. Because that's the only language those in power seem to understand.

Take a look at Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke through the years.

John from Monmouth, ME

It looks like the NFL will let each team decide if they will allow protests by the players and how it will be done. I hope the Packers have all the players decide as a team on what they will allow so they will all be on board when it happens. When players protest on their own and some of the teammates disagree with it, it can start a fracture in the team chemistry and we know what that will result in. Thoughts?

Honestly, I feel like the highlight of the 2017 season was how the Packers handled themselves during that period of unrest. The leadership council came together and they locked arms in a sign of unity. This isn't 2017, though. Once the team reconvenes, I imagine the current players will come together and do what they feel is in the best interest of the team.

Joshua from Houston, TX

I would think it would be relatively easy for NFL players to get back together. They're all in peak shape, and I can't imagine too many would make it to the NFL with respiratory diseases. It might affect the coaches more.

You wouldn't think so but you also can't operate on assumptions. These next seven or eight weeks are going to be critical, for both the country understanding how to operate with COVID-19 still out there and NFL teams making preparations. Testing is becoming more readily available but taking all the necessary precautions is paramount.

Dennis from Beaver Dam, WI

My understanding is that people under 50, not overweight, who exercise a lot, and have no other serious health issues are at extremely low risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. Doesn't that describe most pro athletes? If I were a pro athlete I would want to be exposed to COVID before the season started to make sure I didn't get it in season.

This isn't bringing your kid over for a chickenpox party, though. There's still a lot we don't know about COVID-19, especially what, if any, long-term effects there are.

Dan from Naperville, IL

Forget cameras on the players, I want cameras on the refs. This will be either extremely enlightening as to the difficulty of their job, or cause complete chaos and heads to explode with amazement at blown calls. "If the camera mounted on your hat can see it, why can't you!"

Because you're watching it after the fact, knowing where to look and what to look for. It's not in real time. It sounds like a good idea but the Professional Fighters League started doing this and I wasn't a fan. We're in the golden age of camera technology. I feel like the Sky Cam is a better option to get the field angle than putting a GoPro on a ref's hat.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, not a question, but hopefully some cost perspective. I attended my first game at Lambeau last year versus the Lions and got a seat in row 17 two sections from the middle of the field. When I showed my sister (an avid Seahawks fan) what I paid she exclaimed, "You couldn't find a seat in the upper deck of Century Link for that little!"

It's a great point. Another thing that often gets lost is how readily available tickets are to Packers fans, especially those who live in Brown County. My parents didn't have season tickets but I went to two games a year growing up thanks to that annual drawing for Brown County tickets.

Richard from Menasha, WI

I can't help but stand up and cheer on big plays, especially at Lambeau. Am I wrong? Do I have questionable stadium etiquette?

You do not. Last year was great, by the way. That was one of the best atmospheres I can recall at Lambeau Field. Packers fans definitely stepped their game up.

Team photographer Evan Siegle's final installment reviewing photos from the 2019 season.

TW from Waterloo, IA

I have seen talk about no other sports available and wishing there would "finally" be a return to sports. What about NASCAR? I am a NASCAR junkie and love watching 40 3,500-pound cars drive 200 MPH around a track inches from each other. Motor sports are still sports and I wish more people would watch and fall in love with it as much as I have. What do you think?

It's a niche sport. It's no different than my love of UFC and MMA. You like what you like but the pool to find new fans isn't as large as people think, even during a pandemic.

Caleb from 'Aiea, HI

The Packers should retire another number. Hornung's No. 5? Charles Woodson's 21? Leroy Butler's 36? Johnny Blood's 27?

Hornung's No. 5. I get why it isn't officially retired but I pretty much consider it to be.

Andy from Garden, MI

If teddy bears are placed in the end zones at Lambeau to facilitate the leap, they need to be wearing masks, preferably the ones with the Packers logo recently sent out to ticket holders.

Hopefully, it doesn't come to that but that is a great Plan Bear, I mean Plan B.

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