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Inbox: That's one thing we can all be grateful for

It’s probably time people stop trying to put a label on Allen Lazard

RB Aaron Jones

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Guys, I can't think of a question or a comment to offer. Therefore, I believe it is time for the season to start.

Isn't that the truth?

Matt from Des Moines, IA

Are you more excited about seeing offense or the revamped defense in Week 1?

Defense. I've been staring at this brand-new car in the showroom for four months. I'm ready for the test drive.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

I have read at least two maybe more articles recently that refer to Allen Lazard as a possession receiver. That must be some weak national narrative. Am I biased? I view him as a much better player than that: 850-plus yards in 2021!

It's probably time people stop trying to slap a label on Allen Lazard. At 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, Lazard doesn't fit into that box. He's beyond it. I'm just hoping we get to see a full season with a healthy No. 13. Because I think it would put a lot of these narratives to bed.

Jacob from West Allis, WI

It is well known that Aaron Rodgers can make opposing defenses pay when they decide to blitz him. That being said, do you think teams will try and blitz more than normal early in the year knowing that the current offensive line has not played any games together?

Defenses pick their poison every time they line up across Rodgers. I'm sure defenses, beginning with New Orleans', will test Green Bay's interior offensive line the first couple weeks of the season. It's up to Josh Myers and Royce Newman to meet that challenge and prove they're game. Once they shut the door on stunts, the rest takes care of itself.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

With the new OL configurations, it would stand to reason that pass blocking might be something less than what we have had in prior years. Will we see more rollouts and QB movement to counter the assumed increased pressure rates? I think back to AR's comments about his focus on leg work and making sure he can throw with strength, but it sounds even more important this year for the purposes of rolling out or moving the pocket.

The Packers have plenty of designed rollouts off run-actions built into this offense, so I'm sure we'll see some of that against the Saints. But I don't expect it to be noticeably more than last year. There will be times when the O-line is asked to buy Rodgers time, but the offense – at its core – is driven by tempo. They're not going to ask Myers and Newman to block for five seconds every play.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

While I know it's possible that Za'Darius Smith may be able to play in the opener, it's probably unreasonable to expect his game or his back to be 100%. Perhaps one of the keys to the game will be whether the trimmed down Smith brother and Mr. Gary pick up some of the slack against the excellent Saints tackles. Not just pressuring the Saints QB but setting the edge against the Saints' running attack. What are your thoughts?

With or without Za'Darius Smith, Rashan Gary is going to be a pivotal player for the Packers this year. He has many of the same physical traits as Za'Darius, which keeps the Packers in all their defensive packages. But Gary is also coming into his own at 23 years old and you can see his confidence growing. Like the offensive line's approach to David Bakhtiari's injury, the Packers need to be patient and get Za'Darius healthy. That's where Gary can come up huge.

Nick from Hamilton, Canada

The most nervous person for the Saints vs. Packers has to be Winston's optometrist. Really hoping Jaire and the boys can squash whatever marketing campaign he's cooking up.

The Saints are gonna come out firing. The question is whether Winston hits his targets. This is a big game out of the gate for Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and the rest of Green Bay's secondary. There's a statement to be made.

Laura from Arlington, VA

Who is/are the most in-shape player(s) on the team?

The cornerbacks and/or receivers. If I'm pressed to say one guy…maybe Jaire? His battery never reaches zero.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Earlier this week, nfl.com posted a WAR rating for the top five NFL players in three categories: QBs, non-QB offensive players and all defensive players. The average WAR for the top-five QBs was over six-plus, the average for non-QB offense was just under two-plus, and the average for all defensive was also just under two-plus. Top five non-QB offense were all skill-position players. On D, they were from all three levels. Wondering your take on this and if a WAR rating will become common if football?

It's only a matter of time. WAR (wins above replacement) and win shares took over baseball in the 2000s and I feel like it was one of the better sabermetric measurements to come out of the Bill James era. In regard to football, I'd expect QBs' values to be higher given their heavy influence over the outcome of a game. I'm excited to learn more about it.

Justin from Oliver Springs

Do you feel like the offense benefited from the lack of fans last year? Should that be a concern this year considering we have a young O-line including a rookie center? I know being able to communicate is huge for the offensive line and Aaron.

With Rodgers under center, there's no question the Packers benefited from the lack of fans last year. Rodgers cut up defenses with pre-snap adjustments and his cadence at the line of scrimmage all season long. I don't see fans returning as a "concern," though. Rodgers will adjust and so, too, will his linemen.

Frank from Baton Rouge, LA

I forgot the name of the Green Bay high school player in camp...did he make the practice squad?

Cole Van Lanen. And yes, he did. I think that'll be good for him, too. It gives Van Lanen time to develop his body and find his comfort zone in the NFL.

Keith from Wallace, ID

I'm wondering if the reason for carrying a long snapper and a kicker on the practice squad is more about having a COVID backup?

I think that's more a product of having 16 spots on the practice squad than concerns over COVID. Teams can bring in specialists at any time, test them and get them in the building within a day or two if they're vaccinated.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

So for all the talk and hype over the last couple of months about how deep the 90-man roster was, is it surprising that none of our releases were claimed on waivers and I think only one signed elsewhere? Is that a sign the rest of the league didn't think we were as deep/talented as we thought we were?

Fans make so much more out of this than the reality of what happens during final cuts. The truth is every NFL team has tough decisions to make about its own 53-man roster. Unless there is a glaring need, most clubs aren't champing at the bit to cut a player they're invested in to claim someone else's.

Mark from St. Paul, MN

Eric from Hubertus did have a good question, and I don't know the exact answer either, but when the Vikings used TCF Bank, it had to be substantially upgraded to "NFL" standards. I think the field needed to have in-ground heating, restrooms added, allow for alcohol-serving, more media accommodations, etc. Also, it could be if it's just for one game due to an issue with the home stadium, then it must be an actual NFL stadium. Just a guess.

I think that was a pretty big exception the NFL made for the Vikings while the new Metrodome was being built. Regardless, I'm less interested in this game being played in Jacksonville than the NOLA.com report that the Saints were looking for a venue where it would be hardest for Packers fans to reach. What other NFL teams does that happen to?

Randy from Westminster

I don't understand the spite sent Jordan Love's way. I believe he's shown he has the skills, but it will take time. If you watch the Bills' Josh Allen now and compare him to his first two years, when many thought he was a bust, now many believe he is an MVP candidate. Or Aaron Rodgers and where he was in his first few years. Was there this much angst about Rodgers replacing Favre?

I'm ready for the Love questions to be over and done with. The regular season is here now. He played well for a 22-year-old quarterback. He made the strides you want to see, but Rodgers is the man for his time and place. This is his team.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

No question today. Just thankful that we are on single digits for the jersey countdown. Can't wait to see what this season brings. Hoping everyone has an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend.

Isn't it nice to have a long holiday weekend with football right around the corner? That's one thing we can all be grateful for.


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