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Inbox: The Packers want to, and need to, be better than that

That third spot is up for grabs

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

Rusty from Eustace, TX

Now that the pads are on, how do the battles in the trenches look?

Like they're not for me. Story of my life.

Glen from Eugene, OR

I know there's no math in the Inbox, but wasn't that three guys with four things?

Actually four guys, with Larry's last comment coming from John Kuhn. But who's counting.

Ed from Windsor, CO

Thank you GBP for multiple formats to keep up. In Colorado the focus is on the Broncos. Former Packer coach Hackett appears to be creating a trendy positive atmosphere, no doubt aided by the acquisition of a new QB. Is it a local phenomenon, is it simply hope springs eternal for all, or have you heard about other NFL teams creating quite a stir?

Everyone's excited this time of year because you never know. Turnarounds can happen fast in the NFL. This is also peak baloney season. All part of the deal.

Jason from Rockton, IL

Hi Mike and Wes, I just had a question regarding the II's from more than four or five days ago. I got a bit behind on my II reading, and when I went in to get caught up, it seems that the only ones I can access are from back in June, or the four or five most recent submissions. How can I access posts from before? Thank you for all you do!

There was a glitch in the matrix that was leaving a multi-week gap in the full listing of Insider Inbox postings on the specific II page, but it's been repaired. Saw this comment from several readers and wanted to pass along that those wishing to catch up from the summer/dead zone should be able to access all the columns now. Neo apologizes for the trouble.

Tom from West Haven, VT

In response to Paul from Andover, KS, the Patriots switched from natural grass to artificial turf about halfway through the 2006 season. Their first game on turf was against the Bears.

Didn't recall that. You and Jeff from Lebanon, NJ, did. He mentioned Gillette Stadium turning to a mud/quagmire field after a bad-weather game, prompting the in-season change. Bill from Houston noted the Texans switching from grass to turf after their opener in '15. Thanks to all for the knowledge.

Bryce from Kenosha, WI

Monday's Inbox referenced Rodgers-Nelson, 93 yards as the longest Packers TD pass at Lambeau. Obviously Favre-Brooks at Soldier Field is the longest away from Lambeau. How many other 93-plus-yard pass TDs do the Pack have away from home?

Two. Tobin Rote to Billy Grimes, 96 yards at San Francisco in 1950, and Lynn Dickey to Steve Odom, 95 yards at Minnesota in 1977.

The Green Bay Packers held a public training-camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

Kenny from Wild Rose, WI

Regarding Doug from Neenah's comment about No. 1 and No. 5, in the 1986 season Vince Ferragamo wore the No. 5 for the season as the Packers backup QB behind Randy Wright, appearing in three games. While not questioning Lombardi's comment about the Golden Boy, it has been worn by a regular-season rostered player.

After Ferragamo, No. 5 was worn in 1987 by rookie QB Don Majkowski (before he switched to No. 7) and by replacement QB Willie Gillus. Then kicker Curtis Burrow wore it for his one (ignominious) game in 1988, when he missed a field goal and went 2-for-4 on PATs. It hasn't been worn in a regular-season game since.

Jim from Blythewood, SC

With a player, such as Watson, on the PUP list, what activities are they allowed to participate in? I read that he's on the sidelines, doing "mental reps," but if a player is physically able, can they go through the "walk-throughs" and other non-contact drills?

They can't participate in any on-field activities with their teammates unless/until activated off PUP.

Dylan from Cary, NC

Who gets to go to London? Mike, Wes or both?

If I'm going, he's going.

Kurt from Milwaukee, WI

With so much being said about Rashan Gary, where is the biggest improvement coming from? He's always been physically dominant, but has he improved his body? Is he faster or bigger? He's always been a power/speed guy and I am curious what changed so much to cause this dominance. Experience helps, but most great rushers are great almost immediately. Thoughts?

He's shown a steady progression from when he started the transition from a hand-down lineman to a stand-up rusher. But when he completed the initial switch, he was far from done growing into the new position/role.

Emily from Menasha, WI

Rashan Gary has been excelling in practice and expending a ton of energy during the preseason. Do coaches ever have a sure No. 1 starter back off a bit to save it for when it counts, sort of like a pitch count for the No. 1 QB?

Occasionally, but for a front-line player like Gary who's not going to play much, if at all, in the preseason games, he also needs to get into football shape and pushing it on the practice field is his best way to do that.

Paul from Hewitt, WI

During camp the offense has been wearing the white jerseys and the defense the green jerseys. Since special teams is a combination of both offense and defensive players, is it players wear sock cap over the white protective cap that they wear on the helmets, or do they wear vests?

The guardian caps seem to have put an end to the old stocking-cap-over-the-helmet approach. They've been wearing red and yellow pinnies over their jerseys now.

Robert from Harris, MN

I've been put in my place on this issue here before, but I'll give it another swing. I don't want to be "that guy" living in the "3 yards and a cloud of dust" past but it seems to me that averaging 4.3 yards in the running game, particularly without the requisite gashing runs, a defense is being punished plenty.

Last year's 4.3 average ranked 20th in the league. The Packers want to, and need to, be better than that.

Grant from Janesville, WI

What's the difference in time (hours per day) for on-field work during training camp compared to a typical week during the season? I would guess fewer hours during the season due to rest from previous games plus more film study for the next opponent.

During the season, in a normal week, the team will practice three times (Wed. thru Fri.) for 1½-2 hours each day. In training camp, they'll be on the field five or six days per week for that duration.

John from Yakima, WA

What comments have you heard regarding the caps?

The players understand the effort but don't particularly care for them.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

After the "insanity in Cincinnati" game last year, the Bengals kicker McPherson went 37/39 on field goals the rest of the way, including two walk-off kicks in the playoffs. Mason Crosby's season, of course, went the other way (albeit with some extenuating circumstances). Was there something in the water that day?

That day and its long-term aftermath were a great example of the difference between a kicker having an off day, and a team's operation being off. Remember, the week prior the Packers had a blocked field goal returned for a TD by the Steelers that was fortunately nullified by penalty. That was when it all started going awry.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

Mason Crosby had his knee scoped just prior to training camp. Do you know if he was dealing with a lingering issue or was this a recent injury?

He said it was something that started bugging him more toward the end of OTAs and minicamp. He sounds confident about being ready for Week 1.

Mark from Savannah, GA

Hello, Insiders! Thanks for all you do. The NFL has stayed away from Saturday games because it did not want to bite that hand that feeds it – namely college football. With college football seemingly self-cannibalizing, if you were the commissioner would you considering moving into Saturday night games throughout the season?

No. That's a ratings war the NFL would win, but both sides would lose in the end.

Peter from Oconomowoc, WI

Mike, I read your article regarding Sterling Sharpe being a senior committee finalist. Could you explain more in detail what that means? I absolutely loved watching him play he was an incredible weapon and enormous security blanket for Favre during the early stage of his career. I'd love to see him get into the Hall of Fame. Do you think he has a legitimate chance of getting selected? Should I start planning a road trip to Canton?

The Hall of Fame's senior committee re-considers players whose statute of limitations has run out, so to speak. Players are eligible for enshrinement through the "regular," modern-era process for 20 years – beginning five years after retirement. After that period, the senior committee can take another look at candidates and push forward players for an up-or-down vote from the full selection committee. For a long time now, the senior committee has only been allowed to select one or two players for a full vote each year. For the next three years, the senior committee is getting three per year, which I think increases Sharpe's chances immensely. We'll find out later this month if he's one of this year's three, and then that final vote will take place at the full selection meeting in February.

Christopher from Frederick, MD

About how many different offensive line configurations do you think the first-team offense has shuffled through so far in camp?

Mainly three so far. Jon Runyan is at left guard and Josh Myers at center in all three. The LT-RG-RT combos have been Nijman-Hanson-Newman, Tom-Newman-Nijman, and Nijman-Newman-Tom. If Hanson ever steps in at RG for Newman with Nijman and Tom at the tackle spots, that would be a fourth/fifth lineup.

Andrea from Green Bay, WI

Who has been the biggest surprise of training camp?

Zach Tom. I didn't expect to see a rookie fourth-round pick getting reps with the ones at both tackle spots this early and often.

Mike from New York, NY

Good morning, Mike. I see the role of an "F" tight end referenced often in the II. Can you please elaborate on the roles and differences of the types of tight ends and who fits those roles (Packers or other teams)? I always appreciate your insight.

I don't have the time or space for all that now, but I can tell you the "F" tight end is just another reference to "H-back," meaning when the tight end lines up as a fullback, either directly behind the QB or in an off-set position.

Santiago from Buenos Aires, Argentina

I wanted to know, how is the running back group doing? The top two guys are a lock but the third spot may be in dispute. I liked Kylin Hill the previous season, hope he recovers well from his injury, and Taylor seems like a big body to utilize in many offensive plays. What are you seeing from them and the rest of RBs in training camp?

I've talked a lot before about how much I like Patrick Taylor's body type, and it'll be interesting to see how he performs with experience under his belt now. As for the undrafted rookies, I saw BJ Baylor lower his pads in the hole the other day and deliver some contact. It was audible. My early impression of Tyler Goodson is he's really shifty with quick feet. They all look like they catch well out of the backfield. That third spot is up for grabs, and Hill has yet to return to practice.

Jim from Houston, TX

Wait, did Wes just say that the Packers have so much team speed right now? I can't think of the last time the Packers were accused of have so much speed. Can't wait to see it!

It hasn't happened overnight, but I believe the Packers began drafting more with speed in mind in Ted Thompson's last draft in 2017, after they were overmatched speed-wise in that NFC title game in Atlanta. Some of those speedy draft picks from '17-18 are no longer around (Kevin King, Josh Jones, Oren Burks, MVS), but I believe that's when the transition of focus began, and with it going on for a handful of years now, it's more evident as a larger trait of the roster.

Jim from Green Bay, WI

Do you think with questions at WR, that the offense goes to a two-back set more often and more passes to the RBs?

Said it all offseason, said it again on our latest "Unscripted," never stopped saying it. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are going to be fed the ball as many ways as they can swallow it.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

At this point in training camp, what is the focus? Getting in football shape, perfecting the playbook or just finding out which of the newcomers/backups are going to stick with the team? For some of the veterans is this just hone your craft?

Yes, yes, yes and … yes. Happy Wednesday.