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Inbox: The Packers will bring it all with them

No one is looking past them

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RB AJ Dillon

William from Palmdale, CA

When will we know when your midweek chat is scheduled for?

You'll know right now. It's at 11 a.m.

Fred from Fort Wayne, IN

When will Green Bay pick this year's captains?

Sometime today. Hopefully not right at 11 a.m., or I just lied to William because that'll make me late to the chat.

Carolina from Olympia, WA

What's wrong with Allen Lazard?

Also on the docket for today, when the first injury report is released.

Matt from Kolesin, Poland

Hi Insiders! Do you feel the hunger inside the team, and the "unfinished business" thing in the air around Lambeau Field? Are the guys motivated not less than the two previous years? I feel like it was the main plot the last offseason and this year Adams' deal dominated everything. Thanks for your work and I wish you to have enough energy entering this season. It's going to be the longest run since years.

I don't get an "unfinished business" vibe overall. Maybe for some players. But there are a number of new additions at various stages of their careers, plus several key guys coming back from injury, that collectively present a lot of newness and unknowns to a team that knows it's a contender. To me, it feels more like, "All right, this is what we've got now. What can we do with it?"

Connor from Minnetonka, MN

Which NFC team is the biggest threat this year?

Choosing one from a top-of-mind list of four or five right now is impossible. Last year, the Packers in Week 3 beat the team that eventually beat them in the playoffs. They beat the last remaining undefeated team that eventually flamed out in the wild-card round. They also beat the eventual Super Bowl champs in late November. So your guess is as good as mine.

CJ from Marshfield, WI

Mike, Vic was often critical about Z's performance vs. the run. When you review his 2020 snaps per game, his lower numbers were vs. some run-oriented teams. What's your take? Do you see GB running right at him early and often?

I would expect the Packers to test him in that regard, sure. But I don't see the entire run plan being focused, as some readers are suggesting, on attacking Smith. LaFleur's run scheme builds in mis-directions and counters to the inside and outside zone concepts. The Packers will bring it all with them and see where it goes.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Everyone has talked about Za'Darius and his possible impact on the game but how about our two past defensive coordinators now with the Vikings? Obviously a lot has changed but we still have Aaron Rodgers taking the snaps. Do you think their familiarity with No. 12 could be the X-factor giving them an edge? The Vikings really have done a major overhaul since last season so hopefully we're not looking past them!

First, I guarantee you no one is looking past them. Second, past two DCs? Dom Capers is with Denver and hasn't been with Minnesota since 2020. Third, I've said for years the benefit of familiarity with specific players is overblown, and I've never seen anything to convince me otherwise.

Steve from Rockford, IL

When Cousins played at MSU, he had a reputation of being clutch in big moments, but a little undisciplined in footwork and form. Seems like Rashan Gary could cause a great deal of damage with solid pressure and maybe an early QB hit or two. Happy feet turns into bad decisions and poor execution. Do you sense this as a key path to success on Sunday?

Cousins doesn't make a living with off-schedule plays, so disrupting his timing and rhythm can go a long way, and he definitely scrambled more in his younger years. That said, I think he's gotten better with age at maneuvering within the pocket and finding outlets. His two Pro Bowl years in Minnesota (2019, '21) his sack numbers were way down compared to other seasons.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

I understand the Vikings have a different coach and offense this year, but still have Cousins throwing to Jefferson, who last year in Minneapolis caught eight passes for 169 yards and 2 TDs against Barry's defense. Do you anticipate Barry putting Jaire Alexander in a shadow situation to try to negate that or somehow take away their biggest threat like Belichick often does against teams?

We have no way to know. The Packers' cornerback trio of Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes was on the field together for all of eight snaps last season, in the playoff game. How Barry is going to use them when they're together for a whole game, and hopefully an entire season, will be not only fascinating to watch but also potentially different any given week.

Tracy from Little Rock, AR

I can't wait to see that end-zone package out there. A two-TE package with Big Dog, Robert Tonyan, Lazard and both RBs. That my friends is a personnel package to be feared. What personnel package and/or situation are you excited to see?

See the cornerback grouping above.

George from Edinburg, VA

Good morning sirs! I believe I read somewhere that practice-squad salaries are now fixed. Teams used to offer to pay PS players their active salary to stay, rather than go to another team claiming them. Is this practice gone now?

Correct. Practice-squad pay is now fixed for players with two or fewer accrued seasons. Veterans on practice squads have a pay range, but it's capped well below active-roster minimums.

Sebastian from Erlangen, Germany

Gentlemen, servus from Germany. First I'm excited to declare I got the coveted tickets for the London game, my first NFL experience and it's my beloved Packers. My question, last year AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones, and I could be wrong, were together on only 24 plays the whole season. If this is correct, is it possible we could see them together for 24 snaps in a game(s) this year?

I believe your first number is low, but your second one could be, too.

David from Sheridan, WY

Do you think Pujols will hit 700? What would be the football equivalent of 700 home runs?

Probably 500 TD passes, I guess, but 700 HR remains historically and presently more difficult to achieve. If Pujols gets to 700, he'll be the fourth all-time to reach that number, and the next closest active player is 194 away (Miguel Cabrera). If Rodgers throws 51 more TD passes, he'll be the fifth to 500, and the next closest active player is 133 away (Matt Ryan, 367).

Bill from Menominee, MI

With regards to HOFers on the XLV squad, let's not forget the Packers were the wild-card team. They got hot when it mattered with above-average contributions from the lower half of the roster. Winning XLV wasn't driven by HOF players walking through the season dominating opponents. It was the timely support by the Jarrett Bush and James Starks type of players on the roster.

Very true, though it did have its share of dominant wins, five by more than two TDs, plus another in the playoffs. But my favorite factoid about the XLV team is it never trailed by more than seven points in any game that season. So it dominated some but was never dominated, even for a short stretch of time, by any team it played.

Tim from Pepin, WI

Are you at all concerned about De'Vondre Campbell's comments that the defense can "just line up and go"? That reminds of the philosophy of former DC Bob Sanders (IIRC) in 2008. He played a lot of vanilla schemes. The defense did compete well, but often in the end the opposing offenses did just enough. The one game where the defense shined was against Indianapolis, where Sanders employed a specific scheme to take Marvin Harrison away. Players make plays, but scheme puts them in position.

The full context of Campbell's comment must be understood. He was talking about Joe Barry getting the call into him quickly, without being hung up on making the "perfect call." It had nothing to do with being vanilla. It was about being decisive to facilitate effective communication. He wants to get the guys lined up right away so they have time to read/react and combine their instincts with the scheme to make them successful. Whatever the scheme, defensive players would always rather have everyone running the same call, even if it's not the best one, than to have nine guys running the greatest call ever with two players not sure what to do because the communication isn't timely or efficient.

George from North Mankato, MN

How do you think the addition of Jalen Reagor changes the complexion of the opening-week game vs. the Vikings? The only highlight I've seen from his Eagles tenure is his punt return for a TD vs. the Packers.

He just arrived there a week ago, so I wouldn't expect him to know enough of the playbook to play a major role. He might see the field for a package of plays he can learn quickly, though, and the Packers will have to be prepared for his speed.

Ed from Green Valley, AZ

Using picture 6/29 of the still photo team gallery, I counted 70 players. Did someone sneak in there? I thought we got 53 active players and 16 on the practice squad.

Running back Kylin Hill, who is on regular-season PUP, is the 70th player in the photo.

Joe from Wisconsin Dells, WI

So if Rodgers does play until he's 75 and breaks Favre's interception record, do you see the Packers trading Jordan Love in the offseason or extending his contract?

Good one.

Gary from Arvada, CO

Mike, a major news outlet recently ran a lengthy analysis on the Super Bowl-winning seasons of elite QBs (Brady, Brees, P. Manning, Rodgers) and their teams. Remarkable correlation between QB SB rings and where their teams ranked each year on defense and special teams. New England had more than their share of top-five defenses and ST year after year. No surprise the Pack had great D and ST their last two SBs. Maybe a big "duh" – but for the "A-Rod should have more rings" crowd, worth noting.

Not saying this forthcoming stat is the be-all, end-all, but it's an interesting one to ponder, and I think it speaks – at least a little – to a team's overall balance, e.g., the ability to overcome offensive miscues in the biggest games. In their postseason careers, Rodgers has thrown an interception in 10 of 22 games, while Brady has thrown one in 24 of 47, roughly similar percentages. In the 10 games, the Packers are 2-8. In the 24 games, Brady's teams are 15-9. For those wondering, Rodgers' only postseason wins when throwing an INT are the 2010 conference title game in Chicago and the 2016 divisional at Dallas.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, the Vikings have been the one team in the NFC North that have seemed to be the burr in the Packers' saddle in recent years. Yet, with the rightful recognition that their offensive players are impressive, it seems that they have been so successful because of Mike Zimmer's defenses. Are they now less of a threat, because they won't be as good at stopping 12?

Minnesota's two wins over Green Bay in the Matt LaFleur era have occurred when the Vikings scored 28 and 34 points, respectively.

Rick from Millersburg, PA

I know it hasn't been open that long but what is our record at U.S. Bank Stadium?

2-4, after an 0-3 start pre-LaFleur.

John from Jupiter, FL

Could you explain a little more about the availability of the Packers radio broadcast on packers.com? As an out-of-state fan will I be able to listen simply from the site?

That's the plan. Go to packers.com/radio on gameday.

Brandon from Pleasant Prairie, WI

Crystal ball time. First touchdown of the Packers' season is scored by...

I despise predictions, but I'll play along. Go big or go home. Jaire Alexander.

Jeremy from Wausau, WI

Care to make a prediction for that Bills-Rams season opener? I'm just hoping for an exciting game to kick off the season.

I don't see how it won't be.

Craig from Cross Plains, WI

On the subject of worry or concern. Worry gives you ulcers. Concern gives you perspective.

Happy Wednesday.

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