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Inbox: The potential downside is greater now

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Dan from Lindenhurst, IL

Good morning, Vic. I kept my word and I have been boycotting the NFL for a few years now due to all the kneeling. I am finally ready to give the NFL another chance. I hear we finally beefed up our defense. Any predictions on how the defense does this year?

Wow, what a way to start the day. Did you hear there’s a new head coach, too?

Brian from Sussex, WI

Spoff, I know you don't like either expanding the season or playoffs. But, it sounds like NFL is pushing for one or other. Which would you prefer? I wonder if an option to add a round to playoffs is expanding to 16 teams, making the wild-card round played over two weekends.

I’d rather see a game added to the regular season than more qualifiers added to the postseason.

Matthias from Hartford, WI

I once saw a high school team use its punter on the kickoff or free kick. The result was that the ball didn't go nearly as deep, but the returner was held to only a handful of yards. In the rulebook, if the ball is punted on a free kick is it considered live if it's not received?

Yes, as long as it doesn’t reach the end zone. Back in 2014, the Packers lost the ball on a free kick by Detroit’s punter after a safety.

Monica from Blue Mounds, WI

In our sports page, there was a sentence "if Jones clears waivers without being claimed, he'll be able to sign with any team." So if ANY team wanted him why wouldn't they claim him? Does it have something to do with a contract? Or by not claiming, would he be cheaper?

A claimed player’s contract goes with him. If he’s not claimed and becomes a free agent, he has no contract and a team can negotiate any deal it wants, subject to salary minimums and the cap. So yes, a team could get him cheaper if he clears waivers, which Jones did.

Zach from Virginia Beach, VA

Guys, I saw a replay recently of Rodgers’ Hail Mary play against the Lions. One thing I noticed, Rodgers started out scrambling to his left. He switched to his right to avoid a defender. As he did an O-linemen came in for a block to buy Rodgers some more time. The lineman was faced away from the line of scrimmage and the block was towards his own goal line. Is this now a "blindside block" penalty in the NFL?

Good question. I went back and looked at the play, and in this case I don’t think so, for a couple of reasons. One, the defender nearly had his hands on Rodgers, so the block was not in open space. Two, the offensive lineman gave him a two-hand shove, not a “lower the boom,” de-cleating type of hit. I think it would be considered legally running interference.

Austin from Minneola, FL

I know that Matt LaFleur initially said he wanted to take a backfield-by-committee approach to the run game, but based on what we have seen in practice and locker room interviews, it sure seems that Aaron Jones has taken the title of the No. 1 back. Do you expect to see Jones and Williams to split carries like they did last year, or do you see Jones taking the bulk of this year's carries?

I’ve been saying all along Jones is the No. 1 back in this offense, and I don’t recall LaFleur ever talking about a committee. Yes, he wants depth and options, and he’s glad to have Williams for his experience and all-around game. It’s a long season and he won’t want to wear Jones out, or Williams if Jones has to miss any time. But Jones is the No. 1 guy here.

Greg from Downers Grove, IL

With the new challenge rules, how many more challenges do you feel there will be this year? And do you expect to see more or less challenges for offensive interference?

I’m really not sure. Coaches are going to be inclined to hang onto a challenge for that questionable fourth-quarter pass interference call (or non-call) before the two-minute warning turns it over to the booth. In recent years as scoring plays and turnovers have fallen under automatic review, we’ve seen coaches be a little less judicious in their decisions to throw the red flag. That fourth-quarter pass interference possibility might actually lead to fewer challenges. Through the course of a game coaches will still have to be right on both of their allotted challenges in order to get a third one, and the potential downside of being out of challenges before the fourth quarter is greater now.

Tom from Blaine, WA

Wes is absolutely correct. As long as fans buy tickets, preseason games aren't going anywhere. How much do you think attendance would have to fall at preseason games to convince the owners to reduce or eliminate those games?

They’re required buys for season-ticket packages, so there’s a lot of revenue involved even if the fans don’t show up.

Andy from Verona, WI

Since there has not been a decision about who will start at left guard, will Jenkins and Taylor be playing in the final preseason game or will the decision be make based on practice performance only?

Given both players were held out of the game in Winnipeg, I don’t expect either to play Thursday. I suspect the decision has been made but not revealed.

Tim from Spokane, WA

I don't envy Gute's job duties coming up this week. The good news is he has some tough decisions coming up. The bad news is he has some tough decisions coming up.

Nature of the beast.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

How soon after 3 p.m. on Saturday will the fans know the 53-man roster and will we learn it from the Packers or the NFL?

It’ll come from the team, and we’ll have it on packers.com as soon as the communications department gets the go-ahead to announce the roster moves. In past years that time has varied from late afternoon to early evening.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, I’m sorry I know this type of question has come up over and over, but with Campbell not having practiced yet, he’s on PUP and will not need a roster spot to stay with the team come cut-down day if he’s not activated? Subsequently he will not need to wait a specified amount of time to be activated to the roster like on an IR stint, but would obviously need a roster spot cleared with someone else being released?

Players who finish the preseason on PUP and are then placed on regular-season PUP cannot practice for the first six weeks. Between Weeks 7 and 11, the player must return to practice, be placed on IR, or be released. Once he returns to practice, that begins a three-week window during which the team must decide whether to place him on the active roster or on IR. So, there is a minimum waiting period with both PUP (six weeks of practice) and IR (six weeks of practice, eight weeks of games), and both have a three-week window from the player’s first practice in which to make a final roster decision.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

What player has the most riding on Thursday night?

Too many to name. With the 90-man roster being trimmed to 63 (53 plus 10 on the practice squad), a few will probably go on IR, but that’s still at least a couple dozen players who will be looking for a job with another team come Sunday afternoon.

Terry from Roscoe, IL

How is it decided how much to pay a player for injury settlement? A portion of whatever salary they make? Or a set amount for the injury?

The length of time the player would be out of action is negotiated, and then his weekly salary (the annual figure in his contract divided by 17) is paid the agreed upon number of weeks.

Matt from Waukesha, WI

If a player is placed on IR before making the 53, they can be released via an injury settlement. Can said player then be re-signed by the team after clearing waivers, assuming they're subject to waivers?

A player who receives an injury settlement is not subject to waivers, and he essentially becomes a free agent. But the team with which he settled cannot re-sign him until at least six weeks after the end of the injury settlement period, leaving a large time frame for other teams to swoop in.

Brad from Escanaba, MI

With Boyle having a great second quarter in the Raiders game, what are the odds he moves into the second QB spot that Kizer held last year?

In my view, he’s put himself in position to earn that spot, but Kizer has one more opportunity to answer, and it would help Boyle to follow up his strong outing this week, whenever he plays.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

A submission from Greasy Corner, AZ, … great way to end yesterday's II. Mike, Andrew Luck only had a seven-year career and his numbers fall far short of HOF consideration, but I'm wondering if he had extended those numbers over say a 15-year career would he have been worthy of a spot in Canton in your opinion?

Almost certainly, but it’s a moot point now.

Matt from Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Listening to an Indianapolis beat writer on the crowd booing Andrew Luck, he felt that after the fans watch his press conference they will probably regret booing, but he also argued that many fans put down thousands of dollars for season tickets with expectations that Luck would be the QB so he understood their immediate reaction. They can’t get their money back and many of them paid to see a specific product (Luck) and feel betrayed, so he can see that.

I can, too, but then start up a chant of “Please don’t go,” or something to that effect. As I noted on Monday, the fact that the immediate reaction was to boo says something about our society that’s disheartening at the very least.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

A lot of comments about fans' reaction to the Andrew Luck news, and rightly so. However, breaking that news over social media during a preseason game with Luck on the sidelines was a bad look. The issue here, as noted by the insider who broke the news, is that was not the intention. Luck informed Brissett during the game and had intentions to tell his teammates on Sunday with a press conference on Monday. Irresponsible journalism at its finest.

Couldn’t disagree with you more, and you clearly don’t understand the business. The issue is not the reporter breaking the story, but that it was leaked in the first place. If everyone in the know keeps his mouth shut, it doesn’t go down the way it did. But once a reporter has solid information, he owes it to his employer to break the news. That’s what he’s getting paid to do. If he found out about it, he can’t be sure it wasn’t leaked to someone else, too, therefore he can’t sit on it or his outlet could get beat by another news organization on something he knew. He wouldn’t be doing his job. This one’s not on the media.

Joe from Liberty Township, OH

One assumed barrier to eliminating kickoffs is how to replace onside kicks. I understand fans are more likely to stay tuned in if a team is making a big comeback, and we all know the dollar rules, so at the end of the day we are probably stuck with some retain-the-ball method. But why are we so obsessed with providing a means for a team to keep the ball and score again? Don't get so far behind you need an onside kick in the first place.

Except you said it yourself, the dollar rules. There’s no more valuable ad space in an NFL game than the two-minute warning at the end of the fourth quarter. A free kick to retain possession has been in the game’s rules practically forever, as far as I know. It’s not some artificial creation for added drama, like NBA teams being allowed to advance the ball three-quarters of the court after a late timeout.

Joel from Hamilton, Ontario

If a team claims two RBs, thinking they will hedge their bets because they doubt their first choice will be available, but are awarded both claims, can the team change its mind and decline the second awarded player, or must they make room for all claimed players?

Waiver claims can be prioritized when they’re turned in to the league.

Mark from Westminster, CO

Spoff, I liked your Raven Greene piece, specifically the quote, "I never rushed once. I had no blitzes or anything like that, so this is all new to me, but I'm starting to see it's my skill-set.” This quote tells me the coaches are putting players into positions that fit their skill-set and football personalities. I’m looking forward to seeing the effects of how the Rashan Gary tinkering will turn out. It’s a learning process for both coaches and players.

I’m very curious, too.

Chip from Merrill, WI

Mike, I just finished reading the book “Carry On” by Lisa Fenn. Thanks for the recommendation to read this inspiring story. I did notice the ending of your answer to a reader’s question recently. Dartanyon writes on his assignments in high school, “Destined for greatness.” Which Packer do you consider is destined for greatness?

That might have been Wes’s line, actually, but I’ll play along. If I were to pick one Packers player with a year or less of NFL experience, I’d say Jaire Alexander.

Jeff from Sugar Land, TX

We addressed some real needs during offseason free agency. We added more depth and strength during the draft. We have watched the intensity of competition to earn one of the coveted spots on the 53-man roster. If the Packers pick up an additional player from outside, will it be based on an unfulfilled need or a special skill-set?

Perhaps both, but players with truly special skill-sets don’t hit the waiver wire often.

Tim from Chicago, IL

Sebastian asked about practicing for rain/wet conditions, and Wes simply answered "Uh, no." However, they have practiced wet ball drills as AR said he didn't like them because they over-exaggerate how wet the ball should be. I could see Ma Hod spraying Spoff with a hose as punishment for stealing lunches, though!

I’ll consider myself warned.

Scott from Fredonia, WI

Do you guys get excited for the start of the season?

Indubitably. T-minus eight days and counting. Happy Wednesday.

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