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Inbox: The times they are a-changin'

There’s a reason everyone calls it the initial 53


Ren from Chicago, IL

What's the mood for the upcoming rival (Bears) game?

Bullish. Good morning!

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what adjustments had to be made in order for Mike Pettine to commit to coaching from the sidelines during games?

The biggest adjustment is just having the confidence in his assistants in the coaches' box to get him the necessary information at the moment he needs it. It is something he has done before, though. He coached from the field in 2013 when he had a rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso relaying the calls.

Bob from Colby, KS

What if at the end of the season the two teams don't agree on compensation for a to-be-determined trade? Are there rules in place that leave no doubt?

The conditions for compensation are agreed upon at the time of the trade. While teams may not disclose the terms to the public, there is no grey area when determining whether they were met.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

What do we know about Kevin King's availability Thursday night?

He says he's playing. We'll get the official designations Wednesday.

Al from Green Bay, WI

With Kevin King back and expected to play against the Bears, I believe the Packers' chances are good if they contain the run and force third-and-long situations. How are you feeling about the Packers' run defense at this point?

I really like it. I think that rotation of Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams and Tyler Lancaster has a chance to be the best run-defending line the Packers have had in seven years. Blake Martinez is experienced in clogging holes and Preston Smith sets a great edge, too. The defensive front and back end complement each other well.

Ryan from Manchester, England

I'll be getting an early night Thursday before setting my alarm for 1:20 Friday morning, then back to sleep after the match, and off to work at 6. And boy I cannot wait. My question is this – will I see Dexter Williams take a handoff from No. 12 Friday morning or are we expecting a two-headed backfield only?

Dexter Williams made the team for a reason. He has a good first step and a ton of potential, but I expect this to be the Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Danny Vitale show.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Insiders, it's Week 1 and we need a bit of pregame entertainment and talking point for the comments section. Give us your prediction of the first play from this offense against the Bears and its result.

The sweep, obviously. No, I'll go with a quick hitch to Davante Adams for eight yards.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

If the Pack pulls off a win vs. the Bears, who would (need to) be the O and D players of the game? No using A-Rod!

Aaron Jones and Za'Darius Smith. If Jones can penetrate that Chicago front, it'll open the field up for Rodgers. Smith had a strong summer in Green Bay. I have high expectations for what he can accomplish in Pettine's scheme.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike Pettine's demeanor screams accountability and urgency. I'm excited to see him on the sideline and I think it will make a difference. Am I making too much of this?

I don't think so, but not for the reason you suggest. Sure, there is more accountability having the coordinator on the sideline but I just think it's going to be great for all those new additions to have Pettine within arm's reach at all times.

Jim from Woodbury, MN

Is it possible that the defense could be the strength of the team this year?

Absolutely – and I don't think anyone would be upset about it, either. As I said earlier this offseason, the last time the Packers had a top 10 defense, they won a Super Bowl. Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

Kyle from Santa Cruz, CA

The Packers have a former Bears safety and the Bears have a former Packers safety. In general, who gains the advantage in that situation – the QB understanding the safety's tendencies and abilities, or the safety knowing the QB's preferences and tricks? At the very least, I think it's a matchup worth noting for the opener.

It's probably the quarterback and offense that have the advantage, mostly due to unscouted looks at this juncture. Davante Adams mentioned how Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is one of his best friends, but he has a few tricks up his sleeve for this season. The safeties know their former teams' past well, but there's no telling what the future holds.

Sharon from Day, WI

Which of the TEs is expected to be the biggest contributor to the offense this year?

The easy answer is Jimmy Graham. If healthy, he's going to be on the field a lot this season. But don't sleep on Robert Tonyan. I think Big Bob's baby boy is going to open some eyes in this offense.

Corey from Bethlehem, PA

With preseason over, what storylines are you glad to put to rest and which ones are you now looking forward to?

I'm glad to put to rest the narrative about starters playing or not playing in the preseason. It's tired and irrelevant. The storyline I'm most looking forward to following is how the defense comes together with all the new starters and watching LaFleur's vision for the Packers' offense realized on the field. Hands-down, this is the most intrigued I've been entering a season. It all starts now.

John from Scottsdale, AZ

McCray vs. Madison. Seems like another factor in keeping Madison would be McCray's trade value. If there is little difference in the two players, the Packers are obviously better by gaining a draft pick. How much might the Packers sacrifice this year's OL depth to gain a draft pick?

I've said since the beginning this was the deepest the Packers have been on the O-line during my time on the beat, which leads to tough calls. I'm not saying it came down to Justin McCray vs. Cole Madison, but outside looking in, Madison seems like an investment for the future. On a side note, McCray is one of my favorite people to ever suit up for the Packers. He's humble, hard-working and everything you expect a professional athlete to be. I'm going to miss him, but I'm glad he landed with James Campen and Jeff Blasko in Cleveland.

Michael from Hammond, IN

The team looked very vanilla in the preseason. Is it safe to say that Matt LaFleur's offense will be more creative and less predictable?

Would you rather be entertained in August or win in September?

Monica from Blue Mounds, WI

Yikes! Make the 53 on Saturday and Monday you are movin' on. No guarantees in this business, but feel bad for them.

There's a reason everyone calls it the initial 53 – and not the final 53.

Matthew from Marshfield, WI

Okay Wes, you told us you always make a private 53 prediction. How did you do this year? What was your biggest surprise?

I got 49 correct. I had Tim Boyle making the team, but my biggest surprise was probably going with two quarterbacks instead of three.

Tom from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Mike answered a question on salary cap Monday that said practice-squad players' salaries count against the cap. That could only be possible if the salaries are higher than the lowest of the 51 highest salaries of the 53-man roster, right?

Once the regular season begins, everyone under contract counts against the salary cap. The top 51 rule is there so teams can have 90-man offseason rosters.

Scott from New Orleans, LA

Now that training camp is finished and the roster is set, what did you think of Matt LaFleur's first camp? Also, can you compare this squad to any you have covered in the past?

As a reporter, it was much easier to cover with the team doing its walkthrough periods later in the day instead of before/after practice. It was actually pretty fun with all the team drills the Packers did. I felt like I learned more about players than any other summer I've covered in Green Bay.

Tom from Raleigh, NC

Perhaps beating a dead horse, but the answer to the question about EQ's salary included "his salary for this year will depend on whether or not he has a split contract (active vs. inactive/IR pay)." I thought all rookie contractual language was identical (except for third-rounders, why there are always some late signings). Or is just the total salary slotted? Thanks.

I don't know if it's CBA-mandated or not, but I believe every third-round pick has a split-salary clause in his rookie year and none in Years 2-4. Meanwhile, players selected on the third day have split-salary language in the first two years of their contracts.

Bart from Point Roberts, WA

With training camp and practices out of the way, can LaFleur schedule as many or few practices during the season or are there still strict rules within the CBA?

There are strict rules regarding padded practices. Teams can only conduct up to 14 padded practices and 11 of them must occur in the first 11 weeks of the season (teams can conduct two padded practices in one week). Most teams practice three days a week with a walkthrough Saturday.

The Packers hit the field for another practice ahead of the Week 1 matchup against the Bears.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Now that the roster is set, how are things different in the locker room, at practice, etc.?

That depends on how you view it. The team practices a little bit later now, but LaFleur also moved to the in-season schedule after the Baltimore preseason game. So players are pretty much in the normal swing of things at this point.

Tom from Vista, CA

Is it common for starting QBs to not take a preseason snap?

Bob Dylan once wrote, the times they are a-changin'. It's becoming more common to hold your franchise quarterback and coveted starters out of the exhibition slate in order to be as healthy as possible Week 1. The Packers met that goal.

Christopher from La Valle, WI

Are long-term contracts for running backs going to a thing of the past due to durability issues?

I wouldn't go that far, but certainly it's been an uphill battle for running backs to get lucrative deals. To be quite honest, NFL teams have started to revert back to giving running backs larger deals in free agency (Lamar Miller, Jerick McKinnon, Dion Lewis and Mark Ingram). However, the elite runners are still having the difficulty getting paid what they feel they're worth.

Robert from Terre Haute, IN

I guess Darnell Savage has never heard of a Packer great. Herb Adderley, No. 26.

Or maybe he just liked another Packers great – Charles Woodson.

James from Aztec, NM

Why is EQ's season over? I thought any two players placed on IR could return to the team after six weeks in the season with a corresponding roster move if need be. So why does EQ's placement on IR before making the initial final roster matter? It's not like teams could abuse the IR system, because they could only bring back two players. The subtle distinction seems arbitrary to me.

St. Brown needed to be carried over to the 53 in order to be eligible for the designation. I couldn't tell you definitively why the rule is the way it is, but I'm guessing that wall is built to prevent teams from stashing players. Either way, Gutekunst seemed to suggest St. Brown's injury was significant and he wasn't going to be back anytime soon.

Tom from Charlotte, NC

Just read Mike's answer about Equanimeous St. Brown's IR designation. Assuming he is in the team facilities rehabbing his injury, is he allowed to attend team meetings? Although he can't be activated for the 2019 season, is he allowed to practice once he is healthy, thereby giving the team an extra practice-squad player?

Players on IR are allowed to attend meetings, but they cannot practice.

Jim from Baileys Harbor, WI

I noticed that Jason Spriggs is still listed as reserve/injured after all this time. If I'm understanding the process, there was no claim, no injury settlement, and he can't come back this year as it stands. I am curious because at the time all the talk was about how the Packers were moving on without him but he's still around. Any idea what's going on?

I haven't seen Spriggs with my own four eyes, but players who are waived injured revert to a team's IR if they go unclaimed. He'll remain in that capacity unless the two sides reach an agreement on a settlement.

Pat from Smyrna, TN

Do you see the Packers bringing Kendall Donnerson back? Even though the Packers reached an injury settlement with him, I never felt like he really had enough of an opportunity in Green Bay. What do you think?

Never say never. Joe Thomas, Rajion Neal and Joe Kerridge all came back after reaching injury settlements. However, Donnerson cannot re-sign with the Packers until six weeks after his settlement expires. So the other 31 teams will have to pass on him first.

Nick from Benton, MO

Hey II, what happens to a practice-squad player when they suffer a minor injury, say a slight ankle sprain? Are they given a week or two off to heal, or are they immediately released and replaced with someone who can contribute? I was thinking that Allen Lazard had an injury for the last preseason game, however he was signed to the practice squad over the weekend. Thanks for answering my question!

There's an injury-exemption list for injured practice-squad players.

Ralph from Milwaukee, WI

No 2019 season-ending injuries to Packers STARTERS = 14-time World Champions!

Ralph, I published this. Would you please stop submitting it now?

Ron from Riverview, FL

I'm happy yet disappointed. Happy to see fresh content yesterday and today, yet sad you weren't able to spend all your time with family. I, for one, would be OK going cold turkey for a couple of days knowing you guys were having some well-deserved time off. Thanks for all you guys do to keep us happy.

Spoff and I make it work. I covered availability Friday, he covered cuts Saturday and then I snuck in a quick breakfast with my son and parents Monday morning before I came in to shoot "Packers Unscripted." You learn to make it work – no different than what you fine folks do for a living.

Dan from Allen, TX

Did not expect an Inbox on Monday. Thank you! Your job must be a labor of love.

It's definitely labor.


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