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Inbox: The two can't be separated

It became an advantage no one wanted to concede

Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field

Kent from Lewiston, ID

Hello II. With the summer heat plaguing most of the nation, can someone install an app on the II so we can feel the icy elements of an early December game, pretty please?

I'll get the intern on that.

Darrel from Pueblo, CO

II, the questions about the short turnaround for Sun/Thurs games made me wonder, has any team had to do a Mon/Thurs game? I think that should never happen, but has it?

No. Even in the pandemic season when a game was moved to Wednesday night, both teams (Steelers and Ravens) had their next games pushed back so neither had to do Wednesday-Sunday, which would have been the equivalent of Sunday-Thursday in terms of rest.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Hello Mike. Recent history has shown us that we can expect to see players that are not on our current roster make the 53. Evaluation of the young players and injuries are the biggest part of these additions but also strengthening position group(s) fits in. What is your prediction for how many players might be added? Mine is two.

I'm not going to prognosticate there. Injuries will dictate that more than anything.

Jim from St. Paul, MN

Why don't you include a provocative question more often just so we can enjoy your jagged retorts? Like now, for example. If AR12 is playing next year, do you think he'll be in GB?

If yes, then yes.

Johnny from Fort Myers, FL

Thank heaven Christian Watson is signed! May he be a huge factor this year and for many years. Any idea what the sticking point(s) may have been? Go Packers!

More guaranteed money had been creeping into rookie deals in recent years for players at the bottom of the first round and top of the second. He's not the only delayed signing among high second-rounders this year as teams work through this latest trend.

Flavio from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Hi, Insiders! Mike, in yesterday's Inbox, you mentioned that the blitz pickup drill could be tough for a rookie RB. Could you explain this drill, please?

It's one-on-one between a linebacker and running back. Usually a couple of pads or dummies are set up as boundaries between which the linebacker must attack (realistically limiting his ability to just run around the block), with a marker behind, where the QB would set up in the pocket. The blitzer attacks and the back steps forward to take him on. Any lack of blocking fundamentals gets exposed.

Bob from Port Saint Lucie, FL

Mike, other than fantasy football fans, will having a No. 1 receiver this year really be important? I'd like to see five receivers and two RBs each have multiple catches, 500-plus yards and multiple TDs this year. Doesn't each play actually have a primary target which could be any of the above? Let AR spread the ball around and the defense guess where it is going.

That's a perfectly fine working theory shared by many readers, but I do believe eventually a No. 1 will emerge based on production, opportunity, chemistry with the QB, and the like. There may not end up being a dramatic difference statistically when it's all said and done, but on big third downs and other clutch moments, it helps a play-caller and QB to have a No. 1 in mind from which to build out and explore the best route options, even if the ball doesn't go that way every time.

Jeff from Omaha, NE

Hey there. Ever talked to a player who revealed they really don't like football that much, they just play because they are naturally really good at it and have a chance to make a lot more money than doing something else? Lots of people don't really enjoy their jobs right? I knew a guy in college who hated football but played for the full-ride scholarship to a Big Ten school. Ever encounter something similar in the NFL?

I've never had a player tell me that, but I've heard anecdotally there are definitely NFL players who fit that bill. I doubt many of them last until getting a second contract, though. The physical demands of the game at this level are such that I can't imagine someone not loving the game and putting himself through the grind year after year after year.

Luke from La Crosse, WI

Is there any data on the impact or benefits of removing two-a-days and reducing padded practices? Have these changes lead to a reduction in injuries across the league? Have they contributed to career longevity?

I haven't seen any specific studies, but I don't think injury incidents are higher and careers are shorter because of the measures taken. Exercise science has produced more informed choices for everyone involved.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

What are your top five reasons that Green Bay is such an iconic place for a professional football team?

Your phasing makes it sound as though Green Bay would be an iconic place without the professional football team, and the two can't be separated. The existence of said team that is community-owned, has enjoyed success throughout different eras, seen its fan base expand to worldwide proportions, has renovated and maintained a classic stadium on the edge of a residential neighborhood, and has the league's championship trophy named after its most legendary coach are five reasons, to me, Green Bay has become an iconic place.

Walter from Sacramento, CA

Good to have you back Mike! My question is have the Packers ever had a first-round pick that did not make the initial 53, barring injury? Just flat-out got cut? Thanks for your time.

I don't know all the reasons, but according to data in the team's media guide, the only first-round draft picks in team history to never play in a regular-season game for the Packers are Bruce Clark (1980), Randy Duncan (1959), Bob Gain (1951), Ernie Case (1947) and Johnny Strzykalski (1946).

David from Janesville, WI

Mike, with all the offseason focus on special teams one has to think there will be improvement on the field. How long do you think it takes to take effect? Will it be something the stats end up telling us or will we know it when we see it regardless of numbers? I really believe confidence can play a role in the performance, and if they get a few big plays early things could improve quickly and dramatically. If they stub their toe early the coaches will need to right the ship immediately.

I think for the most part we'll know it when we see it. But I caution anyone against putting too much stock in seeing the special teams "fixed" in the preseason. The games in August will be for determining who the special-teams players will be. The bigger picture won't come into focus until the games are for real.

Jerry from Rockford, IL

Good morning, Insiders. To me the dead zone ends with the first preseason game on Aug. 4. Three-fold question if I may? Is the Hall of Fame Game an actual game played to evaluate talent? Will we see Davante Adams and Derek Carr for at least one series? And most importantly, will we see Wes? Can't wait to see LeRoy join the all-time greatest.

The Hall of Fame Game is a preseason game like any other, except when the paint and the turf somehow spontaneously combust, or whatever. I have no idea what the Raiders' plans are for the game. Wes will be in Canton to cover Butler's induction, so I'm sure we'll see a video post or two, along with his stories. Wes caught a nice break, with Butler going first in the speech lineup during the ceremony, and it's in the afternoon to boot. When I covered Favre in '16, he went last, and then Kramer in '18 was in the latter half of the show as well, both at night, making for rather draining work days both times.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares his favorite photos from the 2021 Green Bay Packers season.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

What will another SB mean to Aaron Rodgers' legacy?

Probably not much if he doesn't win it, to be brutally honest. If he wins another, it would be significant in terms of how he's remembered by all the pundits and talking heads, fair or unfair. There's already just one QB with more league MVPs (Manning), and then suddenly there'd be less than a handful with more Super Bowl titles (Bradshaw, Montana, Aikman, Brady), and only one of them (Brady) whose championships came during full-fledged free agency.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Mike fielded a question as to the drop-off GB may have without Adams when trying to score to win or tie with very little time left in the game. Perhaps another way to look at it is that perhaps our defense will offer the offense more opportunities to run out the clock at the ends of games rather than having to score.

So perhaps you're saying if perhaps you're going to have the ball with less than two minutes left, perhaps being ahead is preferable to being behind? Brilliant! Sorry, just giving you a hard time.

Ron from Bellaire, MI

Mike, with regard to the bruising the players suffer during a game, what type of padding do they wear now – knee pads, thigh pads, hip pads, rib pads? I know they wear some semblance of shoulder pads as they can be seen in the photos taken in the locker room. It appears they wear very little padding compared to many, many years ago.

They do, and it's been trending that way for some time now. Streamlining pads creates more mobility and less restriction, so once it started happening, it became an advantage no one wanted to concede.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

Spoff: "If we are traveling with the team again, I will miss the time at home...but how I go about my job won't be any different." This answer made me curious since you couldn't travel for a time. What are the benefits to the team to have you travel with them? What is different in your job duties that would necessitate you traveling? From the outside, it would seem staying home saves the team money on travel expenses while letting you have that extra family time. Win/win, right?

If Wes and I aren't traveling, we can't participate in any of the postgame interviews for road games. In 2020, everything postgame was via Zoom. Last year, there were some live press conferences, with other access via Zoom. So we managed fine not being there. This year, postgame access won't be via Zoom. Press conferences will be live only and locker rooms will be open. If we aren't there, we can't talk to anybody.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Thinking about LeRoy Butler and his Lambeau Leap – and I think it is so great that he's arguably better known for creating an act of football tradition than for his impressive stat line – as I recall not long after it became a part of Lambeau lore, there was a time when the NFL banned what it called "excessive celebration." Did that include the stopping of the leap, or was it grandfathered?

It was grandfathered.

Bruce from Norwalk, CT

To David from San Antonio about who Rodgers will go to with the game on the line, I will point out that Sammy Watkins caught the deep pass down the middle that set up Justin Tucker's historic walk-off field goal last season.

Cobb's had his share of crunch-time moments with Rodgers, and Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN, mentioned Jared Cook as an example in the same context. It may have taken a while, but they got there by the end of their first season together. That's why I keep emphasizing this offense will continue to evolve as the season unfolds.

Ingrid from Superior, WI

Hey Mike, what did you think of the MLB All-Star jerseys they wore for the game? I liked the idea of looking more like a team (white/charcoal grey with the team's font on the jersey) other than the players wearing their regular team uniforms.

I'm not totally against it. As a kid, there was something special about seeing the guys from your favorite team in their regular uniform on the All-Star stage, but with all the readily available game broadcasts, highlights, streaming clips, etc., that exist now, I don't think anyone looks at it that way anymore.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

Maybe the Bears could have won if they stayed at a "Holiday Inn Express"!

I knew that was coming. Pretty easy set-up.

Kary from Sheboygan, WI

In response to David from San Antonio, TX, when I think of the playoff game against San Francisco, I think that if Adams didn't exist for that last play, Rodgers may have found Lazard wide open underneath instead of catapulting the ball into triple coverage. Of course, if Adams weren't there, would the defenders be there? Is this the start of the multiverse of Pack-ness?

T-minus six days and counting. Happy Thursday.