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Inbox: There's still a lot to figure out this week

Underdog stories comes in all shapes and sizes

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QB Kurt Benkert & offensive unit

Andrew from Simi Valley

Man, roster cut down time is crazy.

It's not for the faint of heart.

Charlene from Plover, WI

How much will the starters play?

Not much, if at all. After resting 32 guys against New York, Matt LaFleur said on Sunday a comparable number of players could sit out in Buffalo.

Jack from Black Mountain

After the Jets game, are the three QB roster spots now determined?

Ah, yes. The most popular question this time of year. I'm sure the Packers want nothing more than to have Kurt Benkert in their locker room this season, but nothing is determined until it's determined. I watched Vince Young play himself out of a roster spot in the preseason finale in Kansas City eight years ago and James Crawford play himself onto the 53 three years ago in that same stadium. There's still a lot to figure out this week.

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

What were Kurt Benkert's best attributes coming out of college? What attracted first the Falcons and then the Packers to sign him?

His live arm, fearlessness in the pocket and competitive spirt. He's going to keep the play alive at all costs. I think we've seen that on the grass all summer.

Cindy from Rio, WI

Benkert made a huge argument to be No. 2 after playing better than Jordan Love in the first game. Does he have a shot for No. 2 or is Love the pick? Whoever plays better should get the nod, injured or not.

Jordan Love is the No. 2 guy. The question is whether the Packers keep Benkert on the 53.

Noah from Green Bay, IW

Hi Insiders! Steven from MD's question reminded me that there have been a number of QBs I've really liked who just came around at the wrong time, including Tim Boyle, Joe Callahan (I may be biased because of the "Draft Day" reference/rhyme), and Taysom Hill. I see so much talent and energy in Kurt Benkert and really hope he can make the team; he deserves it. Are there any other players who stood out to you as great, but barely missed out on the team because of positional depth or timing?

There have been many over the last 10 years. Allen Lazard and Krys Barnes barely missed the initial 53 but then were back on the active roster before the opener. There also have been cases where veterans such as Daniel Muir and Matthew Mulligan did everything asked of them but lost out to younger players. There are also times when the media maybe hypes an undrafted rookie up a little too much and he doesn't even wind up on the practice squad. Underdog stories come in all shapes and sizes.

The Green Bay Packers continued training-camp practice on Ray Nitschke Field on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.

Katherine from Milwaukee, WI

Which player showed the most improvement in the second preseason game?

The running backs and the offensive line. Royce Newman has looked good at right guard, aside from stepping on Benkert's foot. I thought AJ Dillon really looked on his A-game against the Jets, too. With wider lanes to operate in, Kylin Hill also showed what he can do as a ball-carrier.

Logan from Dublin, GA

With great backs such as Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, how much will we see Kylin Hill this season?

Whoever wins that No. 3 job will play at some point. Even if Jones and Dillon don't miss a game, LaFleur loves having options in the backfield. If Hill wins the job, you'll see him on special teams, returns and occasionally in the backfield (like Dillon last year).

George from Kennebunkport, ME

Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Amari Rodgers are sure to be on the 53. I think Devin Funchess makes it also. That leaves a bunch of guys fighting for a possible seventh slot. Of the remaining guys, who is likely to end up on the practice squad, and could any of the others fetch a late-round draft pick?

It's tough to make trades for future picks this time of year, because teams know what's coming around the corner after this final preseason game. It's not impossible (as Monday proved) but it's usually just for late-round compensation. We'll see how things shake out with Funchess' hamstring injury and this final preseason game. One guy who has made a strong case to stick around is Malik Taylor. He's balled out this summer.

Ken from Arvada, CO

Good morning II! With all the great talent on the roster, which position group do you see being the hardest to make cuts? Conversely, do you see any groups that could use more depth or more competition? Thanks!

Well, according to reports, two positions I would've listed (cornerback and inside linebacker) have started to sort themselves out. However, I'll say the offensive line. Receiver has a lot of capable players in that room, but the four or five reserve O-linemen the Packers keep could play big minutes at some point. Deciding on whether to keep a prospect like Yosh Nijman (who fits the prototype for an NFL left tackle) or a versatile player like Ben Braden or rookie sixth-round pick Cole Van Lanen could have lasting implications.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

I was surprised to see Yosh running with the first team on Saturday. How did he do?

I wasn't surprised at all. Nijman had a great career at Virginia Tech and has been a long-term undrafted project for the Packers. Green Bay is getting the long look it wanted at Nijman this summer. Outside of that one sack, I thought he looked good on Saturday. He was more fluid in his hips and used his length to keep pass-rushers off him. Like many of these undrafted guys, Nijman has another big assignment ahead of him against the Bills.

Alex from Kentwood, MI

Wow was I impressed by Jack Heflin's interview! Talk about another high-character guy who has worked extremely hard for everything that he has had. We can all root for a guy like that. How often do you guys come away feeling impressed after hearing those type of stories with these guys?

It was great listening to Heflin. Again, he reminds me of Tyler Lancaster in so many ways. He's a blue-collar kid from the Midwest who worked his tail off for the opportunity. We'll have more on his story this morning.

Bob from Vigardolo, Italy

Wes, does Coach Hod try to use most of his projected starters on special teams during the third preseason game to see how they gel, or does he use the final game to give players bouncing on the bubble one more chance to make the roster, and why in either case?

A mix of both. I'd want to give my mainstays a chance to run through the core four special-team units, but coaches also have to be mindful to give young defensive backs and linebackers on the bubble a chance to show what they got.

Ron from Lena, WI

At this point in a typical preseason, about what percentage of the 53-man roster is locked in? How many spots are still up for grabs?

I would say around 75.47169911320755% of the roster is locked in around this point. That leaves approximately 24.52830088679245% of jobs still up for grabs. Give or take.

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

Coach Drayton called Kylin Hill a "jump cutter" in terms of playing kickoff returns. Can you explain what a jump cutter is?

Drayton is just talking about Hill getting north and south on returns. A jump-cut is a popular technique where the running back cuts laterally before putting his foot in the ground and turning up field. You'll see it more often than not if you watch Hill running between the tackles Saturday.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

I keep reading comments/questions referring to Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon as thunder and lightning. I like peanut butter and jelly more. OK, hear me out. Yes, it does not have the fear effect as thunder and lightning but each are good alone but they are much better together. What do you say?

As someone who hates both thunder and lightning, peanut butter and jelly works just fine for me.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

It appears everyone loves the jet sweep so much that Matt LaFleur could be getting what he wants by telling us he won't call it when it's too loud. Does Aaron Rodgers get any good information from the jet sweep which happens at the time of the snap? I'm figuring stuff like motioning Aaron Jones from a tailback position to out wide reveals a lot more of what the defense is planning to do, just doesn't look as fancy on TV?

Everything is intended to force the defense to show its hand. If you motion out Jones from the backfield or bring a receiver in motion, the defense has to react to that. It can provide a tell on who's covering the back and whether the defense is in man or zone.

Brian from Twain Harte, CA

The NFL is a young man's league. Approximately what percentage of the 53 each year are on their rookie contract, second contract, third contract, etc.?

I won't go chapter and verse on breaking down the entire NFL but I can tell you the Packers' initial 53-man roster last year had nine rookies and first-year players, and 21 second- and third-year players. So more than half the active roster was playing on their first contract or under team control.

A behind-the-scenes look inside the Green Bay Packers' locker room ahead of Saturday's preseason game against the New York Jets.

Nathan from Abingdon, MD

Was not able to watch the second preseason game. From your observations, did Oren Burks stack success?

Burks only played 12 defensive snaps against the Jets, down from 41 a week earlier against Houston, but still had two tackles. With Ty Summers nursing a hamstring injury, Burks could play a lot against the Bills. The fourth-year vet is right back in this thing.

Max from Stockholm, Sweden

With the roster cuts coming, do "weaker" teams look extra at the perceived "loaded" teams to try to pick up the talent that they can't keep?

Of course. If you're Jacksonville, the New York Jets, Houston or Atlanta, you'd be foolish not to put in a few waiver claims. You're getting the pick of the litter on all these new free agents.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

I know it's not a huge deal, but how cool is it that we'll have two players in the top 10, whereas most teams won't even have one?

Very cool.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders! HotHod, I just want to make sure I get this straight ... you don't want anyone to whiz on your Philly steak sandwich, correct?

Correct. If I spot Whiz on my Philly steak, I send it back.

Chris from Micanopy, FL

I saw Twins-Brewers at the Metrodome as a kid, and I remember getting so excited to jump with the wave as it passed by and just wanted to keep doing it over and over. I don't remember the outcome of the game, but the wave is engrained in my brain. It might be their only visit to Lambeau as a child. So, for my two cents, I say let the kids have some fun. Isn't that what it's all about?

Deal. And you promise that nobody will remember the outcome of the game, right?

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

The Aaron Rodgers "Shhh" on the Jumbotron comment jogged my memory. When I was a sophomore at Clemson, Louisville made its first visit to Death Valley, and I remember reading in the reaction column of one of their journalists that they were shocked at how quiet the Valley got when Clemson's offense was on the field, and how loud it was when the defense was out there. I don't really know what Green Bay can do with the info, but hey, it can happen.

Hey, it couldn't hurt.

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