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Inbox: They have to find another way

It wouldn’t be a surprise, but it’s far from a given

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RB Alvin Kamara

Richard from Madison, WI

Will you have a column on Labor Day? (I hope I'm timing this right.)

This is a Monday through Saturday production that ignores holidays, for better or worse.

Ryan from Spokane, WA

Is it okay to be delighted that, right before the season starts, the big news for the pack is a punter acquisition? I love the calm before the storm.

To each his own.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

The start of Week 1 is finally here! With Drew Brees retired, the Saints feel like a different team. Other than Kamara, who are the players that stand out most on their active roster?

They've got an impressive offensive line, with Pro Bowlers Terron Armstead at left tackle and Andrus Peat at left guard, plus Ryan Ramczyk at right tackle. The defensive standouts are Cam Jordan up front and Marshon Lattimore at corner, but Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander are no slouches at linebacker, and Malcolm Jenkins has been doing it forever at safety.

Ted from Las Vegas, NV

Between the 53 roster and the practice squad, how many of the players were part of either, from last year's final game against Tampa Bay? That figure should definitely enlighten all of us to the actual turnover and life span of an NFL professional.

I don't have quick and easy reference for who was on the practice squad last January, but looking at the 55 players (including game-day activations) on the roster for the NFC title game, I counted 17 who are not on the current 53 or practice squad. Two are on IR (Will Redmond, Randy Ramsey), one is suspended (Jace Sternberger) and the rest are no longer with the team.

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning to you. Is it time to break out the II smelling salt to bring us back to reality? All the II discussions about the talent on the team and how difficult it would be to settle on the 53-man roster appear to be unfounded. Not a single player waived by the Packers was claimed by another team. So have we all overrated the talent of our players?

Just to add to Wes's point about this topic on Saturday, as noted above, the Packers put their No. 3 safety and No. 4 edge rusher on IR during camp, which did change the roster cuts and available players. Funchess' injury may have factored in here as well.

Bubba from Kenosha, WI

The 13-3 Packers went to the NFC Championship Game and picked near the end of most rounds in the draft. With this scenario one wouldn't expect too much from the incoming rookie class. I know they haven't played a down yet but I think how much better this team will be with the contributions from almost every rookie pick. Add Jack Heflin, Chauncey Rivers and full years from first-year players Josiah Deguara and Dominique Dafney. Do you remember a winning Packers team with so many rookie/first-year players with this potential?

Over the past decade, I can recall only two times I felt the Packers were going to be counting this much this early on at least four rookie draft picks (Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Amari Rodgers, Eric Stokes). One was 2018 (Jaire Alexander, Jackson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, JK Scott), but that was coming off a non-playoff '17 season. The other was 2013 (D. Jones, Lacy, David Bakhtiari, Franklin, Hyde) when they were dying to find a running game and an injury forced them to turn to a rookie at left tackle.

Joseph from Ashburn, VA

How is Randall Cobb mentally after being let go and then re-hired by the Pack? Does he have something to prove?

Cobb seems fine mentally to me, but I think it'd only be natural for him to want to prove his QB and good friend right for having gone to bat for him.

Jim from Phillips, WI

You can pay all the lip service you want to the new personnel on special teams. The brutal fact remains that the culture and the mentality of our special-teams system needs to change. So far we haven't seen much to hang our hats on. Does Maurice Drayton really have the chops to change our special teams into an acceptable unit?

We're going to find out. But I'm certainly not going to render final judgment based on three preseason games.

Aaron from Maryville, MO

Is Aaron Rodgers prepared?

Why wouldn't he be?

Clara from Zumbrota, MN

I think everyone is excited to see the Packers play this weekend, but is there one player you are particularly excited to watch?

De'Vondre Campbell.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Can you get a pronunciation guide on "Bojorquez"? And has he been involved in any trick plays?

Apparently it's pronounced buh-HOR-kez, which means I have to work on it because I think I've been saying it wrong to this point. According to Pro Football Reference, Corey Bojorquez was credited with one rush for zero yards and one pass attempt (incomplete) as a rookie in 2018, and he had one snap on offense in 2019. I don't know the circumstances surrounding any of those stats.

Scott from Salem, OR

There's been a bit of discussion regarding Bojorquez punting with his left foot while being right-handed so holding for Mason won't be a problem. Is there really any reason a right-handed person would be preferred over a left-handed one as a holder for a right-footed place kicker?

I'm no expert, but I know as a right-handed person I'd feel way more comfortable holding for a right-footed kicker than a left-footed one. To be on the other side with my non-dominant hand on top to hold the ball up seems awkward to me.

Shane from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Did I read that right? P Corey Bojorquez launched a 70-yard beauty that pinned the Broncos on their 1.

Yes, he had a whale of a preseason.

George from North Mankato, MN

Do you think the fact that Steven Wirtel snapped for our new punter this offseason had much to do with his signing? Also, do you think players who were recently released will be more likely to get vaccinated if they haven't been already? The ability to join a potential suitor quickly seems as important as staying in shape.

The connection with regard to the long-snapper signing makes sense, but I don't know anything definitive. Based on the protocols, I think any street free agent looking for a job in the NFL would be wise to be vaccinated.

Drew from Windsor, Canada

Now that we have a 17-game schedule, do you think a wide receiver will go over 2,000 yards this year?

It wouldn't be a surprise, but it's far from a given. In the last half-dozen years, only two receivers have come within 200 yards of 2K, Antonio Brown (1,834) and Julio Jones (1,871), both in 2015. The most since then is Michael Thomas with 1,725 in 2019.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

It's game week! Let the regular season begin! Looking to the Saints game, each team has an elite player on the PUP list. Between Thomas and Bak, which player's absence is a bigger impact for his team?

I think we have to see the game play out. The Packers were without Adams and Clark in last year's game, while the Saints didn't have Thomas or Davenport.

Jon from Temecula, CA

In the past six years, the college football championship has been dominated by Alabama, LSU, and Clemson. Amari Rodgers is the only player on the 53-man roster from any of these schools. In fact, Mississippi State is the most represented SEC school on the roster. Is it a style difference or coincidence that few of these SEC players wind up on the Packers?

Well, first off, Clemson isn't an SEC school. But in looking at the three schools you referenced – Alabama, LSU and Clemson collectively have had 32 players drafted in the top 20 of the first round over the past six drafts, and the Packers have selected two players in the top 20 over that same time period (Jaire Alexander at 18, Rashan Gary at 12). That's not a full answer, I think that's where it starts.

Todd from Long Island, NY

II, the report on NOLA.com said the Saints used Expedia to identify the most difficult destination for Packers fans traveling from GB. A futile effort. Did they consider fans living in the western part using the MPLS airport or fans in the southern part using CHI's two airports? At the risk of chortling, I'll bet there are more Cheeseheads living in FL than Saints fans. They could've saved some time and just researched Packers Everywhere. Are you curious about how the fan split will be on Sunday?

Very.

Mike from Toronto, Ontario

Bill from Wilmington asked about top concerns going into New Orleans (Jacksonville). Tackling Alvin Kamara did not make the top two. Why not?

Because I don't think Green Bay will do worse in that regard than last year, and as big a game as Kamara had, the Saints still lost. I think they have to find another way to beat the Packers, which is why my focus is on New Orleans' defensive approach.

Charlie from Morgan Hill, CA

I too have concerns about NO blitzing a newly constructed OL until they settle in. But 12 is the equalizer as one of the best all time against it. I'm sure they'll mix it up, but do you expect a heavy blitz package in this game?

I think whether or not they bring a "heavy blitz package" depends on how the Packers react to the expected early tests in that area.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

When I hear the name Harris I hear my dad in my head, "That guy's an animal!" He was the first Packer player that caught my dad's attention to watch games with me. To this day he still compares Packer players' drive with Al Harris. I say when you make that kind of "dent" in people's minds, you've made your mark on the team. Happy to see him in the Packers Hall of Fame!

From '07-'09, Harris spent a lot of time matched up against Calvin Johnson, and seeing his determination and intensity in those confrontations taught me something about high-level NFL players.

Steve from Las Vegas, NV

Who is Flea, what is his real name and what does he do? Charles Woodson mentioned him in his speech, and Coach LaFleur constantly mentions him. It seems like he's been with the team for many years and is a key person on the training staff.

"Flea" is Bryan Engel, who has worked on the athletic training staff here for 25 years. He started as an intern in '97, was an assistant under Pepper Burruss from 1999-2014, and is now in his seventh year as the head of the department. I'm told his nickname came from Frank Winters, who thought he resembles the bassist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Despite the questionable judgment, the nickname stuck.

Al from Hudson, WI

Not a football question. How come, in the past few years, baseball umpires miss so many ball and strike calls? It used to be, maybe two or three a game would be missed. Now its two or more per inning. Does the league make the umps look at film, after the game, to show them their bad calls?

They are comprehensively graded after every game, but I can't say whether or not the umpires go back and look at the film of any downgraded calls. I don't think the umpiring has egregiously declined. I do think it's a little worse, but it's mostly the available technology showing us how many calls they've regularly missed. I'd love to have that strike zone box on the screen for a game from the '90s when Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine kept pushing the limits of the outside corner. Can you imagine what a current grade sheet would have looked like for Eric Gregg after the Livan Hernandez playoff game in '97? Mercy.

Bob from Rome, NY

Gentlemen: See, if the starters would have played against the Bills in the extreme heat, they would be ready for the heat in Jacksonville. Yes, I will quote Snagglepuss: "Heavens to Murgatroyd – exit stage left" and out the open door!

Much appreciated.

Jeff from Muskego, WI

Do you think lack of preseason play in games will affect the timing in the passing game?

If a Murgatroyd reference can't kill this, I give up.

Earl from Marietta, GA

Can't wait!

T-minus six days and counting.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

I have a schedule observation. This may be an underrated break the Packers caught. With a young interior on the O-line and Bakhtiari out for at least six weeks, not playing the Vikings until Week 11 is huge. Mike Zimmer loves his A-gap blitzes. By Week 11, 69 should be back, Jenkins should be back at LG, and the rest of the interior will be much more experienced to handle the noise and the pressure. (Yeah yeah, I know. Just beat the Saints...)

You said it so I didn't have to. That counts as progress even if it's only Week 1.

William from Speedwell, TN

Happy Labor Day.

This crowd is really starting to catch on.

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