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Inbox: They’re back in the mix

FB Danny Vitale and WR Geronimo Allison
FB Danny Vitale and WR Geronimo Allison

Mark from Sweigart, PA

“With equal enthusiasm,” same movie as this quote, which I think applies. “Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up, then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is.”

Please excuse me while I go find a wall to run through. Good morning!

Corinne from Madison, WI

With how running backs are used in the passing game now both by the Packers and across the league, when people refer to a RB getting a certain number of touches, does that include the number of passes caught by the RB or simply the number of rushes?

That’s the total number of times the player ran, caught, threw, or returned the football. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams “touched” the ball 17 times against the Chargers. That’s not going to cut it. You gotta get the ball in their hands.

Matthias from San Antonio, TX

The Panthers have a different dynamic in their offense since Cam Newton has been out of the lineup. What differences are we seeing between the two Carolina quarterbacks?

Kyle Allen is the quarterback but this is Christian McCaffrey’s offense. He’s arguably the best playmaker in the league and the Panthers are treating him as such.

Josh from Denver, CO

Kenny Clark's work rate doesn't seem sustainable over the rest of the season. What are Mike Pettine's options to keep Clark fresh as we get closer to the postseason?

It’s a tough balance to strike with how close many of these games have been and the fact Clark is as important to the run defense as he is the third-down pressure packages. It’s the same problem the Packers faced last year, but one way or another, they have to get a deeper rotation established.

Erik from Sisters, OR

What kind of games, or plays, do the O-linemen live for? What game plan gets this team excited?

Running the ball…and plowing the opposing defensive line back into the visiting locker room. I think games like Sunday are the ones that really bring the best out of Green Bay’s offensive line, too. Cold and gritty. Just the way you like them.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Packers, Saints, Seahawks and 49ers, together again in the maelstrom of the playoff hunt. Feels just like old times.

I was thinking about this the other day. It’s interesting how those four teams (some more than others) fell into a bit of a lull for a couple years over the last decade but they’ve all found their way back to the top of the NFC once again. It’s a topic I broached in my interview with Aaron Rodgers last week for this Sunday’s Gameday program. The past few years have been a grind for the Packers, but they’re back in the mix now. If the Packers take care of business Sunday, they’re right where they want to be heading into the bye.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Wes, what time do players get to the stadium for a 3:25 p.m. game? Is there a final game-planning session or is it just warm up and uniform/equipment preparation? Thanks.

They’ll trickle in throughout the morning and by lunchtime. If it’s a night game, a team might have a meeting in the morning. But for afternoon games, the hay is in the barn for the most part. If you haven’t said what you needed to by that point, you missed your opportunity to say it.

Thomas from Rowlett, TX

Will the Packers start to play with more players in the box on defense and start leaning on their young talented secondary to play more man-to-man coverage?

My inclination would be to stack the box more with two inside linebackers in a traditional base, but it’s hard to say which direction Mike Pettine and the coaches are going to go. The wild card is Ibraheim Campbell. Pettine has a lot of confidence in the fifth-year safety. Like last year, it’s possible he’s asked to hit the ground running again.

Paul from Sturtevant, WI

What became of Ryan Grant, the receiver the Packers signed about five weeks ago?

Grant is still here, but it just so happened the Packers got healthy at receiver right after he signed.

Sal from Hailey, ID

Special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga said in this week's press conference that he'd like to work in more aggressive plays from special teams. What do you think we can expect from that group on Sunday?

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more jammers on the perimeter during punt returns. The Packers have been using a lot of single jammers against gunners this season, which has increased the number of fair catches on punts. To change would leave the unit more susceptible to a fake, but it also makes life significantly easier on the returner. Based on how the season has gone, I think that’s the chance you have to take.

Mariano from Cerritos, CA

I was living in WI in 1996 when Desmond Howard was returning punts for TDs every other week or so. I understand the threat and enjoyment of a good punt returner, but isn't what you really want (most importantly) back there is a guy the catches the ball cleanly and knows when to let it drop/roll into the end zone? Who really cares if we are at the bottom of the league in punt return yards?

This isn’t a new problem. The Packers lost a lot of yards letting balls bounce downfield last season, too. Listen, it’s not an easy gig – the best have incredible concentration, solid peripheral vision and suddenness once the ball is in their hands. We’ll see whether Tremon Smith can be the guy to turn the tide for that unit.

Dan from Wausau, WI

So the Packers get pummeled by the Chargers who lost to the Raiders who the Packers beat soundly? Welcome to the NFL.

One more reminder there’s no such thing as NFL math.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

I’ve been watching the injury reports over the last few weeks and am curious about the "NIR (veteran rest)" designation. Each week the Packers seem to have at least a couple of players on "NIR" (usually the TE and RT), but I've never seen the opposing team use it. Is "NIR" a Packer-only thing? And what is the "NIR" player typically doing during practice? I assume they are physically at practice – are they just observing or maybe doing other things (like stretching or film study)?

NIR is just short for “not injury related.” If a player isn’t a full participant in practice, teams must provide a reason why. Plenty of teams use the designation. It’s just not something the Packers really did at all until Julius Peppers’ final season with Green Bay in 2016. Most NIR players will ride an exercise bike or do a workout on the side.

Joe from Asbury, IA

Can we please stop with the questions about whether the Packers will play overseas or not or at least save them for the offseason? Who cares?! Just beat the Panthers!

OK.

The Green Bay Packers took practice outside to get ready for Sundays game against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field.

Steve from Middletown, KY

If I was a player, I'm not sure I would want to be on the team based in London. Would you want to be drafted to be based out of the U.S.? Besides the obvious concerns of all the travel, there would be so many other issues. Family life, salary and taxing come to mind first. I'm sure the NFL would probably have to comp the players and team for a variety of the costs, but wouldn't that potentially change their cap? Just seems like a nightmare to figure out and to keep it under control.

The NFL would have to make certain logistical compromises, namely as it relates to the schedule. That team likely would play long stretches of home and away games. It also would need to have established offices and facilities in both countries. It would be a challenge and still might not make complete sense, but I get the sense that’s the direction the league ultimately wants to go.

Scott from Hayward, WI

Even for us seasoned Wisconsinites, that first cold snap always feels a little brutal. Any prediction that wind chills in the teens will have any effect on the Panthers’ performance once that sun goes down in the second half? Our boys have already been playing in the snow.

I expect Ron Rivera to have his team ready to play, but there’s no denying how bone-chilling temperatures this time of the year could favor the Packers over the course of a 60-minute game. You can’t simulate the conditions Green Bay has been practicing in all week.

JR from East Moline, IL

If you were a coach, would you allow your players to wear short sleeves in cold games? Everyone already knows they're tough, so there is nothing to prove. And I'm no rocket scientologist, but I think muscles work better when they're not cold.

I’ve long been a proponent of “look good, feel good, play good.” As long as the clothing is OK’d by the NFL, I’d let players wear whatever they feel most comfortable in. For example, Damarious Randall played in long sleeves whether it was Jacksonville in September or Green Bay in January.

Ivan from Ventura, CA

I remember when Vic was here there was a lot of negativity from the "fans." Are you guys afraid to post those confrontational questions or have you not received any since we're winning so much? I'm sure I speak for a lot of fans, we enjoy reading those questions and answers also. Keep up the good work.

I don’t want to speak for Spoff, but this is how I go about it. If the submission is just a long, rambling diatribe, then I usually won’t post it. This isn’t Inbox suggestion box. But I will answer any (respectful) question that comes into Inbox. If you’re insulting Spoff’s ancestors, I reserve the right to hit delete, add you to the banned list and move on with my day.

Dan from Morehead City, NC

Morning, I always hear teams’ stats about wins and losses coming out of a bye week, but what is the Packers’ record going into a bye? Also, how did they do the last couple of years?

The Packers are 6-3 over the last decade heading into the bye week. Coincidentally, two of those three losses came via New Orleans (2014, 2017).

Cameron from Wayland, MI

One measurement of the coach is the execution of the plays this year. Not having so many false starts might be the biggest play not in our playbook this week that can be the key to victory.

Being at Lambeau should help that. Of all the things that went wrong in LA, I expect the false starts to be the most easily correctable.

Sean from Cortland, NY

Not a question but just want to give a shout-out and congrats to JC Tretter on the extension. He's earned it. I understand that he was tough to keep in Green Bay, but I was sad to see him go and am happy for his continued success.

Good dude. I’m happy to see everything work out for Tretter after injuries slowed him down the first few years. His talent was never a question. The Packers found two good centers in Tretter and Corey Linsley during the middle rounds of those 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts.

Robert from Verona, WI

Aloha from Maui! I’m on vacation (where it’s about 80 degrees warmer than back in WI) and recently drove the road to Hana. The road to Hana is about a 60-mile stretch of windy, narrow roadway that passes over 59 bridges – of which 46 are only one lane wide. There are 600-plus curves and it has spectacular rainforest and ocean views throughout the drive. Anyway, near Hana, there is a resident who displays multiple Packer signs at the end of their driveway. Loved seeing a fan that far from home!

I know exactly what you’re talking about (minus the Packers fan part, which is cool). I was out there with my family in 2007. On that drive, I actually made my pregnant sister-in-law pull over and throw up because I put my wet socks over the vent in the back seat. I was a devious 19-year-old.

Bob from Nolensville, TN

Things I’d like to see but never will happen: 1) Best record hosts Super Bowl. This will eliminate meaningless games in December for teams that have clinched home field in their conference. Hometown fans deserve it! 2) Eliminate the halftime show. Same time for halftime as break as in regular season. Super Bowl OT will be a 10-minute period. No sudden death. If tied after OT period play will continue with next score wins.

Are fireworks permissible? Are fans allowed to cheer?

Drew from Rogers City, MI

The best thing about the bye next week is...

For me? A whole ’lotta sleeping in, but one more game until we get there…and it’s a big one.

Daniel from Castle Rock, CO

I'm with Dan from Grand Rapids. I put this loss on me, as well. I have a rotation of Packers shirts I've been going through this season. This particular shirt I've worn against the Eagles and Chargers, I will now safely retire and look forward to the rest of the season!

Looks like the run to Miami starts now. Enjoy Week 10, folks!

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