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Inbox: They write their own story

LB Preston Smith
LB Preston Smith

Kent from Homosassa, FL

As a Packers fan of more than 70 years, I have found the following attitude to be a positive: "Any day you can watch the Packers is a great day! And some are even better because the Packers win." Thoroughly enjoy the II. GO PACK!

A fitting way to kick off the NFL’s 100th season. The wait is over. Football is here. Good morning!

Andrew from Arcadia, WI

You have a magic wand and get to decide how the Packers’ first offensive series goes. One play for 80 yards and a TD or 10-12 plays for 80 and a TD. Which do you choose and why?

I’d probably take the explosive play for a touchdown under normal circumstances. That can be demoralizing for a defense right off the bat. However, I’m going to go with the latter considering this is Matt LaFleur’s first game as head coach. A 10-play, 80-yard drive indicates balance and efficiency. That’s the No. 1 thing I want to see from the Packers’ offense tonight.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

Happy game day, Insiders! What are you looking for in Matt LaFleur's head coaching debut?

Efficiency, and the offense getting in and out of the huddle quickly. The Bears are no easy out. This is a tough opponent and not everything is going to go the Packers’ way. I want to see how the team responds to moments of adversity and the in-game adjustments the coaches make. Moreover, I’m just excited to watch this offense evolve over the course of a year.

Jack from Chicago, IL

A lot of talk about Khalil Mack vs. Bryan Bulaga, but let’s not forget Corey, Billy, and Lane are going to have their hands full with Akiem and Eddie.

Without question. All five of the Packers’ starting offensive linemen are going to earn their paychecks tonight. My biggest key to victory tonight is winning in the trenches.

Ethan from Iowa City, IA

What matchup do you think is most important on each side of the ball? I'm tempted to say pass rush vs. blocking on both sides. Does GB stop Mack and do they achieve pressure after so much investing into our front seven, or what say you?

Mack gets a lot of the attention and rightfully so, but the chess match between Za’Darius Smith and Charles Leno Jr. will also be fun to watch. Those are two of the more underrated players at their respective positions.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what has Aaron Rodgers had to say about the back tightness that kept him from playing in the preseason games?

The Packers listed 19 players on their injury report this week. Rodgers wasn’t one of them. He’s good to go.

Steve from Davenport, IA

Is the O-line depth good enough?

I feel good about it. Elgton Jenkins is a talented guy who can play multiple spots. Lane Taylor is a solid NFL left guard and Jenkins pushed him for that starting post as a rookie. I think that says a lot about his long-term potential. Lucas Patrick is also as steady as it goes inside. Alex Light is an intriguing tackle prospect, but the Packers also have some flexibility there with Billy Turner being able to play tackle.

Stephen from Chicago, IL

Early preseason storyline was missed tackles. And for good reason. In my opinion, absent turnovers, the game still comes down to blocking and tackling. Did you see improvement down the stretch and will you be adding missed tackles to your personal stat sheet as you watch the opener?

Sure, but the starting unit was neither the culprit nor the corrector. What happens today, for better or worse, is not directly tied to how the team tackled in the preseason. The defenders who take the field tonight are the conduits to the Packers achieving their goals for 2019. The time for talking is over. Offseason narratives no longer matter – from today on, they write their own story.

Jagger from Mishawaka, IN

I feel like we take running back pass blocking for granted, as if it's a lower-tier skill. How important do you think RB blocking is and who in the RB room does it best?

It’s critical, especially with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. Fortunately, the Packers appear to have two natural pass protectors in Jamaal Williams and Danny Vitale, while Aaron Jones has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year. Green Bay has three guys who are all more than capable of standing back there with Rodgers on third downs. That’s a blessing for any passer.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Biggest thing for us will be third-down conversions. They've got one nasty D and will aim to keep Aaron on the sidelines, or running towards them. Not sure we'll do much on the ground. Defense wins this game.

The Packers must establish their ground game if they want to consistently win third downs. If they move the ball and can create third-and-short situations consistently, the Packers stand a good chance to win this ball game.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Having not seen any of Rodgers this year, how does he look moving and throwing on the run? Does the new offense build that in to get him outside or will that continue to be more related to scramble-drill type plays? I'm anxious to see if we get less throwaways and off-target passes than last year. More than anything else that just didn't seem like Aaron's game that I have watched for 10 years.

From what I’ve seen, Rodgers looks like a great fit for this offense with its designed rollouts and play-action passes. Furthermore, he seems to be happy with what the offense has been doing behind the closed doors of practice. Again, we’re not going to know what he’s fully capable of in this scheme until the team gets a few games under its belt. The early signs are promising, though.

Lee from Leesburg, FL

How much will injuries (from both sides) affect tonight’s game with the Bears?

Not much. The Packers are missing one of their starting inside linebackers, but I imagine we were going to see a lot of Raven Greene in that hybrid role regardless. The biggest question mark right now is whether Trey Burton plays. He’s the go-to-guy for the Bears and Mitchell Trubisky.

Chad from La Crosse, WI

If you were a fantasy football guy, would you rather start Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Geronimo Alison for the whole season? Why?

If all things are equal, Allison probably gets more targets but MVS is the bigger home-run threat. If it’s PPR, I say Allison. If not, MVS. They’ll both get their opportunities.

Daniel from Los Angeles, CA

I'm really excited about seeing what Darrius Shepherd can do. He honestly reminds me of Randall Cobb, with his build and style, which bodes well for us seeing how successful Cobb has been against the Bears. Am I the only one seeing a reincarnated Cobb on our team?

It’s always good to see players like Shepherd make it because it’s a reminder measurables and 40 times aren’t everything. Some guys are just football players. Shepherd is dealing with a hamstring injury and won’t play against Chicago, but I’m excited for the day he makes his debut. There is no one quite like him on the roster.

The Green Bay Packers traveled to Chicago for their season-opening game against the Bears. #PackersBusinessTrip, presented by Bose.

Craig from Laramie, WY

I was pleased to see the initial practice squad play out the way it did because it tells me BG has "the courage of his convictions" with regard to their draft process and, to me, signals a continuing commitment to “draft and develop.” Plus, we didn't lose those great developmental prospects to a division opponent. Am I seeing this reasonably accurately or is something else going on that I'm missing?

For the most part. The Packers took a small risk in exposing Allen Lazard to waivers, but they were able to sneak him to the practice squad before moving him back to the 53. Green Bay usually adds an outside free agent or two to the practice squad (e.g. Tony Brown last year) but I think it was important to keep as many in-house players this year with the quick turnaround to the opener.

Ross from Roswell, GA

What do think about another veteran WR for the Packers? Torrey Smith? Need some experience in the slot.

To use a poker analogy, I like the hand the Packers are holding at receiver right now. They have what they need.

Joe from Asbury, IA

This is the first time in years I don't have any expectations for the season, and it's somewhat refreshing. We have no idea what this team is yet, but I'm excited to find out, win or lose. What one thing are you most excited about for tonight's game?

What a healthy Trevor Davis can bring to the Packers’ special-teams units. That third phase is different when he’s on the field, either as a returner or a gunner on punts. He had a great spring and summer, and I think is on the cusp of a breakout year. It could start tonight.

Jason from Baraboo, WI

What other released/cut/waived players that were a part of the Packers’ preseason 90 caught on with other teams? Either on the regular roster or as part of their respective practice squads?

QB DeShone Kizer (Oakland), DB Natrell Jamerson (Carolina) and LB James Crawford (Miami) were claimed off waivers. To the best of my knowledge, OL Adam Pankey is the only waived player to sign to another team’s practice squad so far.

David from Jerusalem, Israel

We are all anxious to see Matt LaFleur's debut as Packers head coach and how he will interact with Aaron Rodgers. But the solid preseason of backup QB Tim Boyle has to be a good sign! Six-hundred yards passing, six TDs with no INTs, and a passer rating of 113. Probably the best overall numbers of any QB in the preseason. Sure, it was not always against starting defenses, but he also lined up mostly with second-stringers. Aren't we looking at a true QB whisperer?

There’s a lot of credit to go around for Boyle’s development – the courage of the front office’s conviction in his talent, Mike McCarthy creating opportunities for Boyle to make the team last year, and now LaFleur and Luke Getsy helping to further groom him. More than anything, however, I think Boyle deserves the most credit for how he navigated the ups and downs of his football career. That unshakable confidence is special. You can’t fake that.

Todd from Brighton, MI

If Eddy Pineiro has issues tonight, is Ficken a Bear by Saturday?

I may be in the minority here, but I agreed with the Bears’ decision to stick with Pineiro. If you treat your kicking game like a Merry-Go-Round, you’ll never get off the carousel. For that reason, I don’t think anything that happens tonight affects what the Bears’ kicking situation looks like in Week 2.

Richard from Menasha, WI

If the Packers win the coin toss, do they kick off or receive? I would kick off to let the Packers’ defense take the field first; three-and-out.

As a longtime Packers enthusiast told me Tuesday afternoon, I’d send the defense on the field and make a statement.

Stefan from Walenstadt, Switzerland

With all the switching of numbers and Teo Redding being released, will Dexter Williams change his number to 88?

I think we need a one-year respite from No. 88. At least, I do.

Scott from Martinez, GA

Could you elaborate on the injury-exemption list for injured practice-squad players please? Do they still count towards the 10?

No. Teams are allowed to sign a replacement.

Mariah from Milwaukee, WI

The offseason is officially over and the 2019 regular season is set to kick off. Before you worked for the Packers, what was your favorite game-day activity or tradition?

I’ve worked every Packers home game since 2010, so there’s definitely a part of me that misses firing up the grill on game days. Not that I can’t do that at Miller Park, but there’s something special about hanging out around Lambeau prior to a noon game, especially once there’s a chill in the air.

Tony from Aurora, CO

Loved the “Unscripted” where JK crashed the party. At one point, I heard a not-too-far-off-the-mic burp. Guessing it was John – could you let him know that we don’t mind the gaffe, but if it happens a second time, we’ll consider that a mental mistake and we’ll be less likely to trust him moving forward.

Ha. I think that was when John tried to come in the studio and the door stuck for a second. I will pass that correction along, though.

Nate from Kewaskum, WI

Do you prefer taking a four-hour flight or four-hour bus ride to Chicago?

Four-hour flight.

Michelle from Camp Lejeune, NC

Not a question, just an advanced thank you. As we wait for Hurricane Dorian to hit, and almost certainly won’t have power to see the game, thank you for all of the in-game updates and recaps. It will be sincerely appreciated when the internet makes a reappearance in (hopefully) a few days and we can see how the game turned out. You guys do an outstanding job.

Thanks Michelle. All the best to you and yours. Stay safe.

William from Raleigh, NC

After this letter please stop publishing any letter that uses the word “baloney.” Even we are sick of it. Sincerely, Old, Tired, Trite, Dull, Predictable, and Stale. P.S. – Though I'm too bored to ask them, I'm confident Corny, Hackneyed, Banal, and Clichéd agree with us, too.

You got it, Bill.

Ronaldo from Vicenza, Italy

Insiders, here is my expectation. Today is game day, the sandwiches are down, and I expect Insiders to say it one more time loud and clear. You know what we need to hear.

The Baloney. Stops. Here. Enjoy the game, everybody! Football is back.

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