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Inbox: They're working toward tried-and-true status

At some point learning time turns to winning time


Cindy from Minneapolis, MN

"Gardner Minshew," gesundheit. *Shows herself the exit stage right*

And we're off, so we might as well get going.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, II. What do you think of the Ravens' 24-game preseason winning streak finally coming to an end?

Not much.

Andrew from Green Bay, WI

In one of Mike's photos from Tuesday practice, there's a player by the name of Hamilton standing with Rasul Douglas, Innis Gaines, and Corey Ballentine. I'm not aware of any rostered Hamiltons after La'Darius left. Who is this player?

That's cornerback Elijah Hamilton, who was just signed. The transaction wasn't officially announced until after practice.

Jacob from Menomonie, WI

What is the prognosis on Rashan Gary?

He was taking 11-on-11 snaps for the first time Tuesday, and while he wasn't making any promises about Week 1, all signs are encouraging.

Jen from Wausau, WI

Is Kenny Clark injured? Been looking all over on why he didn't suit up for the Patriots game.

He'd been dealing with a back injury off and on, and he was held out of the New England game as a precaution. He was back on the practice field Tuesday.

David from Minneapolis, MN

In response to James from Panama City on Lukas Van Ness I see both sides. Yes, he is quick to put the proverbial nail in the coffin that is LVN's career trajectory, but I get where he is coming from. When you draft someone in the top 15, you expect a Day 1 starter. Gary has panned out, but he also started to make a big difference right before we have to pay him top dollar. Some would say that's a good problem to have, but having rookies outperform their contracts is vital in the salary cap era.

This Gary/LVN thread generated a lot of response, and while I can appreciate the perspective you outline, it's not how the Packers do business with their highest draft picks. They're looking for the guys who can become true difference-makers in their careers – even if they won't be right away, and may not be front-line starters right away – because the elite players, the difference-makers, are the ones who win games in the long run. Kenny Clark didn't have a sack until his 30th NFL game, and now he's a two-time Pro Bowler. Jaire Alexander had one interception in his first 17 games, and he's a two-time All-Pro. Gary was a monster in the playoff game at the end of his third year and was on his way to double-digit sacks in Year 4 when he got hurt. The Packers will wait for the long-term benefits, and hope they land some prospects who can outperform their rookie contracts in other rounds, which has happened with guys like Aaron Jones (fifth, No. 182), Elgton Jenkins (second, No. 44) and Jon Runyan (sixth, No. 192). It occurred with Jamaal Williams and MVS, too, even though they weren't re-signed. They've also had high picks that didn't pan out as hoped, but they'll continue to be guided by projections of what they believe players can be and see if development can prove them right, because a team full of average, run-of-the-mill starters who don't command big second contracts isn't going to win much in this league.

Zachary from Las Animas, CO

I was thinking about the competition at safety. Do you think that it is not settled because a lack of confidence in the individuals helming the spot, or is the talent just that close currently? I don't know if I should be excited for that position battle or concerned.

I don't think anyone has jumped up and grabbed the job, which is what you're hoping for in such a situation, but I don't sense any lack of confidence in anyone. We just haven't seen any highlight-reel plays from the position in the preseason games so far, though Jonathan Owens almost had a nifty pick on that RPO vs. the Patriots. That would've raised some eyebrows. Rudy Ford had a nice tackle in the backfield in run support last game, too. Tarvarius Moore hurting his knee Saturday night is the epitome of bad timing.

Jim from Roscoe, IL

I've hesitated posting this question because it may come across as uncaring, but I'm curious as to what the threshold might now be for suspending a regular-season game due to an injury? Football is a violent game and unfortunately serious injuries are sure to occur. I feel that NFL coaches and executives are going to be put in very difficult positions and second-guessed no matter what they decide.

I don't mean to sound callous either, but outside of another Damar Hamlin situation (and heaven forbid that ever happens again), the league isn't going to start calling off games. I strongly believe if Saturday night had been a regular-season game, it would not have been suspended.

Eric from Bangkok, Thailand

Ello! For final roster cuts next week and practice-squad designations, how does the process work? Do the Packers get to choose the 16 people they want on their practice squad during the cut (allowing them to keep and develop players), or can any team sign members from any team similar to the waiver process?

Once all non-vested veterans clear waivers and teams start building their practice squads, those players are free to sign with any practice squad that offers them a contract. Teams making waiver claims must put those players on their 53, though, and the players don't have choices unless they clear.

Patt from St. Paul, MN

With cutdowns on the horizon and many tough decisions to be made, especially at WR and RB, can teams negotiate practice-squad contracts with players who are on the bubble before they are actually let go? Or do they have to wait and scramble with other teams to sign their own guys? I'd like to hang onto many of the players we've seen this preseason, such as E. Wilson, DuBose, and Cox, but I know there's not room for all of them on the 53.

Players are often told upon being released that the team has interest in bringing them back on the practice squad, but they can't negotiate or offer any deals until the waiver period ends.

Jon from Bangalore, India

Grant DuBose is making it awfully interesting for that last WR spot, isn't he?


DT from Bozeman, MT

Without naming names, which group (RB, WR, OL, etc.) do you see has having someone not make the Packer "53" but being picked up by another team with a need I that group?

I don't have any statistics in front of me to support my assertion, but in my experience, wide receivers are the least likely players to get claimed. Everybody's got receivers. Plenty of them.

Sandy from Appleton, WI

Who remains on the Packers' PUP list?

Just Eric Stokes. If he's not activated prior to the roster deadline next week, the Packers will have to decide whether to put him on the 53 or transfer him to regular-season PUP, which would mean sitting out at least the first four games.

Matt from Boston, MA

Trust the process. I have always loved that phrase. I wonder if having a group of mostly inexperienced players makes this easier in that they all don't know any better? Sure veteran leadership is important, but so seems the exuberance of youth. How much fun would it be to coach an eager-to-learn team? I for one am enjoying watching the process unfold a whole lot more this year. Thanks to the entire team for bringing it to life.

At some point learning time turns to winning time. This young team won't stop learning, but the primary objective changes and will be made clear to all. It's almost that time.

Erik from Mansfield, TX

Just watched Larry's spotlight on the two rookie D-linemen, and it's so cool to see the unselfish play where one guy deliberately occupies three blockers to give his line partner a clear path to the QB. Is that the sort of thing where the coordinator tries to feed everybody alternately like you see with RBs? Or is it more just call whatever's working? Or do the guys in the trenches not care about that as long as one of them gets the stop?

If the players are executing well, they earn the play-caller's trust, and the credit gets doled out in the film room.

Mark from Mt. Vernon, WI

Hello, when do the Pack start installing the game plan for their first regular-season game? Or do they kind of work on it during the whole preseason and really ramp up after this weekend's game is over? Thank you.

McCarthy used to have a day or two in camp devoted to some game-plan reps for early-season opponents, but with the elimination of the fourth preseason game allowing extra practice time leading up to Week 1, specific game-planning generally waits until then. LaFleur did say the coaching staff is cognizant of the concepts they're likely to call on in the early weeks of the season, and they continue to rep those now in practice.

Sean from Palatine, IL

Good morning Insiders! What does the team do during the week between the final preseason game and Week 1? Are the players still in Green Bay running practices or is it treated like a mini-bye?

Both. There are practices as well as CBA-mandated time off.

Kevin from Winter, WI

Following up re: refs – I assume crews are assembled geographically to mitigate travel costs? They pay that themselves, right?

Heck no. The league pays travel costs for all officials. Crews are assembled and assigned to games weekly with no (or extremely minimal) regard to geography.

Dan from Grayslake, IL

Good morning! Another question about DB69 and his participation. While he hasn't suited up for the two preseason games, has he played in the joint practices vs. the Bengals and Pats?

He participated against the Bengals and in one practice with the Patriots.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

To Mike's point on David Bakhtiari and limiting his practices on artificial turf, will this impact his game-day availability for games played on turf? If not, is the first time he plays on turf being in the game ideal? I would imagine it would help to practice on the playing surface that you plan to play the next game on rather than going into the game not preparing yourself and body for the turf field.

Bakhtiari has played long enough in his career I don't think he needs to acclimate himself to any surface. The larger question is how much recovery time he might need after a game on turf. We'll find out after Week 2 at Atlanta. As tough as the short week will be at Thanksgiving, the mini-bye after Detroit will probably help.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I thought the O-line had an outstanding game. Even with arguably our best lineman not playing, they still opened holes in for the backs and kept our QBs clean all game. And this against starters on a tough defensive team. From Gute picking them to Stenavich and Butkus coaching and cross-training them, the GB line has the be the envy of most teams. I feel more confident about both sides of the trenches this year than I have in a long time.

I've had no concerns, other than health, about the Packers' offensive line all offseason. They were bringing back more experience and holdover prospects than ever, and it has shown up in the depth they're building. There are a lot more question marks on the defensive line. While Wyatt and Slaton have shown they appear capable of the big step they're being asked to take, and while Wooden and Brooks sure look like they belong as rookies, that's still a number of unproven commodities. Promising? Yes. Proven? No, but they're working toward tried-and-true status.

Preston from Tallahassee, FL

The observation on John Kuhn speaks to what a throwback he really is. Should he continue in the profession he will be known as a fine brodcaster, NOT a former player. In the early days of players entering the network booth, Pat Summerall, Frank Gifford, et al would spend hours in a trailer looking at broadcast tape and practicing. A couple of generations knew Pat as a great broadcaster, not a former player. It's a credit to their professionalism. So, kudos to John and to Larry McCarren.

I second (or third or fourth or 12th) the motion.

Donn from Oshkosh, WI

No question today, I just want to thank you both for the way you handle the complaints and sometimes someone trying to find fault with a player. You always find a positive in your answer. That's not being a "homer" it's being a human and we need more of that in this world today. I salute you.

Appreciate hearing that. Happy Wednesday.

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