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Inbox: This is a team that's going to grow up in a hurry

That’s what makes this season such a great unknown


James from Oshkosh, WI

Mike, this may have been answered already but, when will LeRoy Butler's name go up on the stadium façade?

And we're off to another terrific start today.

John from Phoenix, AZ

I've never wanted to have a beer with The Rock more than I did after watching Wednesday's "Three Things." That made me grin long after the video was over.

Just the thought of 99 snaps in early October at Tampa Bay wore me out. I can't imagine.

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Good morning II. There have been a great many odd happenings during football games. Power outage during the SB. Delays due to lightning strikes, etc. But doesn't it seem like the Packers' preseasons are unusually bizarre in recent years? Hall of Fame game cancelled due to turf. The great Canadian 80-yard field. Shortening the game due to injury. What are the most bizarre games you can recall covering?

Canton and Canada take the cake for me as far as preseason. Entering my 18th season here, I have almost no memories of all the preseason games I've witnessed, but those two trips I'll never forget.

Tom from West Palm Beach, FL

When does Mike's Mid-Week chat return?

Most likely Week 1.

Roger from McGrath, AK

As a follow-up to Jeff from Wauwatosa's question, is the waiver wire claim order a tradable commodity or is that not allowed like the compensatory draft picks used to be?

There's no switching.

Dave from Middletown, CT

I didn't realize it wasn't an option until they changed the rule. Do you have insight as to the rationale for formerly not allowing fair catches on kickoffs?

They've always been allowed. The ball was just spotted where it was caught. Now a fair catch on a kickoff anywhere inside the 25-yard line puts the ball on the 25.

David from Janesville, WI

It's early and we knew this would be a young team, but it sure looks like there will be a lot of snaps for rookies out there. I've heard three (eventual) starters from a draft was solid. It sure looks like Luke Musgrave and Jayden Reed will start out of the gate. Lukas Van Ness, Colby Wooden, Karl Brooks and probably Carrington Valentine will see significant snaps on D. With the loss of Tyler Davis, Tucker Kraft's snap count is going up. Anders Carlson will be kicking. The proof will be in performance, but early returns on the 2023 draft are promising.

This is a team that's going to grow up in a hurry, out of necessity and by design.

Steve from Phoenix, AZ

I'm excited to watch this team develop and see what they can achieve this year. That said, it feels like Gute built this team for 2024. Courageously, after going all-in with Rodgers, he made a clean cut, received great value this year and next, fixed the cap in one year and put together a very young athletic roster. Trust me, I'm focused on this team, this year, but I can't help but recognize the future looks really bright.

Going one-and-done, so to speak, on the cap implications of the transition was the preference and the priority. Now it all hinges on how much growth (see above answer) takes place over the next four-plus months.

Mark from Mt. Vernon, WI

Hello, listening to one of the talking heads on the radio the other day he said a team needs five or six difference-makers to have a shot at the Super Bowl. Going off that premise, the Pack have a shot. Right? You got Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, Rashan Gary and Jaire Alexander. What do you think? Thanks.

I think in this day and age of the NFL, it's extremely difficult if one of those handful of difference-makers isn't your quarterback. That's what makes this season such a great unknown.

Marcus from Corte Madera, CA

Thinking about the state of the safety position as a reflection of how the Packers tend to prioritize team-building. Seems they like to build the defense from the outside in (CB, EDGE first), and build the offense from the inside out (QB, OL). There are occasional deviations, of course, but would you agree with that assessment?

There are four premium positions in this game – passer, pass protector, pass rusher and pass defender. Funny how that matches up to the positions you put in parentheses.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Who do you predict will be the starting five OL for the start of the upcoming season?

Based on practice observations, it appears they've settled on (left to right): David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan, Zach Tom.

Ben from Guffey, CO

I love Gary. Gets back out there, they ask him a question and he says, "Good, but we're still taking it day by day." No disrespect to others before, but when he does come back, I really like the top four rotation of our OLBs. Also, one takeaway from the last couple preseason games that I love – really seeing the young guys swarm to the ball. Maybe I'm overreacting, and it is preseason, but I do feel like I'm seeing that more than I used to over the last few years. Thoughts?

LaFleur has commented multiple times on this team's play style and how the entire defense regularly runs to the football. It's clearly been an emphasis. As for the OLBs specifically, I wrote about how the depth of the group has a whole different look compared to nine months ago.

James from Appleton, WI

The Packers have scored a few red-zone touchdowns this preseason, with a nice mix of rushes and passes. Can we turn the dial on red-zone scoring from Concerned to Hopeful?

If the Packers can run the ball effectively in the red zone, as they have, the results should follow.

Joe from Wausau, WI

When it comes down to the last roster spots/cuts: How much effort do they spend trying to guess which players would be the most likely to clear waivers, and which would be most likely to be claimed?

It's part of the process in the effort to have everyone they'd like on either the active roster or practice squad. But the bottom line is any player cut they've decided they can live without, and retention is a bonus.

Connor from Berkley, MI

Sean Clifford has obviously shown enough on the field to shut down conversations around bringing in a veteran QB, so this is not a suggestion to do so. However, with only one career start in the QB room I am surprised the Packers neglected to bring in a veteran voice for leadership and mentorship. Jordan Love has yet to go through the ups and downs as a starting QB, did the decision to forego an experienced QB surprise you in that regard as well?

No. As I've said all along, before Clifford ever took a snap in training camp, the Packers' cap was too tight to spend the money on a veteran who could provide value in that regard. I think as camp unfolded, Love's progress and Clifford's play reinforced that the cap dollars can be better spent (or saved) elsewhere.

Kevin from Arlington, OH

Good morning, a couple of thoughts on Sean Clifford. He is "old" for a rookie having played at Penn State for six or seven years. He certainly has impressed with his play so far. Is this an argument for players (at least quarterbacks) to stay in school and gain valuable experience?

Experience never hurts, but for these young men looking to turn professional, there's so much more to consider, such as injury risk, draft projections, and the money available now vs. later. It's a business decision for every player, and perspectives vary.

Dave from Eau Claire, WI

While I also fear I run the risk of appearing callous, I feel comments by Coach ML and Mike about the game being cancelled for injury and because it was preseason rubs me wrong as a season-ticket holder of 28 years. Until recently, these games cost the same as regular season. The fans expected a full game. Many attendees are first-timers too. I feel like the we are often forgotten for the gigantic financial contribution we invest as fans. To many it was not "just a preseason game."

Fair point, but for years now there's been no guarantee – and many times a small likelihood at best – that the starters are even going to suit up. Preseason games come with all kinds of caveats, and last Saturday night was another example. Fans who attend those games must know that going in and make their investment decision accordingly.

Nate from Manitowoc, WI

Do you see Jonathan Ford getting real snaps in the D-line rotation this year?

Perhaps, particularly in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

I have a problem with the Hall of Fame having a mandatory number of at least seven inductees each year. I prefer the MLB standards of sometimes not even having one selection based on merit, not a required quota system. I won't mention names, but Canton has inducted some iffy people lately.

I don't want to get into who does or doesn't deserve induction, but I agree it doesn't entirely sit right that Canton requires between four and eight inductees every year (that's how it's worded in the selection committee's ground rules, according to the PFHOF website). I do think football is the most difficult sport, by a large margin, to compare players from different eras, which makes the selection committee's job very challenging.

Mike from Manitowoc, WI

More about officials: Do they have a separate locker room? Do host teams provide transportation to and from the airport? Do they stay in the same hotel as the visiting team?

I don't know the specifics of their travel arrangements, but I do know officials have their own locker room at every stadium, and it is guarded to allow no unauthorized entry at any time.

Robert from Corpus Christi, TX

Are there any plans to expand the stadium further?

I'm not aware of any. Lambeau Field already has the second-largest capacity of any NFL stadium, I believe, so increasing that isn't on the to-do list.

The Green Bay Packers held training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

John from Green Bay, WI

Is it too early to speculate that Carrington Valentine may give the team the luxury of placing Eric Stokes on the PUP for 4 weeks?

I'm not sure one has anything to do with the other, because it's not just about playing in games. When Eric Stokes is healthy and cleared, they'll want him to begin practicing. If he begins the regular season on PUP, he won't be able to practice for those first four weeks. That's a consideration.

Jay from Altoona, WI

With the safety position opposite Darnell Savage still being unsettled at this point of training camp, do you think it is more likely the Packers will still go with someone already on the roster, or do you think the future starting safety is on a different NFL roster and will be acquired next week via trade or waiver wire claim?

I don't see the Packers throwing an outside acquisition into the starting lineup over the next two weeks, if that's what you're asking. But LaFleur said Thursday the safety situation will be "fluid," so we'll see what exactly that means.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

Is this the first time the Packers and Lions play both games on Thursday? Has a double-up of Thursday games happened in the same season for any teams before? Thanks for all you do to keep us informed of all things Packers.

According to my research (which could be wrong), the Packers have played two Thursday games in the same season five times, but never against the same team – 1994 (Vikings and Cowboys), 2007 (Lions and Cowboys), 2011 (Saints and Lions), 2014 (Seahawks and Vikings), and 2015 (Bears and Lions).

Russ from Odell, IL

What's going on with De'Vondre Campbell? Reports were a writer had seen a walking boot and scooter by his locker, but he wasn't there. Is this an injury more serious than they are letting on?

When Gutekunst addressed it last week, he indicated Campbell's readiness for Week 1 wasn't a concern.

William from Palmdale, CA

So pumped RG is doing 11-on-11 work now, but do you really think GB puts him out on a crappy Soldier Field to risk injury right off the bat? I wouldn't!

Soldier Field's playing surface is much improved in recent years. That said, I don't see Rashan Gary playing 60 snaps in his first game back, regardless.

Phil from Santa Rosa, CA

Aside from performance in practice and on special teams, is there anything coaches are considering in roster decisions that is not visible to fans? Bonus question: How much of a say do coaches have in these decisions versus the GM and player personnel department?

It's a collaborative effort, but ultimately the GM makes the final calls. Culture and locker room fit are factors we don't get to see.

Al from Green Bay, WI

If the final preseason game is the most important for players vying for a roster spot, the sense of urgency on Saturday will be palpable. Are there a couple of players on the roster bubble that you are really pulling for to excel?

I don't have favorites I want to make the team. I hope for all these young men to make the decisions as difficult on the personnel department as possible. That's what's best for the Packers, and then no matter the outcome, all can hold their heads high.

Andrea from Chippewa Falls, WI

Who will Love try to target more in passing game?

Hopefully whoever's open the most. Happy Friday.

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