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Inbox: This is what they do

The 11-on-11 reps in practice will take on added importance

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Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tim Boyle

Hans from Fairborn, OH

Most years, we're talking about the rookie wall and how grueling it is mentally and physically for the rookies to play a full college season, pro day/combine prep, draft, OTAs, training camp, and a full NFL season. Now without an offseason, we're talking about the rookies being disadvantaged and behind the learning curve. Rookies can't catch a break.

It's a tough transition no matter how you slice it.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

With all the Don Hutson topics and records discussion, did anyone else notice he led the NFL in interceptions in 1940, too?

His 30 career interceptions rank tied for ninth in team history with Tramon Williams.

Ron from Bethesda, MD

How will the Packers make up revenue with no fans at Lambeau?

They won't. There isn't a way to compensate fully for whatever revenue will be lost in 2020 due to limited or no ticket sales. Mark Murphy has expressed the organization is on solid financial ground to manage a significant one-year shortfall.

Jason from Vernon Hills, IL

With stadiums either empty or reduced with fans, do you think that NFL teams and especially the Packers can still play well? Will they still be motivated to play in empty stadiums?

It'll be different and it'll be strange, just as we've seen in baseball. But these guys are professional athletes. This is what they do.

Andrew from Green Bay, WI

Will it be harder for coaches to pick the 53-man roster with no preseason games?

The GM actually has final say over the roster, taking input from scouts, personnel execs and coaches. What happens in practice carries a lot of weight, and the preseason games become the validation for (or extension of) what's occurred in practice. Without that validation for younger, unproven players, it'll be interesting to see if they lean toward experience over youth in some of the final roster decisions.

Ron from Cherry Valley, IL

With the preseason games cancelled, practices closed and the practice squad expanded, it would seem to me this may be the easiest year to hide some rookies on the practice squad?

That's what I'm thinking. With no preseason film for other teams to review, there may be fewer waiver claims and less poaching of players, allowing teams to hang onto more of their own developmental prospects on the practice squad.

Mark from Salem, OR

How are the Packers going to evaluate their young talent when there is no preseason? I would think effectively doing that in camp alone is going to be very difficult. Will they implement additional drills or scrimmages to get a better read on those players? The obvious players to watch are the rookies, but there are questions at wide receiver and inside linebacker. Thanks for your insight.

I don't see a bunch of new drills suddenly being invented, but the 11-on-11 reps in practice will take on added importance. Those snaps are this year's preseason for players trying to prove themselves.

Sonia from Fairbanks, AK

Spof, last year you convinced me baseball should use behind-the-plate camera technology to determine balls and strikes. Do you think baseball is missing an opportunity to test this technology? It seems the catcher is the player most exposed to risk of COVID-19 because of his close proximity to the umpire for an extended period of time.

Interesting point. The umpires are wearing face coverings and probably getting tested as often as the players. MLB wants to continue experimenting with automated strike zones at lower levels, so it wasn't ready to implement the technology at the big-league level on a whim. Minor league seasons getting canceled has likely set the timeline back a bit.

Paul from Middleton, WI

The Seahawks got fleeced.

We shall see. Earl Thomas was one of the linchpins in that Seattle defense for years at safety, so it appears Schneider is trying to rebuild via those cornerstones. But giving up a full-time starter and two first-round picks for a player who isn't a quarterback, left tackle, edge rusher or cover corner is an awfully steep price to pay.

Chris from West Allis, WI

If we end up with games this fall without fans, do you foresee stadiums still having the jumbotrons turned on? Strangely enough they seem to have become part of the modern game with players glancing up to see how closely they're being chased and coaches viewing replays before challenging. Do you see this affecting the game or officiating?

I expect the video boards to be on, as they are in baseball right now. I don't think they'll have any greater or lesser impact than normal.

Chad from Ft. Eustis, VA

I'm perfectly fine with the Washington Sentinels, but only if Keanu Reeves comes out as Shane Falco for the season opener.

With a halftime ceremony putting Gene Hackman/Jimmy McGinty into the Ring of Honor.

Jeremiah from Denver, CO

Wes or Mike, how does attending games affect your coverage? It seems an awful lot of the action is missed on network TV due to the camera angles. If you had to cover a game based on TV coverage, would you have the "all-22" view? Do you think you could cover a game well with just the normal network broadcast?

We may or may not have to find out. But I actually think it'll be the changes to postgame access – which will be all virtual – that could impact coverage more. Without in-person press conferences and locker room interviews, getting a true read on players' reactions, emotions, etc., might be harder. I don't know.

Jake from Lake Mills, WI

What's the most memorable high school sporting event you ever attended and why? Not an event you participated in, either. I don't want to hear about you scoring four touchdowns in one high school football game.

I covered too many dramatic state championships to count, but I will say some of my best stories came from covering the sport of wrestling. One year a star wrestler's older brother, whom he idolized on the mat and off, was killed in a car accident. The younger brother made it all the way to the state finals, lost a tough match, walked off the mat with his head held high, and then in the solitude of the concourse with his coaches and family broke down emotionally in a way that words couldn't describe. I'll never forget that. Another time a heavyweight was a Native American school's only wrestler, practiced all season against no one but his coach, and won the state title. Stories like that are a treat.

Mike from Mercer, WI

How many players will be active of the "53" at game time? I thought there were going to be 49 or is it still only 46? Thanks, stay healthy.

Teams can have 48 players active on game day starting this year, but eight of the 48 have to be offensive linemen. If a team only has seven active offensive linemen, the limit will be 47.

Chris from Appleton, WI

Hi Mike/Wes, first-time longtime member. With the cap expected to shrink as much as $23 million next year, does that keep the Packers from re-signing any of their free agents next year? It sounds like they will need to cut or restructure contracts just to sign their draft class next year.

Every team is going to be in the same boat with restructuring some contracts and trying to re-sign guys to new deals. The cap hits are going to be spread out over four years, but it sounds like next year will be the biggest hit. Management of the cap is always crucial but it'll be the single biggest challenge for every club next offseason. How players react to what they're being offered, requests for pay cuts, etc., will play into how smoothly it goes (or doesn't) for each team. Some of the hit, but not all of it, will be absorbed by the slotted deals for draft picks falling in value, I would imagine.

Patrick from Valrico, FL

So the first domino has officially fallen in regards to NFL players opting out of the season. It seems the relatively low amount of money might curb some of those decisions, but most of these guys have enough money to easily take a year off. What are your expectations for how many players will choose this route?

I don't think it'll be many, because these guys' windows of earning power are short. They know that. Players with high-risk family situations will be the most likely to opt out, but I'm not anticipating a significant number of players to do so.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

One area that probably will be affected by no preseason is special teams, especially coverage, due to many rookies not being asked to do so in college. Does training camp provide enough exposure to the rookies or do we have enough returnees on these teams to reduce this concern?

Interesting question. I think the Packers are in decent shape there, because six of the top seven coverage players from last year, in terms of special-teams tackles compiled, are back (Oren Burks, Will Redmond, Allen Lazard, Ty Summers, Josh Jackson, Jamaal Williams). Only Danny Vitale is not. Lazard would be the one who might not play as much on special teams in 2020, but if the other five all make the team, the coverage units won't be looking at a massive overhaul. Plus, draft picks Kamal Martin, Vernon Scott, and Jonathan Garvin all did play on special teams in college.

Terrance from Sun Prairie, WI

What position will be a big surprise this offseason?

I'm very curious to see what inside linebacker looks like when the games get going.

Michael from Dover, PA

Hi guys. As the summer of no sports looks to get going again I speak for many when I say "Thank you" for continuing to get up every day and try to squeeze something informative and entertaining out of the little day-to-day news with which you have to work. It has to be difficult at times to see the same questions to try to be creative and meet a deadline. You guys have both become a much-needed oasis in the doldrums. On behalf of many, thank you for just getting us through it.

We've made it to the last week of July. Baseball is underway, basketball soon will be, and the football players will be putting pads on in a couple of weeks. One step at a time. Happy Monday.

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