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Inbox: Today marks the beginning of a brand-new journey

The Packers have a proven process that’s only gotten stronger

TE Robert Tonyan
TE Robert Tonyan

Russ from Henrico, VA

Big day today! Just wanted to say that no matter how much I think I know, I am 100% happy to leave it to the pros to put together the roster.

This is the hardest day of the NFL year, but we must also appreciate how many successful careers will be born on this date – just like Robert Tonyan, Sam Shields and Lane Taylor before them. These late-round picks and undrafted rookies have worked nonstop for the last seven, eight months to make an NFL roster. This is their moment. Today marks the beginning of a brand-new journey.

Dean from Ottawa, IL

Why the two-week layoff? It seems like it would serve the safety issue to start now and have two bye weeks. Your thoughts.

Back to what I said last week…the NFL doesn't want to start the regular season before Labor Day. I don't make the rules, Dean. I just schedule all facets of my life around them.

James from Asheville, NC

For players on the bubble, I can't imagine what the cut-down days are like. They gave their all and it may not be enough. In your experience, do the players sense, deep down, if they've made the team?

I think so. Maybe not in places they talk about at parties, but players have a good sense of where they stand based on which teams they're working with in practice. Agents also have prospects prepared for all scenarios because some players will have life-altering decisions to make about which practice squad to join on Wednesday. There always are surprises but also some confirmation of assumptions.

Ken from Tucson, AZ

Once they have cleared waivers, what are the rules regarding a player's availability for the practice squad?

It's their call. Most players will stay put because of their knowledge of the scheme and playbook, but some will test the waters elsewhere.

Buzz from Arlington Heights, IL

Do you think we'll ever see an offensive lineman jump from left to right or vice versa following the other team's best rusher like a CB mirroring a top wideout occasionally does? Or, do you think the communication/experience/comfort level with a neighboring guard and/or confusion of switching footwork per snap is too much to overcome?

The juice wouldn't be worth the squeeze, especially when it comes to cohesiveness and pre-snap adjustments. What's more, defenses aren't obligated to line up their edge rushers at set positions, either. Just look at how Za'Darius Smith and Rashan Gary moved around the past few years.

Jamie from Marietta, OH

Which of the three phases do you believe would be the hardest to coach?

In today's NFL? Defense. In addition to having to stop talented offenses on a weekly basis, defenses are constantly under the microscope of NFL officiating.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Ty Summers was arguably the best performer on underperforming special teams last year. With his release my positive spin is that Rich and staff feel that there are better guys than our best guy on this year's team. That gives me hope. What say you?

Summers is a good dude who did everything asked of him the past three years. But at the end of the day, the Packers needed a reset on special teams. I think they've done that. We have to see where the chips fall, but you can't say Green Bay rested on its laurels this offseason. Gutekunst, LaFleur and Co. wanted to shake things up on the unit and they have.

Paul from Rockford, IL

How will the backfield be used in the passing game this season?

At will.

Tom from Macomb, MI

The Packers only had two players in NFL Network's Top 100. Why would Aaron Jones not be there? Understand injuries for some but seems like a negative bias against us. Overreaction?

He'll be back on the list next year.

Jeffrey from Taylors, SC

I have Aaron Jones, Kenny Clark, and De'Vondre Campbell on my fantasy team. Playing with my son and his college buddies (I am 63). Lousy auto-pick, I wanted Aaron Rodgers and Rashan Gary too!

A fun exercise for any Packers fan who drafts Jones might be to immediately handcuff AJ Dillon. I could see both being viable RBs 1/2. Why not have both? I did that with my own fantasy team in 2008, with Chris Johnson and LenDale White. OK, now I'm really done with fantasy advice for the 2022 season.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022.

Tim from Clear Lake, IA

How many people are in the Packers' personnel department? Scouts, in particular. The Packers seem really good at finding gems. Is our personnel department different than other teams or are they all fairly similar? Just our people are better.

The Packers have roughly 20 people in their personnel department, though coaches will offer their two cents on prospects during the draft process, too. Green Bay's scouts are good at what they do. They have a proven process that started with Ron Wolf and has only gotten stronger.

Kevin from Whitehall, WI

Regarding Mason Crosby, he is still on PUP, correct? If so, couldn't the Packers move him to regular-season PUP and delay the decision on the 53-man roster if he isn't yet ready? He would have to miss the first four weeks in that case.

That's correct, which would end his consecutive games played streak at 15 NFL seasons and 241 regular-season games.

Jake from Decatur, GA

Trying to read between the lines here. Was Mike suggesting yesterday that, if Crosby isn't ready for Week 1, then Brian Gutekunst might keep him on the 53, try to get Ahmed onto the PS, and then just use the weekly-promotion option to play Ramiz Ahmed until Crosby's ready to go? That sounds pretty savvy if you're confident Crosby will be ready before Week 3.

It's possible, but if Crosby isn't cleared before Week 1, that might be too big of a gamble to expose Ahmed to waivers just to clear an extra spot on the initial 53-man roster.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Happy Cutdown Day, Wes. I think I remember you making a comment last week regarding the rules for practice squads this year that while the number remains at 16, it still wasn't known regarding keeping four veterans again and limits on how often the player could be promoted in-season. If this is in fact true, when will that decision be made? Also, regarding protecting four members of the squad, does that happen after the waiver process is complete or next week when games are here?

It's pretty much the same as last year with a few exceptions. Teams can now keep up to six veterans on their practice squad regardless of experience (e.g. Rasul Douglas being on Arizona's practice squad last year). The other 10 have to be rookies or first-year players with no more than nine games on a team's active roster. Players can be elevated up to three times. I don't believe there will be COVID-19 replacements this year, though.

Tracy from Little Rock, AR

There's no way Samori Toure doesn't get claimed, so it's 100% chance that the Packers keep seven receivers. What are your thoughts?

I think the Packers keep seven receivers, but your guess is as good as mine as to who No. 7 will be. Toure had some big moments in camp, but Juwann Winfree is a veteran Rodgers seems to be comfortable with, too. Either is deserving.

Matt from Eau Claire, WI

How does Coach go about preparing for a team with a first-time head coach in Week 1? Does ML look at what his previous team had run to get some idea of what the plan might be? It feels like a daunting task trying to plan for an unknown commodity like that.

While LaFleur never worked with Kevin O'Connell directly, they both are products of the Shanahan/McVay coaching tree. Defensively, Green Bay is obviously familiar with Mike Pettine, Mike Smith and Za'Darius Smith. The Packers already do so much prep on the NFC North in the offseason. Once it was announced they were opening in Minnesota, LaFleur and his staff were right back in game-planning mode. They'll have a plan.

CJ from Cedar Rapids, IA

Jarrett Bush is the one Packer that I remember as being really good at special teams. I have a pretty good idea what type of body they are looking for on most positions on offense and defense. But special teams are blurrier. Was Bush a gunner on the kickoff and punting units? Do they want fast guys on the outside and more linebacker type in the center of the field? When Mason Crosby kicks off, do they employ more linebacker types next to him and then cornerbacks and receivers out wide?

In a word – yes. The strategy isn't that dissimilar from offense and defense. You want corners and receivers on the perimeter, and linebackers, safeties, running backs and tight ends inside. Speed wasn't what made Bush a really good special-teamer, though. It was his savviness. He had a knack for beating the man in front of him, especially on punts.

Doug from Milwaukee, WI

What player/aspect of the new special teams has you the most excited for the season?

Assuming they make the 53, it's Dallin Leavitt and Keisean Nixon. It's been a minute since the Packers have had veterans with textbook knowledge of a coordinator's scheme in that phase. Those two will make sure Bisaccia's teachings are followed through between the hashes and the standard stays the standard. If done correctly, more leaders will emerge throughout the season. Pat O'Donnell seems like a solid holder, too. That's a small but very large thing, too.

Steve from Rockford, IL

"….I'm just not OK with not being out there." Talk about displaying your best ability through availability. When it comes time for captain selections can you clarify is it a full team vote, or done by coaches, or both? Also, are there any structural rules about offense, defense and we-team representation? Thanks.

Leavitt is built different. You can tell why Bisaccia loves the guy so much. He's a field general. I'm pretty sure it's just the locker room that votes for captains. Last year, offense and defense each had three captains and Mason Crosby captained special teams.

Jeff from Janesville, WI

With our return unit being so unpredictable, wouldn't it just be better for our punter to direct the ball out of bounds?

It's easier said than done, Jeff. JK Scott had an NFL leg, but his net yardage dipped whenever he was asked to punt towards the sideline in Green Bay. Bisaccia is holding his plans for O'Donnell close to the vest, but we'll all find out how the Packers will approach punts soon enough.

Steven from Tucson, AZ

More fodder for why LaFleur should have been voted coach of the year. Only two Packers in the Top 100? It's amazing he was able to get 13 wins out of this group of talentless toads. (Dripping with sarcasm.)

I've said my piece on how NFL Coach of the Year voters have overlooked LaFleur the past three years, but again I promise you he does not care. He'd trade in his candidacy for the award if it brought the Packers even one inch closer to the Super Bowl.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey guys, so far, the draft picks are showing why they were picked in their spots, well most of them. Why wasn't Romeo Doubs taken before Christian Watson? He has shown he's a far more pro-ready receiver in my opinion.

I wouldn't necessarily agree with your statement. We've seen Watson for only a handful of practices, but he looks like he belongs out there. More importantly, you don't draft players strictly based on who's deemed the most "pro-ready." Projection is involved, too. Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark and Jordy Nelson all needed a couple seasons to get acclimated to the NFL. Once they did, all three turned out to be incredible players. You're playing all 18 holes in the NFL, not just the front nine.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Wes, I find it interesting that the NFL Top 100 and fantasy football rankings are based on last season. While the rear-view mirror is the only data available, it ain't last year anymore. Go Pack Go! I hope to hear Jaire Alexander exclaim after the season, "We are who we thought we were!"

Alexander was hurt, Gary is young, and Clark and Adrian Amos are perennially underrated players, so I suppose I get their exclusion. But how did Rasul Douglas not make the list? He had five INTs in 12 games (tied for fourth in the NFL) and was a Pro Bowl alternate despite not playing for the first six weeks of the season. Hello?

Matt from Greensboro, NC

Players who show out in spring football (USFL) get a crack at NFL rosters. Cleveland signed a USFL star that tore his ACL. Has there been talk of how to maybe load manage these players? Maybe it's too new to get the PA involved? A much more brutal schedule than a 17-game…more like back-to-back seasons.

That Browns player was Chris Odom, who played for the Packers in 2017. I'm sick for that dude. Odom worked his tail off to get back in the league and then this happens. Somebody asked a few days ago about the workload on USFL players who make 53-man rosters. It could be a lot, but I'd imagine it still pales in comparison to the grind of an NFL training camp.

Jerry from Illinois

Good morning, gentlemen. While watching a "Three Things," I have noticed Mike looking at Larry as if in anticipation of an off-the-wall comment or something no one would expect. We insiders, or maybe just me, relish the every "Three Things" in anticipation of what may unfold. Are either of you ever privy to what may unfold or are just along for the ride for the awesome man who is "The Rock"?

"Three Things" is sort of unscripted (no pun intended). Spoff and I have no idea what Larry is going to talk about beforehand. Occasionally, we do double-up on a topic but that's part of the organic charm of the videos.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

If there was one thing you could change about how football is covered and talked about, what would that be? For me, it's the QB centricity. It seems so appallingly simple to boil down wins and losses to how the QB played. Is it a factor? Of course. Is it the end-all-be-all? No.

Mine would be how we all gotta freak out that Elgton Jenkins isn't practicing one day only to have that self-imposed fear tranquilized the next when he's back on the practice field. Just breathe, people.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

I'm starting to have panic attacks regarding our top two offensive linemen and their knees. Please offer some words to calm me down. Thanks.

Read my previous answer.

Mark from Madison, WI

The initial 53 roster is not always the one that starts the season. When can they place players on injured reserve for in-season call back?

The following day. The player just needs to be on the initial 53-man roster to be eligible to return later that season.

If the baloney is all gone after Sept. 11, what are we having instead? Prime rib? Filet mignon? Or is it just a bunch of cheese curds?

The thing is baloney never truly stops. It's just no longer on the every-day menu. Like pumpkin spice lattes, the baloney will be back soon enough.