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Inbox: Two weeks in a row makes it a concern

Produce like a No. 1, outside perception or a label doesn’t matter


Bill from Seattle, WA

That is two sloppy games. Two games where we were beaten in every major statistical category. Two games with a terrible running game. Two games with less than acceptable tackling. A defense that is not looking like an NFL group, let alone a top 10 defense. I try to not have unrealistic expectations but I do expect a higher level of football than the last two weeks, even if it is preseason.

LaFleur expects better, too. He made that pretty clear after the game. Now he has to get it from his players.

Roger from Eau Claire, WI

It looks like running the ball and stopping the run have to be two things that need emphasis. How can a team do that with so many limited contact practice days? Are there certain drills that can focus on those areas without the contact?

The Packers have worked on their run game a lot in 11-on-11 in camp, but the results didn't show up in Baltimore. There aren't any limitations there, because everyone can throw his block and the back can put his foot in the ground and go. The tackling is another matter. LaFleur was clearly unhappy with that aspect for the second straight game. I wasn't going to be alarmed after the first game, but two weeks in a row makes it a concern. We'll see what he changes in practice this week.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, I didn't get to see the game, but the stats say Baltimore ran the ball effectively and we didn't. Baltimore got pressure on the QB and we didn't. But, it's only preseason ... what did you see that looked encouraging and what concerned you?

I didn't like all the penalties for a second straight game, though on that 15-yard run by Williams, I took a long look at the replay and failed to see what Jenkins did wrong. If that's holding in a regular-season game, it's going to be a long year for everybody. I liked the way Bolton played and what Shepherd did, especially as a returner. Lazard, too. The quarterbacks made some nice throws but were too up and down. Everyone factors into the inconsistency, but when throws are there to be made, they have to make them.

Al from Green Bay, WI

So, was JK Scott the MVP?

Scott had a nice game, but the referendum on his second season will come from November on.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

What are the chances that the backup QB on the 53 is neither Kizer nor Boyle?

It's happened before, as recently as 2013. The Packers started over at backup QB in Week 1. But there are two preseason games left. No decisions have been made yet.

Jon from Baraboo, WI

Win or lose, challenging a deep pass for OPI seriously stunts the momentum.

If a coach is thinking about using a timeout anyway, and doesn't feel he needs to hang onto a challenge for later, it's one approach.

Chas from Phoenix, AZ

Do you think we will see more of AR12 in the game against the Raiders?

That would be my expectation at this point.

Rob from Vernon Center, NY

How serious is Hollman's injury?

There was no update after the game.

Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, how is Josh Jackson looking? Based on reps is he behind Ka'dar Hollman and Tony Brown?

During the time Jackson missed at the start of camp with a foot injury, Brown and Hollman moved ahead of him. Jackson hasn't done anything wrong since he came back. It's just the other two have played well, and that's how it works sometimes. If it's a problem, it's a good problem.

Ronald from Edison, NJ

Who is our backup center?

Lucas Patrick, Justin McCray and rookie Elgton Jenkins have all worked at center. Cole Madison was getting reps there earlier but it appears he's focused on guard right now.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

When do teams have to get real about reporting on injuries? The week before Game 1? Are there any NFL rules/requirements during preseason?

There are no preseason requirements. The first injury report for the Packers will come out a few days before Sept. 5, when it's required.

Alex from Winter Haven, FL

My suggestion for third down is for the Packers to sack the opposing quarterback.

That'll work.

Josh from Roberts

The third preseason game is always where teams play the starters the most. With the Packers having Oakland on the regular-season schedule also, do you think they'll limit the game plan even more than a normal preseason game?

Not really. It's more about what's being put on film, which everyone in the league has access to, and less about the specific opponent.

Michael from Pewaukee, WI

OSU is trying to trademark the word "the." Don't they have a law school there? I kind of think someone should have told them how dumb an idea that is.

Kind of?

Bob from Racine, WI

Insiders, haven't read much at all about Lane Taylor this preseason. What's the latest on his health and performance? Seems like he's been a steady Eddie on the offensive line.

Taylor was singled out as being in a competition with Jenkins for a starting job up front, and by all accounts he has responded as a proven pro would. Taylor wasn't healthy last year. I've had multiple conversations with him about it. He made no excuses when his play last year didn't measure up to previous standards, but he battled through it. He's healthy this year and it's showing.

Damian from Superior, WI

Great, you cursed Jake.

Guilty as charged. Better now than next month.

Jeffrey from Wentzville, MO

Andy from Mesa, AZ: Oren Burks' injury is a reminder of the neglect MLB has received from the front office over the past decade...

Wes: The Packers had bigger fish to fry elsewhere this offseason...

Me: Not so much a draft issue, but let's face facts. Most every NFL team (Packers included) is one hit away from being a Super Bowl pick to being a "lottery pick." Let's let Burks' injury play out. We may find a diamond in the rough with Summers or Bolton or someone else.

Here's another fact: Third down is the money down in the NFL, and almost no team has two inside linebackers on the field on third down anymore. Some have none and just flood the field with pass rushers and cover guys. The position doesn't get the attention it used to because of the way the game has evolved.

Brian from Sussex, WI

In the current defense, how different are the two MLBs' responsibilities? If they are similar, best learning for Summers may be as play-caller with No. 2s for now, moving to starter spot later in preseason.

Run vs. coverage responsibilities are the main difference, but those can change on any given play based on matchups and the call from Pettine. It'll come down to who the best player is, and who knows the defense the best, which translates to reliability. I think being the signal-caller for the second unit is speeding up Summers' learning curve in a scheme different from the one he ran in college.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

My eyes kept being drawn to Kingsley Keke.

He's making a bid to be in the rotation up front.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Mike, Wes's reference to Kumerow's "five years in the making" made me want to root for him all the more. Imagine him putting up a 1,000-yard season or double-digit touchdowns. Has there ever been a story like that? I appreciate his commitment to his dream and really hope he gets a spectacular return on his investment.

He's easy to root for, that's for sure.

Rich from Miami Gardens, FL

My understanding is the new offense relies on deception and confusion to make the defense make mistakes. Our QB can analyze what's going on, on the field, in real time better that anybody. If Aaron Rogers can recognize which defender is muffing or reacting slowly to his assignment he should be able to pick defenses apart. I think the offense should be great! Am I being too optimistic or missing something?

Rodgers won't be at that point in Week 1, or maybe not in Week 8, or maybe not at all this season. I really don't know. But, no offense to Matt Ryan, this scheme has never had a QB of Rodgers' talents running it. Everything is wait and see, and only Rodgers will know when he's truly got it mastered.

Scott from Hiawatha, IA

Aug. 18 is my birthday and it's exactly 18 days till the first game. That's gotta be a sign Green Bay is going to beat the Bears, right?

Whatever you say.

James from Charlottesville, VA

With all the talk in the Inbox about our receivers, it made me start wondering, have the Packers ever had a bona-fide superstar WR ala OBJ, Julio, or Irvin? Just a guy other teams did not want to see come to town because they knew he was going to get his yards? As a fan, it's hard to be unbiased. I always think all of our guys are great. With three HOF QBs that have started for the franchise, one would think we would have some pretty darn good No. 1 WRs here and there.

Frankly, I couldn't care less. All I know is what the stats were for Sharpe, Brooks and Freeman in their prime years with Favre, and for Jennings, Nelson and Adams with Rodgers. Produce like a No. 1, outside perception or a label doesn't matter.

Brad from Springfield, MO

Listening to Rodgers talk about how many players are impressing him this year is a breath of fresh air. This time last year, the topic was how bad the receivers were doing. Does the locker room vibe feel more upbeat, positive and competitive this year or am I reading too much into it? Here is to hoping the good vibes continue!

Last year, Rodgers was working with more rookie receivers than he ever had, and he felt he needed to send a message. The experience of the unit is on another level now. Otherwise, the locker room feels different mainly because of the changed personnel in the starting lineup, at least to me.

Nathan from Portland, OR

I always imagined a field like a teeter-totter. When someone special is on the field, the field metaphorically tilts in their direction and their will. They also carry more weight on their shoulders, tilting the rest of the field their way.

Interesting analogy. A different Nate has another one.

Nate from Plymouth, MN

If you're looking for the origin of the phrase "tilt the field," I would like to propose that it refers to foosball, where tilting the field towards your opponents goal would theoretically make it easier to score on them.

I miss my foosball days.

Matt from Los Angeles, CA

Mike had a good answer to a good question about the most important stat to lead the league in on both offense and defense. He said "turnovers." Hard to argue, but I mostly want third-down stops. Give me the lead in that stat and this season will be a lot more fun than it's been for a few years. I'm totally right, right?

If you aren't going to get turnovers, you'd better be exceedingly good on third downs, and on special teams for field position.

Jon Marc from Columbia, MO

If the Packers want to put Oren Burks on IR to return, he has to be on the original 53, correct? If so, could they have a handshake agreement with their "54th" player to immediately sign them again after the spot opens up? Or do those players have to go through a waiver wire?

If the player has less than four accrued seasons, he's subject to waivers. A vested veteran whose contract is terminated would be free to sign with any other team for any amount of money that fits under its cap.

David from West Fargo, ND

Does ML, or would you, take into account the previous regime's operational struggles when preparing for game days? Will he be less inclined to call a timeout on defense at the end of a half? Will he be cognizant to the difficulties in getting plays called and wasting timeouts early in halves? How much recent history is recognized and how much is scrapped as part of a new slate and new MO?

It's a new head coach calling the shots, and it's his show to run. Any such issues that arise will be his and his alone, and they'll have nothing to do with the past.

Andy from Lancaster, PA

If the fine is to be deducted from the first game check, what happens if the player doesn't make the team? What if he's cut, or ends up only on the practice squad? Does the fine just hang in limbo until he eventually makes a team and earns a check?


Heidi from La Crosse, WI

I think now may be a good time for Aaron to try out that goat yoga.

Whatever works. Happy Friday.