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Inbox: When that time arrives, you have to be ready

Jamaal Williams truly is one of a kind

G Elgton Jenkins

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

The talk is all about AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones being Nos. 1-2, but what about Jamaal Williams and Tyler Ervin? Both are solid players. Williams actually was a rock when Jones was injured and Ervin boosted the kick return big time after he was acquired. What are your thoughts on keeping all four on the roster this year?

I think it's entirely possible the Packers keep four running backs, and maybe more. As I wrote this offseason, there's room for all four of the backs you named to have a role. When asked whether Dillon's addition might threaten his touches, Williams equated it to being on a talented high school team, where you just have to make the most of your touches and opportunities. He's a just steady, fun-loving guy. Don't believe me? Watch the video of that Zoom call.

Oscar from Sherman Oaks, CA

I don't like rattlesnakes either. And old wise man once told us we can't keep them all. No matter how this season and the following offseason turn out, I gotta say that I love me some Jamaal Williams. From his "Frozen," "Little Mermaid," and now prairie dog references, he always makes me laugh. Even his mischievous laugh while wearing that joker mask...he's awesome. Do you guys like rattlesnakes?

I am not a rattlesnake guy but I do cherish every opportunity we have to speak with Williams. He is truly one of a kind.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

What's the story behind Tyler Ervin's nickname, "Swerve"? How long has he had it and who gave it to him?

"Swervin'" Ervin? That nickname writes itself.

Mike from Madison, WI

When Larry talks about offensive linemen, he talks about body type. Squatter guys are better suited for interior line positions, and longer types for tackles. Jon Runyan was a tackle in college, but is being tried at guard. Billy Turner played at guard and is being tried at right tackle. How is it determined where a man will play? Is it body type, aggressiveness, talent, team need, or desire? I hope you can clear this up. I'm sure I am not the only one who has wondered about this.

Where offensive linemen start their career has a lot to do with body type, but where they play often is determined by opportunity. Bryan Bulaga, David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins all ended up starting at their respective positions due to injuries to veterans. And once you prove yourself capable, you're likely to stay at that position. When that time arrives, you have to be ready.

Tony from Marinette, WI

I am very hopeful our O will show growth in Year 2 of the system. I think we have a good stable of running backs and I'm higher on our pass catchers then most. My area of concern is the right side of our O-line. I know it's early in camp but how has that side of the line looked? Also, there always seems to be a late-round pick or UDFA that shows some flashes of being able to step in. Any of our young O-linemen generating any buzz at this point?

We've only had one padded practice where the linemen have performed one-on-ones, but Runyan impressed me with how he battled Kingsley Keke in their two reps against each other. He's a gritty guard who could play right tackle in a pinch, especially as he grows into his body. Outside of a famous family name, Runyan is exactly what you look for in a developmental O-line prospect.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

2016 draftees Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry are the longest-tenured players on the defensive side of the ball! Seriously, let that sink in, wow! Looking great, though, I hear?

I couldn't believe that when Lowry said it, but sure enough.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Good morning gentlemen. With the reported increased emphasis on the running game this year, have you seen an increased emphasis on the running game by the offense in practice?

The Packers are installing their whole offensive playbook right now, so it's not like it's just one team run period after another. Now that being said, Matt LaFleur has been vocal about wanting to establish the run. The emphasis is there and I think you'll see that come the start of the season.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

Maybe I'm missing something but I'm surprised the players coming off the COVID list are allowed to be around at all. I would think you'd want them as far away as possible until they're good to go. Are they just not allowed within six feet of anyone? Are there stages to being cleared?

They're good to go as far as COVID is concerned but that's not the end-all, be-all for these guys to get back on the field. They have to go through an acclimation period. Remember, these players haven't been doing anything in a competitive team setting in eight months.

Bill from Mediapolis, IA

Just got done reading the daily II. My mind started to wonder on a few things brought up. What will college scouts do if there are no college football games played this year?

Work even harder to get a read on the 2021 draft class. They're going to have to work the phones and all available resources to get an intelligent read on players. It won't be easy.

Richard from Greenwich, NY

Recently read a piece on one prominent feature of the Shanahan-McVay-LaFleur offensive philosophy, "deception," where different plays are run from the same look. While coaching always involves deception to some extent, it seems it is in vogue now. Whatever happened to "players not plays"?

Players matter, to be sure. You can't be a good football team without good players, but schemes come and go. Everything is cyclical and right now deception is popular. And it makes sense with how much the game is being dictated at the line of scrimmage these days.

Scott from Fond du Lac, WI

Hi guys. Hopefully this isn't an already answered question, but since there'll be no fans at some games, and no crowd noise, how will the networks handle the language the players use? After all, there's a lot of raw language on the field.

I should have a better answer for you here shortly but I don't think it'll be a concern with this "ambient noise" the NFL is going to be piping into stadiums.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Hey, how often do the players practice inside Lambeau Field during a normal year? I remember Aaron Rodgers talking about the way the wind blows differently inside the bowl, especially after renovations were done a few years ago.

Only Family Night. That's it.

Josh from Denver, CO

What are the early impressions of Josiah Deguara?

He's not the largest tight end ever but he has broad shoulders and runs well. It's only been four practices but you can already see the possibilities.

Snapshots from the Green Bay Packers' training-camp practice on Aug. 19, 2020, at Ray Nitschke Field.

Joe from St. Louis, MO

Hi Mike and Wes. Piggybacking off of Paul from Ft. Lauderdale's question: If coaches focus on known key players and schemes that they have video for, that would seem to invite a breakout game from young or unfamiliar players. Who are some Packers who took advantage of being overlooked/underestimated by the other team?

You always gotta have an ace up your sleeve right? There have been so many during my time on the beat. DuJuan Harris during the final stretch of the 2012 season, Johnathan Franklin vs. Cincinnati in 2013, Jarrett Boykin vs. Cleveland that same year, Jayrone Elliott against Seattle in 2015, and Jeff Janis in the Arizona playoff game immediately come to mind.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

I think it is a Travis-ty that both Bruffy and Fulgham were released.

Oh my.

Jack from Indianapolis, IN

This is regarding which position coaches were happiest after practice and Mike saying he couldn't see smiles due to masks. I think we can all agree Petrine had on his patented scowl regardless how well his unit performed.

Pettine is all business on the practice field, so I doubt we've missed many smiles under that mask. Mike Smith has definitely been one of the more exuberant coaches, though. You can hear it in his voice and see it in his mannerisms.

Bill from Manitowoc, WI

It appears to me Aaron came into camp in excellent physical shape and a renewed enthusiasm, with obvious offseason factors likely at play. Have you seen anything different in his attitude/condition compared to last year?

No, I don't think it was the offseason. Rodgers always has fun during camp. I just think he's taking a few more opportunities here and there to smell the roses in training camp No. 16.

Steve from Phoenix, AZ

Can you let Evan know that I/we appreciate the inclusion of player names with the photos? I find it really helpful, especially this time of year, so thanks.

The credit actually goes to Duke Bobber for going the extra mile on that.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Fans at training camp has been a long-standing and much-loved tradition from the fans' viewpoint. How does the absence of fans watching practice affect the experience for the players and team personnel? Do you feel practicing in front of a crowd affords any positive return for the team as opposed to only having closed practices?

I miss not hearing the roar of the crowd after a big play in practice or whenever Aaron Rodgers hits the net on a 50-yard pass. Having 2,000-plus fans in attendance adds a lot to camp practices, but in-season practices are closed to the public. In that regard, it's not like this isn't something players haven't done before.

Andy from Columbus, TX

Can you give me some info on Malik Taylor? What are his strengths/weaknesses? Does he have a legitimate shot to make the team?

The Packers signed him days before the start of training camp last summer and he showed the organization enough to spend his entire rookie season on the practice squad. He had a really productive career at Ferris State. He missed most of his senior year with injury but returned to play in the NCAA Division II national championship.

Tony from River Falls, WI

Will touchdown celebrations have to be distanced this year? I'm picturing something like the YMCA dance or a spread-out dance line. If the players linger too long they can flash the laser goalposts to shoo them off the field.

I think it's going to be strongly encouraged…and I'm excited to see what guys come up with. NFL players have shown a lot of creativity since the league relaxed celebration rules a few years ago.

Tom from Charlotte, NC

I'm enjoying the coach and player media sessions. Improvements caused by the pandemic are the moderator announcing the name of the media member asking the next question and the ability to clearly hear the question. These make the sessions more enjoyable for the fan. Who is the woman announcing the media member's names, and do you think these changes can be incorporated into the process once the Packers return to live, in-person, media sessions?

I'm glad you are enjoying it. Sarah Quick, the Packers' assistant director of communications, has been doing a terrific job moderating the interviews. Whenever we return to live locker rooms, I think interviews will largely go back to normal. We're all making the best of this but it's not my preference to have interviews broadcast out to the world. I'd prefer to generate my own quote for original content on our site than having all our quotes out there for aggregators to siphon before we can even write them. It is good to know we have Zoom available now, though.

Ron from Monclova, OH

I am going to ask this question one more time (it has been three now), I honestly think that the Packers should consider Antonio Brown as a WR. If he learns how to behave and act like an adult, the Green Bay atmosphere would be the best place for him. Imagine him and Rodgers hooking up!


TK from Grafton, WI

Have there been fans TRYING to watch practice? Similar to the ones on top of rooftops outside Wrigley?

I've noticed a few stragglers but not really. It's been quiet down by Nitschke Field other than the Resch Expo construction going on across the street.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

How frustrating will it be, and how damaged will our (fans') psyche be, when the season gets canceled in mid-October?

Depends on what happened during those first six weeks.

Stan from Puebla, Mexico

What are you seeing from the Packers that would indicate they have closed the substantial gap between them and the 49ers?

AJ Dillon's thighs.

Mitch from Bettendorf, IA

In an attempt to get that measurement, I nominate Wes as tribute!

How is this answer not Rob Demovsky?