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Inbox: Willpower is required to conquer a short week

This game comes down to which team runs the ball better

CB Rasul Douglas

Tom from Douglassville, PA

Can we make it two in a row?

There's only one way to find out. Good morning!

Greg from Long Beach, CA

Morning II, I love the icy white jerseys. Just beat the Titans.

I'm thrilled to see the white-out uniforms return. It's a clean look under the lights. It's a different, but respectful, take on the Packers' iconic brand. The Packers are 3-1 in the ole color-rush unis. Let's see if they can get No. 4.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Mike mentioned that the Titans had 73 plays on defense last week. They also had 91 plays on defense against the Chiefs the week before and gave up 29 first downs in that game. Here's hoping the cumulative effect of the previous two games finally catches up to them on a short week.

I've covered enough Thursday Night Football games to tell you the best team doesn't always win in these circumstances. It's which team comes out ready to play. Talent, preparation, and health matters, but willpower is required to conquer a short week. Just look at what Rasul Douglas and the Packers did last year against the previously unbeaten Cardinals.

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

Both the Packers and Titans have 17 players on their injury reports! 17! Thursday night's game is going to be a real crapshoot.

And wildest of all, the Packers actually got through the Cowboys game relatively healthy. It's just the nature of the Thursday night beast. I'm hoping both teams can get through the game without significant injury and enjoy the long weekend.

Andrew from Burke, VA

This game is going to be decided by who can do a better job of stopping the run. Do you think Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit are crossing their fingers for more than 1-2 TDs? These Thursday games have been entertaining, but not for the high scores that the NFL seems to prefer.

Al and Kirk are pros. They could make a 3-0 game compelling. But I do think this game comes down to which teams runs the ball better. Spoff did a great job on Wednesday of laying the groundwork for the ground game.

Dave from Waterford, OH

It appeared to me that the Packers did a much better job in the Dallas game, than they have most of the year, of setting the edges on defense. Dak Prescott looked like he was well contained in a disciplined defensive pass-rush pocket. I wonder if that was being emphasized anew, or did Kinglsey Enagbare being in there create that disciplined left side edge?

Spoff pointed this out but it's still true – the Packers might have found something in Kingsley Enagbare. He played with power at South Carolina, too, but I've been astounded by how well he's defended the run. Sacks are great but playing with leverage is a huge building block for any young edge rusher. There's no way to replace Rashan Gary with one guy but Enagbare is doing his part.

JR from East Moline, IL

What bums me out the most about Gary's injury is just how good a season he was having and now only being able to wonder how he would have finished it. If you count the NYG sack that was taken away and the WAS sack (not sure if forced fumble on QB counts as sack?) and don't count the game he was injured, I think he would have been on pace for a 17-sack season. Lots of ifs, but still, that's a monster season.

When Gary was hurt, I didn't think of the monster year he was having or the implications of his injury on the Packers' season. I thought about the emerging playmaker who attended every OTA practice this past spring and worked with all these rookies and second-year defenders who are practically the same age as Gary. He's developed into a big-time leader for Green Bay. All the kid knows is how to work, and that'll serve him well in his recovery.

Steve from Kaukauna, WI

Exciting game against the Cowboys, but do you think we finally have the offensive line we need?

Oh, goodness, yes. I love this starting five. If the Packers can keep that starting five healthy, I believe that's an O-line you can win with. Because as much as we talk about David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, it's been encouraging to see Yosh Nijman and Jon Runyan develop a rapport with each other, as well. I also think Josh Myers has played some of his best ball in a Packers uniform over the last few weeks.

Basil from Nags Head, NC

There was a lot of handwringing when Yosh Nijman was playing LT, wondering if he could play RT. He's a pure LT, no experience at RT and so forth. Now, Yosh has been at RT for a couple weeks. How does he look there?

And he keeps getting better and better. Nijman just consistently finds ways to win. He's so nimble for a man with his size. Like I've been saying, I firmly believe Nijman is capable of being a starting tackle in the NFL. At a minimum, he's been one of Brian Gutekunst's best undrafted finds. Credit goes to the coaching staff, too, for putting two years of work into Nijman's development.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Including the game against Dallas, seven of the last eight games look like colder-weather games. The exception being at Miami. This site has discussed many times that GB must be built for cold-weather games by running the ball. We're off to a good start against Dallas. The key is sticking to the run and avoiding the team tendency to start throwing the ball if the run game isn't working early on. The OL must establish their will running. 20-25 passes per game sounds about right. Thoughts?

The blueprint is never going to be exactly the same every week but what I liked most about the win over the Cowboys was how the offense operated through the run game. Once that door was pushed open, Aaron Rodgers and the receivers really went to work against Dallas' secondary. At his locker Wednesday, Rodgers agreed "we've got to keep riding" Jones and Dillon.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

Enjoyed the practice photos of the guys heading to practice in the snow on Tuesday. Looks to me that the Packers have their swag back! Love the pic of Aaron and Dave riding in the golf cart

Who doesn't love driving a golf cart in the snow?

Grant from Janesville, WI

Following up on Steve from Wauwatosa's question (about Derrick Henry vs. AJ Dillon), what's the difference between stopping someone like Derrick Henry (6-3, 247) and Brandon Jacobs (6-4, 264, 2005-2013)?

You gotta get to them both early, but I think the difference with Henry is just how dangerous he becomes once he breaks into the open field and gets his wheels turning. Jacobs was a thudder who packed a punch. Henry just isn't a big back – he's a 6-foot-3, 247-pound athlete.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

How soon can we expect to see Dede Westbrook returning kicks this season?

"Well, it depends." – Mike Spofford. Westbrook is a veteran. On punts, he's been there and done that. If the Packers like what they see in practice, they can elevate him at any time – just like they did with David Moore last year.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Hi, do the Packers utilize their practice-squad players (to the active roster) more than most teams?

Mark, remind me after the season and I'll take a look. League-wide, my suspicion is the Packers probably rank near the top on how often they elevate practice-squad guys.

Derek from Norton, KS

Do you have any insight into coaching on punt returns? Are there times when the receiver will be told to fair catch no matter what? I know it's a tough decision to make, but it seems the decision to fair catch or not is often incorrect (this is a problem across the league).

Yes, depending on the game situation. Punt returning is kind of like playing Blackjack. There are basic rules to follow but there is room for interpretation depending on score, time remaining, how the coverage team is playing, who's the punt returner, etc. Devin Hester is going to have more leeway than a rookie, for example.

Steve from Wabasha, MN

I watched the Minnesota-Buffalo game and witnessed two fantastic catches, one by Justin Jefferson and one by Stefon Diggs. I don't think either would be made without the tacky gloves they were wearing. I remember stickum being outlawed by the NFL, but I think these gloves are a bigger advantage. Have you ever tried them?

I have. It didn't make a difference.

Randall from Chicago, IL

Wow! The Texans just took Amari off the waiver wire. Did they do this solely to pump him for last minute info?

Right city. Wrong gen, Randy.

Paul from Eau Claire, WI

Releasing Amari seems both justified and surprising. For 1½ years it's been obvious that returning kicks was not a good fit, yet stats show him as only starting one game, having 16 targets, and eight catches in 26 games played. What did the organization see or not see that prevented him from being slotted into his drafted position, especially given the injuries at that position?

I can't speak for the scouts and I'm not gonna try to. As a person, I enjoyed Rodgers quite a bit. Through the up and downs, he was all-class. But I also can see how a fresh start was probably the best for all parties involved. I wish Amari well in Houston. The fact the Texans, possessors of the No. 1 waiver claim, picked him up shows the league still thinks highly of his potential.

Sean from Cortland, NY

Although I was caught off guard with Amari's release (I figured they'd only take him off punt return), I was more shocked with Hill being released. Do you have any thoughts or knowledge as to why? He just returned; it doesn't make much sense to release him unless he physically has lost something because of his injury. Thanks.

Because I didn't touch on this in my Tuesday content, I want to post what Matt LaFleur said on the subject for those who didn't see his comments: "It's a tough deal but I would say this: Being a member of the Green Bay Packers, it's a privilege, and there's standards and expectations that are placed on every member of this team that we expect guys to live up to. I appreciate what Kylin's been through and I know it hasn't been easy coming back from that knee injury that he suffered a year ago that was a pretty devastating hit, and he's a guy that we had some high expectations for and I realize he is in a loaded room, but regardless of your role – no matter how big or how small – we expect guys to come to work and just be supportive and own that role to the best of their ability. When you don't do that, this is what happens." I'm going to leave it at that.

Craig from Lakeville, MN

Any updates on AR's thumb? It seemed like it was bothering him quite a bit at the beginning of the Cowboys game but less so as the game progressed. How much do you think the short week and the colder weather will affect it against the Titans?

And here's what Rodgers had to say on the state of his thumb. It sounds like something he'll have to continue battling until at least the bye week.

Sebastian from Erlangen, Germany

Insiders, I think the Titans should beware, as we say here in Bavaria, "Der Winter kommt."


Bill from Fort Worth, TX

I'm trying not to get too excited, but pound them with the run, with good defense… might our formula be on the precipice of good ol' smash-mouth football? Please tell me it is! I've had enough of the finesse game that crashes and burns against strong four-man rushes. This kind of winning *is* sustainable.

Finding a way, every week, is sustainable. Whatever it takes.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

A winning streak starts with two in a row

Another formidable challenge, another mountain to climb

Time to meet that challenge and bring down that mountain

Time to start your streak, Green and Gold

Clear eyes. Dean poem. Can't lose. Enjoy the game, everyone.

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