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Inbox: You can see it, you can feel it

Who will put together that virtuoso performance?

CB Jaire Alexander

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Someone asked Matt LaFleur a great question the other day. With the starters not likely to play, do you focus more on the starters getting their reps or do you focus more on the players who will be playing in the game to prepare them. How you construct a practice and divide the reps is a big part of being a coach that many fans overlook. LaFleur is a great leader of men.

That's the challenge for head coaches this time of year but I felt like LaFleur did a good job of balancing the two in practice this week. With all the installs in, there was a window to give Jordan Love more work with the No. 1's while allowing Aaron Rodgers to rest and get some scout-team reps.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Wes, what are your criteria for a successful preseason game? The number of offensive or defensive drives/plays, victory and health all seem important.

Health is primary for me because even losing a good depth piece can have a ripple effect. But the offense's ability to move the ball and defensive cohesiveness are essential, too. Lastly, it's always good to see young players who have thrived in practice carry that momentum into preseason games.

Tim from Greensboro, NC

To expound on Mike's answer to Eric from Mequon, WI, "I'm as bullish on this defense's prospects as anyone, but folks also must remember that less than a month before that stellar playoff performance, the same defense allowed 30 points to a backup QB in Baltimore." The same defense also gave up 28 or more in five of the last seven games. So, still a lot to prove, as many of the defenders keep saying.

For sure, but the swagger and depth with this defense is different. You can see it, you can feel it. There's a reason why Jaire Alexander said on Wednesday, "This is the defense I've been waiting on since I first got here" in 2018. I agree with him. I like the cut of this defense's jib.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

"Like anything in life, you work, and you wait for your opportunity. When you get your opportunity, all the work that you've been doing – you put that to the test..." In the article on Yosh Nijman, he sounds very intelligent and well spoken. He is also a perfect example of what I have always preached as a teacher when I hear someone say, "So and so got lucky." "Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity."

Nijman is one of those guys who's led the Packers in preseason playing time before and has developed into one of Green Bay's top undrafted finds. He's 6-foot-7, intelligent and returned this summer the most confident version of himself. Nijman has earned the right to start somewhere.

Mike from Toronto, Canada

Big Spoff said it would be up to the Packers to earn respect on the ground. I thought last season the RBs shone in the passing game. Rushing was a bit pedestrian, even with AJ and AJ's fantastic talent. With rookies and replacements on the O-line, how will the Pack earn respect with their ground game? This is my biggest concern.

By pushing the line of scrimmage and moving the chains. You gotta make the opposition respect you. The cat-and-mouse game between the offense and defense starts with running the ball well when the opposition knows you're running. If you do that, anything is possible.

Kyle from Pittsburgh, PA

With the turnover of offensive coaches from last year, is there any one thing that stands out to you as looking or sounding different?

It's fun seeing Tom Clements on the sidelines again. He's a central character in the development of Aaron Rodgers and could very well be the same for Jordan Love. His focus and attention to detail are evident on the practice field.

Jason from Austin, TX

Insiders, speaking of long snapper, based on what you've seen, how much preseason game practice does our field-goal unit need? I wonder how often LaFleur will go for it on fourth down and go for two points this preseason in order to give the offense the high-pressure opportunity. I think I remember him opting to go for it often in past preseasons.

I believe special teams can use as many reps as they can get, especially the field-goal and punt operations. With Steven Wirtel's release, Jack Coco is the only long snapper on the roster at the moment. This is a massive opportunity for him to show the coaches and scouts they need not look any further for a long snapper. He can be the guy.

The Green Bay Packers held a public training-camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.

Eivind from Nordfjordeid, Norway

Can you guys elaborate on what Gute meant when he told reporters that CB Rico Gafford "goes against everything I've been taught"?

Ron Wolf had a minimum size requirement for his cornerbacks and Gafford is right on the 5-foot-10 fence. But Gutekunst talked Wednesday about how they "love the athlete." Gafford has played well enough on both defense and special teams to be in contention for a roster spot. It's been great seeing the defensive backs raise their collective game behind those preferred five starters in nickel.

Jon from Minneapolis, MN

With all the chatter about our WRs, why aren't we hearing anything about Amari Rodgers?

Because you're either not reading this column or following my tweets. I've done everything I can possibly do to indicate Rodgers is having a good camp other than tattooing his name above my eyebrow.

Jack from Black Mountain, NC

What an abundance of talent! Doubs or Samori Toure on the 53? Or both?

I don't think I'm going out on a limb saying Romeo Doubs is making this football team. He's done everything but help Red Batty and his equipment staff with the laundry. Toure has put himself firmly in the hunt, too, with how he's played out of the gate. The only question now is who's gonna put together that virtuoso performance this preseason.

Chris from La Valle, WI

Does the need for special teams to do well mean starters will need more playing time in preseason games?

I don't think so. Even if veterans such as Adrian Amos and Rasul Douglas are going to be asked to play on "We-fense" this year, I don't know if it's necessary for them to play preseason reps to be ready for that assignment.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

I know the questions about Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari are never-ending, but just wondering if you are seeing them at practice, and if so, what level of participation are they performing?

They're in the rehab group, doing rehab things with rehab people. Thank you for your question.

Chad from Cecil, WI

Will David Bakhtiari be ready for opening day?

No timelines, but Gutekunst said both Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are "doing really well, both have a shot to play early in the season." I don't think he would've said that if the Packers felt Bakhtiari and Jenkins were still a ways away.

Ken from Dallas, TX

If Christian Watson is still on PUP next week, wouldn't it be best to go ahead and start him on IR for the regular season? If at least one receiver starts the year on IR, it would make it a lot easier to get both Samori Toure and Juwann Winfree on the 53-man roster and prevent them from being claimed off waivers. I also doubt that a rookie receiver with less than two weeks of practice would make much of an impact in a Week 1 game.

Again, we need to get into these preseason games before we start cutting the roster. But yeah, these are decisions Gutekunst and the scouts will have to weigh because you don't want to rush Watson back too soon. The decision for him to have surgery this summer was done with the future in mind. But certainly, the other young receivers are ahead of the curve with everything they've done the past two weeks.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

Good morning, appreciate all the interviews and stories on the players in camp. Haven't heard a whisper yet on Preston Smith. I take it he's quietly going about his job, but he's a leader on the defense. Maybe you're coming out with a story and interview with him this week…I sense something in the air.

Preston Smith spoke once a few weeks ago, but keep in mind we like to pace ourselves a little here at packers.com. There ain't a whole lot going on with veterans like Smith right now. But trust me, once the regular season begins, we'll be talking to those players more than our own families for the next four or five months.

Tim from Olathe, KS

This may be our most inexperienced offensive line since 2006 when we started three rookies. Early in that season, Brett Favre was running for his life. Do you see our offense utilizing a lot of Alvin Kamara-type quick passes that are essentially long handoffs, or how do you see it unfolding? By the way, those three rooks ended up being stellar players for us.

Early on, I could see the Packers going in that direction given how dangerous Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon can be with the ball in their hands in space. At the same time, there will be a feeling-out process at first but that's still Aaron Rodgers back there. You want him making plays downfield.

Julius from Providence, RI

Are there any statistics that measure the effect good skill position players with well-above-average blocking ability (such as Marcedes Lewis and Allen Lazard) have on the production of the offense? Is there a way to compare average yards per play when they are on the field but not touching the ball to when they are not there, and would that give some indication as to the effect they have? (And I do know Lazard may also be the No. 1 receiver this year, but I'm sure he will still be the "goon.")

I'm sure the Packers' coaches and analytics folks have some statistics to chart all that, but I just want to say Lazard is entering rarified air as a blocker. His edge block of Rasul Douglas during Wednesday's practice opened the sea for Sammy Watkins. That's a massive value to this offense. The Packers have had some ready, willing and able blockers at receiver over the years. No. 13 might be the best.

Josh from Adams, WI

What is the cut schedule this year?

The simplest way to remember moving forward…if the day is Tuesday, then players unfortunately are getting cut. The roster goes trimmed to 85 on Aug. 16, 80 on Aug. 23 and the initial 53 on Aug. 30.

Michael from Pound, WI

Gents, I usually comment more on the front office than the actual football team, especially while waiting for "real" football. Mostly because everything is just a guessing game for us fans until we see the boys in action. That being said, was there much of a turnover in the scouting department the last couple years? Or a change in philosophy or evaluation process? Or change in skill emphasis? We seem to be getting high-quality football players lately, and more picks in the draft. What gives?

Not really. Charles Walls was hired by Philadelphia but otherwise most of the primary personnel pieces have stayed in place. I don't think there's been too much of a change in philosophy, either. The Packers have just received a few more compensatory picks in recent years with the unrestricted free agents they've lost.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Why is Friday's game at 5:30 p.m. local time? That seems like an odd time to start a game on a Friday.

It beats the 7 p.m. local start time in 2016 that caused the team plane to fly back into Green Bay at 6:45 a.m. CT.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

Wes, now that you're about to travel to your first game of the year I decided to ask this question. Of all the NFL cities you've been to in your career which would you say was your favorite? Based on facilities, local dining, ease of media accessibility, community friendliness, and just overall experiences. Green Bay not included. I like to travel to away games frequently and your answer may be my next game to take in if I've never been there before.

New York. My buddy Giovanni owns a wonderful restaurant, Via Della Pace, that's always a treat to visit when I'm in town. I can't wait to get back. But I also love going to San Jose, Seattle and Tampa.

Jake from Decatur, GA

Do we know yet what exactly the league will be emphasizing regarding illegal contact this year? Will it be the kind of contact downfield, the 5-yard cut-off, the difference between illegal contact and PI, all the above, or something else?

The NFL picking a random rule every summer and emphasizing it during the upcoming season is the gift that keeps on giving.

Bob from Milton, WI

Wes, I recently started following you on a social media platform. May I ask, who drew the image of you? You've never looked better! Can I request one be drawn of Spoff too and those images become your headshots for II? The suit-and-tie look seems inappropriate for this more laid back and personal platform.

Credit goes to the talented Jennifer Fisher, our former social media intern who now works for NASCAR. I have a tradition where I take a picture handing departing interns a football (that they don't actually get to keep). Unfortunately, Jen left during the middle of the pandemic, and we didn't have the typical sendoff. So, she drew a photo of us exchanging the ceremonial football in lieu of an actual photo.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, in honor of the first preseason game and the tough task you journalists and sportscasters might have navigating the many Packers' roster tongue-twists, I offer this limerick as encouragement for you all:

Watkins and Watson and Ws galore,

Taylors and Joneses, three Davises more,

Which Rodgers? Which Walker?

They'll make you bad talkers.

Learning names is what preseason's for.

Thankfully, I'm better with names than faces. After two years of not being in the locker room, the most difficult thing for me is trying to figure out who I'm looking for.


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