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Inbox: You have to embrace the challenge

It’s not about what the Packers have lost, but rather the playmakers that can be found

DL Kingsley Keke

Craig from Brookfield, WI

The thing that makes football – and sports in general – so compelling is that you just never know what will happen next. Regardless of circumstances, it's completely unpredictable. On the road, undefeated opponent, injuries, COVID, short week, long flight...all juju points to a Packers defeat. That's why I'm grabbing my popcorn. Is it Thursday night yet?

I checked my calendar…and yes, yes it is. Good morning!

Skip from Spread Eagle, WI

I hope they can feel it in the air tonight.

Oh lord.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

What a ride this season is turning out to be! After unwrapping a lousy first Christmas present and the worries about the receding depth of the gift pile, it's been one holiday wonder after another. No need to despair with nine more surprises awaiting, these Packers have transcendent step-up talent.

As a team, you have to embrace the challenge because no season goes exactly according to plan. Adversity is going to strike at some point, whether it's losing your All-Pro linebacker early in the season or your All-Pro left tackle to a season-ending knee injury on the eve of the playoffs. The Packers continue to find ways to win in spite of the odds and they must do that again tonight to pick up their seventh win in a row.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

How do you think the Packers' passing game will be Thursday with two receivers on COVID-19/reserve?

Multiple. We talk about this 6-0 run the Packers are on without Davante Adams but what gets lost is how they had a different player stepping up every time "17" was out. Last year, Allen Lazard (at New Orleans) and Robert Tonyan (vs. Atlanta) had career days in Adams' absence. They need more of that tonight against Arizona, whether it's Tonyan (again), Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon or possibly Equanimeous St. Brown. As we've seen all season long – it's not about what the Packers have lost, but rather the playmakers that can be found.

Sean from Brisbane, Australia

Thursday night we have quite the conundrum. Do we try and establish the run early but also get AJ33 involved in the pass attack, or do we mix it up …? I feel confident we will be able to throw the ball around quite a bit because Aaron Rodgers will be forced to feed many mouths, keeping Arizona off-guard. But the running game could be key…

With banged-up receivers, I say play to your strengths. To me, that's the Packers' backfield. Run or pass, I want the ball in the hands of Jones and Dillon as much as possible.

Joel from Green Bay, WI

If Davante can't go this week, it clearly impacts the Packers' passing game, as he's an elite WR. However, I would have been even more concerned a couple weeks ago. Prior to the Bears game, nearly 36% of Rodgers' passes were intended for Davante. The last two games have seen target shares of 22% and 20%, respectively, for Davante, so the passing game has been less dependent on "17" lately, which should make his possible absence easier to absorb. I hope this helps with the angst of some fans.

Branching off that, I'm curious how the Cardinals defend an Adams-less offense. If they drop a safety down to defend Jones and Dillon, that might allow Rodgers to get the downfield passing game going against single-high coverage.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

83/17, nicely done Weston.

I was particularly proud of that one.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Like many Packers Backers here in high school football-crazy Texas, I've seen a number of great players before they became NFLers. To my eyes, Kyler Murray topped even Adrian Peterson and Cedric Benson as a teenager. He's a human video game, the likes we haven't seen since perhaps Barry Sanders. Yet, the Pack famously shut down Sanders a time or two. Whatever the outcome, this game should a ton of fun to watch!

Murray has won at every level he's played. As Rodgers said on Tuesday, it would appear the young man made the right call coming back to football. He's a special player who's performed at an MVP level for Kliff Kingsbury this season.

Don from Aurora, Ontario

Running QBs have been an issue for the Packers' D for a while now. I know I will be yelling at the TV on Thursday night to stay in their lanes/gaps and to seal the edges. What do you think the D-line needs to do to contain their QB?

You said it. It comes down to gap discipline and not letting your eyes get too big when Murray is in front of you. The play is never over with this guy. And if a defender loses containment, Murray is going to make the defense pay. In his first two seasons, it was running for yards. This year, he's parlaying those opportunities into explosive pass plays.

Joe from Swansea, IL

Is this a good time to remember that half of Arizona's six wins have come against Jacksonville, Houston and Cleveland? Those teams are a combined 6-14. My point: A teams has easy and tough parts in its schedule, and you don't know how good a team is until the season reaches its end. So … Go Pack Go.

Arizona's win over the Rams was emphatic, though. The Cardinals are who you think they are. The Packers can't let them off the hook tonight.

Levi from St. Paul, MN

Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, and Kingsley Keke are becoming a great defensive line. De'Vondre Campbell, Smith, Whitney Mercilus, and Rashan Gary are also playing great behind them. But the DBs and safeties are also playing well even with all the injuries at corner. If this team were able to get Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, and maybe even the other Smith back, this defense could be great by the end of the year. Agree?

We talked in the summer about how deep this defense is at all three levels and I think that's shown itself to be true through the first seven games. I don't know if we'll ever see this Packers defense at true 100% but it is getting healthier. The players who played significant minutes for this defense early on stand to benefit from those snaps down the road.

Bob from San Diego , CA

I heard the expression, "The NFL is a like a chess match." How does it affect the opposition when we switch who calls the defensive plays? Is it like playing chess against someone else?

I wouldn't go that far. I don't expect any drastic changes tonight, especially with Joe Barry taking part in game-planning meetings this week. Jerry Gray is still playing on the same board with the same pieces. It's a different chef but the same recipe.

Michael from Winchester, VA

As I try to manage expectations for tonight's game, it seems to me highly unlikely this will be a preview of a January matchup. Not that I don't think both teams will make the playoffs. But if they meet in January, I expect the Packers to have Adams, David Bakhtiari, Jaire, and other key players back who won't be playing this week (but who totally change this team). That doesn't really make tonight much of a "preview" in my opinion. Am I missing something?

It's Oct. 28. Regardless of who is or isn't available tonight, this isn't a preview of anything. If both are fortunate enough to stay the course and make the playoffs, they'll still be completely different teams 2½ months from now.

David from San Antonio, TX

The way you guys talked about the Cardinals receivers on "Unscripted" made me a little bit jealous. So maybe we aren't as deep there as you say? Perhaps our other receivers are just really good role players?

The Packers absolutely have that going for them (which is nice). Green Bay might not have a bunch of high draft picks at its skill positions but Rodgers has all the confidence in the world in Marquez Valdes-Scantling (if he plays), Tonyan and obviously Randall Cobb to be where they're supposed to be.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

If Eric Stokes feeds off of anything said by the media, I hope he saw that ESPN doesn't even have him in the top 10 rookies this year with four CBs ahead of him. Surtain and Samuel Jr. at No. 4 and 7 are understandable. At 10 is Hobbs in Vegas with no INTs or PDFs, 32 tackles and playing over 50% of snaps. Above Eric Stokes on "Just Missed" is Newsome for the Browns who has missed two games. Stokes is playing every down and making many more plays than he is giving up including some key tackles. What gives?

My opinion? Who knows…and who cares, Jordan? The fact the Packers matched Stokes against Terry McLaurin tells you everything you need to know about the rookie. On Wednesday, Jerry Gray even said they're using Stokes in ways they rarely utilize rookies. Whether it's in practice against Davante Adams or on gameday, the youngster is banking so many quality reps right now.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Morning Wes, has the II started receiving so many questions that it's impossible for you and Mike to review every question sent in? Just wondering but my real question revolves around Coach Barry and what exactly he's restricted from doing. Is he prohibited from watching the game remotely and being on the phone with a coach at the game if he notices something he feels needs correcting? Keep up the great work and GO PACK GO!

We've definitely reached that point, but that's also a good thing. I'd rather have too many questions than not enough. Barry helped build the game plan and coached remotely over Zoom. However, he's not allowed in the building yet and won't be coaching in Arizona tonight. I imagine Barry will be watching from home like Jerry Montgomery did, very anxiously, against Detroit while in quarantine.

TK from Grafton, WI

When considering adding FAs, is a team likely to be more influenced by a particular player's performance against them? Jamaal Williams has a big game vs. Detroit, then Detroit signed him…

It sure seems like it, right? Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago have all taken their turns pilfering the Packers' roster over the years. I can't think of many comparisons for Green Bay besides Adrian Amos, but I'm always reminded of the Milwaukee Brewers signing Jeff Suppan in 2007. If you can't beat 'em…

Jason from Austin, TX

You said they wouldn't move the game to Sunday because of the big money maker that is Thursday Night Football. I agree. However, I wonder if they would consider moving the game if Rodgers was the one on the COVID list.

I take it you didn't read Randall Cobb's comments in Spoff’s story on Tuesday.

Robert from Verona, WI

Good mornings, Wes! Insider Inbox readers are treated to many movie quotes and references on a weekly basis. Are "Letterkenny" references welcomed, or even encouraged?

Y'all are welcomed to drop as many pop-culture references as you want. I'm not saying I'll catch them all. I'm gonna keep being me. I expect you to be you.

James from Appleton, WI

Sometime, when the crew is up against it; the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to get out there and give it all they've got and win just one for the Spoffer.

Little do you know that Mike once used this line when he was coaching softball several years ago. His team promptly lost via the 10-run rule.

Jory from Madison, WI

Did I see a "Fear and Loathing" reference yesterday? Just wanted to say you guys are amazing, I read it almost daily. Curious what your thoughts on TB12's 600 TDs are? Congrats to him of course, still hate him as a QB, though, and I wanted to give a quick "GO PACK GO."

I can't help but respect everything Brady has done. Beyond just the touchdowns and records, the guy has conquered an indominable sport and created a legacy that'll outlive us all.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

When the Packers beat the Cardinals in 2009, I was at that game with my forever friend. I flew down from Kansas to meet up with my friend to do it again, so I'm 2-0 at the Cardinals' stadium. Here's to making it 3-0 and shocking the NFL world.

Millions of Packers fans are counting on you, Jessi.

Margeaux from Tallahassee , FL

Did anyone remind Derek and Dean that we have a game on Thursday?

Let me check. One sec.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Adversity strikes,

The NFL marches on,

Just find '12' a bed.

This may be your best II submission yet, Derek.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

The 17-round championship fight began on September 12 with a brutal knockdown of the Green and Gold

Our Packers rose from that knockdown to win the next six rounds

Now 10 remain

A gauntlet of five starts in Arizona with the league's best

Injuries and the unseen enemy have taken a devastating toll on our Packers

Now others must rise and answer the call

The world watches Green and Gold

The time has come to show your full measure Packers

I can't believe it's already gameday. Packers fans, ready your breakfast and eat hearty. For tonight, we dine in…Arizona.