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Inbox: You no longer can be surprised

WR Jake Kumerow
WR Jake Kumerow

Doug from Brookfield, WI

To Deanna from Oregon...YES, Allen Lazard is a find. He’s an IOWA STATE CYCLONE!

For a second, I thought maybe Matt Haberkamp or Adam Hoebelheinrich submitted this. Good morning!

Wayne from Sheffield, UK

I was doing so well recently with expectations. My perspective levels were as steady as a surgeon's hand. And then I saw Jake Kumerow make a couple of plays. Speaking as a man who appears to have learned nothing in his 50-odd years on this planet, I think we have somebody special in No. 16. I think he can be a difference-maker. And then I realize, August oft makes fools of rational folk. Please help me navigate August madness. I can't do this alone.

Jaire Alexander summed up Kumerow perfectly last week: “He comes out here with that long hair, that nice smile – nobody’s taking that stuff seriously. And then he goes deep on you.” I’ve always tempered my expectations with Kumerow but he keeps exceeding them. At some point, you no longer can be surprised. So I don’t fault you for feeling excited about him. He proved he’s not a one-hit wonder.

Parker from Lisle, IL

We have seen Dan Vitale succeed in practice this year, and in the first preseason game. Do you believe that his calf injury will hinder his ability to make the 53-man roster?

It depends on the severity. Vitale seems to be moving around OK at practice and in the locker room. Still, the injuries to Vitale and Malcolm Johnson were enough for the Packers to bring in Tommy Bohanon, who now has a massive opportunity in front of him to sneak his way onto the roster.

Kellie from Prairie Du Chien, WI

Allen Lazard came from my alma mater, Iowa State. He played with multiple QBs and OCs during his time, although he always produced big numbers and affected the outcomes of games. In conversations with other ISU alums, we've wondered if he'd gone to a better program if he'd gotten drafted. We aren't surprised by his work ethic and conduct in Packers camp. Do you think it matters what program or conference a prospect comes from as part of the draft process and later in building the roster?

It might affect where a player is drafted, but it really doesn’t matter once they get to this level. There have been Alabama players who have fizzled in the NFL, while Robert Tonyan is quickly carving out a role after playing two different positions at Indiana State. Lazard is paired up with Aaron Rodgers now in practice and making the most of it.

Brian from Alta Vista, IA

Who do you think the fan-favorite roster hopeful will be at WR next week? Perhaps whoever has the best game on Thursday?

There always seems to be a guy or two who steps up in these settings. Lazard, Darrius Shepherd and J’Mon Moore have all had their moments over the past week. My question is which receiver will stack success in Baltimore?

Drake from Huntsville, AL

Is the modern player expected to show up in game-ready shape? How much time is devoted to conditioning drills during summer camp? Thanks!

I think that’s true for one major reason – players have to be in shape to get into football shape. Lazard trains at elevation in Denver during the offseason, but said it’s still an entirely different ball game when players report to training camp. If you’re not in shape, you’re falling behind – and potentially off the roster.

Ben from Mequon, WI

Despite how much I love to watch the Packers, I have a feeling that my football IQ is awfully low. I have read enough about Equanimeous St. Brown being a "gunner" to wonder: Could you describe all of these special teams positions for punts? I'm sure the uneducated football fandom community would love to know.

“Gunners” line up outside and rush to pressure the returner. They’re usually the first to the fray. The only other punt-specific title is the “personal protector” who lines up a few yards behind the long snapper in a fullback-like spot, responsible for catching any free rushers.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

At what point in the season, if at all, do you think a team might give fewer public snaps to a guy they'd like to see clear waivers and return to the practice squad?

This is mostly a myth, to be honest. The Packers liked Geronimo Allison in 2016, Brian Price in 2017 and Tyler Lancaster in 2018. All three played a lot in their respective preseason finales. Allison and Lancaster cleared waivers, and Price didn’t. It’s still important for scouts to get that last look. I think the performances of James Crawford and Tonyan in Kansas City last year solidified their spots.

Seth from Ellicott City, MD

Will this finally be the year when Aaron keeps his glorious mustache throughout the entire season?

He typically shaves it after the “Welcome Back” luncheon, but never say never.

Karl from Carmichael, CA

Haven't seen it trumpeted on the Packers' website, and I realize it's only one preseason game so far, but Ty Summers is tied for No. 2 in the NFL in tackles! Love his determination to do even better next game. Here’s to his continued success.

Summers was hard on himself about missed tackles but he also played nearly 80 snaps. That’s a lot of work. I’m sure he’d love nothing more than first-team reps but there’s a real benefit to him relaying calls with the No. 2 defense, especially if Burks is out for a significant amount of time. You know the motto by now – next man up. You have to stay ready for every spot.

Robert from Georgetown, TX

I drive Uber/Lyft part-time here in the Austin area. I met a couple who went to school with and knew Ty Summers at TCU. They gushed about what a great guy he was off the field. How have you guys found Ty to be? I am a BIG fan after preseason Game 1!

A total pro. He’s a very well-spoken individual. He reminds me a lot of Martinez as a rookie.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Curtis Bolton and Ty Summers. Who's the biggest surprise for you at this point? It looks like one or both could be awfully important over the next five months.

Spoff knows a lot more about Bolton than I do. He’s a smart guy with a build befitting the inside linebacker position in 2019. I’m eager to watch him play these next three weeks. Honestly, my biggest surprise is Ka’dar Hollman, though. It’s no stretch to say he’s the No. 4 corner at the moment.

Brock from Albany, NY

Hello Insiders! Do you think with Burks going down a guy like Josh Jones may have an opportunity to carve out the larger role he’s been craving with the team? Or would having a hybrid LB still invite the run? Thoughts? Thank you!

It’s possible. I thought Burks was positioned to stay on the field as a coverage linebacker in the nickel, but there are a several safeties, including Jones, who fit the bill in that hybrid position. As last year showed, Mike Pettine has no problem whatsoever sending that extra safety on the field.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Wes, I made a comment about ML, wishing he would not have made a public statement about AR’s negative comment about joint practices. I am sorry if I offended anybody and didn't mean it to sound like a rip against ML. I meant it from the heart. I respect everyone's perspective. I guess what I wanted is for people to stop all the negative talk about the relationship between the two of them and thought keeping things in-house would keep conversations more positive and focus on the upcoming season.

I respect your questions, Bruce, and took no offense. I also feel like there are folks out there looking for any reason to making something out of nothing. The outcome of the Rodgers/LaFleur partnership won’t be determined by what you, me or any pundits think. It’s up to the two men in that room to bring this offense, and team, back to the forefront.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, which quarterback will start in the game against the Ravens?

History says it will be Rodgers. He’s played in the second preseason game in 10 of his 11 seasons as a starter. In 2018, this week was the only game he played in. Either way, we should get a better feel for that after today’s practice.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Would you expect both teams to play primarily starters for at least two or three series?

Again, I don’t know how LaFleur will handle veterans but this is the game veterans traditionally play in. Also, I wonder if the third game being played in Canada makes the coaches think long and hard about this being “the game” for vets.

Bill from Green Bay, WI

I believe it has something to do with formations, but please explain what coaches/players mean when they're discussing “11” personnel, “12” personnel, “21” personnel, etc. Thanks.

In most cases, it means how many running backs and tight ends. For example, “11” personnel is one running back, one tight end, whereas “21” is two running backs, one tight end.

Blake from Itasca, IL

Do any teams run nickel coverage as their base? I realize 3-4/4-3 is considered base defense but with the advent of hybrid and athletically talented DBs, I'm wondering if any teams in the league ever experimented with sacrificing a big guy for a DB in a wholesale move.

Not that I know of. Because you’re not going to run 2-4-5 against “21” personnel on first-and-10 or first-and-goal from the 2. Every team needs a true base defense – even if it’s rarely deployed.

Chun from El Monte, CA

J’Mon Moore's issue has been catching the ball but he has consistently been able to get open. He definitely has a talent in terms of everything up until catching the ball. How much of his drops are mental and how much of it are due to his physical traits such as hand size, etc.?

A lot of it seems to be mental. As he told us Sunday, there are times when it’s just making those routine catches he historically has made in his sleep. He had a solid practice Sunday. If he puts together another one today, that’s called a winning streak. It has happened before. All “Major League” references aside, I just want to see Moore have a chance to play with confidence. Both he and the Packers deserve that.

Eric from Reedsburg, WI

Does picking guys up off the waiver wire at this stage indicate the coaches are not confident in the depth at a position or do they see something in a guy that his old team might have missed?

Not at all. I think Brian Gutekunst is taking a play out of Ron Wolf’s book and churning through the bottom of the roster in search of a possible gem.

Clint from Port Washington, WI

Looks like the Vikings are trying to keep Chicago from getting a kicker. The trade for Vedvik was interesting. Do you think they will try him out at both punter and kicker to see if they could free up a roster spot for another position?

I’ll be real with you, Clint, I wasn’t familiar with the name “Kaare Vedvik” until yesterday. Whatever the Vikings do, I hope they have some patience with the guy.

Ren from Wilmette, IL

How impressed are you with Jordy Nelson?

Supremely. You’re welcome for the Packers Perks points.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

With a lot of guys playing who probably won't even make the team, is there anything gained winning a preseason game? I know fans like it, but seems really unimportant to me.

Every year I get this question during training camp and every year my answer is the same – the 2008 Lions went 4-0 in the preseason…and then lost all 16 games. I see no benefit to winning – only surviving.

Dan from Rosthern, SK, Canada

In response to Scott from Greensburg, the difference between the field in Winnipeg vs. the Canton and Mexico debacles is that it is home to a professional football team. I'm sure they will have the field in the best shape possible for when the Packers and Raiders come to town.

Exactly. The CFL season is underway, so in theory, the field will be ready for a professional football game.

Phillip from Wonder Lake, IL

What happened that the Aug. 22 game against Raiders was decided to be played in Winnipeg?

I believe the A’s have a homestand and the Raiders needed a place to play.

Jessi from Phinney, KS

Enjoying the John Kuhn fun facts. Does Larry surprise you guys when he does it, or do you at least have a heads-up he is choosing fun fact over a player to watch?

There’s never a heads-up with Larry. We don’t know what he’s going to say until he says it.

Jayke from London, England

I suggest the NFL places the Green Bay Packers on schedule for a game in London next year. I fancy seeing my favorite team at least once in my hometown before I check out.

I’m with you, Jayke.

Keith from Dearborn, MI

With the news of Disney doing a reboot of “Home Alone,” it got me thinking. How would a young Wes Hod fare if his vacation-going family forgot him at home?

A young Wes Hod? My wife went to the Iowa State Fair for three days last week and I almost didn’t make it being home alone.

Terry from Milwaukee, WI

In three weeks, it's Packers-Bears football and I am starting to feel the early stages of excitement overload. What do you suggest I do to keep my adrenaline in check?

Three more preseason games?

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