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Inbox: You're banking on those kinds of contributions

It’s a fresh start for Jaylon Smith in Green Bay

S Darnell Savage

Shane from Saxon, WI

Good morning. So how many submissions were related to adding another Smith? 60%?

That's probably correct if you include the "Full House" analogies/jokes about the Packers holding three Smiths and two Rodgers.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

Jaylon Smith was impressive in his first interview. I understand what Aaron Rodgers was talking about now.

He was smiling throughout his news conference and you could hear in his voice how much he wants to be here. Smith has a deep bond with Matt LaFleur. It's a fresh start for Smith in Green Bay and he appears anxious to pounce on it.

Martin from Evansville, IN

Will Jaylon Smith play many snaps at first or will it be a gradual introduction?

I lean towards the latter. Smith has played a lot of football. In fact, he's played in 68 consecutive games since returning in 2017 from that devastating knee injury. But this is Week 5 and he is learning a new defense in Green Bay. Right now, he just needs to focus on picking up the playbook and being ready. Krys Barnes has cleared the concussion protocol, so the Packers will have all their ILBs available in Cincinnati.

Tom from Walker, MI

What will Jaylon Smith's role be?

Once Smith gets the defense down, I'd have him lining up everywhere. When Smith was coming out of Notre Dame, scouts were pretty much in agreement that he can play any linebacker position in a 3-4 or 4-3. The Packers like to move their linebackers around. Za'Darius Smith, Rashan Gary, Oren Burks and De'Vondre Campbell have all done it. I think this defense complements Smith's strength perfectly.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

All the activity within the Packers organization signing veterans to fill holes got me thinking. The new philosophy with management seems to mirror the Tom Brady-led Patriots. Is this a result of it being Rodgers' final year(s) or do you think it's more the way of the NFL moving forward?

People are acting like the Packers haven't already signed veteran free agents in-season the past two years. Green Bay did the same thing with Jared Veldheer (twice), Ibraheim Campbell, Tyler Ervin, Billy Winn, James Burgess, etc.

James from Appleton, WI

I was so excited to see AJ Dillon get a series in the first half. As Dillon becomes more of a complement than a breather for Aaron Jones, the offense will only get more deadly. To me, the difference against the Bengals will be that Joe Mixon is hurting and the Packers are finding their legs. Long drives for Green Bay and a long day for Cincinnati!

I loved the balance the Packers struck between Jones and Dillon against Pittsburgh, with the two backs finishing with 196 total yards. Every game is different and there will be days where Jones is heavily featured, but Dillon was the perfect counter to the defense the Steelers were playing. You're right about Mixon, too. As good as Joe Burrow has been this year, Mixon has been the workhorse wearing down the defense early on. He didn't practice this week but is listed as questionable. We'll see what happens.

Israel from West Allis, WI

I'm excited that they're hopeful to have Jaire back sooner than later; I hope he heals quickly and fully. Do you have any insight as to how the series of opinions went? Were they consistent or various?

You heard what we heard, Israel. The Packers are hoping Jaire Alexander has a safe and speedy recovery.

John from Logansport, IN

Hi Mike/Wes, if a player is signed as a free agent during the season and leaves the following season signing a lucrative contract elsewhere, is a compensatory pick still part of the equation based on its additions/subtractions?

I believe so.

Ken from Lebanon, TN

Insiders, with all the injuries, I was scrolling through the roster and noticed that Jaire Alexander is listed at 5-10. Is that a misprint? After watching him play I could swear he's 6-2 with 40-inch arms. Mongo impressed. Also, if Josh Myers can't go, do they move up Jake Hanson or slide Elgton Jenkins in at center?

Alexander is the definition of a guy who plays bigger than his listed height and weight. Without Myers, the Packers could go three directions – Jenkins (if available), Hanson or Lucas Patrick, who also has experience at center. Jenkins has proven he can play anywhere on short notice. If the Packers are comfortable with Yosh Nijman at left tackle, it's possible Jenkins could snap.

Monty from Hazen, ND

So, if Kevin King and Eric Stokes start this weekend, who moves over to the defensive left side to replace Jaire? I assume the footwork is a little different depending upon the side.

That's a great question. Last week, Isaac Yiadom and Shemar Jean-Charles replaced Alexander on the left side and Stokes stayed on the right side. My guess – and it's nothing more than that – is King shifts left given he has more experience in the defense and Stokes appears to be comfortable on the right side.

Jon from Temecula, CA

Is there a player that you would like to see more involved in this team? Not for a specific matchup, and not because someone isn't performing well, but just for their potential big-play impact. For me it's Josiah Deguara. Deguara lead blocking for Dillon, behind that Packers O-line, in cold weather, sounds like the grind that can break a defense. We've seen tape of his abilities and I think he has a lot to offer. Your thoughts on him or another player?

Deguara will get his opportunities soon enough. My hunch is the Packers are just playing it safe with Deguara. He was cleared within a week but you still have to be careful with concussions. Green Bay needs Deguara, especially since there really isn't a backup at the "F" spot with Dominique Dafney on injured reserve.

The Green Bay Packers held practice on Clarke Hinkle Field on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Legendary hoops coach Al McGuire used to say that the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores. I know the development curve is a year or two longer in the NFL – and also that the season is young – but who are the second- and third-year players you so far see making the proverbial "jump" in performance?

Darnell Savage has impressed me. While he's naturally fast, Savage is playing so much faster this year. With how he's crashing to the ball carrier, you can tell everything is clicking on the mental side. Rashan Gary (obviously), Yosh Nijman and Jon Runyan have made big strides, which is good to see. Because when you're a draft-and-develop team like Green Bay, you're banking on those kinds of contributions from the up-and-comers.

Matt from Vero Beach, FL

Just a comment/thank you for the feature on Billy Turner. Could you imagine any team losing four starters from the offensive line on 13-3 teams and be productive in the running game and pass protection? It's a credit to the coaching staff, help from the QB, WRs, tight ends, RBs, scheme – just all of it and the youngsters stepping up.

Personally, I don't think enough has been written or said about the seamless transition the Packers have had from Bryan Bulaga to Billy Turner at right tackle. As I wrote Friday, Turner isn't looking for any recognition but he definitely deserves credit for the job he's done on the field, especially with both David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins out. He's an underrated athlete who just battles his (butt) off.

Patrick from Oregon, OH

Have you guys ever seen it where two players (De'Vondre Campbell and Corey Bojorquez) were picked up so cheaply, but then went on to make such a huge AND immediate impact?! Those two deals are looking better and better each week!

It happens across the league every year but the contributions the Packers have received from those two have been special. I think this defense has put more of a spotlight on Campbell's talents, too. Again, Bojorquez has been a revelation. He's affecting games, which is something the Packers haven't had from the punting position in a very long time.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Who outfits new Packer signees with the appropriate Packer attire for their first media meeting after signing? Is it the same person or group that outfits and coifs both of you for "Unscripted"?

No, I'm pretty sure that's Red Batty and his equipment staff. Unfortunately, Spoff and I have to dress ourselves.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

So, I learned that apparently you can punt the ball twice on one play? The Seahawks punter did that against the Rams, though it sure appeared he was over the line of scrimmage on the second kick.

As esteemed ESPN writer Kevin Seifert pointed out from the NFL rule book, "a second kick from behind the line of scrimmage is legal provided the ball has not crossed the line." To the second part of your question, Michael Dickson just had to have part of his foot on the line of scrimmage and he could still punt it. It was a heads-up play by Dickson.

Tom from Virginia Beach, VA

I bet you have a synonym for indubitably.


Ryan from Columbus, WI

Demovsky? DEMOVSKY!?!? Let me tell ya, he ain't no Hodkiewicz! Go Pack Go!

Few are.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Another strange foe,

Injuries to overcome,

Stay the winning course.

Take it home, Dean.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

An uncommon opponent dispatched but with a steep price paid

Now a trip to the Queen City with a motivated team and hopeful fan base

An opponent who has exceeded expectations

An opponent who looks for legitimacy against the Green and Gold

An opportunity to show their worth against a true contender

They will not go gentle into that good night

Stay the course, Rise to meet the challenge Men of the Bay

The Packers have four of their next five on the road. I can think of no better way to get it started than a win against a game Bengals squad. Enjoy the game, everyone.