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Incredible how that worked out

The lists of top rushers and passers this season reveal things


Aaron from Point Pleasant, MD

Spoff, I'm going under today for hernia surgery, so go ahead and place me on IR for the season. I'll understand if we use our last designation to return on that other Aaron though. No hard feelings.

There is no IR for the Inbox. It's a tough place for tough people. Get well soon.

John from Big Lake, MN

If a player fumbles in the end zone and the ball is recovered by the offense before it goes out of bounds, is it still a touchback for the defending team? I always thought the rule only applied if the ball goes out of bounds after the fumble or if the defending team recovers.

If the offensive team recovers in the end zone, it's a touchdown, unless it's in the final two minutes of either half. Then the placement reverts to the spot of the fumble.

Matt from Bremerton, WA

To belabor the fumble through the end zone subject and relate to the storming the castle analogy, Team A is attempting to score in Team B's end zone. It makes sense that if you lose possession on their property, the possession then belongs to them.

I'm starting to buy into this explanation.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

As always I enjoyed **Cliff's article yesterday**, although it brought a lot of bad memories. I remember all the bumper stickers from the '70s and '80s. Hope springs eternal. It got me to thinking, Mike, if you were to write a bumper sticker today to put on your bumper for the rest of the season, what would it say?

In honor of the reference to the James Jones hoodie rule yesterday, I'd want a bumper sticker that says, "The other guys get paid, too."

Tyler from Dallas, TX

It's great to see Demetri Goodson is back at practice. One more tiny jar on the shelf to boost the secondary. What is his path to making the 53?

He's always been a good special-teams player, and he was getting extensive snaps on defense last year before he went down. But he's been out awhile. He's got three weeks of practice to show he can help in some capacity this season, and it's hard not to root for him.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

There seems to be a lot of grousing by the players about the "Thursday Night Football" games. I get their concerns and wouldn't miss them if they went away. There doesn't seem to be as much grousing (if any) about the Thanksgiving games, and I would definitely miss those if they went away. Are the Thanksgiving games "different" in the eyes of the players? Is it because of "tradition"?

Without a doubt, and I'll second Wes's motion for Thanksgiving as the favorite holiday. Nothing better than a day that's all about family, food, and football, with no other obligations.

Don from Cedar Rapids, IA

For football fans, it seems like satisfaction for every win only lasts for a week, but dissatisfaction for every loss lasts for the whole season. I bet it's easier to remember every game the Packers LOST this year than remembering the wins. (And then saying, "If only we would have beaten . . ."). Why do you think that is?


The psychological impact of expectations. It can work the other way, too.**

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

Am I the only one who would like an end to the questions that begin with, "Am I the only one..."?

No. I'm the only one.

Andrew from Huxley, IA

Hi Mike, I know there are several elite-level running backs that are taken in the first few rounds every year, but do you think the Packers' success with the next-man-up approach shows that you can still have success in the running game without investing high draft capital at the position?

Teams can build success in different ways, but let's look at the facts here. The Packers' running game over the last five years was at its best with a healthy Eddie Lacy, who was a second-round pick. If you look at the current list of the top 10 rushers this season, only two were drafted outside the first two rounds, Kansas City's Kareem Hunt (third) and Chicago's Jordan Howard (fifth).

Eric from Stevens Point, WI

Fact, nothing pushes a drafted rookie running back more than two other drafted rookie running backs standing fresh on the sidelines.

The running back who came into the season with the starting job is getting pushed, too.

Marc from Aachen, Germany

I've always thought a player on IR is not allowed to be training (rehabbing in AR's case) with the team. Aren't individual drills while the rest of the team is working in the same facility illegal then? What have I missed? Still it's good seeing Rodgers already working again.

Players on IR can't participate in on-field activities with the rest of the team, or work on the field with coaches. Rehabbing nearby with an athletic trainer is perfectly fine.

Ben from El Paso, TX

What do you think we will learn about Hundley's growth this week against Baltimore's defense?


The Ravens have an experienced secondary. Veteran DBs can anticipate and time their breaks on the ball better, which forces the quarterback to play faster. Hundley has to trust his reads and get the ball out, because the throwing window will close sooner against this defense.**

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Two Harbaughs in one weekend. Can Wisconsin handle that?

Incredible how that worked out. This is only John Harbaugh's second trip to Lambeau, and his brother's first trip to Camp Randall as the Michigan coach.

John from Littleton, CO

Just wondering, is there any word about the NFL looking into the way Martellus Bennett got himself out of Green Bay and onto New England's roster? The way it looks, I've lost all respect for him.

There was a report a couple of days ago that in a conference call with national media, an NFL spokesperson said nothing was being looked into.

Eric from Apple Valley, MN

McCarthy said Jamaal Williams had a bunch of (or several) phone-booth style runs against the Bears. What was he describing?


Powering through the narrowest of openings.**

Dan from St. Louis, MO

Insiders, it seems like the AFC is top-heavy while the NFC has about 10 legitimate contenders. The NFC is 24-14 against the AFC and is currently on a 10-1 run. What gives?

Just look at the league leaders in passer rating. The top two are from the AFC (Smith from KC and Brady from New England). Not including the injured Rodgers and Watson, the next eight on the list are all from the NFC – Wentz, Brees, Goff, Cousins, Wilson, Stafford, Prescott, Ryan. It's a quarterback-driven league.

Ryan from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Alright guys, with the way this year has played out regarding injuries, what would the downside be of expanding rosters and adjusting the return from IR? If the NFL wants to put the best product forward, why not expand the roster for active players both overall and those who can dress on game day? More player development – without the juggling between all the injury designations, IR and then being released from the team with a settlement – seems like a positive situation. Also another bye week couldn't hurt.

Not to rain on your parade, because I think some of your suggestions have merit, but keep the following points in mind. Overall roster size would have to be collectively bargained, because bigger rosters would mean more expense to the owners, and players further dividing up their slice of the salary cap. Tough sell on both counts. The injury-related roster rules are in place primarily to protect the players. If a team wants to put a player on IR for the season, it has to pay him. If it doesn't, it has to negotiate an injury settlement, giving him a chance to sign with another team as soon as he's healthy. Always remember what might be best for a team's ability to develop players isn't always best for a player's opportunities to break into the league. The CBA is in place, theoretically, to find a workable balance for both sides.

Connor from Murray, UT

"Ridiculous pregame dance by Ray Lewis"?? You want to talk about emotional leader! Ray Lewis was the reason the Ravens won a Super Bowl. Not Joe Flacco or Suggs, it was Ray leading his team, making sure everyone was as excited and emotional about winning as he was. Respect please, Mike.

I have plenty of respect for Lewis' leadership on the successful Ravens teams. The way he played the game, and the way teammates looked up to him, speaks for itself. But in my opinion, that pregame dance he'd do coming out of the tunnel in Baltimore wasn't about the team. It was all about, "Look at me, I'm Ray Lewis," and I thought he looked pretty silly doing it.

Alex from Ipswich, UK

Can the Packers afford to keep Davante Adams? Can the Packers afford to lose Davante Adams?

I don't see the Packers letting him get away, if that's what you're asking.

Dave from Franklin, WI

I love the pictures of the equipment setup in the locker room before the games. Though I noticed something I can't figure out. When they're putting the jersey over the shoulder pads sometimes there's another type of fabric under the jersey with a collar mimicking the jersey collar. What is that for and does it stay under the jersey for the game?


No. It's a temporary sleeve of slick fabric that goes over the shoulder pads to make it easier to put the real jersey on. Then it's pulled out from underneath to be used on the next set of pads.

Wes from Boone, IA

With the possibility of Rodgers still being able to play by the end of the season, what does he do to stay in "game shape"? Obviously if his collarbone heals and he's able to play, he wouldn't be able to just jump on the field without doing some work between now and then. With his injury I assume it's difficult to do some of the things he would need to do to physically stay in shape.

When he spoke with the media after the surgery, he talked about walking on a treadmill with restrictions on his legs, to amp up the cardio load. Conditioning is probably the least of his worries.

Joe from Channahon, IL

The Packers play three games in a row where all three opponents receive extended time off before they play the Packers. Shouldn't every team face a team with extra rest? Not one team face multiple teams with the extra week.

I didn't realize it was three in a row until I saw the Steelers playing last night. Really strange quirk in the schedule, but what are you gonna do?

Sean from Portland, ME

Calling it now. The Randall Cobb direct snaps (which have produced mild results) are all just a setup for him to throw deep on one in a few weeks. We know he can throw! Mark it.

If only I had a nickel for every Inbox reader who has been predicting this over the last two years.

Jake from Greenville, NC

Time to "stack success" or "just beat the Ravens"?

Take your pick.

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