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It's rarely a short road

A correct challenge should be no challenge


Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Mike McCarthy's comment about good and great players speaks to ALL teams. It seems some Packers fans believe our good players are better than everybody else's good players. Not very many good players become great. Is the difference in coaching the number of times these good players make great plays?

And how often the great players are in position to be great.

Brad from Clemmons, NC

Everyone seems high on Brett Hundley, but to me his arm strength seems suspect on the out routes. Taysom Hill seems to have a stronger arm. What do you think?

Hill's arm is plenty strong, but I think Hundley's is the strongest of the three backup QBs based on what I've seen in practice.

Joe from Rhinelander, WI

Mike, with the need for depth at positions in the secondary and defensive line, I only see the Packers keeping two QBs on the final roster. I think either Callahan or Hill or both will start out the season on the practice squad. What are your thoughts?

Good question, but I want to see two more preseason games before I start picking the 53.

Kevin from Tucson, AZ

Mike, Wes was asking about the benefit of removing facemasks. As in rugby the exposed face forces more technical tackling, and not using the head as part of the tackle. Add a requirement to wrap arms in tackling (like in rugby) and we would likely see a noticeable reduction in concussions – though perhaps a few more facial lacerations.

The arguments for it from the perspective of head safety make sense, but as I said last week, it's too radical a change to be made wholesale.

Matt from Cambridge, WI

With all due respect, removing three- and four-point stances WILL change the game. Consider a fourth-and-1 or -inches at the goal line. A bunch of huge men squatting in front of each other. That would change my game. Additionally, I think there may be unintended consequences (hits to the head) as both men attempt to get below the other's pads for leverage.

True enough, but if that type of contact is limited to short-yardage and goal-line plays only, it still helps the overall equation. I don't profess to have all the answers, but these are the discussions and point/counterpoints that could be coming in the future.

Josh from Pullman, WA

How many wins do you predict it will take to win the No. 1 seed, and what order do you predict the North will finish in?

In the last 14 years, the No. 1 seed in the NFC has had less than 13 wins only twice, so that's the number I start with, but we'll see how the season unfolds. I think the Packers are the best team in the North, and the Vikings are their biggest challenger.

Eric from Fuquay Varina, NC

One of the main things I like about the Inbox is that you give us insights into aspects of the game we would never know just by watching (the arcane aspects). Regarding Scott's question, Mike mentioned, "The opposing coaches will be alerting the officials to it in their pregame meetings." How and when does this meeting happen and to what primary purpose?

I'm not sure exactly when the meeting takes place pregame, but a coach will point out things he's seen on the opponent's film he'll want the officials to watch closely – pick plays by wide receivers or excessive grabbing by DBs, for instance – things he may believe haven't been called properly in prior games. He might mention things about his own team, too. Does it ever make a difference? I have no specific evidence, but as I've noted before, the free-play frenzy early in 2015 suddenly dried up when the officials started blowing offside plays dead due to Green Bay offensive linemen flinching after the initial encroachment by the defense. I think opposing coaches were telling the officials to watch for it more closely and not allow free plays to happen when, by rule, they shouldn't.

Sean from Williamsburg, VA

The officials may be more on point going forward to ensure the Packers are properly lined up when Aaron Rodgers catches the defense with 12 men on the field, but after the Packers' own film study the offense will be more on point going forward to ensure they're properly lined up. Peace out.

Roger that.

Cody from Eagle River, WI

I've seen the videos of Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos doing magic tricks and those sorts of quirks from other players here and there. Anyone on the Packers roster have some kind of magic tricks of their own up their sleeves?

Some of Rodgers' sack escapes border on Houdini-esque, don't they? If not, I've been known to execute a few good card tricks in my day.

Gary from Topeka, KS

Spoff, is there a year that a drafted player who is not performing up to expectations is usually released, or is it based upon team depth?

It's not about expectations, not any more with draft-pick contracts slotted and the cap implications minimized. It's about being one of the best 53 players, or still having enough upside relative to how the rest of the roster is shaping up.

Al from Green Bay, WI

We can agree that A-Rod is the one player who must remain healthy to give Green Bay a fair shot to earn another Lombardi trophy. I would suggest that the next most important players to remain healthy are Bakhtiari and Bulaga. Yes? No?

They rank right up there for me, along with Matthews, Daniels, Clinton-Dix and Nelson. Difference-makers are hard to replace no matter how much depth there is.

Jesse from Atlanta, GA

When Tripp went out of the game I thought I saw No. 49 come into the game as a linebacker, but that number belongs to one of our tight ends. So who came in for Tripp?

Linebacker Derrick Mathews. No. 49 is the only double number on this year's training-camp roster.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Speaking of Darren Bennett, the Insiders have said in this forum that a Hall of Famer should change the game, and Bennett did so with the Aussie kick. Do you think we'll see another punter in the Hall anytime soon?

Doubt it. Bennett was on the 1990s all-decade team, and he's been eligible for the Hall of Fame for several years now but hasn't come close to being a finalist.

Chris from Bozeman, MT

This is a question about talent/skill recognition. Last year here we heard numerous times about how Spriggs was a lock to start at LT eventually. Now, after one full year in the system, it looks as though that assessment wasn't even close to being accurate. Coach Campen is good, but he's no miracle worker. Why the rush to pump the tires on the new guys?

I don't believe I ever said Spriggs was a lock to start at left tackle eventually. I said he looks the part, and I still think he does. He's the perfect body type, but he's got work to do. He'd be the first one to say so. I'm willing to be patient with a guy who started at left tackle for four years in the Big Ten.

John from Simi Valley, CA

Hi Insiders, Beau Sandland is from Simi Valley and last week I saw on the team pages that he was listed on injured reserve. This week he is not listed there nor on the offense pages. Did he get released due to injury or due to the Packers needing a spot on the roster for a new DT?

Players on IR who disappear from IR have most likely been given an injury settlement.

Braden from Aurora, CO

Mike, haven't heard much about Cobb. Do you see a healthy guy ready to terrorize defensive coordinators with matchup problems? Or, are there too many mouths to feed and he's the odd man out?

If Cobb stays healthy, I expect him to have a productive, solid year. I never believe there are too many mouths, because defenses are going to adjust to your playmakers, and eventually everyone gets a matchup Rodgers is looking for.

Barry from Skokie, IL

Mike McCarthy's answer about good and great players wasn't aimed at the reporters or us fans; it was aimed at his players. He was showing his respect for them and his belief they are all accomplished players. It made me recall Vic's description of him as a great leader of men.

You have the floor.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

Preseason games aren't worth the effort and the injuries in inconsequential games. Dial it back to two controlled scrimmages, increase regular-season games to 18 and get on with it.

The fans and owners would love that, but the players want no part of more regular-season games, and I don't blame them.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

Are there positions that are easier or harder to keep on your practice squad, and does that ever enter into decisions at cut-down? With that last spot on the 53, do teams ever let scarcity be a tiebreaker and keep, say, a big man over a WR because they think they're more likely to get a WR on the practice squad, or do they just keep the best guys?

Quality big guys, on both sides, are always at a premium and harder to come by, so that factors into the decisions.

Ralph from Peoria, IL

Can you elaborate more on a player being cut and then put on practice squad? What is clear is, if another team claims the cut player, he has to go on their 53 active squad. What is unclear is at what time can a cut player be picked up and placed on another team's practice squad later in the season?

Once a player clears waivers, he can sign with any team's practice squad (provided he's practice-squad eligible). While on a practice squad, another team can sign him only to its active roster.

Dwight from Davenport, IA

If the league is quarterback-driven, and I believe it is, we must never let Coach McCarthy go.

There's a reason Thompson hired him nine months after drafting Rodgers.

Sue from McMillan, MI

I haven't heard much about Joe Kerridge in training camp. As a second-year player, how has he been looking?

Kerridge stood out earlier in camp, and he's making a strong roster bid. Whether or not the Packers keep two fullbacks will come down to how indispensable Kerridge is viewed on special teams.

Bob from Cortez, CO

Writing for print, you had time to revise and edit before your deadlines. How has writing for the web, with instant publication, changed your technique and style?

You go with your first instinct on phrasing more often than not, and live with it. The next story is always waiting to be written now. What I've never changed is my commitment to factual accuracy and clarity. I'm not perfect, but the value I place on those two qualities remains as high as when I broke into the business.

Morgan from Minneapolis, MN

I love Brett Favre. But I've always thought if McCarthy had put in Aaron Rodgers at halftime of that NFC Championship Game vs. the Giants, we would have won another Lombardi Trophy. Plus, leading up to that Super Bowl it would have been an immense soap-opera circus!

The offense had really made just one play that entire first half, the 90-yard TD to Driver, but Green Bay was still leading at the break, 10-6. Changing QBs there would have been the all-time gutsiest of gutsy moves.

Mike from Noblesville, IN

Regarding the question about expecting perfection. Too much effort and consequence is involved in losing a game on a wrong call if the technology exists to get right. I think every team desires to have the correct call made on every play if at all possible. The sideline tablets aren't working very well in preseason. I hope the delays in having the tablets run the replay are fixed before the season starts. In this day and age I truly believe the referees are interested in making the correct call and welcome the technology in helping them get it right. Does anyone disagree with that?

Having relevant technology available to fans not available to officials would be far worse than the imperfect system we have now. My biggest problem with the current system is the stipulation that coaches must get both challenges correct in order to get a third one. I think it should be a two-strikes-and-you're-out system. McCarthy was forced to challenge two clearly botched calls in the Washington game (12 men and a third-down incomplete pass) in the first quarter and a half. He got both right, but if that's a regular-season game and he's down to one challenge for the last 2½ quarters after fixing two obvious mistakes, that's not right. A correct challenge should count as no challenge.

Kristina from Stoughton, WI

Does Coach McCarthy have ice water in his veins? How else could he wear a zipped-up jacket in 87 degree weather?

He's in long pants and long sleeves for every camp practice, regardless of the temperature. I don't know how he does it.

Jim from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

I noticed during the game last Saturday against Washington, the announcers referred to Ty as a wide receiver converted to running back. At what point in time will Ty be mentioned as a running back without the reference to being a former wide receiver?

Probably never, unless he changes his number. Doh!

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

Regarding Chris from Greensboro's question about having a running back close out games in January and February, why can't we worry about a back closing games in November and December? Sorry, but I can't stand the thought that some fans think the Packers are just a write-in for the playoffs every year. Let it play out and enjoy the entire season and the development of young talent. Super Bowl sounds great, but there is no guarantee that the Packers are getting to the playoffs in August.

It's easy to forget that three times in the current eight-year postseason streak, the Packers entered Week 17 without a playoff spot locked up, and all but once they've entered Week 16 with nothing clinched. It's rarely a short road.

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