Mike's Mid-Week Chat: How do the Packers' rookies look?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his weekly live chat

LB Krys Barnes

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on today. Hope everyone is safe and healthy. Go ahead and start sending in some questions and I'll get rolling in a minute or so.

When will fans be allowed at Lambeau?

I don't know. The organization hasn't made any other announcements other than no fans for the first two home games. The next home game after MNF v. Atlanta isn't until Nov. 1.

Will we see Jordan Love play at all this year?

Perhaps not. Tim Boyle is clearly the No. 2, and unless there's an injury situation or concern with Aaron Rodgers or Boyle, I wouldn't expect Love to be active for a game day.

I just saw this week's ranking on Good Morning Football. Green Bay is third. Did they really turn around their perceptions of this team so dramatically with only two games on tape?

Of course they do. It's how they entertain themselves and their audience.

What do you think can be attributed to the slow starts on defense?

The opponent has executed well, and the Packers haven't. That's a real simple answer, but it's true. Early-season games there are always unscouted looks from the opponent that teams have to react to. Once the Packers have gotten past the first quarter, the second and third quarters they've been pretty good on D.

Thoughts on Gale Sayers?

He was before my time, but his highlights are incredible. He'd be even more revered had he played longer, but he dominated when he played that's for sure.

Any update on Kenny Clark, specifically how long he will be out?

Nope, no updates yet. We'll see if he returns to the practice field at all this week. First practice is in about 2 hours.

Who is the Tom that Rodgers talks to during his media interviews? Rodgers seems to like the guy.

That's Tom Fanning, communications manager who handles all of Rodgers' media obligations. Tom was my writing partner on packers.com for three seasons (2008-10) before moving full-time into his current role.

Rex Ryan said "karma will eventually catch up with the Packers" for not drafting immediate help for Rodgers. This was AFTER they just beat the Lions. Are they not watching the same game we're watching? I just don't get it.

Then why listen?

Why aren't people giving the Packers the respect a 2-0 team should have after scoring 80+ points in the first 2 games? Is it because of who they played, or they just don't believe the Packers are that good?

It's not on my list of concerns, but the Packers are one of five 2-0 teams in the NFC. They're not going to say everyone is the best. There are a lot of good teams in this conference, and I think the Packers' next four opponents could all be better than their first two. Let's see how it plays out.

Hey Mike! What do you make of Rashan Gary's improvement? Seems like he was always in the face of Stafford last Sunday.

Gary has translated his offseason improvement to the game field, which is what young players have to do. He's disruptive. He affects the game when he's in there. He did that last year, too, and now he's getting more snaps.

The media is focusing on injuries this season. Does the data indicate a higher than normal injury rate?

I haven't seen any specifics, but I heard seven ACLs last week alone. That's awfully high. Combine that with the high-profile names on that injury list and it's obvious the issue is getting attention.

Out of the three upcoming FAs, who walks? (would love to sign them all but don't see it happening). David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Kevin King or Aaron Jones?

As I said in Inbox this morning, I suspect the Packers' priorities are Bakhtiari and Jones. If they can get those two taken care of, they'll see what they can do about the rest.

Can you explain the thinking behind leaving spots open on the 53 and practice squads, as opposed to immediately filling them? It seems a warm body is better than nothing.

There may be acquisitions in the pipeline. The COVID testing protocols can take a few days to clear.

Who is more important to their offense, Kamara to the Saints or Jones to the Packers?

Interesting question. That's a coin flip. I wouldn't know how to quantify any difference in their value.

Just finished reading today's II and was sobered by the question re: all the good players we may not be able to sign in the next off-season. I'm sure the players on that list know that, too. Does that have an effect on those players in terms of knowing this may be the last year they are with the Packers and if a Super Bowl is to be had, now is the time?

I don't think any players think that way. If they get too distracted by anything other than what's in front of them, they're putting their future earning power, wherever it may be, in jeopardy. Professional athletes have an incredible ability to zero in their focus when needed.

Good morning, Mike. Do you think after time the defense can get out of their early funk and be dominant all four quarters? Thanks bud!

I don't know if any defense in the league is dominant for four quarters. The game is so geared toward offense and there are so many good QBs. Defense in this league is about making a splash play here or there, getting some key stops on third down and in the red zone, and cutting down on big plays allowed. If you do that, your defense is one you can win with.

I have really missed seeing the after-the-game locker room moments. Do we have any idea who has been awarded game balls?

No, Coach LaFleur has not made those public and has not been asked. Unfortunately, the restrictions this year do not allow us to get a camera in the locker room for those postgame moments.

Seeing head coaches and teams getting fined for not wearing masks during games. Does this apply ONLY to head coaches or all on staff?

Individual fines are going only to head coaches, but teams are being fined as well. So it's on everybody.

After re-watching the Weekend kickoff show, I Googled John Anderson, thinking he had been the Packers linebacker from Waukesha only to discover that he was actually a different person entirely, an ESPN host originally from Green Bay (the U of Missouri & Badgers helmets behind him just didn't add up) so my questions are - 1) What happened to the 30 helmets from last season's set for Unscripted, 2) Did Wes ever tell you what the missing 2 teams were? and 3) Have you managed to get through all of Sports Night yet? Just wondering...

The entire studio changed sets this year, so the helmets are gone, and no, I haven't gotten through all of Sports Night yet, but I'm working on it. Thanks again. Between Wes and me, we have one spot in the Tier 2 access, so we've traded off on who's getting tested every day. I was for the first few week of training camp. Now he is for the time being. We may switch back again, we'll see.

Which position group has performed above expectations the most so far?

I think I'd have to say the offensive line, not because there weren't high expectations, but because of the injuries the unit has had to navigate. Five different combinations up front have been required through the first two games due to the injury situation and the group has been rock solid.

What are the chances Davante Adams plays vs Saints?

No idea. Again, we'll see if he's at practice at any point this week.

Kudos to the young Packer WRs for making a step this year. While it's encouraging, I believe for the offense to make an even larger leap, we'll need a TE to emerge as a true TE1. Do you feel the same way, and who do you think has the highest ceiling of between Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Josiah Deguara, and Jace Sternberger this season?

I would tend to agree, and I think the best bet is Tonyan because of Rodgers' trust in him at the moment. I also think Deguara has a chance, but as a rookie who already has missed a game due to injury, he will have to keep working toward being the primary guy. Things could look different in a couple of months, though. It's a long season.

How big an offseason pickup was DB Coach Jerry Gray?

I think it's a great hire for the Packers. All the DBs have already commented on how much they're learning from him, and the group as a whole is so young. He was a Pro Bowl player and he's a proven coach. Plenty to like.

If someone goes on IR how do they get paid? Full salary or prorated?

Depends on their contract. Some have split-salary clauses.

Allen Lazard always seems to have a smile on his face. But then blocking or running with the ball, he enjoys slamming defenders or pushing their face mask violently. How is he in person?

He's a pretty mild-mannered guy, energetic and polite. He is a physical player on the field. LaFleur has commented on that several times. He doesn't back down from any assignment.

How cool would it be if we don't take an offensive timeout this week?!

I'm sure LaFleur and Rodgers would be pleased, but they're going to do what they have to in order to keep the offense humming. Timeouts or not, you can't argue with the results right now.

Are the play names still super long or did they change any of that during the offseason?

They changed some of it, coming up with some key words that reflect certain concepts to simplify some calls. But there are also calls with two plays built in for Rodgers to choose from at the line, and those can be pretty wordy.

Can players on IR still attend meetings, so they are up to date when they are reactivated?


Thanks for the chat Mike. How many fans will be allowed in New Orleans this weekend?

I have heard that the Saints are allowed by the state of Louisiana to have fans Sunday night, but I haven't seen any details.

Can we get another ML Mic'd Up video? Maybe from a game? That one from a few weeks ago was one of my favorite videos I've seen on Packers.com in a while.

That was pretty cool. I would imagine NFL Films will mic him up for a game or two at some point, and we'll be able to post those videos on our site as well.

The Packers are 3rd in drops through 2 weeks. How can we get this corrected in a huge week 3 game?

It's just a matter of concentration on the part of the players. They know it, and they know and expect better of themselves.

Couldn't watch the game, but I noticed one play where Josh Jackson covered really well. Do you think we could see him play more this season?

That was a nice play by Jackson at the end of Sunday's game. He's not in the starting nickel group but he's a decent depth option at corner should they need him. Right now in the dime defense, Pettine seems more inclined to put another safety on the field, Will Redmond or Raven Greene. But that could change depending on matchups against certain teams.

I know it's early, but how is the rookie class looking so far? I like what I have seen from AJ Dillon.

The most impressive rookie has probably been Krys Barnes, who was undrafted. Dillon and Jon Runyan have been fine in their limited appearances. As mentioned, Deguara missed the second game. Vernon Scott got a sack when Stafford got chased out of the pocket. Kamal Martin was in line for a lot of playing time before he got hurt. I'd say the early returns are pretty good.

I couldn't find the game chat on packers.com you normally have during a game last week. Was I looking in the wrong place?

Yeah, I was live blogging the whole game until the last couple minutes of the fourth quarter. You should be able to get to it from the home page or there's a link posted on the Packers Twitter account right before kickoff.

No fans in New Orleans this Sunday per media reports...

OK, then, there we go.

Coach Lafleur said he wanted to give AJ Dillon more carries but last game it looked like he got two? One was actually a nice run. Do you think he will be mixed in earlier? We've only had a small sample, but he looks like a bruiser.

He does, but Jones and Jamaal Williams are both doing so well right now, the lack of action isn't necessarily Dillon's fault. He has the farthest to go in pass protection, which is to be expected of any rookie back, so that factors in, too. In the right situations, I think LaFleur will try to get him in there.

Would it stand to reason that the Packers may have a huge advantage with 6 home games in Nov/Dec since the likelihood of fans in attendance is going up as the season progresses (vs a team stacked w/ early home games)?

I don't know if it'll be the fans so much as the weather. Carolina and Tennessee coming to Lambeau in December is an advantage on paper, if you ask me.

Other teams seem to be able to keep entire "stables" of running backs. Isn't it possible for Green Bay to do that too? I suppose it all comes down to numbers...

It's difficult to have a "stable" of running backs on second contracts. It very much is a numbers game with the cap.

What is the most vulnerable position for the Green Bay Packers?

Most vulnerable? With Kenny Clark out, the defensive line is in a tough spot. Clark does so much on the interior. The whole unit is so much stronger when he's in there for his usual snap count.

The Saints are not looking as good as was expected - is Drew Brees a minor or major part of that happening?

I'm tired of all the hot takes on the Saints and Brees. They got a big Week 1 win over Brady and a division rival. They played Week 2 without their top wideout. They haven't been 2-0 since 2013 yet have been one of the best teams in the league, and maybe the best overall in the NFC, over the last three years. This team is still going to be right there at the end in my opinion.

Has anyone picked up Tramon Williams yet? Still a possible for the Pack? And I know from reading that Tramon still wants to play, but what kind of coach do you think he'd make? Thanks.

Tramon remains unsigned. I think he'd make a fantastic coach if that's something he wanted to do, but I'm sure he'd prefer to play while he still can. Assistant coaches put in way longer hours than players. That's not a knock on players, that's the reality of an assistant coach. Those guys have to be workaholics. It's not for everybody.

See headshots and action shots of the complete Green Bay Packers 2020 roster. #BuildingOurTeam

Besides Green Bay, who are your top two in the NFC?

Of the other 2-0 teams, the Seahawks and Cardinals have impressed me the most.

Chandon Sullivan is the new Tramon Williams

He's off to a great start. He's got a great story and is fun to root for, much like Tramon.

What a find Krys Barnes is turning into! That was quite the impactful play at the end of the 1st half. Helped start the tide turning. Glad no other team picked him up on waivers after final cutdowns.

If there had been preseason games and Barnes had played in them as he has in the regular season, he wouldn't have been cut because he'd never have cleared waivers. It was easy to get undrafted players through this year because no one else had any film on them.

Who gets to 3-0 this week in NFC?

Arizona is hosting Detroit, so I would put the Cardinals' odds as the best. Bears on the road at Falcons, Packers at Saints, Seahawks hosting Cowboys, Rams at Bills. All of those feel like coin flip games to me.

The Vikings appear to have come unglued.. Can they right the ship?

It's still early. There's plenty of talent on that team and they have a really good head coach. I wouldn't write them off.

Saints at home, even under current conditions will remain a challenge. Did the Raiders expose a weaker defense for the Saints and will a Michael Thomas absence stall the Saint offense a bit?

The injury situations with Adams for the Packers and Thomas for the Saints will be watched closely all week. What stood out to me from the MNF game was how the Raiders ran the ball in the second half. They had 80-some yards rushing after halftime.

Does Barnes get replaced by Martin when healthy or will he keep his job?

Martin is going to be out for a while so I don't think there's any expectation he just steps right back in.

It seemed like Swerve was lined up as receiver three quite a bit, do you think we will see more of that or will Billy Turner be getting more PT as he learns the offense?

LaFleur loves to get Tyler Ervin involved in the offense. If you look at the depth chart of the perimeter players as a whole, Ervin is much higher than Malik Taylor at the moment.

Are we prepping for a shootout in New Orleans or will the Packer defense make adjustments without Kenny Clark to slow down a potent Saints offense led by Kamara?

Either team is capable of winning a shootout in my mind, but there's no telling how these games are going to go. It should be plenty entertaining, though. With that, I'm gonna run, folks. Thanks for all the participation today. Take care and we'll talk again next week. Best, Mike

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