Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Are the Packers getting some injured players back?

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

WR Allen Lazard

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on today. I see questions already coming in, so keep them coming, and I'll get started.

Is there any update on the status of Allen Lazard?

He was practicing on Monday (non-padded) and was running drills full speed from what I could see. If he's a full participant in practice tomorrow (Thursday) during the padded workout, I would think that bodes well for his return.

Any word on Kevin King?

He was practicing Monday as well. Given LaFleur said he had a setback along the way in his recovery, his practice participation will be watched closely this week.

Nice trivia question in today's Inbox, Mike! I didn't know the answer. I'm sure those kinds of questions are difficult to come up with, but it'd be a fun little feature in Inbox going forward, even if it's only once a week. Got any other trivia prepared for chat today?

Nothing off the top of my head. I do write the weekly trivia question on our website every Tuesday. It's in the Fans section, under Promotions, if you want to check it out.

How about DB our all-pro tackle?

Again, back at practice Monday, and I would think Thursday's padded practice will be the true test whether he's ready to return to the field.

Hi Mike, with the success of the depth on the O-Line since David Bakhtiari has been out, any chance they let him walk and use the money on Aaron Jones and Corey Linsley (who's combined salary would cost the same as Bak)?

I was asked this question in Inbox this morning, and to me there's a difference between a pending free agent, and a pending free agent who's one of the absolute best at a premier position, like Bakhtiari is at left tackle. Four-time All-Pro, and still going plenty strong. I have to believe he's the Packers' top priority. That guarantees nothing, of course, because you never know how these negotiations are going to go, but I just don't see the Packers letting him walk, not when he's protecting the blindside of the franchise QB.

What role do you expect Christian Kirksey to play now that Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin have shown what they can do?

That's a really good question. Kirksey is a veteran who quickly became a leader on this team, by all accounts. If he resumes a regular first- and second-down role, perhaps they find specific roles for the other two and they'll all play a fair amount. It could be an evolving situation.

Hi Mike. We hear Aaron Rodgers talk all the time about some of his favorite teammates he's played with. Not asking you to name names and get banned from Hop Sing, but were you ever aware of a set of teammates who just did not like each other?

In my experience, if certain players didn't like other ones, they just didn't interact much and kept to themselves about it. It's a big locker room. No one wants to disrupt anything. It's not too hard to co-exist with someone you don't care for on a 53-man roster.

Do you think the D-line really needed some help as the media is suggesting? Kenny Clark plays like a first rounder, Tyler Lancaster seems solid in the middle, plus Kingsley Keke and Montravius Adams are on the rise. What am I missing?

I'm of the opinion you never have enough big guys in the trenches who can do a tough job. Young players are going to be more inconsistent. Veteran players provide stability. But veteran players also cost more. It's a tough balancing act.

We've had a few COVID cases recently on the Packers team. Seems like more rookies than veterans. Is the organization or the community doing contact tracing to determine how these players came into contact?

I'm sure they've investigated it with the infected players, but they're not going to make that information public.

Obviously our offense is "new school" and very successful. But is our defense too "old school" which doesn't match up well with today's game?

I don't think so. When the defense has struggled, it's mostly struggled with stopping the run, which is not exactly new school football.

Just wanted to point out that it is currently 11:11 on 11/11. That is all.

OK then.

Rogers thinks the NFL COVID protocols are for show. Have you heard any other grumblings from other players?

I think that's a mischaracterization of his comments. The other day he was just pointing out how incongruous some of the rules appear to be, like practicing on the football field for 2 hours with the whole team but then having plexiglass between you and the locker next to you. I can see how that doesn't seem to make sense. I think the argument on the other side is the desire to limit risk and exposure whenever possible, which isn't possible on the field but is possible everywhere else. None of this is simple.

My brother Dan is a Green Beret in the U.S. Army. Also a recent father of two children under 2 years old, he's a hero of mine. I know he'd appreciate a shoutout in your column. Would love to thank all our active military and veterans today!

Absolutely. A shout-out to all veterans today.

A look back at the Green Bay Packers recognizing Salute To Service.

What adjustments does the defense need to make to have the Smith Bros. causing the opposing QB to make a bad decision?

The more effective the Packers are at stopping the run, the more they can get after QBs and potentially force turnovers. Pressure on the QB is responsible for a large percentage of turnovers, but you have to put the offense in those tough spots first.

I read an article, can't remember from whom, that said the problem with the Packers D isn't that they're soft but that they're slow. Do you think that's the culprit of the leaky run D?

I don't think there's a speed issue. I think overall this defense is faster than it's been in some of the other playoff years. LaFleur has mentioned multiple times bringing energy and effort on every play. The defense has to find and set a standard, and keep it there. It hasn't done that, which is why the unit as a whole has been so up and down.

You said your favorite all-time player is W. Payton. Who's your all-time favorite Packer?

From my youth, probably James Lofton.

Do you think with the cap number dropping so much for next year, will there be a lot of high priced players taking a cut in salary?

That very well could happen around the league. Teams are going to be in a cap crunch, and players will have to decide if they want to restructure deals to stay with their current team, or be let go and test the market to see what they can get. We're going to be entering uncharted waters in free agency come next March.

Our defense was #1 in QB pressures last year, we're #32 this year with largely the same cast. Are you seeing schematic changes the rest of us don't see? Was Blake Martinez coveting a lot of holes that the current cast isn't, so we've had to be less aggressive? Something else going on?

The Packers just haven't gotten after QBs as well as they did last year, which mostly comes down to winning one-on-ones. They have faced a lot of QBs that get the ball out quickly a majority of the time, but that's not the full explanation for the pressures being down after 8 games.

For those of us who haven't followed Jacksonville this year, does their 1-7 record say it all, or is there more to the story? Anything the Packers need to watch out for on Sunday?

Robinson and Chark on offense are darn good players. They can hit you for an explosive play at any time. Myles Jack is the Jaguars' best defensive player. He's really, really good, but they don't have a lot of other top defensive pieces surrounding him.

Doesn't Lazard have to be added to the roster this week?

I believe so, yes, but I haven't checked the dates specifically related to the rule.

Where in SW Wisconsin did you grow up?


My favorite Packer in the 2010s was Jordy Nelson, but Davante Adams is starting to really command respect as the best Packer receiver in recent history. Is this recency bias, or are we seeing something very special continue to develop in 17? What does he need to do to cement himself in the Packer Hall of Fame one day?

Adams is special. Rodgers has said many times, including in a big sit-down interview I did with him and Adams for a Yearbook piece a couple of years ago, that of all the great receivers he's played with, Adams has the most athletic talent. That's saying something, because Driver, Jennings, Jones, Nelson, Cobb had plenty of talent, but Adams just brings more to the table.

I thought I saw this game was 'flexed' to 3:25, but I keep seeing noon starting time listed. Can you clarify?

It was next week's game against the Colts that was flexed to 3:25 p.m. CT. This week's game is still at noon.

How can the league already be drawing up a cap number when we don't know what is to happen with COVID/cures?

Nothing is set in stone, but the league already decided the cap hits due to the lost revenue from this season will be spread out over multiple years, and they basically already announced a ballpark figure for next year's cap. When all the financials are sorted out after the season, they'll figure out how to spread the rest of the cap hits.

Obviously still very early on, but what record do you think will earn a team the #1 seed in the NFC?

I think it's going to take 13-3. If it's 12-4, there will definitely be tiebreakers involved to decide it.

Going back to the II question on what has Rodgers not done within reason. Is catching a touchdown pass within reason? End around thrown across to the QB for a TD.

That's not really what I had in mind, but perhaps we'll see that someday.

I think the evolution of the game (playing nickel and dime with very few linemen ahead of you against speedy receivers, and monster ends and backs) made playing inside linebacker in the NFL one of the toughest jobs. Which Packers LB do you think has the best size/speed combo?

On the current roster? It's so hard to say. When Kirksey was playing, Martin was out, and vice versa. Barnes has been in and out of the lineup. There hasn't been enough for me to really tell yet.

What will it take for the Pack to continue to create turnovers?

Get the offense in difficult down-and-distance situations. It's easier to get after the QB on third-and-8 than third-and-3.

I don't really remember the last time we played the Jags, but I feel like I remember it being an L? What was Rodgers' stay line for that game?

Rodgers is 2-1 vs. the Jaguars, losing his first year as a starter in '08 but winning in '12 and '16. I wouldn't say he's had any stats that have really stood out either way. The TD throw to Adams at the end of the first half of the game in '16 was one of the top 10 throws of his career, though. He had a defender draped all over him trying to sack him and he still launched the ball 40 yards.

The Packers must stop Robinson , who is a fine running back and they have to be prepared for a lot of blitzing if they are to have success against Jags. Also their receiving core has talent.

I guess what I'm saying is that Pack can't take Jacksonville too lightly. What is your take on these issues?

The Packers are the better team, but they can't just show up. They have to play well, play their game, and take care of business. If you don't play well in this league, it's very hard to win. You can play well and lose, that happens. But I don't see the Packers playing well and losing to this team.

Is it possible that any other games will be flexed this year? I'm specifically eyeing the noon CST game at Detroit on 12/13.

There are certainly possibilities for more games to be flexed, but the Packers are already slated for SNF vs. the Bears and Titans, and the Eagles game is at 3:25. The Detroit game you mention could move if the Lions stay in the hunt, I suppose.

What rookie do you think can really come on the back half of the season?

Barnes and/or Martin would be the best candidates. Jon Runyan could, too, but the Packers would only turn to him up front in case of injury. Same with Vernon Scott, who is currently injured.

Can you pinpoint any significant special teams' play this year? Nothing leaps out yet to me, except consistency. Maybe that's good?

Nothing dynamic, nothing too detrimental. They've had a couple of kickoff returns out to the 30 and beyond, allowed a couple as well. Neither side has had a punt return longer than 14 yards. The blocked punt and failed recovery of the onside kick in Houston were the worst moments, but fortunately the Packers were playing with a big enough lead they didn't prove too costly.

Has a pending free agent contract ever been signed that is based on a percentage of the cap for the upcoming year versus a hard $ amount? This would seem like a good way to sign your pending top free agents without causing big issues if the cap drops.

I'm not aware of that happening. I have no idea if teams would entertain that for the next few years to navigate the uncertainty or not. Stay tuned I guess.

Who was the better receiver James Lofton or Sterling Sharpe? I liked Lofton but Sterling was amazing. It was too bad his career was cut short.

They were both fabulous players with great careers, and yes, Sterling's was too short. But I had a conversation with John Dorsey here years ago and he said from a scouting standpoint, the explosiveness and danger to defenses that Lofton presented were just hard to compare.

I have really enjoyed seeing Runyan get after it on the o-line. He reminds me a lot of his dad, and I think he has a very bright NFL career ahead of him.

He's off to a great start for a young man who has learned a new position right away in the NFL. I think the Packers found a keeper there.

Adding to the special teams topic: It's interesting that Tyler Ervin was signed to get the return game going, but now he's moved more into offensive schemes and hasn't been returning as much.

I think that's been related to his hand/wrist injury more than anything else.

Correct me if I'm wrong...when the Packers beat San Francisco, wasn't that the first time Rodgers beat them at San Francisco?

No, Rodgers and the Packers won at San Fran in 2015, the first year of the new stadium out there.

What are your favorite things about Mr. Walter Payton?

Well, getting to meet him in person as a kid and get his autograph multiple times was pretty cool. But I also just loved the way he played the game. He was tough as nails and took on anyone and everyone. And he loved every minute of it. The ultimate competitor.

All right, I'm going to have to sign off. Thanks for the participation as always and we'll talk again next week. Take care, Mike

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