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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What are the position competitions to watch?

Mike answers some offseason questions in his mid-week chat

G Elgton Jenkins
G Elgton Jenkins

Hey everybody. Thanks for logging in today. Thought I'd take a few minutes and just see what's on your mind. Ask away.

Greatest Packer to not win a super bowl?

I'll go with James Lofton.

Hi Mike, what's it like around the facility now? Are there players around, or is it pretty quiet until OTAs next week?

The players are finishing Phase 2 of the offseason program this week, which is a combination of strength and conditioning workouts, and on-field time with their groups and position coaches, but no 11-on-11. The rookies joined the vets for the offseason workouts this week, so it's been a little busier downstairs. OTAs start next week, and those will go for three weeks, followed by the concluding minicamp, and then the players are off until training camp.

Any news on the location of the Raiders pre-season game?

Still waiting for official word. If it ends up being Winnipeg, that's a lot shorter flight for us and we get home a lot sooner after the game, so I'm all for it. Not to mention I wouldn't mind getting to try a few Canadian beers.

Hi Michael! It's finally feeling like summer. There has been some good content on Ted Thompson on the site lately. Do you get a sense that he's opening up a bit more now that he's not in the GM hot seat?

Thompson didn't do any interviews or speak to any media at his Packers HOF induction, but that's understandable, given he was on the verge of going public with his autonomic disorder. I certainly wish him the best. It actually made for a different type of story on his induction to write what everyone else was saying about him, and there's no shortage of respect for him and what he's done here.

Hey Mike!! Do you have any ideas as to why all of this "organizational dysfunction" is all over the media right now?

Some have questioned the change in the organizational structure from the beginning, and a rough season last year wasn't the way things were supposed to go. The only way for the organization to quiet the criticism and skepticism is to win. That's all. Otherwise, everyone will be looking for reasons and things to blame. That's just part of the deal.

Have to feel like this season is one of success waiting to happen.

I wouldn't complain. We were a bit spoiled with eight straight playoff appearances, but the last two seasons have been difficult for sure.

Hey Mike, because of the new coach. Does training camp start earlier? If so, how much earlier?

No, training camp starts at the same time as usual. The league allows teams with new coaches to start their offseason programs two weeks earlier in April if they want to, adding an extra voluntary veteran minicamp. The Packers chose to start one week earlier in April, because if you go two weeks earlier, you actually have to give the players a week off somewhere in the middle, so it's really only one extra week however you slice it. LaFleur wanted to start the offseason program and go all the way through to mid-June without a break, so he started on April 8.

Thoughts on Clinton-Dix being a bear and Amos being a packer?

It's going to add an extra little storyline to the rivalry this season, and it becomes a bigger story if one of them makes a big play or something, but otherwise, I look at it as pretty much business as usual in the NFL.

Hi all from a sunny Georgia - the country, not the state.

Question about the pre-season: with this being the first season in MLF new offense, do you expect the designated starters to play more than in seasons past?

This is a popular question, and I don't know how LaFleur is going to approach it. I'm sure he's going to get asked about it plenty this summer, too. The problem is defenses run such basic stuff in preseason games it's questionable how valuable the work is in the preseason games on offense for a veteran QB like Rodgers, even if he is learning a new system. I think that's why LaFleur arranged to have the Texans come to GB and practice for a few days in camp. Those practices against another defense will likely be more valuable than a preseason game, when teams are concerned about what they're putting on film.

Who do you hang out with on road trips? I imagine it can get pretty lonely, so you must have dinner with coworkers or players and coaches? Would love to hear about your road life!

If I'm in a city where I have friends or family, I always make a point to visit them. Otherwise, I honestly keep to myself a lot or have dinner with co-workers. Nothing too exotic, honestly. I try to use hotel time to actually rest up and take a break, not be on the go all the time.

Is there any reason that you can think of that Jordy's number wasn't used last year and Clay's is? Clay's comment was certainly sarcastic.

I'm gathering based on the comments from the rookies that they were asked their preference on possible uniform numbers, and Gary and Sternberger had a liking for 52 and 87, respectively. I can't speak to why 87 wasn't assigned to anyone last year.

Who would you like to see win the Stanley Cup this year?

Can't say I have a preference, but I'd love to be able to watch a Game 7.

Hey Mike, let's say you were forced to call plays for a series, do you think you could handle it?

Not a chance. I'd just tell Rodgers to run what he wants.

What position will be the most competitive in camp?

I think the competitions at RB, WR and O-line are all going to be interesting to watch. How does the RB depth chart shake out after Jones? Does Allison hold onto the No. 2 WR spot or does a younger guy challenge him? Will Jenkins push Taylor at LG, and how do things shake out with Turner (I'm assuming RG)? All intriguing questions on that side of the ball.

Mike, have you ever considered doing radio color commentary for Packers games? You certainly have the pipes and knowledge. I think you'd be a great addition to the broadcast!

That would be a kick, but I think Wayne and Larry have that covered, and covered very well.

Football Outsiders published an article relating injuries rankings per team. Packers trend in finishes from 2014 through 2018 were 3rd, 9th, 15th, 21st and 21st. Looking at team performance it correlates pretty well for us and the league in general.

Not surprising in the slightest. For the Packers to overcome the injuries they had in 2016 and make that run to be one of the last four teams standing was pretty impressive, all things considered.

When's the last time you've gone fishing and did you catch anything?

I'm headed out over Memorial weekend with my father-in-law. Fingers crossed.

Hey Mike, what do you think of the new pass interference challenges. I think coaches will hold on to their red flags to the end of the games now. And would the last 2 minutes be under review by the referees for P.I. also.

I think we're definitely going to see some more discretion on the part of coaches with regard to using their challenge flags early in games. The last two minutes, everything will come from the booth. But is the spot of the ball on third-and-short in the second quarter, for example, worth a challenge when you might want it for that deep ball and a possible PI midway through the fourth quarter? It's going to be interesting.

I saw that (I can't remember where) Josh Jackson could potentially be converted to a nickel-lb. Have you heard any stirrings about that?

I've heard nothing along those lines. I expect Jackson to be playing CB.

With injuries so tightly correlated to season performance, does it throw water on the idea of getting starters more pre-season time whether it is a new coach/system or not?

I think any coach has to find the right balance, and for LaFleur it may depend on how he feels things are going in practice during preseason games. Remember, he can ask Pettine to dial up all sorts of blitzes and crazy looks in practice and have his offense work against that. He won't be able to make those suggestions to the other defensive coach in a preseason game.

Will all three practice fields be ready to go for training camp? I'm thinking they might need all three when they host joint practice with another team. Any new info on that?

Haven't heard what the plans are there.

Hi Mike, I never been to a Packer game. What would be the best first game for me to go to?

If you're talking Lambeau Field, I'd say any, but if you want to get fussy, a Bears or Vikings game would probably be the best first choice.

Can you give an example of football IQ and what exactly players are talking about when they say that?

I've always understood it to mean players who understand the big picture, not just their own particular assignment on a play. There's knowing what you're doing, and there's knowing what everybody else is supposed to be doing, and why. Some guys can process at that level, some can't, some learn to over time.

Is Rashan Gary as impressive in person as Julius Peppers was?

Gary is a big dude but Peppers as a physical presence was just something else.

Hey Mike, how much can you bench?

I can paint one. Really nice. Pick a color.

I'll take one green and gold bench, please.

Of course.

Any strong advantage to have Sternberger handle the field goal snaps since he was a former quarterback?

I don't see that job being anyone's but JK Scott's. If you have a non-specialist as a holder, it messes with practice time.

Darrius Shepherd. PFF had him graded 2nd among WRs coming into the draft. He has punt return experience and has run routes from the slot. Does he have a legit shot at the 53?

I've learned that anyone on the 90 has a legit shot at the 53 around here. Last year, James Crawford showed up two weeks into camp. No one knew anything about him, and he survived final cuts and could be one of the best special-teamers on the squad this year.

Hey Mike, you thinking about running the Packers 5K this year??

Uh, no. I do my running in a racquetball court. Short sprints, take a break. That's my style.

Hello Mike! Hope you are well! Can you answer a question about Kabion Ento? What position does he play? I see DB/WR. More of a special teams pick-up or a Herb Waters pick-up?

The Packers are going to look at him as a corner, and yes, special teams as well I'm sure.

Has the new ST coach had any comments about his expectations for the kickers? What does a 2nd year leap look like for JK Scott? When comparing him or any punter to Johnny Hekker it really makes you re-evaluate how impact is assessed.

We're going to hear from Coach Mennenga next week during OTAs. He hasn't addressed those questions yet.

Who is your prediction for grabbing the most special teams tackles this year?

Off the top of my head I'll say either Crawford or Burks.

What non conference game is circled for you this year?

Kansas City. Rodgers v. Mahomes. Barring a meeting in the Super Bowl, they won't meet again until 2023. It will be one to watch.

What is the expectations for Gary this first season? Looks like he may only see the field in sub-packages vs a 3 down guy

I don't think he'll need to be a three-down guy given the depth across the defensive front. I think they'll find what he does best, give him a role to grab hold of, and if his play warrants more snaps, you proceed accordingly. I think it's a perfect way to get the most out of a top pick in the defensive front.

Whom do you regard to be the best Packers DL in the run game at the point of attack?

I'd have to say Clark, with Daniels not far behind. Lancaster is a heck of a run defender, too.

Mike, why do you think Gute's was so sure Savage would not be there at #30? 2 4th round picks was a pretty steep price. # Martinez and Lowery?

I don't know how he knew, but he was certainly convinced of it. Maybe Schneider told him he would have taken Savage at 29 -- given moving on from Earl Thomas and now Kam Chancellor, it's a pick that would have made a lot of sense for the Seahawks. Also, right after the Packers traded up to 21 and took Savage, Baltimore traded back from 22. The Ravens had just moved on from Weddle and Savage was a Maryland guy.

I saw that we picked up a second kicker-- Do you think it is to enhance competition for Mason or is it to have a kick-off specialist and have Mason kick the field goals?

Another question I expect Mennenga to address. You always want to check out any talent you can if you have room on the 90, and Crosby probably doesn't need all the offseason and camp reps anymore that he would get as the sole kicker. There could be all kinds of factors.

Speaking of the point of attack, what's the book on Gary holding up against run game?

He ate up a lot of blocks, and teams ran away from him, from what the film shows. He and Devin Bush were clearly the two best players on a very good Michigan defense, and they were picked just a couple slots apart in the draft. It'll be interesting to follow and compare their careers, even though they play different positions.

All right, I'd better get going. Thanks for all the questions everybody, and enjoy the rest of your week. Take care, Mike

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