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Packers have options at outside linebacker

Veterans step into the spotlight against San Francisco


Jake from Great River, NY

What are some things I should be looking for when the starters hit the field during Friday night's game?

Rhythm and timing on offense. I'm sure everyone wants to see how the first-team offense performs with Aaron Rodgers back at the controls, but make sure to take whatever happens with a grain of salt. More than anything, it's an opportunity for Jared Cook to get some in-game reps with Rodgers before the opener in Jacksonville. Rodgers has been sensational throughout training camp. He'll be sitting pretty going into the regular season if he carries that momentum over against the 49ers. Personally I'm more curious to see if the running game can continue to build momentum after two solid games from Eddie Lacy and Co.

Colton from Merrill, WI

Is Mike Daniels extremely underrated or am I overrating him thinking he belonged in the ESPN top 100?

I'll maintain that Daniels is underrated until he's selected to a Pro Bowl. You can't just flip through his statistics from last year (42 tackles, four sacks) to understand his value to Green Bay's defense. He's worked hard to develop himself into a three-down player. Independently, Daniels generates a lot of inside push on quarterbacks to force more pressures and hits. He was a true find for the Packers in the fourth round four years ago and been the interior pass-rusher the defense lacked following Cullen Jenkins' departure in free agency in 2011. More people are taking notice of Daniels, but still not enough.

Dakota from Jensen Beach, FL

I'm reading too many defensive responses. I need more edge! Take the offensive, don't let these winsome Wisconsinites push you around. I promise I'm not Vic, laying on a beach just trying to push your buttons.

There's two types of arguments in this world – the ones you can win and the ones you can't. I've come to learn on the internet that it's nearly impossible to win, so I choose my battles wisely.

John from Denver, CO

Here's a thought to chew on. Make Three Things a part of the postgame/pregame review analysis on Monday and/or Tuesday. It would be great to see snippets of what you three are seeing during the season. Love the exchange and would hate to see it go away.

We'll have more videos with Larry throughout the 2016 season, but I don't know if we'll have regularly scheduled Three Things videos during the season. We did it on a trial basis during training camp and have been pleased with the response. It's something we'll definitely take under advisement.

Mark from New Glarus, WI

My wife and I met in Stevens Point but she was from Lake Forest where the Bears practiced. She worked at the one and only bar and grill in town. All Bears frequented her restaurant and she got to know them well and has never, to this day, been able to shake her Bear fandom. Our marital agreement is that we root for our spouse's team except twice a year when we are bitter rivals. Question: Can two Packers/Bears fans share a life without driving each other crazy?

Ha…You tell me. Your current arrangement probably is as good a scientific test as any. I can respect the ground rules you laid out, but I'm curious what game days are like at the household when the Packers and Bears play. Keep fighting the good fight.

Scott from Memphis, TN

For a young player, which is better: Make the 53 but never the game-day 46 all season or be put on the practice squad and keep your options open?

I'd definitely go with making the 53-man roster and not playing. While neither is technically playing on Sundays, rookies on the active roster make four times as much as those on the practice squad and you're only an injury or two away from taking the field. It's pretty rare for a practice-squad player to be signed to another team's active roster and jump directly onto the game-day roster. Last year, Joe Thomas was one of the exceptions to that rule.

Nick from State College, PA

Last year the Pats basically passed to establish the run. Do you think that trend catches on and the other teams employ that strategy, or did they just have the right players to do it that season? Has the NFL become a pass-first league?

They're probably able to get away with it because of their personnel. There aren't many Tom Bradys and Rob Gronkowskis hanging around the NFL. Each team has its own philosophy. New England seems content with establishing its offense in the middle of the field through Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and now Martellus Bennett. That's a pretty formidable trifecta of weapons. You'd have to go back to the mid-2000s for the last time they had a top-of-the-line running back (Corey Dillon). The NFL appears to be moving towards a pass-first league, but everything is cyclical.

Tom from Grafton, WI

Players always mention fundamentals and technique. What happens when an equally talented OT and DE each use perfect technique when matched up on a pass play, who wins?

If you use the one-on-one drills as your metric, I'd have to say the offensive tackle wins nine out of 10 times. There's so many variables that pass-rushers have to overcome to defeat a blocker, whereas every millisecond the tackle creates is another moment the quarterback has to get rid of the ball. Even if a defensive end does everything correctly, it doesn't mean he's getting home. That's the advantage the offensive lineman has in the situation you presented.

Jason from Waukegan, IL

We've heard of three wide receiver sets, running back/fullback sets, but could we see three tight end set with Cook, Rodgers and Perillo?

Perillo needs to make the roster first, but packages with three tight ends aren't new to the Packers' offense. They ran a few of those formations near the goal line last year with Richard Rodgers, Perillo and Kennard Backman. The signing of Cook certainly gives them more options, though.

Lane from Buffalo, NY

Which running back/fullback is the best route runner?

I don't know if he's the best route-running back on the roster, but I've been so impressed with the strides James Starks has made in passing situations over the last year. The seventh-year veteran has answered Mike McCarthy's edict for every member of the backfield to be capable of handling a three-down role. Starks used to be a liability in pass protection and prone to drops during his first few NFL seasons, but he worked hard to improve in both areas. It showed last season when he set career highs across the board in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.

Bill from Columbus, OH

Is Pennel really good enough to wait on for a month? Would the Packers be better off with some other big guy who can play right now?

I think so. Pennel possesses good twitch and quickness for being the largest defensive lineman on the roster at 6-foot-4, 332 pounds. He likely will start at five-technique defensive end when he returns, but he has the ability to play anywhere on the defensive line. That's valuable when you consider how young the Packers will be on the line this season. Pennel has only been playing in the second half of preseason games, but he's been solid in those games. He's not the type of player who'll jump off your television screen, but he does an important job in the trenches.

Jenny from Jersey City, NJ

The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, "A flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a Danish." Is that like saying a run game with no offensive line is not a run game?

I agree for the most part. I used to think 90 percent of running backs were a dime a dozen, but Eddie Lacy opened my eyes to what's possible when you have a truly game-breaking running back. What I've learned is the possibilities are endless for an offense when you pair a gifted runner with a gritty offensive line. For offenses to succeed in today's NFL, they need to have linemen who can pass and run block with equal enthusiasm. That's been a defining trait of the Packers' O-line when it's healthy.

Mike from El Paso, TX

Hey Biff, what the heck is a "quality control coach"? I just saw the first female coach for the Giants. Care to explain?

Quality control coaches help out with various aspects of the offense and defense. Those individuals usually are responsible for assisting in game preparation, breaking down game film and compiling reports about upcoming opponents, including coordinating scout teams used in practice. New receivers coach Luke Getsy also assisted with coaching receivers during his two seasons as offensive quality control coach. It's usually an entry-level position.

Nathan from Baltimore, MD

Why haven't we seen the Packers attempt any two-point plays yet this preseason after they did a bunch last year? Trying to keep things under wraps?

They've run a fair share of two-point plays during public practices. Since Rodgers has yet to play this preseason, I don't really know what the Packers' offense would get out of running two-point plays behind Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams. To me, it makes more sense to give Mason Crosby a few extra tries at 33-yard extra points to prepare for the regular season.

Check out this week's #PackersBusinessTrip, presented by Bose. The Green Bay Packers arrived in California on another #PackersBusinessTrip on Thursday. Photos by Duke Bobber,

Steve from Beaver Dam, WI

Given Ted Thompson's history with going younger and the logjam of rising pass-rushers at the linebacker position, should Julius Peppers feel concerned?

Not at all. The more options the Packers have at outside linebacker, the easier it will be to pace Peppers throughout the course of the year. I think you saw during last season how his productivity increased (10½ sacks) when they were able to decrease his snaps from 2014, which were more than 800. Last year proved Peppers can still be a productive pass-rusher at 35 or 36 years old. You just have to be smart with how you use him. Having Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Datone Jones rotating outside should go a long way in keeping Peppers fresh for an entire season.

Justin Verona, WI

You guys talked about Larry McCarren calling the Packers games and it made me wonder. What is your favorite play-call ever? Any sport, any broadcaster. Mine is Larry "He's got Randall Cobb!! YES!" followed by "An NFC North Division Championship dagger!!" But I'm biased.

Bob Uecker's call of Ryan Braun's go-ahead two-run home run against the Cubs in 2008, which was a catalyst in the Brewers advancing to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. His call perfectly narrated the excitement of every Brewer fan who'd been waiting a lifetime for that moment.

Matt from Janesville, WI

Are practices open to the public during the regular season?

That's a negative, ghost rider. The next public practice will be during next May's organized team activities following the last two public practices this upcoming week.

Jordan from Ames, IA

What would your Madden rating be, Wes?

I think the lowest rating you can have in Madden is a 12, so I'm probably an 11.

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