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Roster selection is never an exact science

Some interviews you never forget


Adam from Racine, WI

Do you think Eli Manning will beat Brett's consecutive game streak? Would it be as impressive happening in the era of player safety?

Well, Manning is 98 regular-season games behind, which means if he keeps going he'll pass him in 2024, when he'll be 43 years old. I would bet against it. I don't know about your second question. On the one hand, there are more rules than ever protecting quarterbacks, but on the other, the concussion protocol could take continuing a streak out of the player's hands.

Michael from Wausau, WI

Complete the following sentence. Aside from losing Rodgers, the Packers lose the division crown this year if...

…Minnesota's remade offensive line proves to be the best unit in the NFC North, which I don't foresee.

Chris from Appleton, WI

Hey guys, do you ever see a rule being implemented by the NFL that indicates a fumble can't be forced by an illegal hit? For example, the Packers could have challenged the Dupre fumble, asking for a review on the hit and subsequently getting the ball back. A bit convoluted, I know, but it certainly would continue to improve the safety of the game.

I've been saying for a while now that replay review of potentially illegal hits is only a matter of time.

Karl from Santa Fe, NM

With the hit on Randall in mind, what do you think about a "booth judge" who can "throw a virtual flag" within a specified period of time? Seems like the NFL should be able to afford one more person per game for egregious hits that are difficult for on-field judges to be in position to see.

Another of my suggestions, going back awhile in my mid-week chats, was to have officials on the field specifically designated to monitor the safety rules. I never thought about putting them in the booth, but you have my wheels turning.

Jake from Los Angeles, CA

As a follow-up to Paul from Milwaukee in regards to the Eagles targeting King, do coaches from opposing teams ever coordinate or request a player from their team to be targeted by the opposing team in the preseason?

A popular question today. Not that I know of, but a coach can scheme a situation expecting the opposing team to react a certain way, and thereby test the player. It's not foolproof, but he can try.

Scott from Little Rock, AR

If the Packers put together a 4x100 relay team, who runs each leg?

Off the top of my head, I'd go with Janis, King, Jones and Davis, but I'd have a hard time leaving Hawkins off the squad.

Steve from Minocqua, WI

Lots of questions lately about the Packers' backup QBs. Is it wrong of me to hope they never take a regular-season snap in Green Bay?

Not in my book.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike, I've seen reference to the 9-on-7 run drill. Can you explain how it works?

The offensive unit is minus two receivers. The defense plays a seven-man box. There's a blocker for every defender, with the QB and ball-carrier being the extra two on offense. One-on-ones to evaluate across the board, as well as the back's decisions.

Max from Simsbury, CT

Which coaching tree does McAdoo fall under, McCarthy's or Coughlin's?

McCarthy's without a doubt. McAdoo worked on his offensive staffs in New Orleans and San Francisco and then came with McCarthy to Green Bay in 2006.

John from Dunbar, PA

Do you think it is harder to deal with all the personalities in your column, or all the personalities in the locker room?

Definitely the column. Trust me, there are many personalities in the Inbox you don't see.

Grant from West Allis, WI

Insider, the trade talk from the fans is my favorite. I face-palm every time I see the suggestions. How do you handle this daily nonsense?

I have the Lloyd Braun clip bookmarked in YouTube. Serenity now.

Bart from Point Roberts, WA

Please tell me we'll see Vince Biegel this preseason. With T.J. Watt's good reviews for Game 1, it would be good to see how Biegel stacks up. This defense still concerns me a lot.

Biegel took his rehab outdoors this week and seems to be watching more and more of practice, so that could mean he's getting closer, but we just don't know. He'll have a lot to catch up on, whenever he returns, so I'm not expecting him to conquer the world immediately.

Tom from Tucson, AZ

Does a player earning the league minimum wage and a player with a seven- or eight-figure contract get fined the same amount? Wouldn't a sliding scale have a bigger and fairer impact on guys like Vontaze and Suh?

A common suggestion from readers, but tying fine size to salary would have to be collectively bargained, and I don't see how or why the union would ever agree to it.

Eric from Fuquay Varina, NC

I read the response to the question regarding fines during preseason, that the player may be fined if he makes the 53-man roster, but it isn't assessed if he doesn't. That seems like a no-lose situation for a young kid desperate to get noticed trying to make the team. If he makes the roster he gets decent money and the fine isn't that big a deal. If he doesn't make the roster, no loss. It seems like a license to play reckless. So as a follow-up to that, do the coaches look at a hit like that and say, "Man! What aggressiveness! We need that guy on our team!" Or do they say, "Aw, man! That kind of play will cost us a penalty during the season and keep that drive going. We don't need that guy on our team if he can't control himself." My fear has been that it is usually the latter.

To each his own. Roster selection is never an exact science.

Craig from Little Rock, AR

Mike, can we hear your elevator story again? I know I've read it before but can't fully remember it.

It's a reference to a local NFL player I interviewed when I first got into sports writing. When he discussed taking the step up from the Big Ten to the NFL, he said next time he'd take an elevator. Some interviews you never forget, and at the time I had never covered an NFL game.

Andrew from Memphis, TN

In response to the bump-and-run rule changes for player safety, I think that would only be a band-aid. It would look good on paper, giving the impression the shield really cares about its players and is actively trying to protect them, but I feel like the vast majority of head trauma happens in the trenches with the linemen, as evidenced by linemen showing the highest rates of CTE in the recent concussion study. It may (very slightly) protect some of the skill position players, but last time I checked linemen are still ramming into each other as hard as they can as soon as the ball is snapped. I see no way of removing this fundamental aspect of football; the one-on-one confrontation in the trenches is fundamental to football's identity. Should we all just accept that this game is incredibly dangerous and just think a little harder before signing the personal injury waiver, or is there an amelioration that can allow us to have our cake and eat it too?

I remember years ago Vic bringing up the possible elimination of three- and four-point stances to reduce the amount the head is involved in direct contact. It may be a ways off yet, but it might be needed eventually to save the game.

Don from Roscoe, IL

Matt from New York just proved Skitt's Law. Insiders, if a "Law of the Internet" existed to describe the Inbox, what would it be?

When I have to look up a reader's reference, and what I discover makes me smile, it gets posted.

Jace from Eagle, ID

I've been seeing a lot of comments about King's tackling ability. I'm not trying to be too pessimistic, but we must keep in mind that those tackles in the flat were against Donnel Pumphrey who is a 5-8, 180-pound RB. Everybody loves the physicality King showed, but it could have been slightly exaggerated considering the undersized player he was tackling. We need to reserve judgment until we have a larger sample size to evaluate from.

One tackle he didn't get credit for statistically was stopping tight end Billy Brown (6-4, 255), as Blake Martinez came in after and forced a fumble, but your point is well-taken.

Tim from La Crosse, WI

With a lot of our higher draft picks over the last three or four years being on the defensive side of the ball, how come we haven't seen much improvement? Is it we aren't drafting the right players or are we not developing them well enough?

In the first four rounds of the last three drafts, the Packers have selected four defensive backs, three defensive linemen, two inside linebackers and two outside linebackers. That's 11 players in the top 12 draft rounds from 2015-17. At some point that hefty an investment has to start paying dividends beyond just filling roles, I agree.

Jon from Lynn, MA

You guys excited for the eclipse? Remember, you don't stare at it, it's too risky! You get a sense, and look away!

Thanks for the poke. I'll be sure to take a peek.

Owen from Suwanee, GA

Do the UDFAs get paid anything during training camp, or do they have to wait to make the roster and the first week of the season to get paid with the rest of the players?

Players get stipends in training camp, and most UDFAs got at least a minimal signing bonus. Beyond that, they have to make a roster or get signed to a practice squad to get paid.

Jeff from Albuquerque, NM

Joe Thomas' interception was nice, but I'm still sending all my Chicago friends clips of him knocking the decal off Ka'deem Carey's helmet. I'm looking forward to eating all my unkind words towards Capers' D.

For weighing under 230, Thomas doesn't get cheated when he hits somebody.

Josh from Dodgeville, WI

This year the Packers have a chance to take the lead in the rivalry with the Bears, tie the consecutive playoff appearance record, and Rodgers can get 300 career TD passes with the least interceptions. All right before the 100th Packers season! What would be the biggest milestone?

I can't decide, but the thought of taking the lead on the Bears for the first time in 85 years really makes me appreciate the history of the rivalry.

Paul from Beijing, China

Regarding Margeaux from Tennessee, she made a nice comment but if she'd asked a question would either of you have answered, "I don't kneaux, Margeaux"?

Thought about it. Really did.

Roger from McGrath, AK

What were the compelling reasons that tipped the scales in favor of one roster-reduction deadline?

Just my conjecture here, but I suspect it was a combination of the padded-practice regulations per the CBA, and the league-wide trend of fourth preseason games featuring almost no starters. It leaves plenty of game snaps for young hopefuls, who don't have as many practice opportunities as they used to and otherwise were getting released at the cutdown to 75, to take one last shot.

Tim from Madison, WI

The Soap Opera Talking Heads are at a fever pitch right now. Week 1 of the regular season can't come soon enough.

I know that's how I'll feel when our return flights land in the middle of the night the next two weeks. The worst thing from a work standpoint about preseason games is they're always at night. A few years back we had an afternoon one in St. Louis. It was a huge reprieve.

Bruce from Menomonee Falls, WI

Regarding Dan from Twin Lakes, didn't the Patriots try this a couple years ago? They lined up what looked like six eligible receivers, and it confused whoever they were playing? I was surprised the refs didn't throw an inadvertent flag on that play and correctly let it play out.

Yes, they did it against the Ravens in the playoffs. The formation disguised who the fifth eligible player was. It was legal, but I'm not a fan of tactics that use technicalities to undermine the spirit of the rules.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Wes, loved your answer to Domingo from Milwaukee. It amazes me the value some of the fans place on some of our backups. Could it be you guys are doing too good of a job overselling our roster?

Training camp is all about the bottom half of the roster. Just because those players get all the attention right now doesn't elevate them to the top half of the roster.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

I see the competition between Joe Callahan and Taysom Hill being much bigger than this year's third-string quarterback roster spot. It's really to be Aaron Rodgers' primary backup in 2019 after Brett Hundley gets traded or leaves in free agency. Would you agree?

It could work out that way. Other candidates could come along between now and then, too.

Andre from Macomb, IL

Edgar Bennett. I don't know the stats, but I do remember the eye test. Has there been a better bad-weather running back? As the conditions worsened, he ran better.

In the Lambeau slop against the 49ers in the '96 playoffs, the Packers had 210 total yards of offense. Bennett accounted for 94 of them (80 rushing, 14 receiving) and two touchdowns. It's one of the most forgotten standout postseason performances in team history.

Brian from Spring Valley, WI

Mike mentioned the name Devante Mays. Not to take anything away from Montgomery, he's great on the swing pass. Not to take away anything from Williams, he's the next James Starks. But Mays has something special. He's shifty in traffic and at the same time is a powerful bulldog. My question is does he do enough in pass protection and special teams to get a position on the team and possibly more reps?

His pass protection will be a work in progress, but I mentioned after the Eagles game that Mays' one touch left me wanting to see more. It hinted he might distinguish himself with the ball in his hands.

Matty from Durango, CO

Larry, who would you rather block for you, Wes or Spoff?

Given those choices, I'm sure he'd punt.

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