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Inbox: That's what we're all waiting to find out

Don’t expect anything to be easy


Les from Las Vegas, NV

We're still watching hockey here. Just sayin' ...

It sounds like the atmosphere for Game 1 of the Cup Finals was pretty special. It's shaping up to be a whale of a series.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, I keep coming back to this question/thought. How in the name of all God's green goodness do the Rams have the cap space for everyone on their roster?!

Primarily because their franchise quarterback, award-winning running back and No. 1 cornerback are all still on their first contracts. The combined 2018 cap number for Goff, Gurley and Peters is around $13.7 million, dirt cheap for three huge pieces. In 2019, Goff will be entering the fourth year of his rookie deal, and Gurley and Peters have had their fifth-year options exercised. If no extensions are worked out (and the Rams might negotiate long-term deals with any or all of them), their 2019 combined cap number, as of now, basically doubles to around $27.6 million.

Howie from Saint Ignace, MI

When would the timing be best for the organization to sign Aaron Rodgers' contract extension?

Anytime between now and Week 1.

Justin from Paradise, UT

Insiders, what is with all this cereal nonsense? Just go without the milk, keep a spoon clean, and go eat it with your hands in front of cartoons.

Or the early-morning SportsCenter.

Patrick from Burlington, IL

When I look at our roster, I don't see a lot of weaknesses. Of course there are areas that could use some improvement or more depth, but no huge holes. Do you see any holes in our roster?

A 90-man roster shouldn't have huge holes, and health permitting, a good 90-man roster produces a solid 53-man one. Injuries ultimately tell you how much depth you really have.

Aaron from Fort Wayne, IN

In response to a question yesterday about why pros still need to work on fundamentals, I think it relates to the level of competition you are facing. At every level increase from high school to college to the pros, players you are competing against are that much more fundamentally sound. Now add in fatigue. It's easy to get lazy and not use your fundamentals when you're physically and mentally exhausted over the course of the game. These fundamentals have to be so ingrained that your body reacts without thinking in the correct way and in the pros, I can't even imagine what that is like when the guy opposite you has trained to do the exact same thing.

Pure athletic ability wins out less often the further up the chain you go. It can still decide some matchups, but not as many.

Bill from Plover, WI

Maybe taking a different tack on the "back to fundamentals" issue. I'm thinking that Capers' defensive playbook was so complicated that when injuries caused the second-string guys to fill in, assignments got missed and the defense fell apart. I think "back to fundamentals" is another way of saying "simplify the playbook" so much more flexibility is possible as far as personnel packages, and a stronger defense is the result.

That's a popular take. I still wonder if the back half of the roster was so young that injuries forced the playbook to shrink too much, so the opposing offense had less to worry about on top of young, not-ready defenders making mistakes. There's some overlap in those two descriptions, but I think it still comes back to having the depth to withstand injuries. When I think back to the onslaught of injures in 2010, who took over at inside linebacker when Barnett went down? Bishop, a fourth-year pro. When other injuries hit, the Packers were signing veterans like Walden and Green off the street, and they jumped in right away. As I said when Gutekunst became GM, I'm very curious to see what the back half of his first 53-man roster looks like from an experience standpoint, and subsequently how the roster inevitably changes as the season progresses.

Paul from De Pere, WI

From my foxhole the battle between Hundley and Kizer is for a single roster spot, No. 2. Boyle is fighting for No. 3 and a roster spot on the 53 or 63. I could see keeping Kizer as the No. 3, but not Hundley. How do you look at the QB situation?

Sounds about right.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

When the Cavs win the NBA Finals, do you think Randall will honor my request for a Kizer jersey?

I have no real rooting preference in this NBA matchup, but I'm sort of hoping you get to find out.

Niels from Knoxville, TN

SI has a story about the 2015 draft regraded. One sentence from there bears repeating here: Through the lens that the draft is a massive crapshoot, it is remarkable to see how many Ted Thompson picks hang on and have above-average careers.

Glad to know I'm not the only writer who still likes the term crapshoot.

Matthew from Las Vegas, NV

Insiders, if we're talking about doppelgangers, Lee Corso and Mel Brooks win the prize. I'm still not convinced they are really different people.

That's a good one.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The Cavs and Warriors are about to meet in the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year. Only once in the history of Super Bowls has there been a rematch (Cowboys/Bills in '93 and '94). Is this more an illustration of NFL parity, or of the fact that dynasty-building is easier in the NBA?

Both. It's also a reflection of the impact one ultra-dominant player can have on the sport, and that impact is greater in basketball than any other game.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Communication and familiarity along the offensive line are of the utmost importance. There are almost infinite combinations of alignment and stunts the defense uses to cause confusion. If the offensive line isn't on the same page even one time, it can lead to disaster. This cohesiveness takes many, many reps. Plugging in a new player makes what is usually a symbiotic and natural reaction very unnatural. The new addition hasn't had the reps necessary, so no one is completely comfortable, including Rodgers. I think that makes what the Packers did last year before Rodgers' injury even more impressive.

I agree. I also believe it's not a coincidence that Rodgers' most recent MVP award came when the starting offensive line was intact for all but one game on the entire schedule.

Nazerith from Concord, NC

Is this going to be a hard season?

Why would it be easy?

Ron from Waukesha, WI

So we signed two old veteran tight ends. Why all the hype by you guys? Didn't we do that last year? How did that work out for us?

The Packers haven't drafted a tight end since the sixth round in 2015, so I give them credit for trying to improve the position with veterans. No, it didn't work out last year. So you'd rather see them stop trying? If either of the new acquisitions is a better fit in the locker room than Bennett, the Packers will be better off.

Adam from Waukesha, WI

What's the best NFL stadium that isn't Lambeau Field? Me and my buddies are trying to go to an away game each year and need to make sure we pick the best ones to go to first. Can't wait to wear my Adam Timmerman jersey to Washington this year.

Does it say "Adam" on the back?

John from Lakeland, FL

While vacationing in Texas I took a tour of AT&T Stadium. While it's no Lambeau Field, it is very nice. Which road stadium has been your favorite in your travels with the team?

Aesthetically speaking, probably Seattle and Pittsburgh, but nothing good has ever happened in either place.

Ben from Petal, MS

Are there different things you look for during OTAs vs. training camp, or even each preseason game (what are you looking for in Game 1 of the preseason vs. Games 2, 3, and 4)?

That's a loaded question, but I'll try to simplify the answer. About all I look for during OTAs is the athleticism. In camp, I keep an eye on the one-on-ones. Who wins them consistently? In the preseason games, I like to watch how young players respond after they lose a one-on-one. Do they win the next one, or does it snowball the wrong way? That's always an indicator of who can make it in this league.

Dan from Grand Rapids, MI

Insiders, the last time Rodgers returned from a broken collarbone the Packers had maybe their most balanced team and almost returned to the Super Bowl in 2014. Is it almost necessary for this team to lose Rodgers to be able to look themselves in the mirror and make changes?

I don't see many similarities between the two situations other than the collarbone. In 2014, the Packers were bringing back the league's offensive rookie of the year (Lacy) and had a franchise left tackle on the rise (Bakhtiari). They also added four key draft picks in Clinton-Dix, Adams, R. Rodgers and Linsley. This year involves massive change, though what doesn't change is the need for the draft to produce significant, and relatively instant, impact.

Leon from Manitowoc, WI

Are the OTAs open to the public?

The practices this Thursday and next Monday are, weather permitting.

Jerry from Savannah, GA

What are some not-so-obvious benefits of a head coach hiring former head coaches?

Joe Philbin's comments when he returned to Green Bay were telling. He said he can be a better assistant coach now, because he knows what the head coach is going through every day, giving him a keener perspective on what the head coach really needs from his top assistants.

Collin from Omaha, NE

I was reading your article about Matthews and my heart sank a little bit when I read that games don't start for 3½ more months. A question I haven't heard a lot is how Clay Matthews fits into Pettine's defense? Granted there's always room for a player like Matthews, but is he just a guy you tell to run at the QB or does scheme actually matter?

Players with Matthews' abilities can fit any defense. It's how the coordinator decides to use him. That's what we're all waiting to find out with Matthews.

Dave from Catonsville, MD

What is the second-most dangerous play in the game? Now that the league has addressed the kickoff, it won't be long until they fundamentally change that play, too. How many years do you believe it will be until the game is unrecognizable to our generation of fans?

It could still be a while yet, but I give Vic credit for mentioning long before anyone else did that the game may eventually outlaw all three- and four-point stances and require every player to be standing up. If the lowering-the-helmet rule, which apparently does apply to linemen, doesn't produce the desired results, the two-point-stance game might creep a little closer.

Adam from Jackson, WI

If Pete Carroll has Mike Alstott does he still throw it?

I love me some Alstott, too, but c'mon now. He had Beast Mode.

Matt from Los Angeles, CA

Last year, the Packers were 31st in opposing team's quarterback rating. Yikes! My one wish from Santa this year is for that to improve.

It had better improve long before Christmas, and I believe it will. Have a good day, everyone.