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There's always room for playmakers

Ripkowski and Montgomery bring thunder-and-lightning to Packers' offense


Dale from Oaktown, IN

That picture of Rodgers in his locker told me all I need to know.

That's the beauty of photography, specifically Evan Siegle's photography. The brilliance of that photo is its simplicity. Rodgers' posture and smile perfectly captured the moment.

Alex from Denver, CO

Hey Insiders. Last game, it seemed like the offensive plan was to use "Rip" early and often to wear down the defense, and then implant a speedy energized Montgomery later in the game, which worked beautifully. Do you expect to see the same thing this weekend, especially with the colder temperatures?

Aaron Ripkowski and Ty Montgomery bring a thunder-and-lightning dimension to the offense. I thought the Packers had a smart game plan with how they deployed the two against Detroit. Everyone was anticipating Montgomery and they hit the Lions' front with a heavy dose of Ripkowski instead. He's protected the ball well this season, is a load to take down and has earned Aaron Rodgers' trust as a pass-protector. Both bring something different to the offense. I definitely could see the two getting a healthy share of touches against the Giants.

Vern from Slinger, WI

I'm giving our new backfield of 22 and 88 a nickname: call it "RipTy."

Not bad, though I'm still partial to Mont-kowski.

Tim from Superior, WI

Do you see a trend developing and increasing for a more dual-threat running back? It seems it's all about matchups these days and with the rise of David Johnson and even Ty Montgomery, the receiving threat from RBs seems to be on a noticeable upswing.

Everyone is looking for running backs who can be a force as both a runner and pass-catcher. What's intriguing about what the Packers did with Montgomery is he has a full year of experience as a receiver in the offense and now a good understanding of the ground game. I believe that background will pay dividends down the road for the Packers.

Kelly from Kaneohe, HI

Hard to believe that in a few days, the season will be over for one of these two teams. I still believe, but no matter what happens, this season has been magical and it's been a fun ride.

You couldn't have scripted a more compelling season than the year the Packers have had. It's incredible the way this team has pulled itself out of the midseason doldrums to become one of the NFL's hottest teams. It shows you how positivity and confidence can pull you through any type of adversity. This team has been tested all year and is still standing. They aren't done yet, though. As Mike McCarthy said, this is only the beginning.

Ben from Winchester, VA

Can you explain how someone makes second-team All-Pro, but not the Pro Bowl?

I've spent hours thinking about this and still haven't been able to think of another player who's been voted AP All-Pro before getting the Pro Bowl nod. It usually works the other way around. Whatever the case, it's a testament to David Bakhtiari's play over the past four seasons that he's getting this type of recognition. There were nine offensive tackles taken ahead of Bakhtiari in 2013, including five in the first round. He's improved every year he's been in the league and will go down as one of Ted Thompson's greatest picks. How many times have fans really noticed Bakhtiari this year? There's no better reflection of a tackle's play than silence.

Dan from Golden, CO

As we always discuss, it's important we get the best players on the field together. With the emergence of Allison, how could teams stop Jordy and Davante on the outside with Geronimo and Randall in the slot, and having Ty in the backfield? That's a lot of matchup nightmares!

That's what I've been trying to tell people who have asked what the Packers will do when Randall Cobb is back. Cobb's return and Allison's emergence only make this offense stronger. As we've seen in the second half of the season, the Packers have no issue using four or five receivers at any time. There's always room in this offense for playmakers. It's just one more for the defense to account for.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

This game has Randall Cobb written all over it in my opinion. The Giants have excellent boundary corners in Jenkins and DRC, and the safety Collins is a tough matchup in the middle for Cook. Would you agree?

If this year has taught us anything, it's to pay little attention to where skill-position players are lining up. The versatility of the receivers and tight ends has really opened the offense up. So yes, getting Cobb back would be a good way to exploit some mismatches in the middle of the field.

Stephen from Washington, DC

What makes the Packers receivers so good at blocking downfield? I've watched a lot of games where other teams' receivers allow a tackle or get called for holding. Thoughts?

Fundamentals and physicality. That's something that was drilled into receivers when Edgar Bennett coached the position from 2011-14 and something Luke Getsy continues to preach. It's one of the things that largely goes unnoticed, but Nelson, Davante Adams and Cobb know how to block. Isolate on them once or twice during a game if the camera is wide enough. They embrace those run plays. I think that's the difference.

Craig from Cedarburg, WI

I found the playoff captain selections interesting, with two DBs selected. Is that sending a message to the team to rally around this banged-up unit? Also, while I think Mike Daniels could have been picked, I like the idea of him playing angry as a result of being left out. Anything jump out at you?

There's a lot of worthy candidates. Outside looking in, it looks like the team wanted to rally around its veterans in all three phases (Aaron Rodgers, Julius Peppers and Mason Crosby), the two first-time Pro Bowlers (T.J. Lang and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), and the always versatile Micah Hyde. Mike Daniels always carries a chip on his shoulder and I'd assume not making the Pro Bowl will only continue to motivate him. I wouldn't read too much into him not being voted a playoff captain, though.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Wes, I know the Giants' running game is much improved and this time of year running the football is of utmost importance, but if the Packers have to stop one thing or one player, it has to be OBJ, right? It's a tall order, but if that guy goes off, we're in trouble.

A big game from Beckham wouldn't be good, but what's interesting is the Giants are actually 1-3 this year when he has at least 100 receiving yards. The only game they won was Beckham's 222-yard performance against Baltimore. That probably suggests they're playing from behind on those occasions. On the other hand, New York is 6-1 when he scores a touchdown. Its only loss? Week 5 against Green Bay. The Giants have put together a respectable run game, but they still don't have a carry of more than 25 yards this season. Controlling the game starts with winning the battle against OBJ.

Andrew from Fullerton, CA

Hi Wes, boy, I need some good advice: 1) After the Washington game, I switched from my green Rodgers jersey to my throwback blue Favre ersey. Then back to the green Rodgers jersey for Christmas Eve, because it's green. Which should I wear to start the playoffs? 2) If we win, do you know what day we'd play on? Please tell me the 15th, the 14th is our anniversary, reservations already made…

The law of superstitious averages would say you're probably good either way. If you base it on four-game trends, then you probably should wear Favre for two more games and then switch back to the green Rodgers jersey for Super Bowl. I have no knowledge of when the Packers would play the divisional playoff game. Happy anniversary!

Elise from Murfreesboro, TN

Who should we root for, Lions or Seattle?

Lions. You can read Mike's**Road to the Super Bowl**for a good look at all the scenarios, but a Detroit win keeps the possibility alive of the Packers hosting the NFC Championship.

Peter form Salzburg, Austria

Do we really care about the game? About 20 years ago I had the unique opportunity to sit next to Ray Nitschke on a flight from Tampa to Chicago. His first action was to remove my hat and stow it in the overhead compartment. He shared his feelings for the Packers, the game, and Lombardi; I as well. The true gentleman that he was, he helped me bring my bags to the car. We never spoke again. He is always in my heart. The Packers are always in my heart. Do us proud on Sunday!

Yes, everyone cares about this game, but I have to ask a follow-up to your submission. Did Ray Nitschke really take your hat off and put it in the overhead compartment? Did you ask him to do that or did he just do it spontaneously? Were you planning to put your hat there or did you just go with it?

Eric from Tomball, TX

When does Nick Perry get the cast off? At full strength he was a lot to handle for OTs. GO PACK!

I don't know, but it appeared significantly smaller at practice this week. That's usually a good sign. He missed two games and has played with a cast the last two. By all accounts, he hasn't suffered any setbacks.

Kevin from Atlanta, GA

I remember when Corey Linsley was set to make his first start as a rookie in Seattle. He was untested and I was anxious. He performed admirably and has ever since. I tell that to give people confidence in the coaches' decision to promote Herb Waters. He may not play at corner, but if the coaches have decided he can step in even in the playoffs, their confidence has been right in the past in what looked like very difficult circumstances.

The bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, my friends. I know it's difficult for people to understand, but the Packers have been working with Waters for the last seven months. He's had all that time to learn the system and understand his role in it. They know what kind of player he is. If you look at the entire NFL, it's a lot easier to promote players who have spent the whole year with you than sign a veteran off the street with no knowledge of the scheme.

Daniel from Copenhagen, Denmark

I was biking my way to work today and it was 14 degrees (Fahrenheit) with wind chill on top. It made me wonder about what sets apart the players that excel at playing in the cold: Is it experience? Is it mental toughness? Is it something physical?

It starts with conditioning and being able to still perform in such frigid conditions. From there, it's all mind over matter and the ability to block out the weather and focus on the task at hand. There's no question that's easier for some more than others in any sport.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

If Giannis Antetokounmpo played football, which position would he play? I could see him catching passes from Rodgers and Euro-stepping right into the end zone.

At 6-11, 222, I'd have to say receiver or safety.

Andrew from Concord, NC

Dear Insiders, let me be blunt: When Wes was writing in the minor leagues, I thought he was okay and had lots of potential. I now see he simply needed great coaching to get to the top level of sports journalism. As an over-the-hill fan of the Packers (between Vic and Mike), I'm happy to know that the future is in good hands with he who shall be forever known as WesHod. Keep up the great work.

Thank you, Andrew. We appreciate you reading. Yes, Spoff has been a tremendous influence on my writing since I started here. I'm glad you see marked improvement.

Joe from Sherman, IL

Wes, do you ever read the comment section? If so, how do you deal with comments that are critical of you? Just curious.

It comes with the territory as a writer. When I was 19 years old, I was lambasted by an angry golf dad because I didn't put his son on the all-area team. I stand firm to this day the kid didn't deserve it. Anyway, he proceeded to tell me how terrible I am and how I'm the reason for the downfall of the newspaper industry. Things like that might have bothered me at first, but it doesn't anymore. I'll occasionally read comments in-season, but it's difficult to do it consistently. There are too many things going on. I'm happy to generate a discussion, though. Any reaction is a good reaction.

Chase from Fort Huachuca, AZ

Is the guy we activated from IR playing? If he doesn't, can we activate someone else?

Makinton Dorleant injured his knee against Detroit and was placed on IR again this week. You only get one exemption, so that's it for the 2016 season.

Jay from Minneapolis, MN

Hi Wes, my friends and I have dubbed Ripkowski "The Polish Hammer." I think it's a solid nickname that could stick if you give it the ol' Insider bump. Thanks for all your work!

As a third-generation Polish American, I support this nickname.

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