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What questions need to be answered in Week 1?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered questions from fans


Hey everybody. Back for another season, looking forward to it. It looks like Tuesday is going to be the best day for me to do this on a weekly basis, but stay tuned in case things need to change. Go ahead and start sending in some questions if you like.

Mid-week? It's the first day of a short work week.

I worked both Sunday and Monday, so it's always mid-week for me.

Unusual to only have four OLB? Does this mean possibly four down lineman sets?

It is unusual, but Pettine has stressed from the beginning the interior pass rush is as important to him, if not more important, than edge pressure. The Packers also have a fifth OLB on the practice squad in Donnerson.

Bulaga's first game back after tearing ACL is against Khalil Mack. Could it be any more challenging?

The challenges for offensive tackles are weekly in this league. Some challenges are bigger than others, and Mack certainly qualifies, but Bulaga is a veteran who's come back from an ACL before. He played really well against Mack in Oakland in '15. He'll be ready, and I doubt Mack will play the entire game anyway.

Other than seeing Aaron Rodgers play again, and Khalil Mack, what are you most looking forward to watching from the booth Week 1?

Just the different personnel packages Pettine employs on defense, and how he uses different players. There's so much unknown with this defense, and we'll be learning more about it each week.

Mike, Julius Peppers was the difference maker in his first game vs Green bay as a Bear in Week 3 of 2010. What can we expect from Mack, having no training camp and playing Week 1?

I would expect he'll be in the game in obvious passing situations to get after the quarterback, at a minimum. There's not a whole lot of "scheme" he'll have to process in those moments. Beyond that, who knows.

Do you expect Montgomery and Williams to be able to carry the load Weeks 1 & 2? Seems light.

It's light but it's only for two weeks. I think they'll be fine.

Vic thinks 2019 is a deep pass rusher class. Maybe enough to keep the two first-round picks and not trade them?

That might have been part of the thinking. But maybe the two firsts were offered and the Raiders just like the two from the Bears better, projecting where they might be.

With changes to both teams, what are the most intriguing match ups to watch on Sunday?

The Bears have a whole new receiving corps, and the Packers look almost all new at cornerback. Should be interesting.

Now that we don't have a fullback, who will make the game saving block on Khalil Mack on 4th and 8 with the game on the line?

Good one. Maybe Lewis or Kendricks slides across this time.

What's one question you want to see answered Sunday night on offense, defense, special teams?

I want to see if the offense can incorporate Graham from the get-go, if the defense can keep the offense guessing on third down, and if both rookies amongst the three specialists get off to a good start.

Does Coach McCarthy speak to the media today?

No. There's no media access on Tuesdays in a normal regular-season week.

Hallo Mike, wasn't it worth to keep Vince Biegel one the roster because he's a Wisconsin native?

That would not be a reason to keep anybody.

Who scores the Packers first touchdown of the season?

I said long ago in Insider Inbox my pick was Graham.

What do you know about Darius Jackson?

Not much, frankly. It sounds like he's got some speed and put together a productive preseason. The Cowboys obviously liked him enough to bring him back to their practice squad. Ideally, the Packers won't have to play him in the backfield this early, but we'll see.

What kind of jump has Kevin King made? Seems to be lost in the talk with all the new rookies.

We don't really know with King because he missed so much time in the offseason. He was held out of OTAs due to recovery from his shoulder surgery, and then he had a minor problem with his other shoulder in camp, so he was limited throughout August. I think his ceiling is very high, but we haven't seen enough in his second season to really know.

What are some realistic expectations we can use to gauge the defense this week?

Last year's defense struggled on third down and in the red zone. If those two areas improve even a little, the defense will look a lot different.

Hey Mike, big fan of the podcast. How do you think the new linebackers will be utilized? Do you think we will get more play and results out of them then Ahmad Brooks?

I don't think that's a fair comparison. I expected Brooks to play a lot last year, but he had injury problems right away -- a concussion very early in the season if I recall -- and he was in and out of the lineup all season. The new inside 'backers have a lot to learn, and quickly, but the Packers also will run plenty of defensive packages with only one inside LB on the field, Martinez.

Mike, what do you think about a regular season nfl-game, my dream is a game with the packers, in Germany?

The Packers haven't been to London yet, so let's take it one step at a time. I think London could be next year or the year after, though.

Can the team pay a player on IR a settlement? Then resign him to a new contract as a free agent?

Not until six weeks after the settlement expires. So if the injury settlement is 4 weeks, he can sign with any team after that time frame, but the team that settled with him has to wait longer.

I'm looking forward to Pettine's real defense the most. Although Rodgers to Graham is a close second.

I'm very interested in what Lewis brings to the run game as well.

Do you think the Bears are making a mistake rushing Mack into action? I remember Joey Bosa and his hamstring two years ago. There is a reason for camp.

I'm sure they'll be smart, given the investment they've made, but you never know about those kind of things. Players always talk about being in shape and being in football shape. They aren't the same.

Do you think Spriggs played himself onto the roster in the last two preseason games?

I think he showed the progression expected for a player coming back from a major injury and playing for the first time with a remade body.

This may have been posted in Insider Inbox, but who, in your eyes, was the Camp MVP?

Hard not to pick Josh Jackson.

Me thinks Josh Jones is a better ILB than DB. What say you?

Pettine and Whitt have both talked about finding ways to use Jones that best suit his skills. I'm curious to see what they've ultimately decided, because I can't say for sure what they're thinking.

Which rookie will make the biggest impact? I see depth at WR but expect to see the young corners early and often. I see Jackson and Alexander both making big plays in the first few weeks.

There's no question Alexander and Jackson are going to get plenty of playing time from the get-go. The Packers need them to play early and play well.

Hey Mike! Who are the biggest playmakers to look out for in the Bears' offense?

Taylor Gabriel is a game-breaking type of guy with his speed and it's hard to know exactly how the Bears plan to use him. He's one wild card amongst many for a Week 1 matchup.

I was surprised the team kept eight receivers. What do you think the thought was behind that decision?

Well, there are only seven now with Kumerow going on IR, but they saw enough potential in all three rookie draft picks to want to see them continue to develop. And no one jumped up and grabbed the return job while Davis missed so much time, so they want him for that gig.

Super excited for the season to start ... even more so to see the young CBs as well as Gilbert, he looked beastly in preseason

The impact Gilbert made in the last two regular-season games last year was impressive, given he was making his pro debut after almost two full years on the practice squad. He's going to be given plenty of playing time this year, and I'm sure he's fired up to deliver.

I think Josh Jones will be used in Oren Burks' role while he is out. And probably continues to spell him when Burks comes back. Thoughts?

That's certainly a possibility, but no one is going to reveal that in advance.

With all these WRs and TEs will we see Rodgers throw 50-60 passes each game?

I hope not. Rodgers won his second MVP in 2014 with a very balanced offense that had a reliable running game. The Packers would love nothing better than to get back to that.

Mike, who do you expect to be the Packers gunners on Sunday?

Davis will be one. I'm not sure on the other.

First time to Wisconsin and first game in Lambeau and doing it big. On prime time, Sunday night and greatest rivalry of all time. What shall I expect?

Noise and big momentum shifts. Week 1 games always feel like really back-and-forth types to me.

Can a player coming off an injury settlement choose who to sign with if given offer(s)?

Yes, he's essentially a free agent.

What do you see in the offense this year? Last year before Rodgers went down we saw the quick strike capabilities vs the Cowboys and Bears. I like that style of offense, get the ball, move the ball and score.

I've liked the way the Packers have mixed the hurry-up with the traditional huddle-up throughout the years, and I expect that to continue. They'll have a certain personnel matchup, group-wise, in mind that they like, and once they get it, they'll probably go no-huddle and try to prevent the opponent from subbing.

You win the coin toss, put Rodgers out there or take a look at your new defense?

I'd go defense first. I almost always prefer getting the ball to start the second half, but that's me.

Hey Mike, something that hasn't been talked about much lately is the Right Guard, I'm just curious as to how well McCray has looked? Being there's been no talk about it I'm assuming he's looked fantastic.

McCray was solid and steady, and no one seriously challenged him for the starting job, which is a credit to him.

OK, I know this was a little shorter time than usual, but I need to sign off now. We're off and running with the weekly chats, and next week we'll have both a game to review and one to preview. Thanks everyone. Looking forward to a fun season. Best, Mike

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