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What's the biggest challenge Houston will bring to Lambeau Field? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in his weekly chat.


Hey everybody. Thanks for joining me on a different day. Been a strange schedule this week so I appreciate you hanging in and adjusting. Let's get to it.

Comment From KD

I just saw that Sean Richardson has been cleared to play. Is he still on the Packers?

I just heard that as well. Richardson is a free agent, so we'll see what happens. Wish him the best.

Comment From Marin

Hi Mike! Do you and Wes go down on the field prior to kickoff? I was at the game Monday night and hoped to see you.

No, some others on our web team are down on the field before kickoff, but Wes and I are working on pregame stuff in the press box. Sorry to have missed you.

Comment From tghn

Mike, with Clay not playing at 100%, does he hurt the team, or is his presence enough to make a difference?

He's a special player. I've always said that. He'll know if he's hurting the team by being out there.

Comment From Nate D

Is there any news on the corner we took off IR?

Haven't heard anything yet. He's not on the active roster, but because the Packers returned him to practice, he is the designated to return player. We'll see if he gets activated this week perhaps.

Comment From Linda P

Mike, How concerned should we be with our 2 stars hurt along with all of the other injuries?

Rodgers didn't sound too concerned about the hamstring injury yesterday. He'll play, but we won't know until Sunday how much his mobility is compromised. The injury to Matthews' shoulder is definitely the bigger issue. He's going to play through it, but there's going to be a lot of pain and discomfort to deal with.

Comment From JB in Idaho

Mike, listening to LeBatard show this morning. He's been railing against MM for turning Rodgers into a dink and dunk quarterback. Wants to see more downfield passing to Adams. Would you agree? Thanks

So the Packers win for the first time in five games and they're supposed to change things? Sorry, I don't get that at all.

Comment From Max

With no J.J. Watt, who should we be concerned with on the Texans D?

Whitney Mercilus is a darn good defensive player, and McKinney at LB is pretty good, too. This is a tough defense. They're just as good up front as the Eagles, and I think their secondary is better than Philly's.

Comment From Ross

Hey Mike. In coaches press conference yesterday, when he was asked a question he stated he wanted to answer with a smart a** answer. Do you sense at times that he has some frustration with the questioning from the media?

Of course, but it's part of the deal.

Comment From Susie

Are you surprised about Joe Callahan coming back, which means they have to release someone?

The reports out there are that he's being signed to the practice squad, so no one on the 53 will have to be released to make room. One practice-squad player will have to be released to add him.

Comment From Tyler

We haven't seen a big game from Cobb in a while. I see him having a big week with teams focusing more on Jordy and Adams emergence as of late.

That's how this offense works best. Cook was the breakout guy in Washington, then was less of a factor as Adams had a big game in Philly. When it's constantly changing, that's a good thing.

Comment From Pete

Hi Mike, What is the weather forecast for the Texans game?

Pretty mild. I think it'll be in the 30s. I remember the last time Houston was here, in 2008, it was 3 degrees. That one was cold.

Comment From Nate D

Mike I like the way our offensive line is playing. Do you think we will actually see more from our true running backs this week? Particulary Christine

McCarthy just said in his press conference this morning that he wants to get the other RBs involved. I agree about the offensive line. I thought that unit played a great game in Philly.

Comment From Scott LC

Is there a time frame for designating a player to return before he can actually return?

I believe once that player starts to practice, he can do so for two weeks before he has to be placed on the active roster, or kept on IR for the rest of the year.

Comment From Joe K.

Good morning Mike. My wife and I will be at the game on Sunday. What can we expect to see out of the Houston offense?

Osweiler is having a rough year as a full-time starter, but Lamar Miller is a really good back, on pace for well over 1,000 yards this season. The Texans will try to run the ball as much as they can and make the Packers stop them.

Comment From JD

How impressed were you with Spriggs? Has he taken the step ahead of Barclay even when he gets 100% healthy?

Spriggs had a tough matchup against Fletcher Cox. That guy is a beast for anyone to take on, let alone a young tackle playing out of position at guard. There were some rough plays, and some where Linsley and Bulaga provided some help. The effort on the line, all around, was a team one.

Comment From Ryan

With the season on the line, do you see MM being more of a gambler and aggresive with potential fake punts or field goals?

No way to tell. He has always picked his spots, very carefully and rarely, with stuff like that.

Comment From Scott LC

Mike, do you see the Saints beating the Lions?

I do, but if they don't, Detroit may be very tough to catch.

Comment From Scott LC

If a IR player designated to return practices for two weeks and then is placed back on IR for the rest of the year, does the team then get to designate another IR player to return?


Comment From Kurt

I think Spriggs did a nice job last week, however I would love to s Lang or Tretter back. Any update on those two?

Haven't heard anything on Tretter. McCarthy said today that Lang is making progress and might start doing individual drills in practice soon. That was good news.

Comment From Nathan

It seems like the Packers have done more shuffling of the bottom of the roster this year than they usually do. Is this because they've had to use those guys more because of injury, or is there just not as much depth as in previous years?

I think it's mostly because of the injuries. They've had other years with a lot of roster shuffling, too, and it's usually injury-related.

Comment From tghn

With Clay's injuries, does it make sense to leave him inside?

I'd think he might be able to protect the bad shoulder better if he's outside, rather than taking on blocks head on, but what do I know. I think his position will depend on the health of Ryan and Martinez moving forward.

Comment From Bill S.

No talk about the fantastic job Lane Taylor has done in place of Sitton. What is your impression of his play to this point?

He's been solid, no doubt. He has a penalty here or there, like anybody, but for a first-year full-time starter, the Packers couldn't ask for much more.

Comment From Nate D

How big was that INT by HAHA to spark that D? Do you think we can win the turnover ratio again this week?

I think this has to be the week the turnovers start coming for the D. Osweiler has thrown 13 INTs this year, and the Texans' turnover differential is worse than GB's.

Comment From Theodore

Hey beverage moron, what's you're favorite holiday beverage?

A good holiday beer works for me. Shiner Cheer is a really good one.

Comment From Eileen

Are our running backs strong/skillful enough for us to have a strong running game in December? I hate being forced to throwing when we end up with 3rd and long over and over (b/c of lack of yardage gained on the ground).

You have to try to run the ball, but with Rodgers finding a groove lately, the Packers can't be stubborn about it if it's not working. I look at it as a game to game thing.

Comment From Tyler

Now that we are in to December, I'm making a call that Crosby will be a huge factor for the Pack. All games will be outside besides the last one at Detroit. Extra points will be tough in cold weather.

Missed PATs are up around the league the past two weeks as weather has become more of a factor. It was good to see Crosby have a no-miss night in Philly.

Comment From Joe K.

Thanks Mike. I always enjoy these chats but first time participating today. How important would Jake Ryan's return this week be against Lamar Miller?

I think it would be significant. Ryan has been really tough against the run this year. He leaned up a bit from his rookie season to add some speed, but he didn't lose any pop at the point of attack.

Comment From matt

how can this team play pretty good last week, and so poorly in the weeks past, do you think it was that we matched up well against philly, or did coaching play a big part, would add receivers caught almost everything thrown....

Matchups play a big part. So does a break here or there. Jordy makes a juggling catch for a first down, a penalty wipes out a long screen by Sproles, a shotgun snap goes through Wentz's legs. Lots of crazy stuff happens. When more of that is in your favor, it helps.

Comment From JD

Baseball got the CBA done on time. When is the next time we have to worry about this with the NFL?

I believe this is the sixth year of the current 10-year CBA.

Comment From KD

Is there still at shot at a wild card spot or is winning the division the only way in?

Winning the division is the easier way in. The wild card isn't out of the question yet, but I think that's the tougher road.

Comment From Linda P

Mike, So 2 teams I dislike greatly play tonight..I assume we root for Dallas?

Yes, for sure. I know it probably pains all Packers fans to root for the Cowboys, but that's the way to go tonight.

Comment From Ross

How bad do the Badgers have to beat the Penn State to jump over Michigan? Assuming Washington or Clemson loses as well

I really don't know. I know I'm biased, but Washington and Clemson are overrated. Washington played nobody this year, and Clemson only has one loss by pure luck, the NC State kicker. I gave a really long answer on my college football thoughts in Inbox today if you want to check it out.

Comment From IL-Pack

Does it make sense to load up the box to stop the run and dare Osweiler to beat us with the pass?

You have to stop the run and keep extra help on Hopkins in the passing game. Make them beat you with somebody other than Miller or Hopkins.

Comment From Timmy D.

I was ready to throw in the towel on this season, then the Pack take care of business in Philly and now I feel pretty optimistic. I am trying not to get my hopes up, but how epic would it be if the Packers do run the table? Rodgers said R-E-L-A-X in 2014 and it just about worked. In Rodgers we trust?

The offense is in a good place, but these next two defenses they're facing are among the best. It won't be easy. If the offense can limit the possessions the defense has to be on the field, like it did in Philly, that will help, too. The defense getting more turnovers would be even better. A lot has to go right, but it can be done.

Comment From Ken

Do you get sick and tired of people bashing the coaching staff as much as I do? I have to remind them to look back at the 70's and 80's. 7 straight years in the playoffs is impressive but all they care about is winning Superbowl's. I'm frustrated!!!

I hear you. It's not as easy to win in this league as the Packers have made it look some years.

Comment From Nolan

How did Randall play this past week? Corners are hard to judge from the TV viewing side.

I saw him make a couple of sharp breaks on the ball. He missed a couple of tackles, but that's almost to be expected when you're out five straight weeks. The biggest thing is he got through the game unscathed, so he probably feels he can cut it a little looser this week.

Comment From John

Mike, I don't like the way the IR is currently set up. It seems cheeky to me to allow a team to designate one player for return, then if they don't return they lose the designation. I would like to see the IR change to a minimum of 6 weeks on it, at which time any player can be reactivated, but must be added to the roster or placed on season ending IR. It would seem to benefit the league and players as a whole to allow some reprieve from the IR.

I think football should do what baseball has done and add a specific injury designation for concussions and have them treated differently roster-wise. I think that would help.

Comment From Nathan

What will you be watching for tonight? If the Vikings can't pull off the upset, they will be about out of room for error.

Yes, but their schedule gets a little easier for a couple of weeks before Dec. 24.

Comment From Matt

I feel like our secondary is going to have more of a problem with Fuller's speed than it will with Hopkins.

You could be right. Washington's speed at WR was clearly a difference-maker in that game.

Comment From Diego

Clay matthews back at inside LB would help the defense. It seems like the other teams always atack the middle of the field. Let Perry, Jones and Peppers get to the QB and the secondary will get it done.

I can see that argument, but it's also harder to attack the middle of the field if the QB is under pressure, and if the hamstring is healthy, Matthews is still this team's best edge rusher.

Comment From Jacob

Offhand do you know the wild card situation for us and what scenario would lead to us having it?

I haven't looked at it, but you'd have to hope for teams like the Redskins, Bucs, Saints, Cardinals, etc., to lose games, except it would be better for the division if the Saints beat the Lions this week.

Comment From Mel

Ty Montgomery must still be held back because when he does run he's our best running back. Do you see him being able to play full time again this year?

I don't really know. I think McCarthy wants to get all the RBs involved, and the way Nelson, Cobb, Adams and Cook are playing, I think you want them out there for the passing game as much as possible.

Comment From Pete

Do you think that Damarious Randall will be better for getting a game under his belt after his injury? He could be a threat regarding interceptions.

I totally agree. When he's fully healthy, I also think that frees up HHCD to make a play like he did last week.

Comment From Scott LC

What was your thought immediately after Barbre's hit on Clay? I immediately thought of the hit Sapp did on Clifton.

Me, too, though it wasn't as vicious because Sapp had a pretty good running start and Clifton was also running close to full speed. That was the difference.

Comment From Benny

Mike, do you think Dom Capers still has "tricks up his sleeves" for the remaining games? Such as unseen defensive looks or coverage combinations? Are DC's as much scheming players as OC's?

Of course. Capers used an array of different blitzes against the Eagles, but I know his playbook is notoriously thick. The options can be endless sometimes, but the players have to execute the calls.

Comment From Tony C

Just joining in; out getting a haircut so sorry if this has been covered. In general, Green Bay's offense took what it was given against the Eagles (quick release, shorter throws) rather than what it wanted (the big deep ball ..). Some exceptions yes, but that approach allowed for conversion on critical third downs, consumed clock, wore out the Eagles defense, and gave our D some rest. I liked the approach ...

When you convert on third down, all is well. The Packers had a bunch of third-and-shorts (4 or less) early on and moved the sticks. It seemed to me the confidence grew on third down, and then they hit a couple of third-and-10+ in the fourth quarter. I go back to the Tennessee game ... that opening third-and-4 across midfield. Cobb is open, the pass is off target, and the offense was in a funk for almost a whole quarter. Momentum has a lot to do with it.

Comment From Matt P

How about letting Clay play both! Keep him in the middle on run down and distances and then move him around on 3rd down. Keep the defense guessing! why does it have to be one or the other?

He has always moved around on third down. I think the issue is where best to deploy him on first and second down, and I think if Ryan is healthy, I'd rather see Matthews outside more.

Comment From Guest

Since beating the Giants in week 4, the Packers haven't beaten a team with a winning record... my thought is Seattle is way more important than many think. It is a tough, play-off bounds, up and surging team. To me, that is the game we need to win.. both for confidence, and to prove we belong in the play-offs physically and mentally... thoughts?

I'd love to have that discussion next week with the Packers at 6-6.

Comment From Rodney

Do you think in the past Shields speed helped to cover some of the other corners lack of speed with the deep threat problems we have seen this year?

To me, Shields was the fastest player on the team the day he walked in the locker room in 2010, and I'm not sure that ever changed.

Comment From Larry

Mike, why won't MM use a conventional backfield so the back can get to speed and see a hole develope ?

I like the way McCarthy has been changing up the backfield looks throughout. The conventional backfield hasn't produced much at all since Lacy went down.

Comment From Scott LC

I was glad to hear they hadn't amputated Rodgers' leg. Have you ever played a doctor on TV?

Vic always wanted me to.

Comment From Eric

Mike, Looks like moving the extra point back has had the desired effect of making things more interesting, not only for the kick try but for 2 pt. conversions. Looks like it's here to stay!

No question.

Comment From Nathan

If something crazy happens and Washington and Clemson both lose, do you think the committee would even consider having two Big Ten teams play each other in the playoff semifinal?

You mean would the committee put three Big Ten teams in, which would force a semifinal "conference" matchup? Boy, I don't know.

OK, I have to cut it a little short of an hour this week, so I'll take just a couple more. Thanks again for all the participation.

Comment From Shaun

Do they always bring a tent to games for situations like Rodgers had on the sideline?

Not always. I think it's an issue of how far away the locker room is from the sideline. At Lambeau, the Packers can get to their locker room pretty quick. That's not always the case in other stadiums.

Comment From Cory

Hello, Mike. Could you lay out the best case scenario playoffs wise for the Packers going forward? In terms of both through the division and through wildcard?

I can't do the wild card, too many variables. But for the division, Vikings lose tonight. Lions lose 2 of their 3 road games (New Orleans, Giants, Dallas). Packers win one of their next two and then sweep the three division opponents in Weeks 15-17. That would win the division for Green Bay.

Comment From Mike

How about a defensive/ special teams TD this week? I'm calling it a lock!

I'd be all for that. The Packers might be due for one.

Comment From Reggie W

Fans should be setting up to run through the parking lot holding a big oak table over their heads ... Run the table indeed ...

We'll call that the last word for today. Have a great weekend, everybody. The schedule should allow me to go back to Tuesday chats for the rest of the season. Take care, Mike

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