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What's the latest on the RB situation? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in Mike's Mid-Week Chat


Hey everybody. I've got the usual pre-practice window to take some questions, so let's go.

Comment From Tom

When is A.R. eligible to begin practicing?

He's eligible starting at the end of this week, but McCarthy hasn't said if/when he's returning to practice. The first game he's eligible to play in is Week 15 at Carolina.

Comment From Jon

Hi Mike. It looks like the Bucs struggle to get pressure on opposing QBs. This is a great opportunity for Hundley to build off his performance Sunday night

Absolutely. This is the last-ranked pass defense in the league, and they have only 15 sacks in 11 games. Nothing is ever easy in the NFL, but the Bucs have given up a lot through the air.

Comment From Wonder Child

Whats the RB situation like? is Williams now the man?

He is until further notice. McCarthy said just a few minutes ago that Jones might return to practice this week, and Montgomery for now is still rehabbing.

Comment From KD

I can't stop watching that stutter route by Davante Adams. It was incredible how well he sold that. Supremely polished route running.

I've said it many times, his footwork at the line of scrimmage, or on moves like the one Sunday night, is amazing to watch. It was the part of his game that was missing when he had that bad ankle injury in 2015.

Comment From Kevin

Assuming Aaron Jones comes back this year, what do you think will happen with the RB rotation? Does Jones go back to being lead dog, or do you think Williams has earned the right to get the bulk of the carries?

I think Williams has earned it, and I doubt Jones would be able to play a full game right away anyhow. But I like the idea of being able to use both pretty soon here.

Comment From Blaine

Have people stopped asking to bench Hundley now that he had a good game?

The instant gratification folks will always have their take.

Comment From Tom

OSU vs. WI...your prediction?

I'm picking the Badgers, mostly with my heart, but it's a total coin flip.

Comment From Randy-Aurora

Loved your comment on the Insiders Inbox about not talking about the playoffs, as it's too soon. The phrase often used by the press that aggravates me is: If the season started today, these teams are in the playoffs. That never made since to me as the playoffs don't start. Why does everyone want to get ahead of themselves?

I'll admit it's fun to talk about and look at the scenarios, but the Packers have lost five of six games. They need to build momentum, and that means winning these next two, whether or not 12 is coming back after that. Until you show you can sustain momentum and build on something, it's not worth talking about the playoffs.

Comment From Mark

What constitutes "practicing"? Throwing 50 yard passes is practicing, right? So how is the line drawn?

Being involved in team activities with coaches. Working with medical staff does not count as practicing.

Comment From Jon

It's pretty apparent Damarious Randall has played better. What changed?

I think it's what McCarthy said a couple weeks ago -- he kept his nose down and just got to work. The talent is there, and it's starting to show for a player who is focusing on one spot in this defense, the slot corner. He's a great fit there.

Comment From Jason H.

As I've watched every press conference with Mike McCarthy that I can over the last several years, I've really begun to look at him as a real example of leadership and productivity that applies far beyond the game of football. Anything stick out that you've learned from him over the years?

His steadiness in good times and bad is what stands out the most to me. He's ultra-competitive, and he can be a fiery guy, but he knows when his team needs fire and when it needs calm. He's always had a great feel for that.

Comment From Randy-Aurora

Is Jameis Winston playing this week? Seems like he has missed quite a few games with the shoulder issue.

It sounds like he's playing. He's missed three games.

Comment From Jerry Erie, Pa,

The next two games ,are they a very winnable group of two for the Packers to win? Will Hundley look much better with the defenses he will face?

He doesn't need to look better than he did Sunday night, necessarily. He just has to keep cutting down on the negative plays, have a running game to support him, and then be able to make a second clutch drive if called upon. He made one huge one in the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh and got a second chance to win the game. That's the next step, if the situation arises again.

Comment From Dean

Mike, would it be fair to say if the Packers get to 7 losses some tough hard questions need to be addressed throughout the organization? Hate to throw a wet blanket over anyone's party but reality may only be a week away in this league.

No question, but it'll be about how everything looks after all five of these final games are played.

Comment From Eli

What do you think of Greg Jennings calling this week's game?

I heard about that and it's very intriguing. Not as intriguing as it would be if Rodgers were playing, though, given some of the things Jennings has said about him since he left.

Comment From Mark

With the lack of a pass rush, do you expect to see more blitz packages this week?

Hard to say. Evans and the two TEs for the Bucs are all 6-5 or taller. Those are all tough one-on-one matchups size-wise, and then you've got Jackson's speed to deal with, too. Blitzing leaves less help on the back end, and Winston is a pretty mobile guy. I guess we'll see.

Comment From Steve

Hi Mike, keep up the good work! Do you think the Vikings will blow this opportunity by mis-handling their qb situation. Seems that they are prime for a tough loss or two, and if that happens, the wolves will be howling!

I don't know how changing QBs would even be a consideration right now. Keenum isn't just managing games with a great defense to support him, he's making plays and putting up impressive numbers. These next two will tell us a lot about the state of the Vikings down the stretch, playing at Atlanta and at Carolina.

Comment From Picard

I'm upset with you. I had to look up what homophones are. That was too much work for me! Kidding aside, are there any indications that Montgomery, Matthews, and Clark are ready to resume their play this coming Sunday?

It sounds possible with Matthews and Clark, but no guarantees. Montgomery would seem farther away based on what McCarthy said earlier today.

Comment From KD

Any thoughts on the Eli Manning situation?

I think it's unfortunate to see an iron man streak like this end, and a two-time SB winning QB get treated like this, especially when you're replacing him with a guy who is not the future or someone you're grooming to take over.

Comment From Jeff P.

Do you think a part of the success we saw offensively had to do with McCarthy finding the right mix for a Hundley led offense? No doubt Hundley is gaining great experience, but I thought McCarthy called a heck of a game Sunday.

Williams was only averaging 3 yards per carry, but the Packers kept pounding the ball on the ground because you need that balance for Hundley. That's why I'd like to see another backfield option, because the more you can run the ball, the better situations you can set up for Hundley.

Comment From Linda P.

Mike..Greetings from the Tampa Bay Area. The Bucs are not playing well even when Jameis Winston is playing. They also play as badly in the cold as we do when we play down here in the heat! Is it gog to be cccccold?

It's going to be pretty mild for early December on Sunday, based on what I've heard.

Comment From Dean

Now that the Giants are apparently moving on from Eli Manning what are your thoughts on his career? Personally I've thought he's a very durable QB who got incredibly hot twice in the playoffs and benefitted from great play around him.

Manning's HOF candidacy will be an interesting discussion when it comes up. He won two Super Bowls, and was the MVP in both games. I think the only other two-time SB winner at QB not in the HOF is Jim Plunkett (I could be wrong). But I don't believe he's ever had a 100 passer rating for a full season. He had two dynamite postseasons. Is that enough?

Comment From Joe

Hi Mike, What's your take on Haha's play this year? Is he hurt?

I thought we were going to start seeing more big plays after the impressive INT vs. Baltimore (and the other near-INT). But he had trouble corralling Bell in the open field Sunday night, though he wasn't the only one. It hasn't been the hear Ha Ha was hoping for, but he still has time.

Comment From Brad Gibbs

Hey Mike, longtime fan, and I was wondering what you think the most improved group/portion of the team is

I think it's the running backs. I know there have been injuries, but at least the unit isn't experimenting all year with Knile Davis, Don Jackson and Christine Michael again like last year. These young guys can all play. They just need to get everyone healthy.

Comment From Haillie

What does Tampa's running game look like?

Not what they had hoped. Martin and Rodgers are hovering around 3 ypc, which isn't the complement to the passing game they were looking for.

Comment From Mark

As Rodgers' career winds down, do you suspect the Packers will fill holes more often with free agency rather than the draft, like they did this offseason?

In a word, no.

Comment From Joe

Mike, I guess Spriggs has his chance to show why he was taken in the second round. If he plays well and Brian is ready to go next year do you see Brian moving to right guard?

That type of decision is a long ways off. I certainly hope Bulaga recovers well and Spriggs also plays well and around a year from now the Packers have difficult decisions to make. That's what you hope for.

Comment From Dave-Vermont

Will Alabama make the playoffs?

If Wisconsin, Clemson or Oklahoma loses, yes. If those three all win, then I say no, and I'm surprised. I thought Bama would still be in the top 4 this week, with Oklahoma right behind at 5. Shows what I know.

Comment From Picard

I'm still dying to see what Mays can do for us. Too bad he didn't get chance to showcase his talents last Sunday. Hope to see more of him other than on special teams play. Will we see more of him this Sunday? Or is he still in doghouse?

He has to do whatever it takes to get the coaching staff to trust him. Reporters don't get to see any of the 11-on-11 work in practice during the regular season, so there's no telling how he looked in practice last week after the two fumbles vs. Baltimore.

Comment From Randy-Aurora

That catch by Antonio Brown was something else. I still can't believe he caught that pass and got both feet in. Reminiscent of Cooks catch last year, though probably tougher since it was over the shoulder.

Both stunned me in the same way, thinking there's no chance he was in bounds when watching it live.

Comment From Joe

What's your take on the receivers and how their contracts will play out next season?

I have no idea, but I hope the Packers don't let Adams get away. He's going to be expensive, but the salary cap continues to go up, too.

Comment From John G.

I really liked what I saw from Hundley against the Steelers. While he wasn't perfect he played his best so far. If he can play that way the next 2 games I believe they win each game. "IF" Rodgers can come back against the Panthers, I think that might give the whole team an energy boost. Running the table could be a possibility. Do you like their chances to do so?

After last year, anything is possible. Win these next two and see where you are. Other teams could look different two weeks from now, too.

Comment From Marli

Thanks for the chat! Do you think Jordy will be able to connect with Brett anytime soon? I feel like there have been missed opportunities and Jordy is a top-caliber receiver. This has to be effecting our offense

A lot of folks have been asking about Nelson's production, and I don't have an answer. Jordy said he's not worried about it, and he's just going to keep working with Hundley in practice. Nelson has the biggest adjustment to the new QB because he's played with Rodgers the longest of anyone.

Comment From Steven from Fresno, CA

Mike, should I hope that the Vikings win there next two games or lose there next two games? What would help us the most?

The best help is if the Vikings keep winning, but there I go talking about playoff scenarios when I said I wouldn't.

Comment From Ray L.

As great a play that Ben and Brown made, it was the next 10 yard open pass that allowed the winning FG to be kicked. Shouldn't the secondary have played tighter to defend the short pass the Steelers needed? if they got beat for a TD it would be no worse than giving up 10 yards.

I disagree with that. A 53-yard FG was no gimme. Capers blitzed, sending six rushers. Ben and Brown just had the answer.

Comment From Barry

It's my understanding that both King and Biegel had injuries prior to being drafted. Did the Packers know about these but think they weren't serious or long-term? How much weight do they put on a player's health history, particularly when a near-immediate contribution is expected / required?

Every team looks at those issues differently. The Packers are always drafting for the long term. Yes, high picks are expected to contribute right away, but they draft players they envision as core players on the roster for the future.

Comment From John G.

I thought Spriggs and Fackrell have played their best football these last couple of weeks. If the light does go on our first 4 picks from last year will look really, really good. (Clark, Spriggs, Fackrell, Martinez). Do you see the light going on for them?

There's no question Clark and Martinez have taken their games up a notch, and yes, we're seeing Spriggs and Fackrell starting to make progress late in the season here. No one's timeline is the same.

Comment From Ray L.

Based on over exposure and struggling ratings do you think the TV contract in 2020 might go down for the 1st time in history, therefore, lowering the Cap? If so, how great an impact might that have on teams? Might they be preparing for that situation now?

That's an interesting question. I think the next TV deal is going to have more extensive provisions for online content, streaming, etc., for all the broadcast partners, because the way people consume the NFL is changing. What that translates to as a dollar figure, comparatively speaking, I have no idea.

Comment From Jason H.

Mike, do you have any thoughts from film as to how defenses are playing Nelson and Adams? Straight up, helping to one or the other, ect.

Every time I've seen Nelson run a deep route, the safety is with him in double coverage. Adams has been getting more single coverage, from what I've seen, but the way things are going, that could change.

OK, almost time for me to run to practice. I'll take a couple more.

Comment From Mike

What has been the most surprising thing about this season so far for you?

Quite frankly, the performance against Baltimore. The way things were progressing, that really surprised me. That game could end up being the biggest regret of this season, the QB injury notwithstanding of course.

Comment From Jeff

Home field advantage doesn't help much in December if it's going to be mild. Where's the frozen tundra?

Not here yet I guess.

Comment From Bret

What two NFC teams are surprises this year?

The Saints and Rams are the teams I didn't see coming. I give them a ton of credit. They've both been impressive.

Comment From Zach La Crosse, WI

"I feel like we could run the table. I really do."

We'll call this the last word for today. Gotta run. Thanks everyone. Talk to you again next week. Best, Mike

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