Sat, 19 Jun 2021

Inbox: Those guys are increasingly valuable

Packers
18 May 2021, 18:12 GMT+10

It’s even harder now Mike Spofford

Phil from Portland, OR

If Spoff can write fast, he can squeeze in his "quarter pole" line during the commercial break between quarters 1 and 2 of Week 5. I look forward to reading his thoughts.

I appreciate the deluge of suggestions for how to handle this. I'll have to remember that while I'm live blogging the Bengals game.

Todd from Laval, Quebec

Given all the adventure with the 17-game schedule and how to divide it, we can draw upon our German friends. The middle of a process is called Bergfest (celebrating reaching the top of the mountain). The first eight games are up the mountain, the ninth is the Bergfest (that'd be you, Kansas City - how fitting), and then the remaining eight games is the increasingly exciting run down to the pub for the playoffs. So we keep the quarter system and enjoy Bergfest in the middle.

Even better.

Ryan from Appleton, WI

Are the Packers expecting that Josiah Deguara is fully ready to go by training camp after coming off of the torn ACL?

We have received no updates. I wouldn't expect him to participate during OTAs so we may have to wait until late July to find out for sure.

Neil from Kalispell, MT

I will be making a trip back to Wisconsin sometime in June. Can fans attend minicamp practices June 15-17?

Also TBD. The minicamp actually has been moved to June 8-10, and whether or not those practices (or any OTAs) will be open to the public has not yet been announced.

Bob from Kennesaw, GA

The only place on the Packers' website that has any mention of Bortles' signing was here in II, and then only because a couple of us mentioned it. There's one stock photo of him in a Rams uniform, and that's it. Announcements, however brief, about personnel moves are always published on the site...yet the Bortles move? Zip, zilch, nada. Why the blackout? I, for one, haven't really followed his career until now and would like to know how this signing came about, and how he feels about it.

I'm sorry you missed our coverage. Here's a link to the official press release announcing his signing. Wes also wrote a "5 things to know" about Bortles at this link.

Chris from St. Louis, MO

Hello, hope you guys had a good weekend. Did Christian Uphoff take part in the kickoff returns in rookie minicamp and did he stick out at all during practice? He's my pick for undrafted rookie to make the team. Plus if memory serves Amari Rodgers said during an interview that he doesn't have much experience in kickoffs and that he prefers punt returns, whereas Uphoff was pretty successful on kickoff returns.

I did not see any drills with any returners catching kickoffs on Friday or Saturday, only punts, which Rodgers handled. You're right as far as the experience factor on kickoffs. Rodgers only had two kickoff returns at Clemson, none the last two years. Uphoff had around 30 over the 2018-19 seasons at Illinois State. It'll definitely be something to watch during OTAs.

James from Appleton, WI

I thought it was pretty evident to everyone in the NFL that the only person who can guarantee that a player will be starting for a team three years from now is the player himself. Isn't that how it works?

Pretty much.

Neal from Fort Worth, TX

After several friends/teammates called the Aaron Rodgers situation "fixable," I've noticed the much of the nat'l media has softened their position and now expect him to remain a Packer, at least for 2021. What's the overall mood like inside the walls at 1265?

On the third floor (football ops), I can only go by what Matt LaFleur reiterated on Friday, that the team wants Rodgers back. Here on the second floor (digital dept.), we're just going about our business and waiting until we're told some news.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

If Amari Rodgers can be the slot receiver everyone thinks he is, can we presume that will allow the other receivers to be even more effective?

All part of the plan.

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

Will the Packers win another Super Bowl in the Aaron Rodgers era?

Also the plan.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

And why in the hell can we not have an eight-team playoff in college football with the five power conference winners and three wild-card teams?

I've been asking that question dating all the way back to the Bowl Alliance and BCS games from 20-plus years ago.

Joshua from Houston, TX

Hopefully with 17 games there will be less tiebreaker situations.

Fewer, yes, that would be nice.

Wags from Marinette, WI

Now that it's a 17-game season, is it safe to say the Dolphins' record will never be broken?

I'll never say never, but the extra game lowers the odds of a perfect season. It's even harder now.

John from Madison, WI

When Larry interviews new players - do they know who he is?

I would imagine only if someone tells them in advance.

Jason from Aurora, WI

Seven years in the league, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, seven Pro Bowls, six-time All-Pro, NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times. Since 2015 every team has been trying to not only stop him, but also to find the "next" Aaron Donald. He is the quintessential "transformative player." Am I wrong that he is the reason for the recent emphasis on interior OL?

He's not the reason but he's certainly a big reason as the game continues to evolve. Players like Philly's Fletcher Cox, KC's Chris Jones and the Packers' own Kenny Clark have factored in as well, because those guys who can stop the run on their way to the quarterback are increasingly valuable. Toss in schemes like Mike Zimmer's double-A gap blitz look that a lot of teams have copied and there are a lot of ways teams are trying to exploit that shortest distance to the QB these days.

Dan from Tomah, WI

I find myself tapping my foot at the DL situation. Clark excluded, the guys need to step up in a big way this year. I'm hoping T.J. Slaton and Anthony Rush add a boost to the run defense, but there is little data on them to do so right away. The rest of the guys need to take it up a notch, and quick. I want to have faith in Kingsley Keke, Dean Lowry, and Tyler Lancaster but their consistency isn't there. I don't need a "splash" signing but this waiting game for DL improvement is getting rough ... just saying.

I'm confident in the group's ability to stop the run, but someone has to take the attention off Clark in pass-rush situations. We've been saying that for a while now. Pettine did that by moving Za'Darius Smith around and having him rush from different angles and spots. We'll see what plans Barry has. Keke's improvement as a pass rusher must continue.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Do the scouts and draft personnel reach out to current Packer players who were teammates of a player they are interested in for information about things beyond the tape like: character, being a good teammate, etc.?

Indubitably.

Elliot from Hopkins, MN

In spirit of the Naismith HOF induction this weekend, what Pro Football HOF class do think is the best of all time?

That's a really tough question. Wow. Outside of the charter class of '63, I think the top candidates would be the classes of '71 (Jim Brown, Vince Lombardi, Y.A. Tittle, Norm Van Brocklin), '77 (Frank Gifford, Forrest Gregg, Gale Sayers, Bart Starr), and maybe '85 (Joe Namath, O.J. Simpson, Pete Rozelle, Roger Staubach). In glancing through the annual groupings, one other jumped out at me - '93, because it has two of my favorite players growing up (Dan Fouts, Walter Payton) along with two coaching icons (Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh).

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

As a fan is there any sporting venue you'd like to visit that you haven't yet?

Fenway Park. I was planning to fly to Boston last June to see the Brewers play there before the pandemic scuttled everything.

Lee from Negaunee, MI

I don't believe Brady has beaten the Giants.

Not in the Super Bowl, but he's 5-1 against them in the regular season.

Glen from Green Bay, WI

Several rookies interviewed indicated that they will need to improve their technique and watch more film to improve at the professional level. What is the major difference for players studying film in the NFL versus college? Do some players, especially from smaller colleges need to be taught how to study film?

Not so much taught how, but shown what else to look for. Schemes, pre-snap adjustments and checks at the line are all more complex at this level, so young players watching NFL game film aren't going to see everything they need to see without some initial guidance.

Dave from Waterford, OH

I know every person is unique, but I have the sneaking suspicion that T.J. Slaton may become the mushroom ("fun guy") that Jamaal Williams once was with the Packers.

He has that potential. I'm not sure about the dancing during pregame, though.

Ronald from Panabo, Philippines

Insiders, is Eric Stokes the fastest guy on the team hands down, or is there a player a player that could keep him honest in a 40-yard dash?

Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are no slouches in the 40. I'm not going to crown anybody based on a pro day time.

Clayton from Slinger, WI

As for Saturday's "Three Things," I'm sure glad McCarren's still around. The man is hiLarryous. Apologies.

I'll let it slide. Happy Monday.

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