Twitter Q&A: Are the Packers strong enough at inside linebacker, receiver?

Bill Huber

You had some good questions. I (hopefully) had some good answers. Let’s go!

Yes, I think it’s possible. I wrote about that the other day. Other than Davante Adams, nobody on the entire offense has made more plays on the practice field than Kumerow. He gets open and he makes the play. I’m sure he’s had a drop but I don’t recall any. The quarterback loves him, so that counts for something, too.

With that said, Marquez Valdes-Scantling provides a game-breaking element. With his size and speed, he’s a big-play threat on an offense that has a chance to create more big plays through the use of the play-action attack. Sunday’s practice was interesting, though. Rodgers and Valdes-Scantling failed to connect on three or four passes. Was Rodgers simply inaccurate with those passes or are they not quite on the same page? I’ll see how practice goes today and potentially ask Rodgers about it afterward.

This might be a better question for 10 days from now, when James Crawford, Ty Summers and Curtis Bolton have played a couple more preseason games. My hunch is GM Brian Gutekunst will scan the waiver wire after teams cut their rosters to 53 on Aug. 31 and see who’s out there. Summers looks like a good run defender. Bolton has the athleticism for coverage and has made a mark as a blitzer. And Mike Pettine can always use Raven Greene or Josh Jones at linebacker, as well. Is mixing and matching personnel a winning formula, though, or will a smart offensive coordinator see who’s in the game and call plays accordingly? And moreover, what happens if Blake Martinez gets hurt?

I go back to this time last year, when new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said something along the lines, “Everything is good but we haven’t given up any touchdowns yet.” I genuinely think Aaron Rodgers likes the new direction of the team and the offensive scheme. It doesn’t take an X’s and O’s guru to see how this scheme has worked – most notably with the Rams, who went from last in the NFL in scoring in 2016 with Jeff Fisher as coach to first in 2017 with Sean McVay as coach and LaFleur as offensive coordinator. So, that has everybody energized. With that said, what happens when LaFleur calls a couple third-down plays that Rodgers doesn’t like? And what happens if the Packers start 1-3 and score about 50 points total? Those will be the tests.

Personally, the change has been great. LaFleur has been really good with us as far as delivering some revealing answers.

I’ve gone with Lane Taylor so many times that maybe it won’t be a surprise. The Packers used a second-round pick on Elgton Jenkins. He was hand-picked for LaFleur’s offensive scheme. Taylor, of course, was not. He’s just not how you would create a lineman for this scheme. I’ll be honest with you, though: I am not equipped to judge interior line play at practice. At field level, it’s just a mass of bodies. I need another preseason game or two to provide an educated opinion.

I have no idea. I have so much on my plate with football stuff that I typically don’t have time for the other things. As you probably know, it’s to honor the USS Green Bay, so that’s pretty cool. I certainly understand why people don’t like it, though. That said – and this, of course, is second-hand because I’m in a press box that deadens the sound – Green Bay needs something to provide a home-field advantage. Is Lambeau Field an intimidating place for a visiting team? Not at all. Ultimately, in my opinion, that falls on the fans, not the team. There are about 78,000 fans at Lambeau on game day. Get up and scream on third down. Oh, and don’t do the wave when Rodgers is on the field.

A few things here: One, Graham’s had a good start to camp. He caught a couple touchdown passes on Sunday. Two, the expectations should be for a productive player but not the Saints’ version of Graham. Athletically, Graham simply isn’t that player anymore. Three, I still believe Rodgers’ knee injury was a big blow to what happened last year. Rodgers didn’t practice for a while, and when he did start practicing, he wasn’t running around and extending plays like he did on Sundays. I think that really impacted their chemistry. LaFleur’s scheme should help provide some easier completions for everybody – Graham included.

Gary’s going to be fine. He’s had several eye-popping moments on the practice field. I get it, he had a quiet preseason game. He didn’t have a good practice on Sunday, either, for that matter. But he is too big, too fast, too explosive and too coachable to be a bust. If I had to bet five bucks, I’d bet that Gary is going to have an excellent career.

Thanks, Senator. I wouldn’t think so but, I will say this: If you’re Tommy Bohanon, a veteran of six NFL seasons, would you come to Green Bay to be nothing more than a camp body? He must have received some assurances that he’d get a legit shot to make the roster. So, yes, I think there is a chance.

I understand your point. This is about as far removed from 2011 as possible. That team fielded Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Donald Driver and rookie Randall Cobb. This group has Davante Adams and … who else? That being said, Geronimo Allison and Valdes-Scantling have had stretches of good play in regular-season games, and Kumerow is no longer just a feel-good story but a legit contributor. Moreover, the Patriots have managed to field prolific offenses without star-studded groups of receivers. At this point, I’d much rather see what you’ve got then find some mediocre veteran who has name recognition but maybe not much game and would stunt those other guys’ growth.

 I would say Adams has had a good camp and Graham’s been fine, too. As for Smith, I’ve written this before: It’s troubling to me that he had four sacks last season while playing opposite of perennial Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan. 

Opposing offenses game-planned around Kerrigan, which should have freed up Smith for more than his 24.5 sacks in his four NFL seasons. Now, part of that was Smith lined up across from the left tackle most of the time and dropped into coverage a fair amount, too. Nonetheless, I’m definitely in wait-and-see mode.

The offensive line will be fine, so as long as they line up next to each other for most, if not all, of the 16 games. The Packers are strong where it matters most, and that’s left tackle David Bakhtiari, right tackle Bryan Bulaga and center Corey Linsley. I want to see more out of Billy Turner, the free-agent addition at right guard. His athleticism is so easy that even an idiot like me and see it immediately. But can he handle the rough-and-tumble stuff? And what happens when, say, Bulaga misses four games? Can the Packers survive with Alex Light at tackle or will they have to play musical chairs and move Turner? Your guess is as good as mine.

In a word, no. Tony Brown has really strung together a bunch of really good practices but King is an X-factor. I’m not sure I’m buying Jaire Alexander-as-lockdown corner. I’m not sure I want 36-year-old Tramon Williams playing 700 snaps. Josh Jackson needed this training camp; instead, he hasn’t taken a single rep against a receiver. For this defense to be really good and have a chance against elite quarterbacks, King has to be on the field.

I can’t wait. I think the Packers have a chance to be really good. I’m a believer on the defense and I’m a believer in what LaFleur will mean for Rodgers. Put those two things together, and I’d be surprised if the Packers aren’t playing for something for the games against the Bears, Vikings and Lions to end the season.

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