Mon, 06 Dec 2021

Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Who will emerge Thursday night

Packers
28 Oct 2021, 17:12 GMT+10

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions ahead of Packers-Cardinals in his weekly live chat. Mike Spofford

Hey everybody. Turns out we're able to do the chat the regular time even on a short week, so I hope you're ready with questions. Go ahead and start sending them in. Thanks for logging on.

Are the Cards underrated, overrated, or neither?

I think they've every bit as good as their record. They're strong on both sides of the ball, with especially explosive talent on offense. This would be a huge test for the Packers regardless, but on a short week and going out there shorthanded, it's a massive hill to climb.

Hi Mike, thanks as always for doing this. How does the testing protocol work for players like Davante Adams? Does he report to Lambeau every day for his test, and head back home until his second consecutive negative result?

Basically, yes, as far as I know. Anything being done virtually, I believe he can participate remotely.

Were there any games last season where Adams and Allen Lazard were both out at the same time?

Yes, the Atlanta game on MNF, when Robert Tonyan had three TDs.

Davante definitely out?

He has to test negative twice 24 hours apart in order to be eligible to play, which is a tall order on a short week. The team has not announced any test results since putting him on the Covid reserve list Monday.

Do you anticipate we run more than usual to try and control time of possession, with our limitations in the passing game?

I think the Packers have to run the ball to keep Arizona's pass rush honest first and foremost, but controlling TOP and limiting the number of possessions the defense might have to chase Murray around would help, too. However the Packers do it, the offense has to be efficient. Convert on third down, don't turn it over, and score when the opportunities are there.

Adams and Lazard make the team better but I think Packers can win if they execute their game plan well, win the turnover battle and minimize miss tackle.

Winning the turnover battle could go a long way to making up for the missing receivers on offense. Green Bay's defense is not a full strength either, though, so it's going to be difficult regardless.

What is the status of Preston Smith and Kevin King playing on defense? Also will MVS be back this week?

The official injury report will be released later today. I'm guessing Smith and King will be questionable, just like they were last week, and they'll decide tomorrow. Same with MVS, who could be activated from IR tomorrow during the day if he's good to go. LaFleur has kept that possibility open all week.

Can you think of any cases where a player traveled separately (later) than the rest of the team and still played? The only similar situation I can think of was when the Red Sox got a police escort to pick up Doug Mirabelli after trading for him from San Diego

Crosby has done it before, I believe, when some serious family issues arose, though I don't remember the specific game.

This is the game that the D has to be the winner.

The defense played probably its best game of the season last week, and it needs to top that and play its best game again, while Aaron Rodgers has to be the best player on the field.

Are Adams and Lazard the only possible Covid holdouts?

At this point, it's those two, along with defensive coordinator Joe Barry. But in enhanced protocols, everyone is getting tested every day, so if there were any new positive tests this morning, we'll find out later today.

Will David Bakhitari. play anytime soon?

I believe he will, but I'm not sure if it'll be Thursday night. That's another possibility LaFleur has kept open, but to me all signs have been pointing to next week at KC.

I can't figure out what to think of Darnell Savage - he seems to make a lot of huge plays and tends to be in the right place at the right time, but has had a couple huge missed opportunities the last couple weeks where he was right there for the pass break up and the fumble recover and somehow came up empty both times

The fumble recovery miss was unfortunate. That can happen to anyone. I really like the way Savage is playing. His speed is a huge asset the way he covers ground and can close on receivers/ball-carriers. He missed an open-field tackle last week that allowed a play to rupture. Those are the mistakes he knows he can clean up.

Mike, I know everyone seems to have already given up on the Packers this week with all the injuries/COVID issues. One thing they all forget is that we have 12. That can overcome a lot.

I never count the Packers out when Rodgers is under center. This is a crazy game and you just never know.

Just a shout out to Rasul Douglas! What a pickup by the personnel department and what a job he's done when he's played.

He's played outstanding football. That DPI called on him early last week was highly questionable at best. He's really stepped in and helped a depleted secondary. He plays with no fear. He even came back after getting what looked like a shoulder stinger on a tackle last week. Huge pickup for sure.

I feel this is a game where AJ Dillon needs to shine. Ball control and running the ball for 4-5 yards on first down will be huge and Dillon must show he can do this for us to have a chance to win tomorrow. You agree?

I think the ground game has to really do its thing, whoever it is. Maybe it's Dillon more if Aaron Jones is going to line up at receiver, given the situation. Who knows. Arizona's run D has allowed 5 yards per carry this season. The Packers have to run the ball and run it well.

Big Bob Tonyan needs a big game. Agree? He must get open and provide a good target for A-Rod. This can make a difference in my opinion.

It was great to see Tonyan make some key plays last week, including the 20-yard TD. He's always ready when called upon, he's got great hands, and Rodgers trusts the heck out of him. Arizona's linebackers are really athletic and can cover tight ends pretty well, but I expect Rodgers to get Tonyan involved in this game.

Sounds like the Cardinals' pass defense is better than their run defense. Who stands out to you in their CB group?

Alford is a proven pro, and Murphy has three picks, so that's a pretty good corner tandem. The guy to watch in the back end is safety Budda Baker. You never know where he's going to be or what his assignment is.

how is it that every week we keep hearing about how good the opposing front is? Did we draw the shortest stick this year in terms of schedule? Especially unfortunate considering how banged up we have been on the offensive line and yet somehow we keep winning....

It's been an interesting run the Packers have been on in terms of the opponents. Arizona's front could look different now that Chandler Jones has been re-activated. Adding J.J. Watt to that mix took that group up a notch, obviously. But I still say the Packers can, and need to, have more success running the ball than they did last week vs. Washington. They need to run the ball like they did vs. a good front at Chicago.

Anyone else on offense who could make a difference?

I'd say one guy to watch, given the limitations, might be rookie Amari Rodgers. He's been worked in here and there. Maybe he gets a bigger opportunity in this game. Or Equanimeous St. Brown. He had a great TD catch at Chicago that got called back, unfortunately (and questionably). The Packers have options, but everyone has to answer the bell when theirs rings.

I apologize if this was already asked. I know that Adams can return if he has two negative tests 24 hrs apart. I know you probably haven't gotten an official word on this, but whats the buzz like around 1265 Lombardi Ave? Is there optimism for 17 to return?

I'm not sensing that, but in this pandemic era, we in the media are not in the locker room talking to players. I haven't set foot in the locker room since after the loss at San Francisco in Jan. 2020.

I see the Cards have Watt & Hopkins on the injury report. Is this just "veteran rest", or is there a possibility we won't have to deal with those game changers tomorrow night?

The Cardinals have ruled Watt out. Hopkins is questionable but expected to play.

Thoughts on Aaron Rodgers comments regarding staying at hotel before home games? I know this hasn't always been the practice, such as back in Lombardi's day, but has been for many years. Was he joking or being serious?

He definitely doesn't like being "quarantined" at a hotel the night before a home game. He'd rather sleep in his own bed and that's understandable. I think his point about the process being "antiquated" is it was designed to prevent players from going out/staying out late the night before a game, just like when they're on the road at a hotel. But with everyone having camera phones and such, it's almost impossible for someone to get away with breaking any curfew rules anyway.

Do you plan on watching the transaction wire intently tomorrow afternoon?

Sure. I'm curious if any moves will be made. I'd say I'm most curious about Marquez Valdes-Scantling probably, in terms of getting a player back.

After practicing against Murray as a member of Arizona defense, do you think De'Vondre Campbell will have an advantage keying on Murray's tendencies?

I don't know if that'll mean much. Once you get past training camp, teams practice against scout teams most of the time, not ones vs. ones.

Mike, who do you like to win the World Series in this matchup between former National League West opponents?

I'd like to see the Braves win. I don't know how any baseball fan outside of Houston would want to see the Astros after what they pulled a few years ago. No thanks.

I know we are all worried about this game given the injuries and travel etc but I can't imagine Cardinals fans feel too great knowing the run the Packers have been on either

I would imagine they're looking at this as a big measuring stick game for them, much like when they faced the Rams earlier this season and handed them their only loss.

I'm glad I'll be able to watch the game from home this week rather than depending on video only in a local sports bar. The upside is that your live blog is now a staple of my game day (and many adjoining packer rooters I've introduced it to during the games there), Thanks so much for doing them - I really enjoy the comments and encourage all to check it out. I'll be logged in tomorrow night as well. GPG.

Thanks for the kind words and the participation. It's a whirlwind to do that blog for 3 or 3 1/2 hours every game day, but I try to keep it moving, have some good conversation, and some fun.

In the 6 games Rodgers and MLF have played without Adams, the running backs and tight ends average a combined 15 catches, 162 yards and 2 touchdowns. Looks like Big Bob is getting in a groove at just the right time and Aaron Jones and Dillon got less usage at a perfect time

It is interesting that Jones and Dillon will be about as fresh as possible on a short week, given how last week's game went. It wasn't intentional, but the struggles to run it against Washington just limited their chances. The Adams-less game that sticks out to me the most was at KC in 2019, when Jones had 150-plus receiving yards. He made some big plays in the passing game on a night the Packers really needed them.

All right folks, I actually have to run. Jerry Gray is doing a quick media availability with him calling defensive plays tomorrow night, and the time just got moved up, so I need to catch that. Sorry to sign off a little early, but thanks for all the questions and we'll talk again soon. Best, Mike

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