The Packers’ defense met the challenge this week

Do you know who sings the national anthem at tonight’s game?

Brian from Charlottesville, VA

I figured it could be demoralizing to hear the MVP QB say he doesn’t trust you as his receiver. He was pleased to read that Aaron Rodgers continued to attend the meeting with WRs, QBs and coaches advising on expectations of him. That is a leader. What other examples have you seen at camp of Rodgers taking a positive approach as a mentor rather than just pointing out the negatives or shortcomings?

Criticize because you care. As Rodgers recently said, it’s good that he’s talking to you. Because that means he sees the potential and wants to get the most out of you as a skill position player. While Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins are the top three right now, it’s a long season and the rookies may need to play big plays at some point. Rogers knows it. Those receivers need to be ready.

During a week like this, do the coaches learn more from the scheduled practices with the starters or from the preseason game that is unpredictable with the twos and threes?

I think the practices with the starters are a little more enlightening because A) they’ll most likely sit down tonight and B) it’s a chance for the starting offense and defense to prove themselves against a new opponent. The offense had some big moments against the Saints, while the defense was dominant on both days. The Packers’ defense met the challenge this week and played as advertised. It was good to see. The second and third team players will play their hearts out tonight. But ultimately, it’s about who’s on the field in Week 1.

Are we seeing other WRs?

George, you and Caroline have been asking this question for the last four months. I am pleased to report that the Packers claimed Travis Fulgham off waivers. Congratulations.

Having Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon on the field together seems like the best way to get the offense going if the receiving corps needs some time to adjust early on. However, coaches will also want to keep them fresh for 17 games or more. Does that create opportunities for a third, maybe fourth on the list?

Yes, but this also applies to the receiving body. The more perimeter playmakers, the more selective/creative the Packers can be with Dillon and Jones. Because, in his opinion, Green Bay needs to keep its backfield healthy and fresh for a long season.

My interest in the Packers began with the selection of our local boy, Royce Newman. Since then, I have stopped supporting the Packers. What worries me about this year’s camp is that I’m not hearing anything good or bad about Newman. On some teams, being in the middle of the road may be enough. But it seems like with the Packers, you have to be at the next level or you’re a backup or worse. My question is what is your opinion on Newman’s progression to year 2?

Newman has been good. He’s played a lot at right tackle, though he’s more likely to jump inside to protect after Elgton Jenkins returns. All things being equal and everyone healthy, David Bakhtiari, Jenkins and Josh Myers are the constants on the offensive line. The rest are working to prove that they are in the “top five”, wherever that is.

Hey, II: The time of year is coming when I don’t envy the jobs Gutey and ML are up against. With only your insight to inform us, the positional battles look tighter and harder than ever to decide. Between the WR and OL rooms, and the second tier of defense, there seem to be countless decisions to be made. How much clarity will emerge in the next 10 days or so? How many sleepless nights for those who make the decisions?

Clarity may be hard to come by, but the Packers will learn a lot about their rookies and these bubble-roster hopefuls. Like most years, I expect some decisions to be ironed out during that preseason finale in Kansas City. The regular season is in sight, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

I’ve heard a lot about all the defensive guys that can rush the passer. Do you have someone who can stop the race? Especially on the edge?

Preston Smith and Rashan Gary are great at setting borders. They’re right up there with Erik Walden for the best outside linebackers to defend the run during my time covering the team. Jarran Reed has also been a great addition against the run. The great thing about Reed is that he’s so versatile that the Packers can use him pretty much anywhere on the defensive line they need to.

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