Jerry from Wilmington, NC

From your experience, does a game with all of the national media coverage and persistent questions like Sunday night's game become a distraction to teams or help motivate teams? How do you think the Packers will handle it?

I think the only thing that impacts players is what time the game is played, especially when you’re on the road. The Packers will make adjustments to their schedule to take that into account. However, the rest is just noise. Maybe an occasional player gets extra hyped for a prime-time game, but in general, I think most players see only the game that’s in front of them regardless of what time it’s played.

Matt from East Troy, WI

Will Christine Michael even see the field on Sunday? Are there any expectations for him on Sunday if he gets the ball? Can he block?

You never know what can be drawn up on short notice, but I’d imagine it’s going to take a couple weeks to get Michael caught up on the Packers’ offense. Along the way, you probably can draw up a package or two to get him comfortable. He has a lot of ability, so I’ll be interested to see how the coaching staff goes about incorporating him into the offense. It’s just not going to happen overnight.

Rick from Des Moines, IA

Insiders, the game against Washington is the start of the playoffs. If Packers can’t win Sunday night, I think the season is pretty much finished and not making the actual playoffs is real. Tell me I am wrong.

I thought the Packers’ season was over sitting in the press box on Thanksgiving 2013 when they lost 40-10 in Detroit, marking their fifth consecutive non-win. It dropped the Packers to 5-6-1 with four games left in the regular season. We all know how that turned out. A win on Sunday obviously would be big, but there’s still a lot of football to play regardless of the outcome.

Paul from New Richmond, WI

Hi Insiders, why is it fans don't seem to get the difference in "you can't use injuries as an excuse" and the fact that injuries contribute to losses? Let’s face the fact that the next man up is not as good as the starter is. Not that he can't develop into a force but be reasonable. I'm not for dumping anyone. I've lived thru the teams of the '70s and '80s and appreciate what has been built at 1265 Lombardi Ave. Full consistency does not exist. Relish what you have, for the change may not be as good.

I agree the next-man-up mentality is necessary for a football team to succeed in the face of injuries. It’s important for those players who have to step up to understand there can’t be any letup. It’s also how many Pro Football Hall of Famers and all-pros got their first break. At the same time, most starters are starters for a reason. I equate it to a game of Jenga. When you’re heavily besieged by injury, it’s a tall order for the foundation to stay intact. It’s not impossible, but it’s a challenge. You have to work at it.

Cody from Paris, France

Hi Insiders, it seems like every season since Russell Wilson has been in Seattle, they start slow and then get really good and hot for a playoff run by the middle of November. They always end up being one of the best teams in the NFC come December. I prepared myself for it this year, and I'm not disappointed. How do they do it?

Seattle general manager John Schneider comes from the same scouting branch as Ted Thompson. While each man has his own philosophies, Schneider and Thompson are two of the league’s biggest proponents of developing young talent and unearthing undrafted free agents. Yes, you occasionally take your lumps early, but the Seahawks and Packers are two teams that consistently play their best football at the end of the season.

Courtney from Butte, MT

Injuries are hurting us but players are coming back. The question is how long will it take for them to get up to speed after missing most of the season. It's mid-November.

It really depends on the player and how long he’s been on the shelf. Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb played well in their first game back against Chicago in 2013, leading to one of the most iconic moments of the McCarthy Era. More recently, I was impressed with how well Corey Linsley has played considering his position and how he hadn’t played since last January’s wild-card game in Arizona. It probably will take a little time for Jared Cook to get back into a rhythm, but I think even his presence on the field will force defensive coordinators to play the Packers differently than they have recently.

Tom from New York, NY

Any word on B.J. Raji coming back? Is he truly on hiatus or retiring? If he does return, do the Packers hold his rights?

I haven’t heard anything new on Raji. He said when he stepped away this spring that it was going to be a one-year hiatus, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Raji was an unrestricted free agent when he stepped away, so he’s free to sign with any team if he chooses to return.

Mark from Amarillo, TX

Insiders, there is a really good article on SI.com about Joe Thomas' dad. Fifty-five years old and pursuing his dream of playing college football. Amazing perseverance.

I checked it out yesterday. It’s quite the story. It sounds like Joe Thomas Sr. is a very interesting, introspective individual. Hearing Joe Thomas Jr. speak in the locker room on Friday, you can tell he’s proud of his father’s perseverance. I hope it works out for him, especially with how much time and effort he’s put into it the past few years.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

Is it shocking to you that we are ranked 16th in pass defense, 10th in yards given up a game and fourth in rushing defense? Overall that's not terrible but it feels like we've been getting torched each week. Points a game hurts, ranking at 24th. Offensively we are 14th in passing yards, 19th in rushing yards and 11th in points a game. What I see on TV and what I see in stats feel so very far apart.

No, it doesn’t shock me because the defense played well for the first 1½ months this season, but nobody remembers that. It’s all about what happened last weekend. That’s the ‘What-have-you-done-for-me-lately?’ nature of the NFL, especially when things aren’t going your way.

Pete from Wild Rose, WI

I went to my first Packer game at the Green Bay East High School field in 1957. It was Bart Starr's rookie season. I have been a lifelong fan ever since. I went to the Ice Bowl game and put in for season tickets in 1974. I got them when they put the addition on the north end. Tell Taylor of Fargo that life is good when you are a Packer fan, win or lose! And don't count out the older generation of fan! There are still lots of us.

That’s awesome to hear, Pete. Keep making memories.

Paul from Green Bay, WI

Hi, I am a little confused on the use of the IR. I didn't even know Don Jackson was injured. Do teams use IR to stash players? I am sure the Packers are not the only team, but that doesn't seem right. Your thoughts?

Jackson injured his knee in practice on Wednesday, which led to the Packers claiming Michael on waivers. It’s not like they placed him on IR to avoid having to cut him.

Joe from Fond du Lac, WI

Teams that get the ball back just before halftime often concede to just kneel down and run the clock out if they feel the time remaining and field position don't give them an opportunity to get into scoring range. I'm curious why nobody ever tries to fake the other team out by lining up in the kneel-down formation and then fake the kneel-down only to take a shot to catch the unsuspecting defense off guard.

I actually saw nearby Wrightstown High School try to pull this off against Luxemburg-Casco this year. It nearly worked, too. The quarterback completed the pass, but the receiver was tackled shy of the end zone as time expired.

Matt from Minocqua, WI

Not Packers related, but we all can learn a thing or two out of Tony Romo's recent comments. What an example, hometown Wisconsin proud example.

I respect Romo for doing what he did. Of course, he wants to play, but his statement was in the best interest of the team. If nothing else, it helps Dak Prescott avoid answering questions every week about if he’s worried about Romo retaking the job. The Cowboys are playing too well with Prescott engineering the offense to make an abrupt change this late into a season. Romo displayed a lot of character and leadership in deferring to the rookie.

Larry from Marshall, IN

I believe we got our last all-time rusher from the Seahawks due to fumble-itis. Maybe Christine could be the next?

Let’s see what he can do on the field before we start breaking out Ahman Green comparisons. I like the cut of Michael’s jib, but temper your expectations until he gets up to speed.

Jonathan from Hednesford, England

Can you imagine Mike Daniels reffing a game? And by the way, it's the XXIst century!

One thing is for sure – nobody would question the officiating.

Tom from Iron River, WI

Who had the dubious honor of meeting Christine Michael at the airport in the middle of the night?

We sent Spoff. Enjoy the game everybody.


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