Chat with Rob Demovsky
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN NFL Nation Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky drops by to chat and answer all of your Packers questions.
Following 16 years covering the Packers for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Demovsky joined ESPN in 2013 as the Packers beat reporter. He is a two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Send your questions now and join Demovsky Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Rob Demovsky (3:58 PM)
Good afternoon everyone. Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. The next month will be a busy one with OTAs and minicamp before we take a break before training camp. Let's get started with your questions
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Rob - The Packers have had success in finding rookies who make an immediate impact on the team such as Eddie Lacy, Casey Hayward and Randall Cobb, which rookie or rookies will make an immediate impact on this years Packer squard ?
Rob Demovsky (4:01 PM)
Rich: It's a little early to say, but obviously Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is going to get probably the most opportunity to do so. Let's keep an eye on the three receivers -- Adams, Abbrederis and Janis. I'd be surprised if one of them didn't make an impact.
The NFLPA Rookie Premier sounds like a great opportunity for Adams & Thornton, but why would such an event be hosted at a time where invitees might miss time with their teams. How do they decide who gets invited to it?
Rob Demovsky (4:02 PM)
Jason: Not sure there's another time, to be honest. The next five weeks are filled with OTAs and minicamps. Then, there's the Rookie Symposium at the end of June before the pre-training camp break.
Kevin (New Jersey)
Hi Rob, how is carl bradford looking at ILB? AJ can eat the block, and he can rush.
Rob Demovsky (4:03 PM)
Kevin: Not sure if you missed it or what, but the Packers say they have no plans to play Carl Bradford at ILB. He's an outside rusher, they say.
Patrick (Peachtree City, GA)
With the proposed move of Micah Hyde to safety, how will the Packers get him on the field next season. With the first round draft choice of Clinton-Dix and Burnett as the probable starters, aren't we looking at his playing time possibly getting reduced instead of getting on the field more?
Rob Demovsky (4:05 PM)
Patrick: Great question. It's one of the things I'll be watching closely over the next few weeks when the media is allowed to watch practice. Could Hyde challenge Burnett for a starting spot? I'd be surprised if the Packers demoted Burnett, but they've made no bones about the fact that they want Hyde on the field more.
Marissa, Macomb, IL [via mobile]
What's the one thing we -the fans- should watch for in the OTAs? Anything?
Rob Demovsky (4:06 PM)
Marissa: I'll actually be writing on that subject tomorrow as an OTA primer, but it's always interesting to see how the injured players look and how much they'll be doing. Also, look for any position changes. Every year there's usually one or two guys playing a new spot. Last year at this time was when we discovered Mike Neal would play more OLB.
Good afternoon Rob, Datone Jones was thought by many to have had an underwhelming rookie season. We know now that he was pretty hampered by a leg injury. I'm definitely asking you to speculate under these circumstances, but what does a healthy Datone need to work on most in Year 2? I still have high hopes!
Rob Demovsky (4:07 PM)
Eric: Strength would be one thing and learning how to use that strength to his advantage. He's definitely quick enough. We saw that last year before the ankle injury. I'll say this, I'm not sure I had ever seen a rookie D-end jump out like Datone Jones did early in training camp last summer, but it never materialized.
With the available cap space, will the Packers pursue a veteran TE?
Rob Demovsky (4:08 PM)
Scott: Not unless they decide to bring back Jermichael Finley.
What do you think the chances are that the Packers bring back Tom Crabtree?
Rob Demovsky (4:08 PM)
Brad: It's possible, but that wouldn't solve their need for a dynamic, playmaking tight end.
MItch (Green Bay)
I'm getting the impression the Packers have not and will not give Finley medical clearance and the only reason they are not publicly announcing it is to try to give him a chance to sign with another team before "scaring away" other teams with their announcement.
Rob Demovsky (4:10 PM)
This begins the Finley/Lyerla portion of this week's chat... I've spent so much time trying to get information on Finley that every time I talk to someone new, I change my mind. Maybe I should just stick to my gut, Mitch, which would align with your thinking. From the beginning, I thought it was a longshot that he would play for the Packers again.
Brian Schweitzer (St Petersburg, Russia)
Dear Rob,My question is regarding the tight end position. In a best case scenario could the Packers feature a two tight end set similar to the set the Patriots used with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez? For example, if Colt Lyerla really shines and reaches his potential and the same with Richard Rodgers, or one of them shines and Jermichael Finley is cleared to play? I really think the tight end position could turn out to be an area of strength for the team this year if everything works out. Your thoughts?
Rob Demovsky (4:13 PM)
Brian: It would be asking a lot for a pair of rookies to be able to do that, at least not right away. Let's wait and see what they can do before we figure out what roles they have.
Malcolm wright (Phoenix)
Do you Janis the 7th round pick could be a sleeper and a deep threat for the packers
Rob Demovsky (4:16 PM)
Last week, I wrote about the 7th-round WR the Packers drafted since they took Donald Driver in 1999. Janis is the seventh one. The previous six have done next to nothing. Only Charles Lee and Brett Swain even caught passes for the Packers in a regular-season game. Not sure there's any reason to think Janis will break that trend. Like most seventh-rounders, Janis would be a bonus if he worked out.
Nobody seems to remember that Quarless is a few years removed from his knee injury, is a much improved blocker and a pretty consistent option in the passing game. I think him starting would help Lacy in the running game
Rob Demovsky (4:17 PM)
Justin: TE coach Jerry Fontenot was not happy with Quarless' blocking for a good part of last season, so I'm not sure about his chances of being that kind of blocker. Mike McCarthy actually said before the draft that Brandon Bostick was his best blocking tight end. That should tell you all you need to know about Quarless.
Rob, what skill would AJ be above average in? To me he is mediocre (at best) in rushing the passer and below average in stopping the run, covering tight ends and shedding blocks. I get that he's intelligent and doesn't get injured, but an inside linebacker needs to be a play maker. Hawk just doesn't make the big plays.
Rob Demovsky (4:18 PM)
Pete: He's above average in being available for every game, making clear calls as the communicator and not screwing up. You'd be surprised how many coaches would rather play a guy they know won't play an assignment over a more talented, athletic player. I'm not saying that's right, I'm just saying that's a fact.
Pat (Atlanta, GA)
Rob, if Linsley has a great camp and makes a big impression at center, what happens to JC Tretter? Is he still likely to make the team? What position will he likely back up?
Rob Demovsky (4:20 PM)
Pat: Any offensive lineman that does not win a starting job would have to be a capable backup at multiple positions because the Packers typically only have 7 OL on their 46-man game day roster. For Tretter, that would likely mean showing he can play guard as well as center.
Remind me again, why aren't NFL teams allowed to dress the entire 53-man roster for games? Why cut down to 45?
Rob Demovsky (4:21 PM)
KG: Good question. It's actually 46 now on game days (it was increased a couple of years ago). But the reason is for competitive balance, meaning that if a team has more injuries than its opponent, the league thinks it would be unfair if the other team could use more players. This way, everyone should be able to field 46 regardless of their injury situation.
Hassan (Dearborn, MI)
Dom Capers has a large role in the Super Bowl run in 2010 when the Packers improved their defense. But, since then, the Packers have declined in defensive plays and fail to create turnovers. Am I the only one that thinks he should have been gone after last season? And if they do not make significant improvements, would you say he could be let go?
Rob Demovsky (4:23 PM)
Hassan: The devil's advocate argument is this: Did the personnel staff give him enough (or the right) playmakers? I'm not sure which is the right answer, but I don't think Capers just forgets how to coach, scheme and game plan. Now, could you argue that they don't have the right players for his scheme or that he should have adjusted his scheme to the players? Perhaps.
I believe the game has left Dom Capers behind. Even though he has a defense full of talent, he is simply unable to make adjustments to counter other coaches at this level. If his name was not Dom Capers, I believe he would be in the unemployment line. Like to hear your honest thoughts without the sugar coat.
Rob Demovsky (4:24 PM)
Following up on the previous question, all I know is that people around the league that I've asked about Capers all say he's more than capable and that he just needs players.
Sam (De Pere, WI)
One guy we're not hearing a lot about is Adrian Hubbard. He seems like a physical freak, but supposedly the heart condition thing kept him from being drafted. Any thoughts on his chances of actually making the 53?
Rob Demovsky (4:26 PM)
Sam: He's a big guy, that's for sure. He struck an imposing pose on the practice field the one day we got to watch rookie camp. If he's gotten this far, his heart condition must not be an issue in the Packers' minds. Now, it's up to him to get it done.
Have you heard anything about Johnathan Franklin coming back from his concussion issues? Is he headed toward a Javid Best situation or is there a good chance of him contributing this year?
Rob Demovsky (4:26 PM)
Scott: It actually wasn't a concussion issue that landed Franklin on IR; it was a neck injury. Very curious to see whether he'll be on the practice field for OTAs. We'll find that out Thursday, the first day that's open to the media.
Simon (Raleigh, NC)
Hi Rob - Thanks for the overview on OTA's. Just a couple of questions for you on that... 1) You mention 7v.7, 11v.9, 11v.11, etc. drills. How much contact do they have during these? Is it full pads at any point? 2) How much do can you tell from the rookie class from OTA's? I mean last year could you tell Lacy and Hyde were going to be impact players?
Rob Demovsky (4:28 PM)
Simon: No pads. Just helmets with shorts and shirts. As for contact, there's not supposed to be any, but you in reality you can't have 11-on-11 without some contact. I remember in 2012 during an OTA there was a collision and Jeff Saturday turned to the media and asked if that looked like contact to us?
Why did the Players Union demand (and the owners accept) the limitations for OTAs? Practicing with shorts and a helmets seems like the easiest way to learn the playbook. Why not more time, and what's with the no 1 on 1 drills?
Rob Demovsky (4:30 PM)
Tom: Like with any negotiation, there had to be give and take in certain areas. The players association doesn't want its members getting hurt in the offseason. The players also wanted more time off.
What are the 5 most impressive performances you've seen in person since you started covering the NFL? (off the top of your head - we won't consider this definitive!)
Rob Demovsky (4:34 PM)
Kevin: Wow, that's a tough one. Off the top of my head, here's what comes to mind, in no particular order. Brett Favre's MNF game at Oakland after the death of his father in 2003. Randy Moss lighting up the Packers in 1998. Matt Flynn's 480-yard, 6 TD game against the Lions in 2011, Al Harris' OT INT of Matt Hasselbeck in the playoff game. Aaron Rodgers' performance vs. Atlanta in divisional playoff game after the 2010 season.
How much work in the ota's do you think Aaron Rodgers will get ?
Rob Demovsky (4:35 PM)
Typically, he takes a good percentage of the reps. Maybe not as many as in training camp, but if he's going to be there, they're going to give him the work.
Tim (St Louis) [via mobile]
Who has more pressure on them this season, Morgan Burnett (in terms of performance) or Casey Hayward (staying healthy)?
Rob Demovsky (4:35 PM)
Tim: Has to be Burnett based on the contract, the expectations and the poor play from 2013.
Brandon (Lake in the Hills, IL)
Have you heard any updates regarding the injury recovery of Johnathan Franklin or DuJuan Harris? Both have shown promise as "change of pace" backs, complementing Lacy/Starks, but both seem to be question marks coming into the season.
Rob Demovsky (4:36 PM)
Brandon: Nothing yet. That's one of the things that will make Thursday's open OTA so informative. We'll get an idea where those injured guys are in their progress.
Will the Packers look to sign Bulaga to a new deal if he shows he is healthy before or during the season or will the Packers let him check out free agency?
Rob Demovsky (4:37 PM)
Kevin: I would bet they would wait until next February or March to make sure he gets through the season healthy and productive. Also, it could depend on if they think Derek Sherrod will ever be a player.
Tim [via mobile]
Since getting bupkis from 2 high-round picks, Sherrod and Worthy, any chance either one make a contribution this year?
Rob Demovsky (4:38 PM)
Tim: I don't see how Sherrod gets on the field unless there's an injury to Bulaga or Bakhtiari.
Bill P (Nazareth, PA)
Do you feel the inside linebacker position has been properly addressed by the Packers? If so, why. And if not, what schemes are going to be necessary to compensate for the apparent talent level deficiency?
Rob Demovsky (4:39 PM)
Bill: I've felt for two years that they needed to get faster at that position. They haven't done anything to upgrade that.
David (Milwaukee) [via mobile]
Rob, which second year player do you expect to improve from last year?
Rob Demovsky (4:39 PM)
David: It almost has to be Datone Jones, doesn't it?
What can fans see when attending OTA's that are open to the public? Are there ever opportunities to meet the players and/or coaches after the public practices?
Rob Demovsky (4:40 PM)
Hershel: Some players/coaches might be available as they're walking off the field, but it's not like in training camp where the players ride bikes to and from the practice field.
Ryan (Sunny SoCal)
If Scott Tolzien impresses during the Preseason/Training Camp, what are the chances that GB would release Matt Flynn? Or have they learned from previous mistakes (Harrell/Wallace)?
Rob Demovsky (4:41 PM)
Ryan: I would not be surprised if they kept both Flynn and Tolzien on the roster, but I can't imagine a scenario in which Flynn isn't the No. 2. He's proven he can win a backup role. That's what you need from that spot.
Eric (Eau Claire)
When you cover mini-camps or OTAs, do you have a list of things you're looking at (during the open practices) for predetermined angles or is it more about what you're seeing on the field? If you have a list, what are you looking at this week?
Rob Demovsky (4:43 PM)
Eric: I have a list of stories that I'd like to hit on (you'll have to keep reading to find out what they are) but you also have to be flexible and roll with what's news. That said, I will post a preview of some things that will be interesting to see.
Marcus H (Philadelphia, PA)
Thanks for hosting the chat -- excited for the upcoming season. Can you please tell me why your colleague, Matt Williamson, believes its better to mention the Bears and Cardinals as having a better chance to unseat the Seahawks than the Packers (as stated in one of his video interviews)?
Rob Demovsky (4:44 PM)
Marcus: I did not hear exactly what Matt said, but as we get closer to the season, I will check in with him and ask him to elaborate.
How much defensive line skillwork is involved in OTA's, given no pads?
Rob Demovsky (4:45 PM)
Ark: Line play, both OL and DL, is the toughest thing to judge in OTAs. More than any other spots, the pads matter in the trenches. But they work on a lot of technique stuff that would be tough to discern if you didn't know what you were looking for.
Which former Packer has a better year, Greg Jennings or James Jones?
Rob Demovsky (4:46 PM)
Simo: Depends on the QB in each place, don't you think? But without knowing that, Jennings would be the safer bet. He's done it bigger than Jones has.
Carlos Boozer (Salt Lake City)
Why hasn't Ted Thompson been held accountable for inability to put talent around Rodgers? Clearly this team is one of the worst in the league when Rodgers goes down and TT has failed the whole USA in this process.
Rob Demovsky (4:47 PM)
What team would still make the playoffs without their MVP QB for nearly half the season? Yes, they screwed up the backup QB spot last summer, but I'm not sure where else you can argue they did.
Matt pittsburgh pa [via mobile]
Rob, any chance Sherrod or Barclay can move into guard and upgrade those 2 positions?
Rob Demovsky (4:48 PM)
Matt: Sherrod has the body of a tackle. He struggled at guard his rookie year. Barclay is more likely to be able to move inside.
Zoel, Austin Texas [via mobile]
Do you think the packers have will have significant reduction of injuries, now that they have sought out help with that injury prevention company.
Rob Demovsky (4:49 PM)
Some injuries you just can't prevent. I don't think either Rodgers or Matthews' injuries could have been avoided. But what they're hoping to do is reduce the amount of muscle pulls and such. It's a good step to explore.
Justin (St. Louis) [via mobile]
I think we all want to hear how the undrafted rookies are along with the rookie receivers.
Rob Demovsky (4:49 PM)
Justin: It's just too early to make any judgments, but I will watch them closely over the next month during OTAs and try to update you.
Any idea if the Packers had Shazier, Mosley, or Pryor ahead of Ha-Ha on their draft board?
Rob Demovsky (4:51 PM)
Jason: We'll probably never know the truth on that. Had it come down to Mosley or Shazier, I believe they would've preferred Shazier.
Curious how many submitted questions you sort through for this chat?
Rob Demovsky (4:51 PM)
Yours was question No. 162. I try to take a mix of ones that were submitted ahead of time and ones that are submitted live.
Hi, Ron,I read where you mentioned that the Packers hired Catapult Sports to help figure out their yearly injury problem. Is their injury rate really that much worse than other teams', though?
Rob Demovsky (4:53 PM)
Yes, it is. Check out what I wrote earlier this offseason: http://espn.go.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/8734/quantifying-the-packers-injury-issues
TJ Lang took a couple snaps at center last year. Is there any chance that he is a possible long term answer at center?
Rob Demovsky (4:53 PM)
Jeff: No, they don't view him as a long-term option at center. He's a much better guard than he is a center.
Coops (The Bahamas)
With so many receivers on the roster who are eligible for the practice squad from last year?
Rob Demovsky (4:54 PM)
I believe Gillet, Dorsey and Harper all are still eligible. Not sure about Myles White.
Ralph (In my car)
RE the injury bug...How much of it is misdiagnosis? And how much of it comes from not training properly in the offseason?
Rob Demovsky (4:55 PM)
Ralph: How could that be quantified? Not sure anyone could answer that.
Randy (Saline, Mi)
How much different can playing guard be than playing center once the ball is snapped? At that moment they're all interior linemen.
Rob Demovsky (4:56 PM)
Randy: There are different blocking techniques, blocking different types of players. Also, there are more adjustment responsibilities on the center.
Taylor F. [via mobile]
Chances that Hubbard can come right in and take Brad Jones starting spot?
Rob Demovsky (4:57 PM)
Taylor: Hubbard is an outside linebacker. He won't be in competition with Jones, who plays inside.
Ralph (In my car)
Well, pretty simple Rob. If they aren't training properly and that in turn leads to injuries during season, maybe they need to re-evaluate their strength and conditioning department. Just a thought.
Rob Demovsky (4:58 PM)
Thanks for the follow up. All I can tell you is that they don't think that's the case.
Chuck (Minneapolis) [via mobile]
Will Clay have to play with any extra padding or braces to protect the thumb? It seems to be an injury with a high chance of reoccurring.
Rob Demovsky (4:59 PM)
Chuck: I would think so. Don't know if we'll get the answer to that at this point because I'd be surprised if he's on the field for anything during OTAs.
Rob Demovsky (5:00 PM)
Thanks for all the questions everyone. We'll know a little bit more about many of the topics we discussed after we get the chance to watch Thursday's OTA session. Talk to you soon.