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Posted May 10, 2018

Some stories are bigger than a game


Luc from St. Thomas, Canada

Reading the story on Emanuel Byrd was both heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. The way his aunt was described after her diagnosis, looking out for everyone else, was the same way my dad was after his diagnosis and until his passing. This story hit home. Thanks for putting these stories together. They're an absolute treat. I'll be pulling for Emanuel to capture that third TE spot come training camp.

Thank you and I’m sorry for your loss. It was my pleasure to tell Emanuel’s story and a special thanks to Spoff. His revisions helped that story immensely. I think we all can learn a little from Emanuel Byrd. Some stories are bigger than a game. Byrd isn’t a first-round pick. He’s an undrafted free agent thankful for everything he’s scratched and clawed to earn. Byrd and his brother have overcome a lot in life and are better for it. What wonderful women Peggy and Claudia must have been. Byrd’s past experiences will help him in whatever he does in life. Good morning!

Matt from McMinnville, OR

Thanks much for the Emanuel Byrd piece. Those stories are the reasons I love football. Do you have any more player stories akin to it in the works?

Yes. Stay tuned.

Brett from Malad, ID

In my dream scenario, we enter the season with King and Jackson starting on the outsides and pushing Alexander into the slot. Do you see this group starting the season or do you see Williams or House taking the starting positions on the outside?

The fact this is even a question tells you everything you need to know about the improvement the Packers have made in the secondary for 2018. The options are endless as opposed to injuries dictating the depth chart last year. I see Tramon Williams having a role because of his versatility and House should provide good competition for King and Jackson outside.

Greyson from Southlake, TX

Who out of Alexander, Jackson, and King will have the best year?

King was tested by some of the very best during his nine games last season. If that shoulder is healthy, King can be a difference-maker.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Alexander, even if his size would push him to play primarily the slot position, he could still be a force if he can be effective to blitz and get after the QB. My question, does he have the size to take down most of the QBs in the league?

I want to set the record straight on this because this question is coming up a lot. Having talked in-person with Alexander, it should be pointed out he is not a small individual. Yes, he’s not 6-2, but Alexander has a thick and durable body to hold up to the rigors of an NFL season. His athleticism and speed make up for whatever perceived disadvantages are created by his height. Alexander’s body type is perfect to handle the rushing responsibilities of the “star” slot position. Plus, he’s feisty. That’s an important trait for NFL cornerbacks.

Jakob from Sheboygan, WI

Do you think Aaron Rodgers will be back to his old self right away next year? Also, how do you think the Packers’ defense will be under Mike Pettine?

He is his old self – yesterday, today and tomorrow. Rodgers will be fine. The Packers’ defense is still a bit of a mystery, but Pettine is hitting all the right notes so far.

Taylor from Toronto, CA

Dan Orlovsky's "soul-taking" comment on Rodgers’ ability outside the pocket makes me think we've found Rodgers a worthy nickname: The Grim Reaper.

Or Soul-ja Boy. Never mind.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Does Pettine ask his defensive linemen to get in the backfield and disrupt, or eat up blocks to let the linebackers make plays?

He allows linemen to jet rush and get in the backfield. I don’t think that is Pettine’s strategy on every play, but anyone on the front is invited to get after the quarterback.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

In relation to what Debby from Houston said, I can't find the stat I saw anymore, but in the first six games of the 2017 season, Aaron Rodgers actually led the NFL in passer rating inside the pocket. He is a magician when he's outside the pocket, but in the pocket he is a surgeon.

I’m not saying it’s not an interesting stat, but is any of this surprising?

Todd from Centereach, NY

Do you think the Packers should try and sign Dez Bryant since they are very thin on veteran receivers?

Veteran receivers with institutional knowledge of a system are valuable. I’m not as sold on bringing in external free agents at that positon. I like the Packers’ approach – bring in three young, hungry receivers and see what happens.

Derek from Olney, IL

I know last year Kenny Clark was rookie of the year for the Packers. I have not seen it posted at all as to who was the rookie of the year this year for the Packers.

That gets announced during the Packers Hall of Fame reception. They have a few solid candidates for this year’s award, including Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.

Dave from Germantown, TN

It looks like there is going to be a fierce battle for roster spots at wide receiver. My question is will the fans know who is most likely to know who will earn roster spots by watching preseason games and the receivers’ production, or will we fans be in the dark because someone stands out in practice but is not thrown to in the preseason games?

Fans will think they know more because of what they see in the preseason, but you have to balance that with what happens on the practice field. There are things behind the scenes the media don’t even see that’ll factor into those decisions. It’s all part of the assessment.

Nick from Chicago, IL

Hats off to Ha-Ha. His HERO foundation, recent college graduate, Pro Bowl safety. What more can you want for your organization? The best lead by example through actions and I can't help but have my respect for No. 21 rise each day.

Clinton-Dix has come into his own as a leader on the field and in the community. He wants to make an impact in both capacities. For a 25-year-old man, Ha Ha sees the big picture with clear focus.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Re: all the repeated commentary about Ha Ha's "down year" and expected "bounce back," don't you think his lack of statistical production can be laid on having to play with more caution and delay to see what lapses in front of him he needed to respond to?

The situation reminds me of how the media, myself included, piled on Morgan Burnett in 2013 after the safeties’ down year. It wasn’t necessarily Burnett’s fault, but a lot of it was laid at his feet. Burnett moved on and responded the following season. I expect Clinton-Dix to do the same.

Devin from Green Bay, WI

As a Notre Dame alumnus, I really enjoyed watching Greer Martini when I was at ND. I'm wondering why he wasn't drafted or at least signed earlier as an UDFA.

Martini has been silencing doubters since the day he stepped on campus at Notre Dame. He had a very productive college career, improving his stats during each of his four years in South Bend. He didn’t have a ton of big plays at Notre Dame. His two career forced fumbles and interception came during his senior year. He’s steady. The Packers will be looking for him to stand out this summer.

James from Durango, CO

With all due respect to Eric from Oshkosh, a kickoff that rewards points for going through the uprights wouldn’t be a gimmick. Rather, it would be a testament to the skill of your kicker. The problem with the current kickoff is that you have two choices. Option one, settle for the touchback. Option two is try to pin them deep and risk a 40-yard penalty and/or injury.

I’m just not in favor of adding points to kickoffs. I think it would fundamentally change the game.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

My only question regarding Vogel's release is should they have kept him on the roster a little longer to try to find a trade partner? He's clearly a starting punter in the league and there must be some value to that with other teams.

Punters don’t command first-round draft picks. Even one of the greatest like Andy Lee got traded for a seventh-round pick. Teams don’t part with draft picks easily. Knowing the Packers are only going to keep one punter, the NFL is more likely to wait them out until final cuts. So I don’t think there is much value in holding onto a punter strictly to get compensation. Move on, push forward.

Terry from Winfield, IL

Regarding your response to Gary from Sheboygan and situational substitution on the offensive line, I think a better answer would be: in doing so, you're giving the defense too strong of an indication of what you are going to do on a play call, run or pass. Some O-linemen are better run blockers and some are better pass blockers.

Sure, but I go back to what Spoff wrote – continuity over everything. It’s like a relay team. Speed is only part of the equation. Cohesiveness is just as important.

Kyle from Escanaba, MI

Is Josh Jones able to fill the void left by Morgan Burnett? Or is it going to be more of a collective effort?

Jones is going to have the chance to take that job and run with it just like Clinton-Dix did in 2014. It will be a fun competition to watch in camp, but I think the best policy is to find the guy and stick with him next to Clinton-Dix, so those two can start building their chemistry just like Burnett and Clinton-Dix did.

Eli from Yardley, PA

No mention of Mark Ingram's suspension yet? Even with Alvin Kamara, Ingram is integral to that team. This suspension has me salivating about next year's Saints pick just a little more.

Not good news for the Saints. Maybe Kamara can handle a full workload, but they had a good thing going with the duo of Kamara/Ingram.

Philip from Salt Lake City, UT

Fans can praise the team or complain about the team, but if Alexander is a bust and Burks is an all-pro, it was a great draft. If one of the WRs is the next Antonio Brown, it won’t matter what happened with the first handful of picks.

That’s exactly right. You’re not going to draft 11 Pro Bowlers, but 11 swings at the plate increase your odds at finding them.

Gary from Topeka, KS

Wes, some sports, especially baseball, bring in retired veteran players to help in preseason or spring training. Why doesn't football bring in retired veterans to work with rookies in the OTAs or preseason?

The Packers do this quite a bit. Last summer, Brandon Jackson assisted Ben Sirmans with the running backs. There’s always one or two former players who seem to return each year during the offseason program as interns.

Chadro from Janesville, WI

Insiders, reading the Inbox is a morning ritual for me. Especially now that I am on second shift and don't have to wait until my lunch to consume my Packers news. It just pairs so well with my coffee (along with another not so healthy habit, my wife urges me to quit) so thank you. Today's question, is Peter Mortell still employed by the Packers? Meaning does him or his family still run the scoreboard?

I’m never going to tell anyone how to live his or her wife, but I’ll add your wife sounds like a smart lady. Peter no longer is employed by the Packers, but his father, Jerry, still runs the scoreboard. It’s a family tradition.

John from Austin, TX

Is the replacement of the field turf behind schedule? Any concerts planned for this summer at Lambeau?

The replacement is right on schedule, but it won’t be ready until the start of training camp. For that reason, the Packers didn’t schedule any concerts or stadium events this summer.

Simon from Santa Clara, CA

I thought it was the Center for Rehabilitation, Education, Evaluation, and Kinesiology.

It sounds like you’re barking up the wrong creek.

Ben from De Pere, WI

How many decades will it take the Vikings to win one Super Bowl is the better question.

Five and counting…

Joshua from Newport Beach, CA

Hey Wes, is it possible for the Insiders to easily put readers’ predictions that are posted in a folder? After the season, having an Inbox day with all the predictions would be a ton of fun! Thanks for all of the great insight.

Maybe if we had a Triple-I (Insider Inbox Intern).

Will from Bath, United Kingdom

Insiders, given the stellar work you do for the Packers organization and Packer fans everywhere, I think the Packers Pro Shop should seriously consider producing jerseys with your names on. I'd sure buy one! Would they be able to fit Hodkiewicz on the jersey (once they get over the first hurdle of spelling it correctly)? More importantly, what numbers would YOU be?

They’d sell three jerseys. One to you, one to Glen and another to my mother. What number would it be? Isn’t that obvious by now?


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