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Field position is the real story

Aaron Ripkowski surprised a lot of people with how well he ran in 2016


Jesse from Rochester, NY

Aaron Ripkowski and Ty Montgomery seem like the perfect 1-2 punch. John Kuhn was my favorite Packer when I was a kid, and after he left, I felt there would be no hard hitter again. Then, Ripkowski came out and dragged the Giants defense 13 yards. Why in the world didn't he get more touches last season?

Ripkowski surprised a lot of people outside of 1265 with how well he ran the ball last season, and believe it or not, he actually had a good amount of carries (34) for his position. Also, consider this: Kuhn carried the ball more than 30 times only once during his nine seasons in Green Bay. If Ripkowski keeps producing, he'll keep getting more opportunities.

Dayv from Hustisford, WI

In the future, the definition of shutdown corner may be the ability to hold the other team's top receiver to 100 yards and a touchdown. The days of Deion Sanders scoring a touchdown every nine times he touches the football may be over.

As the passing yards pile up – and they will continue to pile up – I think the way we measure and judge shutdown cornerbacks will need to change. Sometimes you need to shutdown receivers. Sometimes you simply must contain them. You could make an argument a cornerback had a good day if he holds Antonio Brown or Julio Jones to under the threshold you mentioned. As a writer, I always afforded cornerbacks similar latitude whenever Calvin Johnson came up on the schedule.

Nick from Chicago, IL

Seanluc from Oceanside, CA, asked about shutdown corners. You keep referring to Woodson and Harris who, respectively, haven't played in years. Who are some of the modern day 'shutdown' corners? What are the standards of a shutdown corner? (pass conversion, separation percentage, etc.).

Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Stephon Gilmore probably top my current list, though I'd argue Sam Shields was right there before his last concussion. I think some of the more recent analytics like opposing passer rating and completion percentage are good ways to gauge it statistically.

Chris from Pinckneyville, IL

The signings of Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks have flown under the radar. With arguably the best WR corps and the most talented QB in the league, not to mention a RB with pretty good hands, defenses are going to really have their work cut out for them this year. Now add in two Pro Bowl caliber TEs and you have a recipe for total control.

There's no question this offense is at its best when there's a dynamic tight end involved. I don't want to compare Kendricks to Cook as players because their skill sets are uniquely different, but their stories are very similar. Six years without a playoff appearance can be a powerful source of inspiration for a player.

Braden from Aurora, CO

Where do you think Jordy Nelson will rank in the history of Packers wide receivers when he calls it quits? I've always felt he's under-appreciated, and I think the 2015 season showed the impact he has on this offense. I loved when he showed more emotion last year as he started to find his groove again.

He'll be up there. He already owns some of the most impressive single-season records in franchise history and is now picking up some nice career distinctions like the touchdown receptions record he shares with Aaron Rodgers. Nelson will go down as one of the best receivers to lace up the cleats in Green Bay, but he still has a lot of football ahead of him.

Dave from North Potomac, MD

This may be a bit off the wall. But do players make the practice squad purely for their potential to make the active roster? Or do some make it because they play/perform very similarly to key opponents and give the best representation of them?

It's mostly based on potential. I'm sure there have been a few times a team brings in a player because he has a similar skill set as an upcoming opponent, but the practice squad is the NFL's developmental system. Teams want to find the next Tramon Williams.

Tim from Walbridge, OH

I get more upset when Rodgers throws a pick than I did when Favre did it. Talk about expectations, right?

It's a reflection of the quarterback and the time. Passing yards are going up and interceptions are going down. Giveaways are so few and far between in Green Bay, which is what leads to the Packers finishing in the Top 5 in turnover margin each year. Overall, teams aren't as willing to eat 20 picks from a quarterback like they did in the 1980s and 90s. Fortunately for the Packers, that hasn't been an issue over the last decade.

Wes from South St Paul, MN

The discussion about catching the opposition with 12 men on the field misses the real point. Rodgers' job is to move the ball down the field to and eventual score. Catching the 12th man is no more a gimmick than the hard count. Any means of moving the ball and making it easier to get a first down or TD is part the game. Rodgers is one of the most alert QBs in the NFL with great vision of the field and where the defense is. Kudos to him.

Everything starts with first down. As exciting as it is to hit a big play downfield, field position is the real story. Regardless of what happens on the play, the Packers either will be facing a short-yardage situation or a new set of downs. Once offense starts moving the ball, we all know how difficult it can be to stop.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

I'm glad to see Montravius Adams signed. What has he been doing since the draft? How much coaching and reps has he missed? Is there really much contract negotiation possible for a third rounder?

Adams didn't miss time. All draft picks sign waivers to participate in the offseason program, protecting them in the case of an injury. It's what allows the Packers to agree to terms with a guy like Vince Biegel despite his foot injury. Rookie contracts are pretty cut and dried now, but there are a few irons that must be wrinkled out for players taken in the first three rounds. That being said, Adams participated in the entire offseason program.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

I read a lot about Jeff Janis not making the team this year because he hasn't learned to be a receiver yet. Do you believe the fans are right? Personally I think he has a career somewhat like Jarrett Bush. He wasn't the best of corners but played nine seasons solely because he was a great gunner on special teams.

People get caught up on positions, but if you're not an every-down starter, you better be able to play special teams. Janis is one of the best special-teamers on the roster. He has the perfect blend of size and speed to thrive as a gunner and returner. His entire body of work will be considered just like it has the past three years.

Justin from Winston-Salem, NC

Out of the lesser known players on the team, who would you choose to run into and grab a beer with?

*Jayrone Elliott probably is one of the nicest human beings you'll meet and incredibly interesting, too. *

Paul from Milwaukee, WI

Wes - Welcome back! I'd like to ask why all the other 31 teams aren't trying to teach their quarterbacks the Rodgers hard count method. I mean these players and coaches have loads of tape they can dissect and study.

It's not an easy skill to master. Think about it – most NFL quarterbacks are taking things one play at a time and trying to keep the offense moving downfield. Rodgers always is one step ahead and it didn't happen overnight. He's leaning on nine years of starting experience on every play.

Dave from Coloma, MI

Let's face it, the "hard count/12 men on the field" has less to do with the penalty than the free play resulting from it. I love it when the team is on the same page and the receivers just take off down the field at full speed. It's all about getting as far down the field and picking up as many yards as possible. It's great when it works and nothing is lost if it doesn't.

Hey, who doesn't like free stuff?

Johnny from Grand Chute, WI

Regarding the scout team during the regular they wear the colors of the upcoming opponent to prepare the offense for the visual look as well as the plays that may be run? Or just the opposite Packer uniform color of the offense?

They either wear a different colored pinnies or caps on their helmet to distinguish them on the practice field.

Reed from York, PA

With The CrossFit Games coming to Madison in a month, which two players, one active and one retired, do you think would make the best competitors in the CrossFit Games?

Ty Montgomery and Brett Favre.

Jeff from Miami, FL

Insiders - Can there be a world where there is no mention of the greatest sports movie of all time: 'Nacho Libre?' It's even based on a true story.

I saw 'Nacho Libre' in the theater with a nun. True story.

Jesse from Bismarck, ND

I'm quite surprised that there hasn't been one question that the Insiders have posted regarding Rodgers' recent game show appearance. I think it may be that they don't want to offend bald people. Do you not realize how much money we save not having to buy shampoo?

Rob Demovsky and Pete Dougherty often remind me of this fact.

Robert from Salmon, ID

Instead of the receivers having fake mustaches, how about they paint fake eyes on their helmets so the DBs don't know which way they are really looking.

That could work. It reminds me of the old Iowa Barnstormers helmets.

Steve from Minneapolis, MN

In the last draft, why did the Bears trade up one spot to draft Trubisky? Did they expect the 49ers to pick him?

Or they feared another team trading up to take him.

Matt from Verona, WI

What does it mean to be a fan anymore? Why are we here?

I mean why are any of us here?

Jeremy from New Berlin, WI

How was your vacation, Wes? Care to share any memories you made? A wise man once said, "Memories make us rich."

I spent 70 hours in a car driving from Green Bay to Eureka, Calif. It was my first time in North Dakota, Montana and Idaho. I went to Voodoo Doughnut for the first time, played beach football on the Pacific Ocean and hauled a bunch of baby stuff back to Green Bay. It was great to see family. Memories do indeed make us rich.

Garrett from New Berlin, WI

Wes, would you say your co-workers are friends? Are you, Spoff, and some of your other folks grabbing a bite to eat or drink after work? You seem chummy enough.

I thankfully call many of my colleagues good friends. This would be a difficult job to do if I didn't care for them since we probably spend more time together than with our actual families from July until February.

Jenny from Rochester, MN

When is T...just kidding! Now that you've been at this for a while, what are two things you like about your job and something that surprised you? Thanks to all of you for your work.

I love getting to know people and telling stories nobody has heard before. I think that drives every writer and why I got into this business. I've enjoyed doing 'Packers Unscripted' and all of our on-camera stuff with Larry. My biggest surprise was how many people read Ask Vic/Insider Inbox. I didn't realize people follow it as religiously as they do until I saw the numbers for the first time. Incredible.

Dave from North Potomac, MD

I'm considering getting a custom Montgomery jersey made with '??' instead of a number assigned. What do you think?

I'd prefer a crying emoji.

AJ from Sheboygan Falls, WI

How many requests for a stitched pillow regarding Ty Montgomery do you need to get before you start banning people? Because, honestly, I could use three for my new man cave. Just saying.

I'm not even mad. That's an amazing idea.

William from Chantilly, VA

Biff, I have a No. 88 Ty Montgomery jersey and was hoping you could tell me when his new number will be announced? He is my favorite player and I wanted to make sure I order his new jersey ASAP.

Never mind. I'm mad now. I hope you're happy, Bill. To the dozens who all asked something similar, I hope you're all happy with yourselves.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

"Dadgummit". I think that is going to be the name my next dog. Imagine sitting on the lawn calling for your dog. "Come here, Dadgummit". Thanks for the inspiration.

We live to inspire.

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