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Inbox: A rising tide has lifted all prospects

Every NFL team has boxes to check when it comes to depth

WR Grant DuBose
WR Grant DuBose

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Besides the obvious, what is the biggest difference between last year's camp and this year's?

Aggression at the point of attack, whether it's defensive backs closing on pass-catchers or tacklers thudding up on the ball carrier. We all have spent so much breath on, "Oh, who's winning the competition period?" But the bigger story is how both sides of the ball have competed in the 11-on-11s. It's been a battle and I think that's tempered this team for the practices against Cincinnati and New England.

Donald from Big Flats, WI

Hey II, with what you've seen so far in practice and one preseason game, do you think we'll see a vast improvement in missed tackling? Looks to me like these young guys like Carrington Valentine are not afraid to hit and do it cleanly. Your views?

That's where the aggression piece is important. The quicker you get to the ball, the quicker you stop the ball, from either a completion or gained yards. Missed tackles happen but having multiple hats flying to the ball can negate those yards after catch. Nobody ran flat free on Wednesday. That's a huge compliment to what the Packers are doing.

Steve from Flagstaff, AZ

I know not everyone will make the team. This year I find it hard to see a guy go this year at the WR position. I root for all these guys and hopefully some will be back with the practice squad. What is it about this year's team that I may be missing that I would love to see all the WR be on the team? It has to be the youth, as in no one is more than a second-year player with GB. How fun are these guys having at camp knowing that maybe three or four may make it beyond Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Jayden Reed?

It's not going to be easy, Steve, but we also know how one injury here or there can change the entire complexion of a position group. I feel like receiver and cornerback are two positions where a rising tide has lifted all prospects. Carrington Valentine came on the scene, and it's only made Shemar Jean-Charles, Kiondre Thomas, and William Hooper better. At receiver, Grant DuBose was sort of the forgotten man and now he's put together a couple nice practices. The other thing to keep in mind is special teams. That could be the deciding factor at a lot of these spots.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Wes, now that Jordan Love is the starter, how has his daily life changed? What does he spend more time doing and less time doing?

He's definitely spending more time talking to us, the media, but Love has played quarterback his entire life. He's used to that part of the gig. The past three years were more an anomaly than anything else. I'm confident he's putting in even more time behind the scenes, as well, to be the top guy.

Eric from Liberty Twp, OH

Will LaFleur and Bill Belichick have any discussion prior to the game on Saturday regarding which projected starters will play? If, for instance, the Pats plan to roll out their first-line defense and ML was planning to have Love play the first couple of series, it would probably dictate having the other Packers' top linemen out there to protect him.

I doubt it. LaFleur said he wasn't sure what Belichick was going to throw at the Packers during Wednesday's practice. It was a great two-hour, 27-minute session, though. It was very competitive. The best part? No fights.

Bill from Menominee, MI

For everyone that wants a dozen players to make the squad at each position group: Remember, Allan Lazard did not make the 53 after his first camp. He made his plays in preseason that year but just couldn't sneak through final cuts. It's a crystal ball …

And fortunately, the Packers got Lazard back on the 53 really quick.

Paul from Rockford, IL

What is Quay Walker's role in this year's defense?

Walker already was the Packers' leading tackler last year, but even more will be expected from the former first-round pick in Year 2. He was calling the defense on Wednesday with De'Vondre Campbell missing practice with an ankle injury.

Steve from Algoma, WI

The Colts named Anthony Richardson their starting quarterback yesterday. Some chuckleheads on ESPN said, "When you're playing the most important position in the NFL, the best way to learn is by playing" (paraphrased). Am I crazy in thinking the development as a backup like Brett Favre (Chris Miller and Don Majkowski), Aaron Rodgers (Brett Favre), Tom Brady (Drew Bledsoe) and Patrick Mahomes (Alex Smith) is a better way to learn? I'll take Jordan Love over Anthony Richardson every day and twice on Sunday. Agreed?

On a long enough timeline, greatness will find a way regardless of how a QB was introduced to the NFL (as long as that QB can stay healthy). In my opinion, I think it's smart for a rookie quarterback to sit in Year 1. This is a complicated game and you're playing some of the strongest and fastest humans walking the earth. It is not easy to step in and look like a franchise quarterback…and that's what more and more teams in the top 10 are asking of "the man."

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I like seeing the starters getting some snaps during the preseason, especially with such a young offense. Over the last five years or more it's felt like this team simply hasn't been ready to go in Week 1 or 2. The first five weeks of the season seem very winnable. This team should have a good chance to make the playoffs but the margin for error won't be very big and they can't afford to waste any early opportunities. Thoughts, Weston?

If progress is made, wins will come. As I've said before, the most exciting thing to me is this team will keep getting better each week. The coaches are molding clay right now, while trying to figure out what form this art project takes. Stay tuned.

Craig from Appleton, WI

In your opinion, have any of the backup linemen competing for a roster spot separated themselves from the others?

Rasheed Walker has had a good week at a crucial time. I felt the former Penn State tackle has stepped up with Caleb Jones dealing with an ankle injury. Jake Hanson came back at a great time, as well. He was the second-team center behind Josh Myers before injuring his elbow at the start of camp.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, are there any signs Jordon Love plans to continue the Green Bay tradition of getting defenses to jump offsides by varying his line-of-scrimmage cadences and voice fluctuations?

112%, Lori. He's been working on his cadence all spring and summer and I definitely expect that to be part of his repertoire this year. Love even had a free play to work with during two-minute against New England on Wednesday.

Dustin from Kansas City, MO

I happened to come across an article where Justin Jefferson was discussing his games against the Packers and Jaire Alexander last year. He gave a few excuses as to why he was held to one catch the second game. He even went so far as to bring up the fact they were already in the playoffs by that point, as if he's hinting to us that he wasn't trying his hardest. Maybe it's my bias speaking, but his quotes made it sound to me like Jaire is definitely living in Jefferson's head at this point.

I can't speak on Jefferson. I know nothing about him other than what he shows on Sundays, but Alexander is not short on bravado, and he backs it up when he's out there. If Jefferson feels some way about how last year's matchup played out, he has two chances to change that this year. Alexander will be there, giving no quarter.

The Green Bay Packers rode down the DreamDrive with fans ahead of practice with the New England Patriots on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.

James from Appleton, WI

Playing established linemen at other positions during practice, like having Jon Runyan at center, strikes me as the coaching staff checking out in-game options in case of an injury, especially if the Packers go with one less OL on the 53. With the youth at WR and OLB, either or both positions could see an extra man on the roster.

Necessity is the mother of all invention, right? When Hanson was out with the elbow injury, the Packers took extended looks at Runyan, Zach Tom and Sean Rhyan at center. Every NFL team has boxes to check when it comes to depth. That doesn't necessarily mean Green Bay will go short on O-linemen on the 53, though. NFL teams still need at least eight on the 53 to receive the extra gameday spot.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

Do the Patriots have use of the Lambeau facilities for lifting, etc., while they're here? Do the Packers share the CRIC for the week?

Yeah, that's all built into the schedule. The Bengals did the same last week when they welcomed the Packers.

Christopher from St. Louis, MO

We know Jonathan Ford has "upped his game." I'm curious in what ways you've noticed his improvement. For me personally, I remember watching him last year and he was two ticks slow on the snap. It was like he waited for everyone else to move before he would. But on Friday, it seemed like he was exploding at the snap of the ball and several times was the first to move.

He does seem two ticks faster in camp. He's had some great jumps off the snap and the strength to knock guards and centers off-balance. The sample size is still way too small, but I like what I've seen from Ford in camp.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

In your experience are most draft picks, even the seventh-rounders, typically kept on the team, even if it is on the practice squad? It seems to me that is the case because otherwise it is just a wasted pick.

That's usually how it goes. The last time the Packers didn't keep a rookie after final cuts was former seventh-round pick Malachi Dupre in 2017. Green Bay has retained the rights of every rookie it has drafted in Brian Gutekunst's five-plus years as general manager, whether that's on the 53, practice squad, or reserve lists.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

I just watched the Malik Heath interview. His infectious enthusiasm, smile and status coming into the NFL reminds me of Tramon Williams. I imagine he is a player favorite as well, as exemplified by the sideline reception of the block in Friday night's game. Your thoughts?

I'm still learning about Heath, but he strikes me as a very driven individual. He told us after Family Night that he has the name of every receiver drafted this year committed to memory. He's hungry to prove he should've been one of them. On Wednesday, Heath had another awe-inspiring catch on a 27-yard fade from Sean Clifford in two-minute against Jack Jones.

Anthony from Sturgeon Bay, WI

II guys, I am intrigued by what goes into the selection of an international "rookie" player. There must be some feeder system or does some NFL exec identify the biggest most athletic dude they can find in intentional markets?

That was all covered in our story on Kenneth Odumegwu earlier this year. Osi Umenyiora spearheads that initiative for the NFL, though.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

Who's your favorite non-Packer coach to interact with, and why? Any team, any position.

James Campen. He's one of my favorite humans to interact with regardless of his chosen profession.

Glen from Leesburg, VA

As I was reading through the live takes from today's practice, I saw where Anders Carlson missed a 40-yarder during the two-minute drill. As much as ML says he's not looking too much into the two missed PATs last week, at some point he's got to bring in a veteran or a FA to add some competition to the kicking spot. Do you see the Packers giving Carlson one more preseason game to adjust, or do they bring in someone sooner rather than later?

I understand the sense of urgency there for fans, especially replacing a Packers Hall of Famer like Mason Crosby, but we need to hear what Rich Bisaccia says on Friday before everyone puts their GM caps on. Carlson is a rookie who's working through some issues. Plus, there are no playbooks for kickers. The Packers can add to the competition at any point if they choose to do so. Let's just see what happens.

Matthew from Sheboygan, WI

When I hear Aaron Jones say at his locker, "I like where we're headed," and when I know he is speaking not as a figurehead, but from the heart, I love this team more than ever. It might sound like Yogi Berra, but regardless of where we finish, I like where we're headed, too.

For all the unknowns about this upcoming year, I have no questions or qualms with the men in that locker room. The Packers have the right leaders and mentality. I say that with full-throated confidence.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

In my mind, Bill Belichick rode a little kid's tiny bike in his headset and half sleeved hoodie to practice with a scowl on his face. Please don't burst my bubble.

Hey, there's still one more joint practice remaining. Never say never. Have a great Thursday.

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