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Inbox: All it takes is a roster spot and a dream

It’s on everyone in the building to make this 2023 campaign the most productive it can be


Donald from Big Flats, WI

Did we just get quicker, faster, and more physical across the board? I really wasn't surprised by the decisions and can't complain about them either. I kind of like this 53 to start with. I think it will be different in the second half of the season for various reasons. Today's game is speed. Ready to go now.

This is a young football team, no question about it. I'll be curious to read the roster superlatives that the NFL will release in the next week or so. My guess is this will be one of the youngest teams in the NFL this season. With youth comes inexperience but also athleticism and upside, and the latter should help make up for the former.

Noel from Norwalk, CA

Good morning II. As with cutdown day, there's a plethora of Insiders flooding the box. In my opinion, I believe there were no surprises. Sure, no long snapper, but that's a gimmick to work around injured reserve. Same with CB and OL. Emanuel Wilson making RB3 was no surprise. He earned it the old fashioned way. Now he has to build on improving his craft. I say to the GM, kudos. Kudos for assembling young, hungry, athletes with a bright future ahead of them. This by no means is the final product. The future looks bright. GPG!

Yeah, I agree. On a personal level, I felt for Patrick Taylor. P.T. is a great dude who was definitely deserving of making his first initial 53. I am happy to see him back on the p-squad. At the end of the day, Wilson was undeniable. He ran hard against Cincinnati and then solidified his position as RB3 in pass pro against Seattle. It's yet another reminder of how far an undrafted player can go in a few short months. All it takes is a roster spot and a dream.

Jack from Moweaqua, IL

Hi guys. I can't quite put into words how excited I am for this upcoming season in particular! With that said, looking at their early schedule, how important would it be for this young team to get a Week 1 win, on the road, in the division, against their rival? We haven't had one since the 2020 season. I kind of expect Mike to address this in "What's at Stake?" but thought I'd ask here just in case.

Any game with the Bears is significant and obviously there will be a ton of headlines going into America's Game of the Week. However, one game a season does not make. This is going to be an 18-week journey of improvement for this football team. A win at Soldier Field would set the tone for the Jordan Love era in Green Bay, but it's that Week 18 game at Lambeau the Packers hope has monster implications.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

With only one true center on the team, do you see the Packers claiming a true center or just move one of the versatile O-linemen?

They already have 11 offensive linemen on the roster at the time I'm writing this, so I don't see them making it a dozen on the 53. Versatility is key. That's why Zach Tom and Jon Runyan both took snaps at center during the preseason. Sean Rhyan took some snaps there in camp, too. If push comes to shove, former BYU center James Empey is on the practice squad, too.

Dale from Aurora, CO

Keeping a lot of young players. Would that not be a decision based on confidence of their coaching staff to bring these players along quickly also?

For sure, but it also isn't changing the Packers' expectations for this year. This team will still be held to a high standard and the expectation will be for these young guys to rise to the challenge in front of them. It's on everyone in the building to make this 2023 campaign the most productive it can be.

George from Kennebunkport, ME

I was happy to see the list of 16 players added to the practice squad after the cutdown. There are players on that list that flashed significantly in preseason (Ballentine, Taylor, Sapp III, etc.) and it's great that we were able to retain them. We may not see much of them in the regular season, but they represent good depth and possibilities for the future. GPG!

I believe the Packers have assembled a strong practice squad. That was a win to get back veterans such as Taylor, Corey Ballentine, Innis Gaines, Arron Mosby and Bo Melton. Seventh-round pick Grant DuBose is back, too. Any of them could be elevated to the gameday roster at some point this season and possibly as soon as Chicago.

Bill from Madison, WI

Good day, gentlemen. Can you please explain the advantages of a young player being on the practice squad vs. the developmental league(s) that have existed (e.g. USFL, NFL Europe, etc.)? Is the pay comparable but by being on a practice squad, I assume your team has a relationship and knows your skillset better? Thank you for considering my question and keep up the great work.

Practice squad is still preferable because it keeps players in NFL playbooks and meeting rooms, while also getting them used to the league's daily grind. Yet, there are only so many jobs out there and the void the USFL and XFL fill is giving players an expanded opportunity to showcase their talent in a way that might not be possible on the bottom of an NFL roster. Daniel Whelan is a great example of that. Cut by New Orleans last year, Whelan put a ton of good film out there that led to his signing with the Packers in May.

John from Fond du Lac, WI

What happened with Kenneth Odumegwu?

Odumegwu is back on the practice squad. As part of the NFL's International Player Pathway program, the Packers get a roster exemption for an extra 17th player on the p-squad.

Ted from Boise, ID

Good morning, Wes. Regarding the release of Pat O'Donnell and his duty as the FG holder, what is the downside of using a skill-position player handling that role (e.g. WR or DB, or even a TE?) All would have very good ball-handling skills.

Punters already are used to handling snaps from their long snapper. They also have more time on their hands (no pun intended) in practice to dedicate to the field-goal operation. I can't tell you how many times we'll see the Packers' long snapper go up to the punter in practice and just start flicking snaps on the sideline. The No. 2 QB and other skill-position players are being pulled in so many other directions.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Can you please explain the reasoning behind keeping Tariq Carpenter and Jonathan Ford on the initial 53 and then releasing them the next day?

The Packers were awarded two players off waivers on Wednesday and needed to clear space pending those new acquisitions' physicals.

Dan from Parker, CO

When a young man like Jonathan Ford or Tariq Carpenter makes the initial 53 on cut day, then is released the very next day, are they given a hint that their survival is only for a day?

Most players understand the harsh reality that this is a day-to-day league. Micah Abernathy was one of the best stories of training camp last summer. In less than a month, he went from playing in the USFL to making the Packers' 53. However, Abernathy was cut the next day when Green Bay signed Rudy Ford. That's just the nature of the beast, unfortunately.

Shel from New York, NY

Can Tyler Goodson still make his way back on the team?

Yes, but Goodson would have to reach an injury settlement first. At the end of the settlement, the Packers then have to wait three additional weeks until they can re-sign him. It has happened before with Joe Thomas, Brett Goode, and Innis Gaines.

Bret from Hertel, WI

The number of free-agent rookies that have made the Packers' roster for 19 straight years (more than 40 players) shows that scouting matters. With fewer rounds in the draft, the Packers bring in players to increase the competition, fill the 90-man roster and truly believe in putting them on equal footing. Who would be your top free-agent rookies over those 19 years? Thanks!

And that's not even counting Tramon Williams, Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan and all the other players who started their Packers careers on the practice squad. I probably perseverate on undrafted free agency more than the average beat writer but that's only because it is a pivotal part of team building, because GMs only have so many draft picks and teams can't sign every veteran free agent. They must find those hidden prospects to fill roles and build a championship squad. The best example is probably the 2010 Packers with the plethora of players, including Sam Shields, they unearthed over the course of an injury-ravaged season.

Ryan from Carmel, IN

What was the atmosphere like in Tuesday's practice? With the players that made the roster having to say goodbye to those who didn't, I can imagine some somber attitudes, but at the same time, rejoicing for the opportunity to continue. Has to be a tough emotional balancing act. I mean, of course they're professionals, but…

Tuesday's practice was closed. But with 70 guys back on the field Wednesday, it really didn't feel much different than the final week of camp. Many of the guys who were cut signed back to the practice squad. Patrick Taylor was still giving high fives like he has the past three years.

Jeff from Ripon, WI

When is the last time the Packers had a rookie punter and kicker starting on their team?

The best I came up with was 1983 (punter Bucky Scribner and kicker Eddie Garcia). Jan Stenerud still was the Packers' kicker that season, though. To clarify, however, Whelan isn't a true rookie. He's a first-year player after first signing with the New Orleans Saints in 2022.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. Being the phonetician that you are and for the record, how does new punter Daniel Whelan pronounce the first syllable of his last name? Is it "we" or "way"? Thanks.


The Green Bay Packers practiced on Ray Nitschke Field on Aug. 30, 2023.

Andrew from Burke, VA

Hold on, the Packers were supposedly the "mystery team" going after Johnathan Taylor? Seems like an odd move for this year. Have you heard Gute confirm this? If so, I'm glad he didn't throw away a first-round pick like the Colts wanted, even if Taylor is extremely talented.

I'm gonna unfurl my standard Aaron Rodgers response to the Jonathan Taylor questions – I cover the Green Bay Packers and the players on the Green Bay Packers. What I will say is Brian Gutekunst made a promise nearly six years ago that he would leave no stone unturned in pursuit of improving this football team and he's stayed true to that.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

How much input can a team put into the league regarding their schedule? Love to have seen Love at home in Week 1.

NFL teams can put in requests, but the schedule is mostly up to the league. Coincidentally, the last time the Packers played at home during NFL opening weekend in 2018 came from a request to play Chicago to kick off their 100th season.

Derek from South Point, OH

Hello II. With mental health becoming more of a focus in society and sports, are team doctors and/or therapists available to players cut who may want to talk to someone?

Absolutely, both through NFL clubs and the NFLPA.

Terry from Tucsy, AZ

How much does a practice-squad player make compared to the rookie minimum?

Malik Heath was spot-on about what he said last week. The checks are different on the active roster. For rookies, the base salary is roughly three times more than the minimum for the practice squad.

Bill from San Antonio, TX

Wow. Mike's explanation of how the Wednesday waiver wire will work made my brain hurt. It felt like the time I tried to explain the rules baseball to a guy from Sweden.

Spoff and I discussed on Tuesday how complicated things can get with how the NFL differentiates between accrued and accredited seasons. That used to get confusing with practice-squad eligibility. Thankfully, the league has simplified it and now allows teams to keep up to six players with unlimited playing experience. For example, that's how a fifth-year veteran like Ballentine is still eligible.

Jason from Austin, TX

There's something that I don't believe was discussed after Rodgers and Crosby's departure. Now that there is no one left on the 2010 Super Bowl team, are we no longer allowed to find ways to compare the current season with the 2010 season? It was like treasure hunting trying to find threads of connection between whatever was going on during the season with 2010. Injuries? Just like 2010! Late-season FA signing? Just like 2010! Coach's first name starts with the letter "M"?...

Oh, I'm sure fans will still find a way to draw comparisons. But it is strange to think that way. I believe strength-and-conditioning assistants Mark Lovat and Thadeus Jackson are the only coaches still here from the Super Bowl season.

Tony from Wauwatosa, WI

What year did they stop playing in Milwaukee?

1994. We're coming up on 30 years now.

David from Hahira, GA

If you care to share, here is the Post-Roster Cut/Waiver Claim Dope Sheet 2023: Twenty-four players claimed by 11 teams, or, if my Inbox-imation is solid, 2% of available players by just over one-third of the league. Eight offensive players (six offensive line and two tight ends) and 16 defensive players (10 defensive backs, four linebackers and two defensive ends). Arizona led those 11 teams with six claims. Thank you giving something to do for a leg-casted fan sitting through a hurricane with no power. And please note all math was done outside the Inbox.

And that, folks, is why they call it the initial 53. Stay healthy and safe, David.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

T-minus 10 days and counting!

I'm ready to go now and I'm sure so are you. Have a great Thursday.

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