Inbox: All they want to do is get to work

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Dale from Prescott, WI

So, if Wes is standing outside the door with a neuralizer, is he standing next to you in sunglasses or a dog?

Nicely done, and we’re off.

Todd from Eau Claire, WI

What is your biggest takeaway from meeting the new coaching staff?

All they want to do is get to work. I see two reasons for that. One, they’re all football junkies, which isn’t unusual. Two, most of the time when coaches change places, they’re walking into some downtrodden place that’s a ways away. I don’t believe they sense that with the Packers.

Sam from Greer, SC

I’ve been excited about this coaching staff, in particular the hiring of Hackett, since it was announced. But after (Monday), I may be even more excited. You could feel the energy these guys are going to bring through the videos and I think it speaks volumes that each coach was providing very much the same message about building relationships with the players being so important. It’s obvious that this staff is on the same page and that bodes well for the 2019 Packers.

I agree, but let’s not get carried away here. I know I contributed, mentioning energy in April and such, but all this talk gets forgotten come fall. We’re still a long way from the baloney stopping, if you get my drift.

Scott from Martinez, GA

OK Spoff, you said the two-day negotiating window usually sets the price tag for UFAs. But if GMs know there is an abundance of prospects at a particular position group, might that lead them to offer less money to UFAs, thus decreasing the market value of that given position? In other words, can an abundance of prospects influence what a UFA might make on the open market?

Yes it can, and as mentioned, that’s the rumbling with edge rushers at the moment, so we’ll see how it unfolds. But I don’t think that changes my point that if you want the guys at the top of a given position in free agency, you have to act fast. Even if the financial numbers are depressed, the top of the market is the top of the market, and those guys aren’t gonna wait around.

Matt from Janesville, WI

Mike, you’re a baseball guy. What do you make of Machado signing with the Padres?

First basemen in the NL West might want to strap guards on their ankles.

Amy from Bayport, MN

A follow up on the combine medical evaluation: Does the prospect sit through 32 individual poking and prodding sessions? (Or however many teams are interested). Or do they sit through one session with X amount of teams’ representatives taking turns cranking on pre-existing injuries? Or is there one impartial master torturer and the team evaluators observe the results?

A little over a decade ago when I first went to the combine, teams were put in groups of eight, I believe, so the prospects went through four different medical stations, so to speak. I can’t say for sure if that process has changed since then.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

When you mentioned physicals at the combine yesterday you said they might have scans done on an injury. Does each team do their own or does someone get a scan and then every team has access to that info?

The latter. Again, back when I learned how it all worked, prospects that needed scans were sent to a local Indy hospital, and the backlog often led to their schedules getting thrown off, including being late for their press conferences. Some of those hiccups have been smoothed out in recent years, so perhaps things are done a little differently now. Anyway, this is actually how the combine started three decades ago or so – getting a large group of draft prospects together for teams to do medical checks collectively. All the workout stuff came later.

Eric from Koblenz, Germany

There is a lot of talk regarding our plans for bringing in a new edge rusher. However, everybody seems to forget a certain player named Reggie Gilbert. What happened to him during the last season after his promising offseason and what is his current roster status?

Gilbert was certainly looking for more than 2½ sacks in his first full season on the active roster (he played all 16 games), but he was credited with six tackles for loss against the run and 15 QB pressures, which ranked second on the team. The upcoming season is a big one for Gilbert and his career. Over the years the Packers have seen a number of undrafted edge rushers flash and contribute but then fade away for various reasons. Vic So’oto, Dezman Moses, Andy Mulumba and Jayrone Elliott come to mind. This year could determine whether Gilbert’s path is different.

Joel from Bluffton, SC

Insiders, I may be crazy, but towards the end of every interview someone in the back usually yells “one (or two) more.” But several times I’ve listened and more than one or two questions tend to follow. So what are they yelling, or what does that mean?

It’s someone in the communications department alerting everyone that time for questions is about up. Occasionally it does go longer than one or two more; other times after the “two more,” the room will go silent and it just ends there. That gets cut off by our video editors, though, so you don’t hear that unless you’re watching live.

Barb from Marengo, IL

When it comes to the combine, how much non-football information is available? We certainly want medical information but what about grades, community service involvement, references? The Packers have done such a great job of choosing quality players, on and off the field. I’m just wondering how they do that where other teams end up drafting future headaches.

Teams are on their own to get that kind of stuff, but it’s not hard to gather it, usually from the players’ schools. Scouts will often dig deeper into a player’s background, interviewing high school teachers and coaches, or others from even further back, to get a complete, well-rounded story. Generally, teams know just about everything about a player they draft. No surprises. As for how the decisions turn out, nobody’s perfect, and what qualifies as a risk varies from team to team across the league.

Mackenzie from Fort Worth, TX

When I see the name Nathaniel Hackett mentioned on the site, I picture a man in clothes befitting of the American Revolution (e.g., wig, parachute pants, high socks) with a halfway British accent on the sideline of a football field. I'm sure I'm way off base so what's your impression of him?

Every time I type Nathaniel Hackett, the English major in me wants to type the last name Hawthorne, so if that slips into one of my stories this year, you’ve been given fair warning. I love his personality. I can see how he and LaFleur get along. With their dads, the two have eaten, lived and breathed football since infancy.

Andrew from Columbus, OH

Why don’t people understand this isn’t Madden? A guy can’t just run the ball 300 times without his body getting some wear and tear. Would you throw an ace pitcher out on the mound every day with total disregard for injury? It’s about managing workload folks! What’s your favorite book you had to read in high school?

Speaking of being an English major, it’s a tough call between “Of Mice and Men” and “Lord of the Flies.”

Take a look at photos of Packers RB Aaron Jones from the 2018 season.

Eric from Minneapolis, MN

Should all players with an injury history be rested early in the season, or does this only apply to running backs? If Kevin King is healthy this year, would you limit his reps until the postseason push or playoff run?

C’mon, man. The physical demands of the running back position are in a class by themselves.

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

Just a clarification on the last time LBs were drafted in the first round: Datone Jones (2012) and Nick Perry (2013) were drafted a few years after Matthews (2009) and ended up playing the LB or "edge" positions. Jones maybe not as much, but Perry has definitely been a LB.

Correct. He was a college DE targeted for the transition to OLB from the get-go. Jones made the transition a couple of years into his career.

Greg from Sacramento, CA

Does James Campen have a chance with Mike Daniels or Scott Wells on the mat? I think he was a pretty good grappler as well.

A three-time letterwinner in high school, just like Daniels. Wells, according to Tony from Colorado Springs, was a three-time national champion as a teenager and a top-ranked heavyweight in the country in his prep days. I doubt either of those guys could seriously challenge Wells.

Jeremy from Lethbridge, Canada

Mike, what’s the No. 1 thing you learned from your time on the wrestling beat?

I’ll give you two things. One-on-one confrontations in sports attract a certain type of individual, and a good human interest story is a good human interest story, even if as a writer you’re not an expert in the sport.

Brooks from Moore, OK

Insiders, ML reached out to AR about the quarterback coach. I thought per the CBA coaches could not speak to players in the offseason. What is the distinction?

Conversations are allowed, but they cannot discuss scheme, playbooks, film evaluation, etc.

Marcia from Beloit, WI

It is the offseason and I am craving something to follow. What other sports are you guys invested in during the offseason?

I love college basketball this time of year, and it carries right up to the start of baseball season.

Steve from Middletown, KY

I liked the press conference videos. All the coaches seemed to talk the talk. Coach Hackett seems like a high-energy guy, like HC. In 2018, we were behind the eight ball on special teams all year. If we simply eliminate the penalties, that'll be a plus in itself. It seemed like we started deep in our own territory after every punt. My question is, would it be worth drafting a return guy or do we already have “the guy” on the team that can handle that job?

I have a story on Mennenga and the special teams coming later this week. I don’t know if it’s necessary to draft a returner specifically, but whatever the Packers decide, finding a consistent presence back there, with a designated second option, will help everyone. The Packers seemed to be banking on Trevor Davis last year and when injuries wrecked his season, it became a flavor-of-the-week situation.

Bo from Iowa Falls, IA

So how did Greg from Marquette get the snowblower onto his roof?

Ha. Dan from Rothschild, WI, said he actually saw someone doing just that last weekend.

Mike from Mercer, WI

Do you think any Badgers will be invited to the combine or drafted by any team in the NFL this year? If so, who and which rounds?

I’m not going to try to predict draft rounds, but there are eight Badgers who have been invited to the combine – Benzschawel, Deiter and David Edwards on the offensive line, Connelly, Van Ginkel and T.J. Edwards at linebacker, Dixon at safety and Ingold at fullback.

Bruce from New Canaan, CT

I'd like to add to the Joe Gibbs comment and response, that he won his three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. That deserves more attention than it receives.

Indeed, and all before the advent of free agency in the NFL, too.

Tom from Andover, England

If David Bakhtiari doesn't get hurt and keeps up his level of play until retirement, how does he rank for you all-time at the tackle spot? Being too young to have seen Gregg, I don't think I've seen a better Packer play the position.

I’ve heard from those who covered him that Ruettgers was no slouch, and Clifton was the best I’d seen here personally until now. I’ll always wonder if Clifton would have garnered the consistent All-Pro honors Bakhtiari has if not for the Sapp hit.

Chris from Phoenix, AZ

Do you ever clear out your ban list? I remember Vic would do it at random points (Christmas, New Year's, start of offseason, start of season, etc.) and start fresh.

Depends on my mood. I let someone back in yesterday. I just did it quietly. No need for a public spectacle.

Brandon from Flagstaff, AZ

Will we see the captain stickers return on the jerseys during the regular season now that LaFleur is HC?

Dunno. I guess we’ll find out Week 1. And they’re patches, by the way. Marge and her team don’t mess around with stickers.

Steven from San Diego, CA

In the division what will the other three teams’ first three draft picks be as far as position needs?

I don’t know whom they’ll pick in the first round, but I would suspect the Vikings will target offensive linemen in the draft. Same for the Bears, along with corner, but Chicago has no pick until the third round. The Lions will probably look for offensive weapons for Stafford.

Dan from Tomah, WI

The offseason has just started but I'm ready for FA to start, the draft, and UDFA to begin. We know what the new coaching staff looks like. Now I want to see what the roster will look like. This is going to be a long offseason. Here's to hoping it speeds up a bit.

The Packers played a game 53 days ago. The draft is 64 days away. Hang tight, everyone. Happy Wednesday.

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