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Inbox: Can they take steps forward, and how big will those steps be?

It’s wide open and a great unknown

S Shawn Davis
S Shawn Davis

William from Charleston, WV

I don't think AJ Dillon was going full speed. Mascot needs to check his pad level.

Among other things.

Chris from La Valle, WI

This has probably been answered already but will the starters be more involved in the preseason games because of the way they performed during the game at the Saints? I know you can't win them all but to lose so bad to J. Winston was a jaw-dropper. Thanks.

So glad I came back.

Mick from Altamonte Springs, FL

Jake from Decatur, GA, touched a nerve with his reference to the Vic-ism, "The suspense is killing me. I hope it will last." Our family moved to WI the summer of '65 when I was 8 years old. Even though our father wasn't much of a sports fan it didn't take my older brother and I long to discover the Packers and the NFL. As a kid, it seemed like the 1 p.m. kickoff on Sundays would never arrive. To this day it is still delicious torture waiting for kickoff each week.

To be clear, Samuel from Skokie, IL, sent a reminder that Vic quoted movies, too, specifically Gene Wilder in "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" in this case. That said, I'm intrigued by your choice of phrase: delicious torture. I reserve the right to borrow that sometime.

Bill from Clive, IA

Good morning, Insiders! What's the approximate ETA for 11-on-11 in full pads?

The first few practices of training camp will be without pads, per CBA rules. I'm not sure exactly which day LaFleur has chosen to put pads on for the first time, but it might not be until Aug. 1 or 2.

Jason from Austin, TX

Mike, playing on Sunday and then again on Thursday can be hard for NFL players because they don't get the necessary rest and rejuvenation between games. Which position groups do you think have a harder time to make that turnaround and which ones have an easier time (not including kicker/punter/long snapper)?

I don't think it's easy for any of them, but my gut says the linemen (on both sides), linebackers and running backs would have the hardest time with the quick turnaround. They're absorbing more of the banging on an every-play basis than other positions.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

When David Bakhtiari bought Aaron Rodgers that golf cart, he had the three MVP years on it. Has he updated it to add the fourth?

I assume we'll find out soon enough.

Chris from Gridley, CA

Not so much a question but I would like to congratulate Davante Adams on making the Madden 99 Club to start off this year. I wish him another wonderful season, albeit a wonderful season that is not at the expense of the Packers.

I don't play Madden, but I'm aware of what a big deal a 99 rating is, and to get that two years in a row is pretty amazing.

Tim from Appleton, WI

Hi Mike, the dead zone is almost over, so here is one last dead zone question. The visiting team usually stays in Appleton, then buses to Green Bay. (It's fun to boo their buses whilst tailgating.) Do they fly into Appleton, then fly out of Green Bay after the game? If so, does the same charter plane fly empty from Appleton to Green Bay, or are two different planes used? Dead zone minds want to know...

My understanding is the visitors fly into Appleton and out of Green Bay, but I have no knowledge of how the charter airlines manage the schedule and plane usage.

Chuck from Richfield, WI

Mike, I love your informative answers to questions like Tim's from Clear Lake about watching practices like a reporter. I was wondering if the Packer players ever need to share the same jersey number due to 90 players on the training camp roster? I know large college programs do this, and NFL teams have to factor in retired numbers and positional number range traditions.

Yes, that happens all the time. During the recently concluded offseason program, the Packers had a half-dozen shared numbers on the 90-man roster. If both players make the 53 at the end of training camp, one is assigned a new number heading into Week 1.

Ross from Summerville, SC

Gents, do you think a significant WR signing will be imminent once training camp kicks off?

No. But once the ball gets rolling, anyone could get hurt and the personnel department is evaluating every position on a daily basis.

Michael from Santa Cruz, CA

In evaluating the return game last season, let's just politely say it wasn't good enough after Kylin Hill went down. To me he's the best option currently on the roster, but obviously not one for the start of the season. I think putting Amari Rodgers back there is a bad idea and has the potential to stunt his WR confidence growth. Which makes me think winning the return job guarantees a spot on the 53. Do you see one of the rookies winning this job, or maybe Winfree or Taylor taking advantage?

I think the rookie receivers will get a look. Both Taylors (Malik and Patrick) have done it before. I'm not ruling out Amari. His struggles were real last year but he's got the skillset and likely will get another chance. It's wide open and a great unknown as to how this will unfold, to be perfectly honest, and it wouldn't surprise me if the kickoff and punt returner are not the same player.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

So with Sammy Watkins & Christian Watson (at WR), Jon Runyan & Sean Rhyan (at OL) and T.J. Slaton & Chris Slayton (at DL), Gutekunst hasn't made it easy on you, has he? Not only are the names similar but they're also in the same position group. Do you think you'll find yourself tripping over them from time to time whether in II, Unscripted, or game blog?

The first pair for sure. It's practically inevitable. The other pairs probably more so speaking than writing.

Jeff from Woodridge, IL

I have a suggestion for II or more actually Larry. I agreed with the sentiment about not hearing all of the actual play being phoned into the QB headset all game long, but I would really appreciate someone actually giving us one realistic play called from the coach over the headset and then what Rodgers actually says in the huddle (and then explain it all to us!). To me that's always been a mystery and would be interesting to learn. Thanks for your column.

If you want to find mic'd up segments with play calls being spit out, I can give you the basic format to follow along. Not all teams call plays the same way, but some pieces are rather standard. The first segment is the formation (phrases like "double" this or "stack" that), plus any pre-snap motion or shifts. Next is the actual play, which can be pretty short if it's a run. If it's a pass, the play would include a protection call plus the routes, which can get long if they're worded separately (X shallow cross, Y go, Z hook, or whatever) as opposed to grouped into one set call. Checks or audibles are usually built into the play and then activated at the line of scrimmage by a hot word or number the QB barks out, and what might be hot one game could be a dummy call the next. Don't know if that helps any, but I tried.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares his favorite photos from the 2021 Green Bay Packers season.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Rookies report four days before veterans. What's going on those four days?

Mostly meetings, individual drills and walk-throughs.

Russ from Henrico, VA

I know training camp is still to come, but if you were a hypothetical GM would you use a third of your WR slots on an older guy with an injury history and a high draft pick who so far has underwhelmed? I get that the older guy makes the four- time MVP happy and the young guy may explode this summer, but how late can you wait to make such decisions, especially if it means young talent walking out your door?

No significant decisions have to be made until training camp and the preseason are over, and there's a lot of evidence to be gathered between now and then. But that's why the big guy in the big chair gets paid the big bucks, and I'm sitting here wondering how to eat lunch this week.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

Do you guys ever get a chance to play catch on the field after practice?

Sure, but only if we're planning to miss interview sessions and, like, ignore our job responsibilities.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

So you're saying there's a chance. Great! You and Wes have been giving lots of thoughts on the higher-profile battles coming up (WRs or where the non-WR draft picks will fit in), but what are a couple of lesser-known guys you're really looking forward to seeing what they can do as camp opens up? Guys from the practice squad or undrafted FAs?

I'm always most interested in the young guys who were on the active roster last year and got their feet wet in the NFL a little bit but aren't fully established. Can they take steps forward, and how big will those steps be? In that vein, my list of players to watch this year includes Shawn Davis, Shemar Jean-Charles, T.J. Slaton, Patrick Taylor and Tyler Davis, plus Randy Ramsey coming back from injury.

Bill from Iowa City, IA

What roles and who competes for them on the DL do you expect during training camp? It seems like some good ones should go down.

Barring something unforeseen, I think the Packers' top five D-linemen are (in whatever order) Clark, Lowry, Wyatt, Reed and Slaton, and that's the strongest five I can recall in a while. There's also plenty of versatility within that bunch, so Barry and Montgomery should have options for different packages. Nobody has to be pigeonholed into a specific role, and performance when called upon will dictate the rotation. Beyond that, the rest of the guys in that position group (Heflin, Ford, Slayton, Byers and Pututau) might be competing for just one more spot on the 53, two at most.

Jim from St. Pete Beach, FL

Mike, will a player that no one is talking about make the 53 at final cut-downs?

History says probably.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

What is the No. 1 question the coaching staff will want answered during training camp? The media? Fans?

The coaching staff will want to find out which young guys can be counted on more than in the past. I expect the media's primary focus to be on how the offensive line is shaping up. I think the fans will want to know if the special teams are fixed.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

A Packers fan since 1975, until about five years ago I had never been to Lambeau. My girlfriend said, "Let's just go," and now I visit annually, thanks to her. On Saturday, I proposed to her behind the south end zone, and she said yes, making Lambeau that much more special to us and to our relationship. I am proud to be a Green Bay cliché. Maybe I will invite you guys to the wedding?

Wes will only show if the keg is full of root beer. Seriously though, a hearty congrats. Sounds like you really found a keeper.

Jeremy from Red Deer, Canada

Mike, if you were made the czar of baseball, would you adjust the cap rules to even the playing field more?

What cap rules?

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

Welcome back Mike. I'll see your "T-minus" and raise you a "tick tock baby."

Eight and counting. Happy Tuesday.