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Inbox: Football is on the horizon

Elgton Jenkins embodies what NFL teams are now looking for in offensive linemen

LB De'Vondre Campbell & teammates
LB De'Vondre Campbell & teammates

Steve from Colorado Springs, CO

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it is about II that captivates us. I am interested to hear what y'all think. To me it seems to be the thrill of being published, the things we learn, and, most importantly, a sense of belonging and camaraderie of being able to be part of something daily that we all love. Thanks guys, we appreciate all that you do to make this happen.

That's a great question on the eve of Outsider Inbox. I'm sure it's cool to be published. As a teenager, I remember how neat it was whenever an athlete or reporter answered my question in an online Q&A. But I really do believe the secret sauce to the column, then and now, is in its consistency and the friendships we've formed within these imaginary walls. I've never met Dar, Lori, Dean or Margeaux in-person…but it sure feels like I have. Yes, we try to answer unanswerable questions that won't go away, but I feel we also find some wisdom in those never-ending discussions.

Joe from Shirley, NY

How do you participate in the Outsider Inbox survey?

It's quite simple. Just reply to the link below. But be sure to submit your responses soon. The boat is quickly filling up.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

How do submission numbers compare between Outsider Inbox and the Inbox following a regular-season loss?

Surprisingly comparable, though much less vitriol.

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning. Now that we have flipped the calendar to July, my anxiety is heightening. Are you as anxious as I am to get "the show on the road"? I think it will be a wild and wonderful trip.

It's July. Football is on the horizon. The time for talk is (almost) over. That's what I'm most grateful for. I love to talk football any time of year, but there's nothing better than when the pads are on, and every rep matters for everyone.

Aidan from Atlanta, GA

Going back to cross-training OL. Obviously, this has been very beneficial to the Packers over the years and will be something we likely will always do. However, have we ever been in a situation where someone priced themselves out? The difference between guard pay and tackle pay is pretty drastic. Does someone like Elgton Jenkins command a LG or RT contract?

That's a great question for a year from now but Jenkins' stellar play at left tackle is something I'm sure will be considered once contract negotiations begin. There aren't many comps when it comes to someone like Jenkins, a dominant and versatile player who embodies some of the ideals NFL teams are now looking for in O-linemen.

Mark from Big Bear City, CA

Good morning, Wes. I was just reading about Zach Tom. Wow. Could he possibly be another Jenkins, and another find in the fourth round? It sounds like he's also really intelligent. It'd be great to have another lineman that can play all the positions.

Case in point. Tom has spoken about how much he idolizes Jenkins and patterned his versatility after him. Tom isn't as big but played well in every position Wake Forest put him. Again, Tom and Sean Rhyan have a lot to prove before they're in the conversation for starting roles, but they have all the attributes the Packers covet, especially as mid-round picks.

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

Andy from Ellsworth, WI

Do you think by starting the regular season against a division foe will change how Matt LaFleur approaches the team's preseason games?

I don't. Division foe or not, I think LaFleur stays the course, trusts his process and prioritizes keeping his stars healthy for the 17-game regular season.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

I've read that Quay Walker is assignment sound but not particularly fast for his position. How does his speed compare to A.J. Hawk's speed coming out of college?

I'm no scout but I don't get where the speed questions are coming from with Walker. Hawk clocked a 4.64 time in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2006. Walker ran 4.52 this past February. Foot speed and game speed obviously are different things, but I feel like Walker should thrive in this defense with the way Joe Barry uses inside linebackers.

Mike from Naples, FL

We had a star player on our basketball team. He was nearly impossible to cover one-on-one. The coaches did everything they could to put the ball in his hands and he put up huge numbers until playoff time where a team double-teamed him constantly. That was when his character was put to the test. The question is, can a team win a championship if their star players are not totally invested?

I don't believe so…and that opinion isn't from covering the NFL but rather my days as a prep writer for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Almost every year, I can remember at least one instance of a state-caliber team whose star player wasn't completely dedicated to their team or developing their talent. That doesn't make them bad people, but it caps their individual and team success. The best teams have players who are totally invested – if not for themselves, then for those around them.

Carl from Sheboygan, WI

Hi guys. Our incredible depth at several positions makes me think that several "weaker teams" will pick up whomever is cut by the Pack to improve their roster. Reminds me of the Pack from the '70s, '80s, and early '90s. It's great to be on the other side! GPG!

The Packers always want to be in a position where they must make tough decisions at the end of training camp. While you obviously don't want to lose good players, it's the nature of the beast sometimes. That being said, we have a long way to go between now and cutdown day.

Mark from Geneva, IL

Great article by Cliff on Sterling Sharpe. I have been an Illinois-based Packers fan for 60 years, and Sterling is one of my all-time favorite players. Just like the article said, you knew what was coming, but teams could not stop him. His career was way too short. One of a long list of Packers careers cut short by a neck/spine injury.

The topic of Sharpe (and his Hall of Fame candidacy) came up during Outsider Inbox. Like I said earlier this year, I'm trying not to immediately start banging the drum for another Packers player after I spent six years shouting from the hilltops about LeRoy Butler. But I will say I'm happy Sharpe's name is going up again because it's conversation worth having.

Anthony from Madison, WI

How about UCLA and USC coming to the Big Ten? I know it's not official yet, but what a conference. Coast-to-coast, baby? Can Cal and Stanford be far behind? Apart from great sports, what an academic group of schools. I really don't see how the SEC can have bragging rights, even with Texas and Oklahoma jumping ship.

I'm not a Big Ten purist, so I kind of like it. The way I see it, this is the direction college football is headed with an increasing number of "superpower" conferences emerging. There was some foreshadowing here, too, with Rutgers (New York market) being added several years back. It's now a coast-to-coast league with the two biggest markets. That's what the conference seemed to desire.

Jon from Laramie, WY

The play clock hits zero, the buzzer goes off, and the field lights up?

The other problem is it's a lot easier for an official to see when a shot left a shooter's hand than when a ball is snapped to a quarterback. While the play clock is not an exact science, I don't feel like it's a huge problem in the NFL. Plus, the defense has the benefit of being able to jump the snap, too, without penalty.

Michael from Hillsboro, OR

Lovin' II! Watched the Ice Bowl in our living room with my mom and dad. Have seen a lot of NFL games. To me Charles Woodson was so dominant at times, his moves reminded me of a cat playing with mice on a field. Drew Brees reminded me of the greatest point guard ever in professional football. Have there been players that have reminded you of something outside of the game?

Patrick Taylor reminded me that anything is possible if you put your mind to something and aren't afraid to work for it.

Marty from Rancho Cordova, CA

Hey, gents, I think we are winning the Dead Zone.

A lot of "Dead Zone" MVPs out there.

Johnny from Madison, WI

If the "Dead Zone" were an area of the football field, what would it be?

The 51st-yard line.

Frank from Alameda, CA

The most memorable sound in sports to me was when I was a kid sitting in the outfield bleachers at County Stadium and watching batting practice. I suddenly noticed that the there was a seemingly big delay between seeing the batter hit the ball and hearing the crack of the bat. I asked my dad why is that? He explained that light travels much faster than sound. My dad was a high school physics teacher. Later that night, I saw and heard Eddie Mathews hit a ball right out to us in the bleachers.

I love how the "memorable sounds in sports" series of submissions turned into like a pre-Outsider Inbox question. I will say the "speed of light" thing makes for a strange live experience at MMA fights, too, if you're sitting up in the nosebleeds like me.

Dan from Green Bay, WI

After that gruesome sound Wes shared, I have to share my favorite sports sound. I love the sound of steel cleats on blacktop. We couldn't wear steel until Babe Ruth, and as a young lad I was so jealous of the big kids' cleats. To compensate, I would always walk on the edge of the road where there was gravel on the blacktop. If I did it just right, my plastic cleats would crunch just like the big kids'. Nothing made me happier. Memories.

Cleats on cement are a highly underrated sound. Your submission brought me back.

Max from Toledo, OH

Hello Weston, my Insider friend. Since we don't have newspapers to collect events and put in a book, do the modern age people just print a page off on the printer? Is that a cheap feeling? I'm asking you since your only 20...and can't drink beer or eat cheese yet.

Max...or Jim...or Vince, whatever name you go by...please know that while I rarely can post your submissions, not a day goes by that you don't draw a laugh out of me.

Haylee from Little Suamico, WI

Is "Friday Night Lights" the best sports show ever created?

It's right up there with "Playmakers."

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. So Spoff has left you in charge of the OI and II for the next few weeks? I'm confident that you can handle it all. But do you get extra pay?

No, but I actually get to take some time off afterward. So, that's a win. Well, we've made it to Outsider Inbox. Be sure to get your responses in to the questions if you haven't already. I hope you all enjoy it. I wish you all a safe and wonderful Fourth of July. I will see you on the other side.