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Inbox: He made his own luck

DL Tyler Lancaster
DL Tyler Lancaster

Mike from Atlanta, GA

Enough with the stupid celebrating already. Like Vince said, "Act like you've been there before!" Or should we start handing out little trophies to individuals after every play? Diggs' first touch and he fumbles. Then, he's hooting and hollering when he gets a first down. Enough. I thought these were men. Do you dance around your desk when you think you put out a good story?

Uh, yeah? Good morning!

Kevin from Louisville, KY

Oh Wes, why must you make me cry? But seriously, what a beautiful piece on Tyler Lancaster. I look forward to your next such project. And thank you.

Thanks Kevin. I appreciate you and everyone who took time to check out the story. So many were incredibly kind in your submissions and responses. I wish I could post them all in gratitude. My vision for the story was to focus on who Brad was and why he meant so much to Tyler. I hope I accomplished that. The Lancasters are an amazing family. Their strength, courage and resolve are inspiring. It was a privilege to tell their story.

Carlos from Green Bay, WI

I love everything that you men do for II. It honestly helps me be educated on something I truly am passionate about (Packers) and it is always well-written. I just finished reading the Tyler Lancaster story. First of all, big shout-out to Tyler as he is a pro's pro to continue to play with all of the adversity. This story turned my entire Wednesday around and has me thankful for the chance to breathe every morning. Thank you for the inspiring story and on to LAC! #1-0

My biggest takeaway from the story is to be thankful for today and constantly remind those around you how much you love them. Because you never know. What makes Tyler’s story truly remarkable is how he’s overcome adversity at every stage of his life. He wasn’t highly recruited. He didn’t get invited to the NFL combine. He didn’t get drafted. For more than 20 years, the kid was basically told he wasn’t good enough, but here Tyler is today. He made his own luck. If you know the guy, he’s earned every good thing that’s happened to him over the past 1½ years.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes, thanks for writing such an inspiring story on Tyler Lancaster. My heart goes out to him. I lost my two brothers to cancer and my dad in an accident. I was impressed with Tyler's work ethic. Is he one of the strongest players on the team? He looked to be one of the largest players on the D-line.

I’m sorry to hear that, Bret. Tyler definitely has to be in the conversation for strongest players on the team. Both he and Corey Linsley had 36 bench reps of 225 pounds at their respective pro days. I believe that’s the most on the team.

Bob from Sydney, Australia

Good to have you back, Wes. Nothing against Mike but variety is the spice of life. Speaking of, it’s been a joy to see the ball get shared around so much lately. Lots of receivers and runners doing good things. What’s the ideal way to counter such an attack? And are the Chargers set up well to do it?

The Chargers can pressure and cover, but like Kansas City, are susceptible to be run against. I think this is another game where Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams could shine. Are you sensing a theme here with the Packers’ run game? It’s becoming a weekly playmaking machine.

Chris from Appleton, WI

Jones won his second NFC Offensive Player of the Week in 2019. Has there ever been a non-QB Packer to win this award twice in the same season?

The most recent example I could find was Ahman Green (Weeks 12 and 17, 2003).

Bill from Maple Grove, MN

For those who think Aaron Rodgers was throwing the ball away on the TD pass to Williams, just watch Kevin King’s interception of Cousins earlier this season. Rodgers may not have specifically targeted Williams but he intended no Chief would get it while a Packer could!

There’s no one better in the NFL than Rodgers at playing keep away with the football.

Patrick from Kenosha, WI

I applaud the Packers GM for not making any FA trades. I think holding onto draft capital is more important. Who do you see as the next areas of need for the 2020 draft? In order I see OT, ILB, QB, WR. It might be a good time to start looking for Aaron Rodgers’ heir apparent.

I haven’t thought much about 2020 but I agree with your stance on the Packers staying out of the fray on the trading deadline. By all accounts, they should be getting Davante Adams, Jace Sternberger and Ibraheim Campbell back here soon enough. Those are the reinforcements the Packers need. This isn’t baseball where you just plug a guy in at second base. These are the guys who have been in this playbook for the last six months now.

T.J. from Eagle, WI

Who do you think is the player on our defense who will step up the most during the second half of the season?

Darnell Savage. His arrow is already pointing up and he’s only going to keep getting better.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

It seems every game Marcedes Lewis has a catch or two that goes for a big gain and in crucial moments. Can we expect him to have a bigger role moving forward? Maybe make it one more thing defenses have to plan for.

Lewis already has a pretty big role in this offense and is doing exactly what the Packers need him to do. He’s steady, consistent and effective. His success in the passing game has helped the offense become more unpredictable this year.

Tom from Walker, MI

When will Jace Sternberger be activated? What do you envision his role to be?

Sternberger and Campbell are both eligible to be activated but they also have another week to practice. Based on the three-week window, the Packers don’t have to make a decision on either player until after the Chargers game.

Joe from Franklin, WI

Who is the Packers’ backup QB? Never hear about him.

Tell me you’re joking, Joe. Tell me that’s a joke.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

The Packers’ return game on both punts and kickoffs is not what the team expects. What part of the return game seems to need the most improvement – return players or blocking? I thought the punt return ranked dead last with negative return yards. The team has improved by decreasing the number of penalties, that is helpful. Are the special teams affected like the offense by learning a new scheme with new coaches?

It was a new scheme but we’re six months into this thing now. It’s on everyone to improve. It’s the same 1/11th approach the team preaches on offense and defense. The front office shook things up this week, calling Tremon Smith back up and waiving Darrius Shepherd. Shawn Mennenga has talked about the blocking needing to be better. We’ll see whether special teams can take a step forward in LA.

Steve from Janesville, WI

Is Rashan Gary getting snaps? What is the plan for him? I thought he was going to play all over the field.

Patience, Steve. Patience. Gary is averaging around a dozen snaps per game right now. His time will come. If you’ve been watching, you can see the strides he’s making under Mike Smith’s watch.

Dave from Easton, PA

Just saw a stat that Philip Rivers has never won against our Packers in his career. Let's keep that trend going! Go Pack Go!

I mean he’s only played Green Bay three times, but sure. When Rivers is on, there are few better quarterbacks. But I think there is sometimes also a question which guy you’re getting in any given year. Rivers was a legit MVP candidate in 2018, whereas this year has been a bit more of a grind. Rivers still can go off at any time, though. He and Keenan Allen are as dangerous as quarterback-receiver combos get.

Lori from Louisville, CO

What challenges are ahead of GB with a coaching change? Is past film less valuable when it comes to tendencies?

I’m sure there will be an unscouted look or two new play-caller Shane Steichen will throw at Green Bay on Sunday. But as Matt LaFleur discussed Wednesday night, it’s tough for a team to change its entire scheme and structure in one week. There just may be a few more in-game adjustments for the Packers to make this week.

Brandon from Margate, FL

How does the medical staff differentiate between a player being hurt versus injured and how that plays into needing to be placed on the injury report? Obviously there is advanced medical equipment and some great minds involved, but for example if a player takes a few big hits on Sunday and wakes up on Monday with aches and bruises, does that qualify for needing to be designated on the injury report?

It mostly depends on whether the player requires treatment with the training staff that goes above and beyond typical rest and recovery.

Ken from Cypress, CA

My family and I have been Packer fans since the Rams left LA in ’94 (we were season-ticket holders). We will be going to the Packer game against the Chargers on Sunday and can’t wait to see a full house of Packer fans in that soccer stadium. The reason there will be no Charger fans is because they don’t really have a fan base here in LA. Twenty years went by without a team in LA so a whole generation grew up rooting for other teams.

I think it’s a challenge the Chargers will be fighting for years to come. The Rams and Chargers need to create that same culture the Lakers and Clippers have established at Staples Center. That won’t happen overnight.

Rick from Iowa City, IA

Let's say the Packers failed at their third-down attempt at the end of the Chiefs game. Could we have pulled a Belichick and taken a delay of game, and then a false start to burn a good majority of the clock? Seems to me less time on the clock would be better than 10 yards of field position.

Boy, that was quite a revelation, wasn’t it? They certainly could have tried but Kansas City wouldn’t have declined the penalty, I’m sure.

The Green Bay Packers headed inside the Don Hutson Center on Wednesday, practicing for their Week 9 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers.

George from North Mankato, MN

Mike’s answer to who will get in the winning column first, Dolphins or Bengals, got me thinking. If they both lost all games and somehow played to a tie, how would draft order be decided? Strength of schedule, points for or against?

Strength of schedule is the first tiebreaker.

Jay from St Louis, MO

Insiders, I've been listening to your podcasts periodically over the past few weeks. I must say, very well done for being unscripted. One quick question for Mike: In the “Unscripted” introduction you sometimes lead with "the one and only Wes Hodkiewicz." Have you done your research to ensure that he is, in fact, the one and only?

I did the research a few years ago. As of 2016, I was the only Weston Hodkiewicz on the planet. I want to thank my parents for help making that happen.

Tom from Sacramento, CA

Wes, I think we all owe Spoff a big thank you for allowing you the time to write such a great story on Tyler. It wasn't until just after my dad passed to cancer 18 months ago that I was able to land a decent career and be able to say, "I've made it," something I wish he was still around to see. Your story really hit home and I can't thank you enough for such a well thought piece. Keep up the good work, I'm proud of you.

I’m sure he would be proud of you, Tom. A great deal of credit goes to Spoff. He actually suggested I write the story in the first place and handled an extra Inbox day to allow me extra time to transcribe my interview with Megan on Monday. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Lexi Kinnard for helping me transcribe hours of tape, Duke Bobber for the graphics and Matt Haberkamp for helping with the layout. It took a team effort to bring Tyler’s story to life.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, thank you for the terrific story on Tyler Lancaster. How has writing stories about him, Tim Boyle, and Mitchell Henry affected your outlook on life?

Boyle was just plain fun. I love Tim’s story, where he came from and the foundation that’s helped support him. I’ve told him this but I honestly couldn’t imagine having the college career he did and still having a desire to play football. That’s willpower. The recent stories I’ve written on Lancaster, Mason Crosby, Morgan Burnett and Kenny Clark have all touched me. I’m an emotional person, which is probably what draws me to these type of stories. The triumph of the human spirit captivates me. As for the Henry story, that one is special to me. It’s in a league of its own.

Kabir from Ponte Vedra, FL

Major kudos to Wes for the Tyler Lancaster profile. Your long-form stories create profound empathy for these players, whose lives and history deserve the attention. With at least as many stories as players, how do you research and choose among them?

The ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes it’s a contact I might know or a tip I receive. I wrote the story about Christian Ringo saving a man at a waterpark three years ago after someone DM’ed me on Twitter.

Darrin from Cataract, WI

No question. I just wanted to thank Wes for the amazing article about Tyler Lancaster. I’m sitting in a tree stand trying to hunt whitetails and I’m crying like a baby. This article should be required reading for everyone in the entire world. Thank you Wes, so much!

Thanks Darrin. I also had no idea there was such a thing as a Cataract, Wisconsin.

Tony from Marquette, MI

Are we looking at any trades soon?

Do you consider the beginning of March soon? Then maybe.

Jeff from Tucson, AZ

Are you two enjoying the snow? I don't miss it at all.

Banned.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

So here I am, reading a "football website" at work, crying just a bit. Wes, you've done it again. You inevitably may never get the credit you deserve from the rest of the journalism world, but you've absolutely become one of my favorite writers. Writers. Full stop. Thanks man.

Kyle, you made my day with that submission. All I’ve ever wanted to do is tell stories and support my family. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do both at packers.com. Happy Halloween, everybody.

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