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Inbox: He’s done it the right way

DL Dean Lowry
DL Dean Lowry

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

A sartorial question: Have either of you picked out your outfit for the first day of camp or are you winging it?

I did it before my first full season on the beat in 2012. I laid out my entire outfit the night before an 8 a.m. practice. Rob Demovsky, Jason Wilde and a handful of others gave me grief about it. I now know why after witnessing how grueling a five- or six-month NFL season can be. Good morning!

Drew from Billings, MT

Dean Lowry extension before Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez?

The biggest name isn’t always the first to sign. It depends on the player and the price point. The Packers also bought themselves an extra year of negotiations with Clark by picking up his fifth-year option this offseason. Still, Clark, Martinez, Kyler Fackrell or even Geronimo Allison could wind up with extensions at some point. I just want to say this quickly about Lowry – he’s done it the right way. He doesn’t make a whole lot of noise in the locker room, but Lowry has been a consistent, steady rotational lineman for the Packers the past two years. You need those guys on your roster.

Jeremiah from South Bend, IN

Wes, Mike mentioned the importance of fundamentals on special teams. This got me wondering about fundamentals and player intuition. Do fundamentals transfer readily between positions and/or ST? If a player, for instance, has excellent footwork in one element of the game, will it translate on a fundamental level (e.g. stance width, inside/outside foot position) to other elements of the game or on ST? If not, how can coaches develop fundamentals, aside from the obvious of practice?

I think it does. If you’re a disciplined, smart player on special teams, those skills often translate. It’s why someone like James Crawford is strong on all four-core units and not one specifically – he stays in his gap and doesn’t draw flags. I can also think of eventual starters such as Desmond Bishop and Allison who shined on defense and offense, respectively, after thriving with the oft-forgotten unit.

Zach from Harrington, DE

I was reading an article this morning that said if Kevin King stays healthy, he is undoubtedly the No. 1 corner for the Packers. I thought Jaire Alexander was coming in this season as our No. 1.

King and Alexander tackled this question in a story Spoff wrote for the Packers Yearbook (on shelves soon). They both want to be shutdown corners who match the game’s top receivers. The good news for Green Bay is King and Alexander have complementary skill sets. If both are healthy, there may be elite receivers Alexander mirrors well and others King could potentially be the best fit against. That No. 1 designation really doesn’t matter as long as both are healthy.

Dave from Yeovil, UK

Is it a massive boost to have someone on the team that always seems confrontational and in the opposition's face? Richard Sherman and Josh Norman have been that way in recent years. Does Jaire Alexander fit that mold? His ability in his rookie season seems to back up the chat.

Alexander is a confident and expressive corner, but I don’t see him as the type who gets in a receiver’s face unless he’s provoked. He seems to do more with his actions than his words.

Dave from Coloma, MI

Just think, tomorrow evening after one day of practice, you and Mike will be expected to know who will be on the 53-man roster, the starting lineup on both sides of the ball, and what the team's record will be at the end of the season. Besides these things, what is something that you are really looking forward to tomorrow?

My favorite part of the first day of training camp is always Mason Crosby and a few players riding the adaptive bikes for kids with disabilities. Those are special moments for those kiddos and make me thankful for my son’s good health.

Linda from Lyndon Station, WI

How is it going with the new players? Are they able to mesh with the returning players?

It’s been natural. I was doing an interview with Kenny Clark a few months ago for that Mother’s Day story I wrote on him and mom. For most of my 45-minute interview with Kenny, Za’Darius and Preston Smith were chopping it up with several other defensive players once a few lockers down. If that’s any indication, the new pieces seem to fit.

David from Appleton, WI

What position battle are you most looking forward to watching in training camp?

Receiver. Absolutely, positively receiver.

Eric from Mequon, WI

It seems there have been more ex-Packers that fizzled with new teams after being released than those who flourished. Outside of one-year players like Jared Cook, do the stats back that up? Were Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson really good at getting rid of players right before the “career crash?”

I feel this was one of Thompson’s greatest strengths as a GM. He had an excellent feel of when to extend players and when to allow others to reach free agency. There are always exceptions, but Thompson saved the Packers a lot of cap space over the years with his due diligence. Furthermore, most guys Thompson signed to extensions tended to play out that entire contract in Green Bay. That goes a long way in building trust with your locker room.

Adam from Glens Falls, NY

What’s with the clamor for neutral sites? The last two I can remember (Canton, Mexico) were relative disasters. While London seems to work well logistically, the games are often clunky and jet-lagged. Why replace a (some say) meaningless preseason game with a sub-par exhibition? Money?

This is what can be fun about Inbox – my stance all along has been keep 16 regular-season games and four preseason for reasons I’ve previously stated. I finally entertain the idea of the international series and then the question is why get rid of the preseason game? I simply was saying if the NFL is adamant about moving to 17 games, then it should be an international neutral-site game.

Tim from St Louis, MO

In response to Carol from Highland Park, are we forgetting a current Packer who rejoined after playing elsewhere? Tramon Williams?

Easy oversight. For us media types, it’s like he never left.

Paul from Bay View, WI

David from Minneapolis asked if there were any topics you haven't covered and I haven't seen this covered yet? Is Matt LaFleur’s method of preaching nutrition much different than what Coach McCarthy used to do? I know MM tried several approaches to see if it would cut down on soft-tissue injuries and such, but I'm not real sure how the results fared. I do know we still had lots of injuries regardless. Do you know if ML uses a totally different approach?

It is going to look similar. The Packers made a change with promoting Chris Gizzi to strength and conditioning coordinator but many of the same elements (nutritionist, training staff, etc.) remain in place. I can tell you the organization takes in all the available information and constantly re-evaluates how it trains players.

George from North Mankato, MN

I’m not sure why people are making a big deal about having two kickers in camp. It seems like it makes sense to have multiple options at all the specialist positions. One benefit is the inherent competition to beat out someone trying to take your job. Another would be the team’s familiarity with a specialized player should an in-season need for a replacement arise. It was only a couple years ago, we needed to utilize more than one long snapper during the year.

With all the injuries Greg Zuerlein has had, that was kind of the role Sam Ficken filled in Los Angeles the past few years. Whether the Packers want to look at a young kicker or just take some kicks off Mason Crosby’s leg, competition is competition. It’s nothing Crosby hasn’t been through before. At the end of the day, the best man for the job will be the one kicking in Chicago on Sept. 5.

Jack from Thouars, France

With some talk of online viewership of the NFL and advertisements, it got me thinking. Do you think we’ll ever see the day of an NFL streaming app? Like Disney Plus or Prime Video, or is it more likely a pay-per-view format would take place first?

A pay-per-view format isn’t happening. That business is on life support. Everything is subscription and streaming now. Still, I don’t see an online-only service being able to outbid the major TV networks for exclusive rights to games anytime soon. Live sports are big business.

Jeff from Bark River, MI

Have the Packers ever been invited to practice with another team at their facility? Would you find it easier to host or be the guest of inter-squad scrimmage?

To be clear, scrimmage is not a synonym for practice. They’re not scrimmaging. I’m sure the Packers have been asked about traveling to practice elsewhere, but the organization has made it clear it would never take away any public practices from Green Bay.

Brian from Madison, WI

Building off Matthew’s comment yesterday about having the AFC and NFC alternate hosting a hypothetical 17th game, what about giving the home games to the conference that won the previous year’s Pro Bowl? Would that help make that game meaningful again?

Because that worked so well for Major League Baseball.

Al from Green Bay, WI

There is nothing like going to a game at Lambeau Field. Still, high-definition, 70-inch TVs make the in-home viewing experience pretty good (and free). What can/should NFL teams do to keep filling the stands?

This summer, I drove 18 hours with a friend to Atlantic City for a Professional Fighters League card. I could have easily sat on my couch in Suamico and watched it for free on ESPN2. I didn’t go for the optimal level of comfortable – I went because I wanted to create a memory. NFL teams are doing all they can to enhance the live experience with high-speed internet, faster concessions and more game-day amenities, but the real question is for fans. Do you want to sit on your couch or do you want to be part of something?

Clint from Port Washington, WI

The question yesterday regarding pass interference and challenges had me thinking. If the offense has a play end with something questionable, it can either quickly get to the line to force a quick decision from the other team, or slow it way down to give its coaches a good look. Do you see any ways the defense can have any control?

They can lay on the football for a few extra seconds or “cramp” up. That’s all I could think of.

Darren from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Wes, you can’t possibly think we’re going to let you off the hook. You absolutely must share with us the story describing how you were booed in the team meeting after you were hired. Jordy and you had a good laugh about it. Isn’t it alright if the II had a laugh, too?

We had a brief video package for the digital and broadcast department during the first team meeting of training camp in 2016. Afterwards, we all got introduced. Larry got a nice round of applause, a few others received some claps and then came Wes Hodkiewicz, the former newspaper guy. It was all in good fun…I think.

Charles from Omaha, NE

Will packers.com livestream the bike riding? If so, when?

Yes, the plan is to livestream the bike riders before every public practice (besides Family Night). We’ll probably start around 9:30 a.m. CT for 10:15 a.m. practices.

Packers players moved into the dorms at St. Norbert College on July 23, 2019 to prepare for training camp.

Brian from Sussex, WI

You two have to coordinate shirts? Like there isn't the best Packers store possible in the building you work. Sounds like a good excuse to buy more Packers gear.

It’s more complicated than it sounds. My first year here I rotated the same three shirts for like third-quarters of the season. Today, I bring an extra pullover in case Spoff wears the same polo as I did.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, would you and Mike consider doing a weekly WYMM,G (What You Might Have Missed, Grammatically) video? Larry could loan you his telestrator and you could fix an anonymous, poorly worded II submission or diagram a sentence.

Mine would have to be first after that blunder I had at the Indiana service station last week.

Eli from Yardley, PA

Wes, Mike did a fantastic job illustrating when a pronoun is being used as a subject or object. Brought me back to elementary school and diagramming sentences on a chalk board. Can we see a few diagram examples in the next “Packers Unscripted” video?

I’ve already ordered the pocket protectors. All kidding aside, Spoff is a true master. He could easily walk into a classroom today and be a terrific English professor/teacher.

Aaron from Dallas, TX

Wes, do you give Mike a high-five when you take the Inbox over for him? Do you consider yourselves akin to a wrestling tag team or more like a track relay team?

We’re a tag team running the slowest relay time imaginable.

Theologos from Athens, Greece

Wes, you were spot on when you wrote "Right now, the Packers are viewed nationally as a 6-9-1 club.” Personally, I like it when we are the underdogs. But I read an "expert" predicting in ESPN that we won't make the playoffs the next three years. Maybe MLF should print it and display it in the locker room.

That analyst should reconsider their occupation. Anyone who covers the NFL knows all 32 teams can be playoff contenders within three years with the way the league is structured.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

Everybody keeps counting down the days until football season, which is fine. I love me some football. I hoot and holler at my TV for 21 straight weeks just like the rest of us Inboxers, and hope for more than 21 weeks of Packers football. But on the flip side, I also get a little bit sad this time of year. Summer ends way too fast. The cold sets in too soon, and the snow will fall before I'm ready. I vote that we stop counting down the days until kickoff, and enjoy the ride we're on.

I agree. Back in my newspaper days, I used to take my two weeks of vacation back-to-back every August once training camp started because then we’d have no shortage of content for the daily paper. Nowadays, it’s hard to squeeze an off day in. Enjoy the sun before it sets, y’all.

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