Presented by

Inbox: He's extremely well-liked around here

Their job now is to avoid making their decisions too easy later

210611-insider-inbox-2560
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett

Laura from Arlington, VA

Who is the minicamp player that reported in the best physical condition?

Too many to list. The team as a whole looked in great shape.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The biggest surprise from the minicamp was…

Juwann Winfree. He made a bunch of plays in 11-on-11. If he can perform like that when the pads go on and the contact ramps up this summer, he'll be worth watching at a crowded receiver position.

Doug from Lafayette, OH

How does Jordan Love's all-around display this week affect the philosophy of the team at it approaches training camp?

Minimally if at all. Love is showing the progress they planned on and expected, but it doesn't change the organization's desire to have Aaron Rodgers remain the team's starting QB, if that's what you're asking.

Gerald from Santa Fe, NM

Guys, I appreciate your work and wonder if there is a "storyline" you most enjoy writing. Do you prefer GOAT (Simone Biles), striving but falling short (Lexi Thompson), rising above adversity to succeed (Donald Driver), complex relationships (prima donna vs. Gutey), other?

For me, the best storylines are the fact-based ones no one else is telling, or telling effectively.

Braden from Dayton, OH

I would love to hear more about Nathaniel Hackett's role in the offense. Where has he made the biggest difference? In light of the success of the offense the last couple years, could he be in discussion for a head coaching job in the near future?

Shannon from Ovilla, TX, asked a similar question, bringing up Hackett's family pedigree and coaching in conference title games three of the last five years. Hackett got an interview for the Falcons' top job last January, so he's headed in that direction someday. I can't speak to the specifics of his role, other than that he's involved in every facet of the offense – designing the playbook, devising game plans, teaching concepts, etc. LaFleur and the players trust him a lot, and from the sounds of it he keeps things light and entertaining in meetings while getting the work done and the ideas across. He's extremely well-liked around here.

Daniel from Allen, TX

Even though the Packers decided to move on from Kirksey, I was surprised that they went out and signed Campbell. They seem to have good young competition there with Oren Burks, Krys Barnes, Kamal Martin, Isaiah McDuffie and Ty Summers. But I guess the old saying applies here: "You can always add more ingredients to the soup."

Especially this time of year. As I've said in this space countless times over, the personnel department doesn't worry about having to cut good players at the end of training camp. Their job now is to avoid making their decisions too easy later.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Good morning Mike. Notwithstanding the QB situation I would say there are going to be a lot of NFL quality players the Packers will not be able to keep just from a numbers perspective. I know some will be lost to injury but the decisions especially at WR, OL, TE and now ILB will be interesting going through training camp. I can't say I recall another year the Packers had this deep of roster. What is your opinion three months out from game day?

I'd say this is the deepest 90-man roster I've seen since at least 2014.

Statham from Pineview, GA

Are the majority of players just as unaware of how the salary cap works as most fans are? My reason for asking is that I noticed a lot of current and retired players in awe that it only took a second for Julio Jones, with many of them questioning why their team did not trade for him at that price.

No one needs to understand all the minutiae and machinations of the salary cap to have an appreciation for how the NFL works, but Vic was absolutely spot-on when he always used to say, "To know the game, know the cap."

Ty from Elkhart, IN

I am rather proud to have called Krys Barnes arguably the biggest steal of last year's rookie class – he had no business going undrafted. Patrick Taylor was the other guy I pegged, but injury stole his 2020 season...can I get an update as to how you think Taylor is looking? Am I going to go 2-for-2 possibly after a year delay?

I mentioned Taylor the other day regarding the No. 3 running back competition. But I draw absolutely zero conclusions about running backs without pads on. We really have to see them in preseason games, how they hit the holes, break tackles, pass protect, etc.

Jeremy from New Glarus, WI

At what point during the offseason does the coaching staff start putting together a depth chart of the roster?

They do it before OTAs start, so there's a plan for how to divide up the 11-on-11 reps in practice. But it's always fluid and guys are sharing reps with different units, and in some cases playing different positions (offensive linemen, for example). They'll do another one before the start of training camp, but again, it'll be fluid and constantly adjusted.

Alex from Lake Forest, IL

It has been a long time since we've had a potential starting QB without the reps and NFL experience of a seasoned starter. To assess Love's understanding of the playbook and formations, will coaches ever intentionally (and as a surprise) line a player up in an incorrect location to see if he can diagnose and correct the mistake? How does Love best get accustomed to this type of pre-snap readiness?

It's on the player to line up in the correct position, always. The coaches want the QB focused on any adjustments that have to be made based on the defense, and he may switch someone's alignment accordingly. But he's not tasked with correcting his own teammates on the basics.

Josh from Portland, OR

How difficult is it for a QB like Blake Bortles to learn the offense while not getting many reps in practice? While he has some advantages in accrued seasons and familiarity with coaching, picking up a new offense seems like it can take a full season of work, even for starting QBs getting the lion's share of reps. Similarly, how difficult is it for the coaches to evaluate a player with minimal reps?

It's definitely a challenge for Bortles, but this spring has been focused on Love out of necessity given all the circumstances over the last 15 months. Regarding evaluation, that's more for training camp, but it is difficult with few reps, and players have to maximize whatever they get.

Concetta from Gurnee, IL

Which team will be the biggest threat to the Packers this year?

In the NFC North, I'd say the Vikings. The moves they've made on defense should have that group looking like a Zimmer unit of old rather quickly. The wild card is the Bears and rookie QB Justin Fields. If he takes over early and lights it up, it'll change the look of the division.

Take a look at the Packers' final practice of minicamp at Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

Hard to believe the Hail Mary run was five years ago already. I just had a thought that likely doesn't fit the NFL, but what would happen if rookie contracts took on an arbitration model similar to MLB? Guys on rookie deals winning MVPs and All-Pro honors can cash in sooner. Guys underperforming make more of a base-level salary. This is a train wreck of an idea, right?

It would get nowhere in collective bargaining in the NFL. The rookie wage scale from the 2011 CBA was a win-win for owners and veteran players. The owners saved themselves headaches about paying young players who don't work out too much money, and veterans shifted more salary dollars their way. Both sides seem pretty happy with the arrangement, so I wouldn't expect any interest in altering it.

Joe from Stanley, VA

I was looking at Aaron Jones' player profile and noticed he has one defensive play to his name back in 2019. What position did he play and what is the line of reasoning/circumstance where you use your RB on defense?

If you're referring to the one "miscellaneous tackle" in his statistics, it occurred following a fumble return or interception return. Those count as tackles for offensive players.

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

Not to beat a dead horse while time flies, but regarding the outdoor kicker debate: Mason Crosby and Tucker kick outdoors at home (eight games each). Crosby probably kicks in more extreme weather, but his divisional games include dome games at MIN and DET. Tucker's do not. Additionally, there are seven total NFC teams with domes and only four AFC teams, although a few of the stadiums are retractable. I love Crosby, but I think Tucker may have a leg up! (yeah, pun intended)

Tucker is a tremendous kicker, and he's only 31 so he could be around a long while yet. No matter where his career goes from here, I'll always remember the hand (or foot) he had in a great Packers moment. In Week 15 of 2013, Tucker hit a 61-yard field goal in the final minute at Ford Field for an 18-16 Ravens win over the Lions, which knocked Detroit down a peg in the division and helped set up the winner-take-all, fourth-and-8-from-the-48 drama at Soldier Field two weeks later.

Matthew from Fort City, PA

Mike and Wes, first off, I just want to say thank you for all the great packer coverage you guys do. Living in PA, it means a lot! My question is regarding the OL and ILB positions. Who are your best guesses to start at both positions after all said and done?

On the offensive line, it all depends on whether David Bakhtiari is ready for Week 1 or not. The Packers will have their contingencies. At inside 'backer, I would have said Barnes has one spot with Martin and Summers vying for the other, but the signing of Campbell changes the whole equation. We definitely have to wait and see.

Lyle from St. Louis, MO

Who among GB WRs would you consider a good physical hand-fighter to hone Stokes' skills in this area? On Thursday you sited Davante Adams accelerating Jaire Alexander's advancement, but Adams' feet avoid nearly all contact at the LOS, which is very unusual for NFL WRs in general. GB has some tall receivers but are any of them a physical test, in your opinion?

I certainly get the sense Devin Funchess is based on his size. I also think Allen Lazard has made strides in that area.

Thomas from Evansville, IN

People have been quiet about Devin Funchess, but I have a feeling he's in store for a big year. Besides Adams, which WR are you most excited to watch this year?

I'm most intrigued to see if Marquez Valdes-Scantling can catch the ball more consistently in his contract year.

Former Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi was born on June 11, 1913. Take a look at photos of him from his coaching career.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

Love's attitude to be ready to start Week 1 is spot on. Even if AR is here, he could get hurt and Love needs to step in. So if AR were here right now, do you think Love would still be getting most of the reps to continue his development (and partly make up from lack of offseason last year)? Seems like established vets often practice a bit less to avoid injury, so I'd think AR wouldn't be taking that many reps anyway to make sure the backups are ready, if needed.

I would agree.

Max from Annapolis, MD

James from Easton mentioned the concern about team chemistry due to the support Bakhtiari and Adams gave to Rodgers yesterday. I felt the opposite. Listening to the way each player is attacking the process and compartmentalizing the Rodgers situation, I am much more assured that the team's locker room is in great shape, with great leadership, and can endure these "distractions." Have you noticed the same disconnect I have between the national media takeaways and the local guys/fans that I have?

I don't pay much attention to generalizations the national media make about the team I cover. The local work on this beat is outstanding across the board from multiple outlets, with plenty of informed fingers on the pulse. That said, it's very difficult to get a true feel for the locker room without being in there. I agree the words from some key players have eased concerns, and LaFleur spoke very confidently Thursday about the current status. That's promising.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Is there a correlation between Jaire looking like he's been hitting the weights and the possibility that he could be utilized inside at the star position now that they've drafted Eric Stokes?

I don't think so. I think Alexander would have gone about his offseason the same way regardless.

Max from Baltimore, MD

I get that people want certainty when it comes to their sports teams. I get that controversy and drama sell. However, we've reached a state in which reporters are reporting on what reporters have speculated about. That's not news. It's barely worthy of being called gossip. How do we return to sanity?

Stop clicking on crap and/or watching the wasteland.

Levi from St. Paul, MN

Hello II. Thanks again for answering our questions. It means a lot to us fans to have a forum to vent to or ask questions. My question today is at home games with a later start time, do you guys get a chance to walk around Lambeau parking lot and do any tailgating? If you did I bet you would get offered many tasty treats and even a beer or two. Just curious as to whether or not you get to actually enjoy the atmosphere on game day before getting down to business.

Game days are our longest work days of the week, so as much as I'd love to have a beer during pregame, I have to save all my energy (and brain cells) for the job. No matter what time a game ends, we usually have around 5-6 more hours of work to do. But for now, all I care about is I'm off on a three-day weekend. Happy Friday.

Advertising