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Inbox: He's primed to do it again

The preseason will be a good stage for Geronimo Allison to show how far he’s come


Charlie from Cameron, NC

I have never looked more forward to reading about watching grass grow. Allow me to say "Wes Sod Story" did not disappoint.

And I now know more about lawn care than I ever thought I would – not that it'll help me control the crabgrass in my backyard any better. Good morning!

Jason from Rockton, IL

Longtime reader, second-time questioner. Love the Inbox. I wanted to get your initial reaction and the general fan reactions from Monday's injuries. I personally thought, "and so it begins...," but am hoping the injuries are few and far between this year.

I remember my first camp as a full-time beat writer in 2012. I finished taking attendance the first day and told my colleague, Rob Demovsky, "Wow, nearly everybody is practicing." Rob, still rocking sideburns at the time, looked at me and said, "Just wait." I quickly realized what he meant. It's just the nature of the beast. Every NFL team holds its breath until Week 1 and hopes for the best.

Jay from Land O Lakes, FL

I noticed that despite being chosen in the third round, Oren Burks was the fourth overall ILB taken in the 2018 draft. That tells me we got a high-quality player at the position, you agree?

Burks fits the mold of an inside linebacker in today's NFL. He's big enough to take on a running back in the open field, but also capable of covering skill-position players downfield. Inside linebacker is a tough position to play as a rookie, but Burks is as intelligent as they come. He also has a good neighbor to learn from in Blake Martinez.

Mitch from Sun Prairie, WI

Which players are likely to be the designated communicators on defense this year?

All signs point to Martinez once the season rolls around, but Mike Pettine said he's given that assignment to Burks a few times this summer to get the rookie used to relaying calls.

Kyle from Los Angeles, CA

Why do you and Spoff write that Martinez finished second in the league in tackles last year? His 144 total would have him tied for first and his 96 solo would have him tied for third. Quit doggin' Bear, Biff!

It's Boar, not Bear. Get my misspellings right. I kid. I don't know why there is a discrepancy between (144) and what the official record book reads on NFL GSIS (142), but I always go with the latter. It's all semantics. I think we all can agree Martinez tackled a ton of ball carriers last season. He's primed to do it again.

Brian from Springfield, IL

Is there any other position in any other sport where the talent gap is as big or comparable as playing quarterback in college football to professional football? To me the difference is just staggering.

No. It's the most difficult position in professional sports because physical talent doesn't cover it. You also have to be the smartest player on the field at all times if you're going to win consistently in this league.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

It would seem that CB has the most draft capital invested by far. Which group has the second most?

The Packers mostly have built their offensive and defensive lines through the draft over the past 6-8 years with a few exceptions. As far as recent drafts? Maybe receiver?

Jeff from Mesa, AZ

Are Muhammad Wilkerson, Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark (and Montravius Adams) interchangeable across the front three, or do you see any of them sticking to left, right or nose?

They're interchangeable in sub-packages. It's probably a little more rigid in a base front with Clark (one-technique), Daniels (three) and Wilkerson (five) having fairly defined roles in the past, but coordinators are running those packages only 10-15 percent of the time now. Adams is mainly a three-technique defensive tackle in pass-rush packages. They'll stay multiple with those guys up front.

Ross from Hudson, WI

How crucial a role has the ILB position been in Pettine's previous successful defenses?

It's a prominent position. Pettine had a pair of durable workhorses in David Harris and Bart "Can't Wait" Scott in New York. Kiko Alonso was the PFWA's defensive rookie of the year in 2013 with Buffalo, after registering 159 tackles. All three benefited from Pettine's system, and I'd expect no different with Martinez and Burks.

Stephen from Green Bay, WI

"If they're having fun, that tells me they're not thinking too much and they appreciate the simplicity." I love that. For the first time in a long time, I am excited to see our defense shine. I haven't had to worry too much about the offense since 1992. Is this the players' way of showing their knowledge of pro football game speed?

The less players have to think, the quicker they react and the more confident they're going to be in their assignments. That's been a basic principle of football since Day 1, but I think the 2011 CBA placed a premium on simplicity. As Crash Davis once told a young Nuke LaLoosh: "Don't think. It can only hurt the ball club."

Sam from Eau Claire, WI

Marcedes Lewis seems to be an underrated threat in the passing game especially on short down-and-distances and down by the goal line. Obviously Graham is going to get all the buzz, but how has Lewis looked in camp?

He's looked good in pads. Lewis always has been underrated to me. He's everything you want in an in-line blocking tight end, but don't sleep on his abilities as a receiver. If defenses focus too much on Jimmy Graham, Lewis is a savvy veteran who will make them pay in two tight-end concepts.

Mike from Green Bay, WI

We might have the most balanced teams in all three phases that we have had in sometime, do you agree? Can't wait to see Rodgers to Graham, and the defense, but I really can't wait to see JK Scott. This guy could be one heck of a weapon.

Punting typically isn't appointment viewing, but I can't wait for fans to see Scott do his thing Saturday night. As I mentioned on Twitter a few days ago, fans on the sideline literally were oohing-and-ahhing when he punted in practice last week.

Scott from Little Rock, AR

The Packers are one injury away at safety and linebacker from having almost no experience on the field. Wouldn't it make sense to bring in an experienced free agent sooner than later to learn the system? Also, which position would benefit more from having more time to learn?

I think you have to trust your 90-man roster right now. That's not to say there isn't good veteran help out there, but you have young players you have invested high draft picks in the past few years. Let's see what they can do. If it's me, I look for my young players to step up and wait until the final roster reduction to see where all the chips fall.

Lonnie from Fox Lake, IL

It seems to me that in past years of training camp I've heard the same comments about Aaron throwing interceptions. I believe I've also heard him say he likes to challenge the receivers, correct me if I'm wrong. The main thing is this is practice and I'm not really too concerned about this and other things at this point. Nobody wins championships in August and September!  Are either of you on this line of thinking (Wes and Spoff)?

Rodgers takes chances on the practice field he wouldn't otherwise take in a game. He puts his receivers in a position to make plays and keeps the ball in play rather than throwing it away. He's the most accurate QB in NFL history. I think he's going to be OK.

The Packers continued training camp practice Tuesday

Kevin from Onalaska, WI

With all the talk of Rodgers not throwing his receivers into harm's way, are we forgetting this is 2018 NFL rules and that hit on Greg Jennings in Super Bowl XLV would now be a penalty and likely ejection?

Flag or no flag, you still want to do everything possible to protect your guy.

Brian from Schertz, TX

Have you ever done follow-up stories about players that looked good in camp but didn't make the roster? I would be interested to see what these guys do if their football dreams do not come to fruition.

Every player's path is different. Some go into coaching or try their hand in the CFL or arena ball. There's also those who move on to the next phase of their life.

Amy from Bayport, MN

Thanks to II, I know other teams' scouts can only attend practices if admission is charged. Does that mean scouts are likely to be at Family Night? Is there an additional strategy determining what to show (actual or misdirection) and what is kept under wraps? Or is the opportunity to practice the skills and plays in a game-type setting too valuable to squander on gamesmanship?

Family Night is the Packers' eighth and final installation practice of training camp, so they're going to maximize their work inside Lambeau Field. Scouts or no scouts, however, I don't think the Packers want to reveal any huge secrets in front of more than 78,000 fans. They rep what makes sense and top it off with Mason Crosby kicking field goals before the fireworks. Everyone goes home happy.

Dennis from Naples, FL

With all the buzz about Jake Kumerow, make him the best punt-covering gunner in the league and you will have Jeff Janis 2.0! Something it seemed our buddy in South Carolina never quite understood, the fans' obsession with Jeff Janis.

I don't think I'll understand it, either. Kumerow is his own man. He has a lot of the same attributes Geronimo Allison showed as an undrafted rookie – good size, athleticism and catches everything thrown his way. That's how you get noticed. The deck was somewhat stacked against Kumerow with seven former draft picks on the roster, but he's done nothing but help his cause early in camp.

Jack from Chicago, IL

What are Geronimo Allison's strongest traits? He doesn't have anything particular that jumps off the page to me other than his long strides, and after-the-catch ability (maybe a little Donald Driver style in his play). A similar discussion about Jake Kumerow took place in this column.

You downplayed those two traits, but they are a good starting point for any NFL receiver. Some guys just have a knack for getting open. Allison was a late-bloomer. He came to the sport late, but took a relentless approach to improving. The preseason will be a good stage for Allison to show how far he's come over the past two years.

Jake from Fort Lauderdale, FL

Which team that did not make the playoffs do you see making a jump into the postseason this year?

The smart money has to be on the team that's getting its two-time MVP quarterback back, right? If I were to pick another team that isn't Green Bay (or Houston), I'd say San Francisco. If Jimmy Garoppolo keeps playing the way he did at the end of last season, the 49ers will be in the hunt.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The player with the early lead for "Training Camp MVP" is …

I'm not handing out any trophies, but Davante (and Montravius) Adams, Wilkerson, Graham and Kevin King are all off to a nice start to my untrained eye.

Kevin from Jupiter, FL

The roster is 90 right now. Do the salaries of all 90 men count against the cap? Then at cut-down does that free up cap space?

Only the top 51 contracts count until Week 1 of the regular season. Then, every contract counts from Aaron Rodgers all the way down to the 10th man on the practice squad.

Scott from Janesville, WI

I am an X-ray tech. I have always wondered where players go after they have an injury in a game. Is there a portable X-ray machine on standby or do they run the player to a nearby hospital and bring them back if everything is all good?

I'm not sure how it works around the NFL, but the Packers have an X-ray machine in the stadium.

Joe from East Moline, IL

What if Chicago and Roquan Smith were unable to come to an agreement? At what point would another team (GB) be able to sign him?

I believe he just goes back in the pool for the 2019 NFL Draft.

Sam from Nashville, TN

With Jake Ryan getting shut down for the year, does that mean his contract will toll and the Packers will have an opportunity to slap a restricted free agent tender on him next year?

No. He'll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. The reason Demetri Goodson's contract tolled last year was due to the fact he was on the physically unable to perform list past the sixth game of the season.

Jake from Milwaukee, WI

Hey Wes, I had a pretty crazy dream last night I think you'd get a kick out of. I dreamed that in the 2019 draft the Pack traded up to No. 2 and picked me as a WR. It was a great feeling, but I couldn't help but feel that I would let everyone down. Despite last playing football in sixth grade, Gutekunst was absolutely confident I would be a great addition.

That's most ridiculous thing I've heard since Orlando Breakers owner Doris Sherman traded the team's first-round pick for cruise tickets back in '95.

Keith from Dearborn, MI

I drive past the Detroit Lions' practice facility every morning on my commute to work. I will do my best to report in if they are whipping up any trick plays like the annexation of Puerto Rico. Just finished up the first of four years here in enemy territory. I can confirm that the Rodgers Hail Mary is still a sore spot among Lions fans. Will continue to report in.

Please keep asking. Let me know if there are any developments and be sure to enjoy that delicious Dearborn ham. I can't wait to get my hands on some in December.

David from Appleton, WI

Chris from Marshfield, WI, noted the increase in the number of Bretts in the Green Bay area due to Brett Favre's influence at the time in the 1990s. When do you think we will start to see more Biffs, Hods, and Spoffs running around Green Bay?

Check the "Congrats 2035 grad!" announcements.

Kevin from Starr Pass, AZ

So when Spoff is in Canton, are we going with "Two Things" or do you or Larry double the effort? If so, how do you decide who gets two points – coolest hat or the least amount of junk in the trunk?

Rock, paper, scissors – and we know who always wins that battle when Larry McCarren is involved.