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Inbox: He's taken it to a new level

You can tell how serious Rashan Gary is taking this opportunity 

RB AJ Dillon

Mike from Madison, WI

I am so glad practice has started, as I'm sure you are. I know you will be informing all of us on how practice is going. I do find it rather funny people are asking your opinions after one day of practice. Things like, "Is player X better than player Y?" "Why was this guy released and not that guy?" How do you get past that?

That may have bugged me more in the past but I don't even care this year. I'm just pleased as a peacock to be talking about real football again. This is as normal as normal is going to get for me this summer.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

"Civility Now!!"

This came so close to being the headline for today's Inbox. Perfect.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Looks like AJ Dillon is the early frontrunner for underwear MVP.

I can't argue with that. He's taken it to a new level.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

It seems in years past running backs have trouble seeing the field if they can't be completely trusted in the pass-blocking arena. How did Dillon fare in that category in college?

Yeah, he was fine there. Of course, the NFL is an entirely different level but he has a good framework for it. And Ben Sirmans is one of the best in the business at teaching those fundamentals.

Keith from Lindenhurst, IL

Seemingly at the start of each camp there is talk of a player(s) who looks to have transformed their body from last year (added or lost weight) or added muscle. Last year the talk was Aaron Jones stopped eating candy. Who looks different this year?

Rashan Gary is that guy for me, but it's not because of some radical change. With Kyler Fackrell gone, you can tell how serious Gary is taking this opportunity. He still weighs around 276, but he toned up his body this offseason. Gary ate clean, did a lot of cardio and frankly grew more into his body. Everyone has these astronomical expectations for Gary and I get it. He was the 12th overall pick last year, but he's still only 22. Comparably, Za'Darius Smith didn't play his first NFL snap until he was 23.

Caroline from La Crosse, WI

Tim Boyle is such a class act!

He really is. The story I wrote last year on Tim is one of my favorites I’ve ever written. And I think his crazy journey is what has made him such a good pro. When you face the type of adversity Boyle did, it tests your constitution, and he passed that test with flying colors. It's only two days but Boyle is off to a strong start to his third NFL training camp.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Special-teams play improved as the season progressed last year. Tyler Ervin was an important part of that. Who else is being given a chance as a punt and kickoff returner?

Ervin is the leader in the clubhouse for both jobs but Darrius Shepherd and Jaire Alexander can do it, too. I'm sure the young receivers will rotate in there as well.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

I don't have any links to back this up, but I believe the NFL preseason usually sees more ACL injuries than the entire regular and postseason. Is this something on most teams' minds come the first month of the season where guys are playing live for the first time?

I don't have any statistics to cite here other than Mike McCarthy mentioning several years ago how NFL teams averaged two ACL tears per training camp. Personally, I've always liked the preseason because it gives guys on the roster bubble a chance to showcase themselves. But I don't see the lack of a preseason having any impact on starters who rarely play in those games anymore.

David from San Antonio, TX

Wes, any thoughts on Randy Ramsey?

He's impressed me during these first two practices. He has a year on the practice squad under his belt and runs well for a 260-pound man. That No. 4 job at outside linebacker is there for the taking. It's a great opportunity for Ramsey, Jonathan Garvin, Tim Williams and the rest of that room.

Theodore from St. Louis, MO

Am I the only one who doesn't want piped-in crowd noise for games, sans fans? Let us hear all the hits and spits, I say!

I'm not in favor of noise for the sake of noise. If there are to be no fans, then play the game in front of no fans. I see no reason to fake it. Now if the networks want to go that route in their broadcasts, that's something they can take up with their viewers.

Steve from Kansas City, MO

Great news on Kenny Clark signing! Do we have enough to be able to extend/re-sign David Bakhtiari? Great left tackles don't grow on trees, and he's obviously going to be expensive given his position and his skill at playing it.

The Packers need to be mindful of their cap space but I still think they'll get something done with Bakhtiari at some point. You don't let your best players walk out the door, especially when all you can get back in return is at most a third-round compensatory pick. He signed his last extension days before the start of the regular-season opener, so there's time.

The Green Bay Packers held their second training-camp practice of 2020 at Ray Nitschke Field on Aug. 17.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

Is Clay Matthews' career over – except for the one-day "retire as a Packer" contract?

Not necessarily. He had eight sacks last year. But I'd imagine the money has to be right. I can't see Matthews playing for the veteran minimum.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Wes, congrats on having the first question answered during Aaron Rodgers' press conference!

Thank you. My mother-in-law asked me yesterday if I ever got my question in. I'm not sure what happened during Rodgers' presser but unfortunately I then ran into a different technical problem. I recovered in time for Kenny's presser, though.

Roy from Balen, Belgium

Hi guys, I thought I've read once that it does only take an NFL veteran one practice of training camp to see which rookie is NFL material. How much time would you say it takes you to assess this, and are there any cases where you were completely wrong about someone, or right on the money? Also, and this is what I really wanted to know, how is our rookie QB handling himself on the practice field?

I think it was T.J. Lang who said that on Twitter and David Bakhtiari concurred. It definitely takes longer for me to realize who can play. But, as Spoff can attest to, I was super high on Allen Lazard and Chandon Sullivan last year. Both were around the ball and making plays on a daily basis. On the other hand, there have been numerous times I thought a rookie draft pick could play after the first week of practice and was proven wrong. That's just the rub of the green.

Brock from Albany, NY

Curious if either of you fellows have heard about the new saliva COVID testing that came out of Yale. The thread I saw was very inspiring, thoughts on its possible use in the NFL? Thanks as always.

I read about it but don't know much more than that. If there's a faster and more efficient means of testing, I'm all for it. I think the NFL has its process right now but these things change daily. Go science!

Sreedharan from Pewaukee, WI

Mike/Wes: If you guys don't have real jobs, then I would also like to have similar "not real jobs" (which I think I have). It must suck to be Doc from Sheboygan – stuck in a job that he/she hates!

It's all good. I know I'm living a lot of folks' dream. But I've worked my tail off to get here, too. I've cooked food, scrubbed bathrooms, cleaned up slaughterhouses and asked my family to make a ton of sacrifices to help me get where I am. I'm also so dang proud of the content Spoff and I produce on a daily basis at packers.com.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Thank goodness for the start of practice and thank goodness for Insider Inbox! Especially this year. I live in Cedar Rapids and am still without power or internet since Monday of last week. But I now have phone service so I can catch up on a week's worth of II with a mobile hotspot! As if social distancing, shelter in place, COVID-19 weren't enough, I learned another new phrase from 2020: Derecho. That was the most incredible storm I have ever seen. Let's get 2020 back to normal! Go Pack!

My goodness, what is going on out there? A friend of mine in Connecticut had the same thing happen to him. I think he was out of power for like five or six days. I don't know what I would do. I'm happy we can be a source of refuge for you, though. Hang in there, Tom.

Robert from Harris, MN

Do you find it as interesting as I that when some in the "let's stick to football" crowd get on to certain topics not related to football they refuse to let them go?

I'm just going to leave this right here…and move on to the next question.

Nick from Springfield, MO

With the position change, Tyler Ervin's new number HAS to be 88, right? Asking for a friend...

Thankfully, Evan Baylis beat him to it.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Pads (today) Wes. You ready to strap 'em up? Will there be the sound of popping in the air?

I've never been more ready to feebly judge who won a one-on-one rep between an offensive and defensive lineman. Let's do this thing.