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Inbox: He's the most underrated defensive tackle in the NFL 

The Packers are the gravity pulling us all together

DL Kenny Clark
DL Kenny Clark

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, fine job on Outsider Inbox! So many moving stories about games impacting readers' lives! I've since heard a great one that you might offer as an OI bonus. My friend Tom from Brookfield's sweet mom, Jane, went into labor midgame but didn't say a word. Pack wins, she tells hubby Hank, and they race to ER. Tom always assumed his birthdate was delayed into the next morning by an ordinary game, then he recently Googled it. Turns out his mom gritted through the 1962 NFL Championship win over the Giants.

Isn't that something? Jane's a real trooper. Thanks to everyone who participated in this year's Outsider Inbox. The response is a testament to this football team and its devout fanbase. I've personally grown to love this time of the year. Instead of talking about nothing for the sake of speaking, it's great to reflect and share some heartwarming stories about the gravity pulling us all together. I think we hit the sweet spot with 10 questions over five days, too. I can't wait for 2025.

Ross from Hudson, WI

Going into last year's training camp it felt like there were a number of question marks, many of which became exclamation points by year end – Jordan Love, WRs, TEs, etc. This year, there seems to be a number of question marks, as well: Best five on OL, starting LBs, half of the starting DBs, new defensive coordinator/scheme, etc. The powers that be took a similar method of addressing the areas of weakness this year as last, so the question now is, which concerns will become strengths by year end this season?

I'm excited about the secondary and the safety position in particular. Xavier McKinney was an exclamation point the day he signed his contract, but overseeding the lawn on the backend was a pragmatic move on Brian Gutekunst's part. The addition of Javon Bullard, Evan Williams and Kitan Oladapo not only provides depth on defense but also special teams, where safeties can be extremely valuable. Anthony Johnson Jr. and Zayne Anderson aren't going anywhere, either. They're both hungry to compete. Overall, it's a fresh start for an essential position.

Keith from Springfield, MO

Thanks for all your effort! What would you say are the primary professional and personal characteristics that make Matt LaFleur a winner and highly rated NFL head coach? The media's highest rating for ML so far has been seventh and I think he deserves to be rated much higher – even before he wins a SB with the Pack (just a matter of time). His teams have won so many games starting from his first year! I think now that ML has the ability to be very tough, yet not offend his players?

He's creative as hell and always willing to learn. To LaFleur's successes, I would also attribute his ability to strike a balance between staying true to himself and also evolving as a head coach and leader. I think LaFleur would tell you he's a much different man today than he was when the Packers hired him on Jan. 8, 2019.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Safe to assume Jordan Love's arrow is pointing straight up. In fact, it's so high up there I don't know if we can see it. I would imagine that's how a lot of Packers fans feel. But is that fair? He played absolutely lights out over the second half of last season. And he's so young and just starting to get real game experience the expectation must be MVP-level or bust. I just wonder how he'll respond to that added pressure and whether that pressure is justified. Progress isn't always linear.

I don't disagree progress and production aren't easily predictable, but that's where the third 'P' matters: the person. Of all the variables this upcoming season, the one of which I worry least is pressure affecting Jordan Love. Composure is his greatest gift. Love is still only 25. He's going to make mistakes, but it won't be because the lights are too bright for him.

Jason from Mt. Prospect, IL

Having Keisean Nixon in his prime, fully healthy, and very low workload as a returner to this point in his career makes me excited about this new kickoff platform. However, injuries happen. I'm curious to see whom our returner would be if Nixon were to need time off. Bo Melton did a lot of returning in his college days, although I think mostly on punt returns. Jayden Reed is too valuable as a receiver to toss out there. I'm not sure Samori Toure makes the 53...Whom do the Packers have in mind?

It's a worthwhile question given the Packers have the option to put two returners back in the landing zone. Reed is listed as the backup to Nixon but seems more like an emergency option at this point. Toure will be in the conversation. Dimitri Stanley was catching balls in OTAs, as well. MarShawn Lloyd is another name to follow. It was mentioned after the draft the rookie third-round pick could be a return candidate, too.

Dave from Gwinn, WI

I know this has no merit in your eyes, but Kenny Clark wasn't even in ESPN's list of top 5 DTs. Is Justin Madubuike seriously better than Kenny? I swear there's a "South Park" joke in here somewhere...

I'm not going to compare one defensive tackle to another, but if you can't appreciate what Kenny Clark has done here the past eight years, then you're clearly haven't watched the Packers. Clark has been the guy on that defensive line for six years while playing a ton of snaps in a read-and-react front. In my opinion, he's the most underrated defensive tackle in the NFL. I'll stand on that. Maybe it's because Kenny is a quieter dude who doesn't toot his own horn, but I've never understood how Clark gets continually overlooked in All-Pro voting and other league polls.

TK from Grafton, WI

When I started my Packers fandom in the 1970s, the draft was 12 rounds long. In 1994, it was shortened to seven rounds. Is the current value of a seventh-round pick equal to what a 12th-rounder used to be? Is "last round" now worth what a "last round" used to be?

I don't think so because organizations invest so much more money and resources into preparing for an NFL Draft than they did in 1970. It's still a crapshoot to a certain extent but teams pretty much know everything there is to know about college players these days. Because every pick is valuable. Just look at how much hay the Packers made the past two years with the seventh-round selections of Rasheed Walker and Carrington Valentine, both solid pros at premium positions.

Darrel from Pueblo, CO

II, if someone is picked off a practice squad; do they have to accept, or could they refuse because they think their options are better with the current practice squad/team?

First, there's no "picking off" because every practice-squad player is a free agent. They're signed to two-way contracts that can be terminated by the player or team at any time. The player is free to sign to another team's 53-man roster each week, which is how the Packers acquired Bo Melton, Allen Lazard and Rasul Douglas. It's common once an interested team moves to sign a player off another team's practice squad for that player to go to his current team to see if it wants to sign him to its 53-man roster or increase his practice-squad pay (which counts towards the salary cap).

Lori from Broomfield, CO

How much influence on team character revolves around the direction from offensive and defensive captains?

A lot of it. LaFleur often talks about the best teams being player-led. That doesn't necessarily mean which player gives the best pregame pep talk. Julius Peppers barely spoke during his three years here, but he had an aura around him that his teammates rallied around. Marcedes Lewis had a similar impact from 2018-22.

Paul from Northglenn, CO

Can there be any greater solace in 13 world championships than having Reggie and Charles get their lone rings as Green Bay Packers?

It's a pretty sweet achievement. I wish Julius and Cedes could've joined them.

The following is the third installment in a series of photos examining the Packers' roster position by position. This installment examines the receivers and tight ends.

Kelly from Stoughton, WI

In response to Jeff from Brooklyn, Spoff said something along the lines of it's on the personnel department to know if a prospect is developing as they should. Can you expand on that? Do we have scouts that just watch our practices and young players to see how development is coming? I would think the coaches can handle that but maybe they are too invested in installs and who is making the correct play? How does that shake out? Loved to hear from Vic, eagle on a par-4.

If it's filmed, someone is watching. Obviously, coaches grade players in the classroom but Brian Gutekunst and his top lieutenants also attend practices to watch players and get feedback. Away from the field, Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur also meet frequently to discuss the state of the roster.

Josh from Playa Majagual, Nicaragua

I think we may be a little naïve in stating coaches in the NFL aren't teaching their players how to bend the rules. Offensive linemen are taught how to get away with a hold by keeping their hands inside the frame of the body, DBs are coached on when and how they can get away with a late grab to close the gap, and WRs are instructed how to draw PIs on uncatchable balls. Most coaches are former players, and they all learn and teach how to gain an edge without getting flagged. No longevity!? See: Bill Belichick.

What I took from Spoff's response was you can't teach bad technique. That's how bad habits develop. There's a difference between understanding where the lines are blurred (e.g. an O-lineman keeping his hands inside the framework of the body) and where contact could get you in trouble as a DB. Even if it's not called in a game, teams review tape every week. If you're putting bad film out there, the opposition will work to expose it.

Justin from Harrisburg, PA

I did not check the second round, but the last time all first-round QBs were re-signed by the teams that drafted them was in 2008. The Falcons drafted Matt Ryan No. 3, and the Ravens drafted Joe Flacco No. 18.

It's rare for a draft to produce first-rounders who all become franchise quarterbacks for the team that selected them, especially in this day and age when six QBs come off the board in the first 12 picks.

Daniel from Chillicothe, MO

Could a visiting team ever "buy" a win on the road? What I mean is if the visiting team's fanbase could acquire enough tickets via home-team resale on the secondary market, would it make a difference in the outcome of the game. I've been thinking about this ever since we hosted Detroit last year and they had way too many fans in attendance.

I've never attended a more Packers-friendly road game than Green Bay and the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019. There might have been 500 Chargers fans at 27,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park and Philip Rivers didn't care one bit during a 26-11 drubbing of Green Bay, which was 7-1 heading in.

Woody from Kill Devil Hills, NC

Pickled asparagus! That actually makes sense. I often put pickled cabbage on my brats (aka sauerkraut). It is time to try the asparagus. I'll have to try it with spareribs too. Thanks Wes.

Ninety percentage of the brat-constructing process is pickling the asparagus. The other half is mental.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

There was a moment in the first episode of the offseason edition of "Hard Knocks" with the Giants where there was some tension between the GM and owner when discussing Saquon Barkley's future with the team. Do you think the Packers lack of a traditional owner creates any sort of advantage in regard to situations like that? I assume there may be some more freedom for a GM if they don't have to worry about keeping the owner happy.

I'm sick of "Hard Knocks." There, I said it. Feels good. To your question, the Packers have the best setup in pro sports. The results speak to that.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

Thanks to Mike for sharing news from Vic, and a thanks to Vic for willingly sharing a brief life update. Selfishly I want to ask if the Packers media team would ever consider asking Vic if he'd be interested in engaging in a one-off Ask Vic column. But I think this is a case where it's better to let nostalgia alone than to try to chase it. Thanks again.

Not every classic band requires a reunion tour. What's important is Vic is living his best life. Count me among those happy to hear his update.

Barry from De Pere, WI

As long as we're trying out names for Mr. Policy's new columns, how'z about "Ed Talks?"

OK, these are getting better.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Insiders is such a gift to us retired folks, not the least of which is the posted date at the beginning of every Inbox. I may not know the day, but I damned sure know the date. Just don't ask me the date on Saturday or Sunday.

Haha, Insider Inbox…keeping you locked into the current date since 2017. See y'all tomorrow.

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