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Inbox: He takes nothing for granted

There’s definitely more out there in this offense

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RB Tyler Ervin

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

The first practice was "refreshing." As we all know, Mike Spofford loves a refreshing beverage. This begs the question, "To what specific beverage would Mike Spofford equate the first practice?"

Homemade lemonade. Practice starts before lunch, and while I've done my share of early-game tailgating, we're talkin' 'bout practice, man.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

Hey fellas, any chance we could get an actual measurement of AJ Dillon's thighs? I remember Earl Campbell's were reportedly 36 inches each...which was my waist size back then. Carry on.

I've seen no official measurement. I think I prefer the mystique of not really knowing.

Nic from London, UK

As Wes said, "You don't let your best players walk out the door." Worth stipulating that's true so long as they still have a few years left in their prime, they play a premium position, there are no injury red flags and you have no viable successor on the roster. Should a team ever retain a franchise icon who is past his prime if he commands a higher salary on the open market than his play actually warrants? Or is sentiment only for the one-day contract you sign them to when they retire?

Coaches and GMs whose jobs depend on winning rarely have room for sentiment. There are exceptions, but evaluators are going to know when a player is on the downside sooner than the player himself in most cases.

Ferdinand from Woodbury, MN

Talk about showcasing roster bubble talent! Would the Packers have won Super Bowl XXXI if there had been no preseason games that year?

Interesting thought. The Packers had the top-ranked offense and defense in the league in '96, so Desmond Howard's exploits in the regular season were almost a luxury. But as we all know, anything can happen in the playoffs, and Howard's postseason contributions that year vs. San Francisco and in the Super Bowl were significant. It is crazy to think he was on the chopping block before the fourth preseason game.

Darren from Alice Springs, Australia

Collectively for the team's TEs, what statistics would you consider a successful year from that position group?

I'm not going to put any specific numbers on it, because it'll be more a feel for how I see the position influencing defenses and impacting the passing game. I expect that to increase this year. If you want stats, the combined numbers of Graham, Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan last year were 63 catches for 703 yards and five TDs. That's an average of four catches for 44 yards per game, with a TD every three weeks or so, from the position group. There's definitely more out there in this offense.

Practice snapshots from Green Bay's Aug. 18, 2020, training-camp practice.

Eric from Erie, PA

I just want to say one thing. If Alex Smith plays just one down this season he should automatically be voted NFL comeback player of the year. I love Aaron Rodgers and it's remarkable the tale of those two QBs, but what Alex Smith is coming back from is unheard of and is truly an incredible story, best of luck to him.

Couldn't agree more on all counts.

Travis from Bremerton, WA

Not a Twitter guy, but you guys may get me to sign up just for the next few weeks.

Wes has always been more active on Twitter with his practice coverage, and I'm trying to up my game this summer.

Smacks from Andover, MN

Spoff/Wes, I love the work you do in II, you both have unique styles that complement each other. I have been listening to the interviews of the players and was very impressed with "Swerve." He was very humble and referenced the team in his responses vs. I or me. I am pulling for this guy in Year 2 and hope he has an impact in both special teams and the offense. Your thoughts on Tyler Ervin?

I love his nickname, as many do. I also appreciate his very even-keeled approach as a fifth-year veteran who just kept plugging away in order to get a chance like this. He takes nothing for granted and truly enjoys being a part of something, whatever part he can play.

Kate from Ravena, NY

"Like the same ol' Mason Crosby." Exactly what I wanted to hear! It's like Christmas in July...or August. Any word on when we might get Hunter Bradley back?

He's been around, not totally absent, so I suspect that means any day now.

Mike from Ames, IA

One-on-one pass-blocking/rushing reps between offense and defense get a lot of publicity this time of year. As an observer of these at practice (and disregarding talent), do you feel like either side has better odds at winning these than the other?

I always feel the offensive linemen are at a disadvantage in that drill because the pass rushers can never get caught up in traffic.

Jeff from Mesa, AZ

Since running backs are often part of the pass-blocking scheme, do they have to be able to hear, understand and react to the signals called by the offensive line?

Absolutely. They need to know which defender the center is declaring as the middle linebacker, because assignments are generally made inside-out based on the protection call and that declaration.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Well Mike, at least you didn't get the "That's kind of a strange question" response from Aaron. So you have that going for you.

Which is nice.

Max from Toledo, OH

Which position coach was the happiest after a padded practice?

I don't know. All the coaches are wearing masks so there's no way to tell who's smiling.

Paul from Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Without preseason games and no current game film on the Week 1 opponent, what will the coaches use to develop their game plan? Obviously with a familiar opponent there's last year's film but players change. Prepare to your strengths and adjust accordingly?

Sure, and prepare for the opponents' strengths, too. Even with preseason games, early-season game-planning is more about personnel than scheme. Know what the key players do well, be ready for that, and try to force them out of their comfort zone.

Jason from Rockton, IL

Hey Wes and Mike, thanks for all you do! My best friend and I have picked one road game per season the past few years to attend. Last year, great venue at KC, but missed out on seeing Mahomes in an exciting road win. This year, we had tix for TB, which was recently and understandably cancelled for us. Two great and possibly one-time-only QB matchups missed as a fan. What's the most anticipated matchup missed due to injury or other in your time with the Pack?

I think it's unfortunate we have yet to witness a Rodgers vs. Roethlisberger rematch since Super Bowl XLV. Those two staged quite the shootout in '09 at Heinz Field, and the Super Bowl the following year obviously came down to the wire. But Rodgers' collarbones kept him out of both the '13 and '17 matchups. Flynn and Hundley made both highly entertaining, albeit tough, losses for the Packers, but fingers crossed for '21.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

Was David Bakhtiari's contract in 2016 done before the season started? And is there an advantage to getting a deal done before Week 1?

Officially, Bakhtiari's last contract was signed on Sept. 13, 2016, two days after the opener. There's not a distinct cap advantage, per se, but a lot of players don't want to be potentially distracted by ongoing negotiations during a season. Also, the closer a player gets to free agency, the more he may be inclined to play it out and test the market.

Mark from Naperville, IL

With the reduced revenue from 2020 impacting the 2021 salary cap, wouldn't it make the most sense to prorate every player's 2021 salaries by the percentage difference? It would be like the common man receiving a furlough but still having a job vs. a handful of individual players losing their jobs and possibly impacting the team's performance.

When it comes to renegotiating deals due to the '21 cap situation, some players will have leverage, others won't. These won't be one-size-fits-all decisions.

Jochen from Geraardsbergen, Belgium

With the contract extension of Kenny Clark and the big contracts for Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos, how is the cap divided between offense and defense? Do teams generally aim for 50-50 or does it depend on which positions the stars play (e.g premium left tackle being more expensive than a star at another position)?

It's not really an offense-defense thing. It's more about how many players a team can afford to be paying upper-level salaries, and where they gain wiggle room by having star-caliber or premier position players on first contracts. The puzzle pieces are constantly changing shape.

Mike from Pittsfield, MA

I'm excited to see what kind of player Reggie Begelton is...that's all. I hope he makes the team.

I hope all the receivers get a chance to state their case, which will be difficult without preseason games. After Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, there are eight others on the roster and only so many reps to go around. That might be the biggest challenge this year among the position groups as far as getting a good evaluation on everyone.

David from Riverside, CA

I understand practices are closed to the public, so who are the people I see sitting in the stands? Just curious.

That's the socially distanced media, as well as several of the team's scouts.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

Thanks for being our eyes and ears at training camp. It means a lot.

The pleasure is all ours, this year more than ever. Happy Wednesday.

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