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Inbox: He was last on the depth chart

Stars need to play and produce like stars

RB Aaron Jones, Packers vs Bears, Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dan from Waupun, WI

What are the odds Wes comes back with a pumpkin spice spray tan?

As promised, I bided my time.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

Which would you pick? To be in the Packers' draft room from the get-go with nothing off limits to you, or to be in the NFL/NFLPA contract negotiations from start to agreement signing once again no limits on you? The only caveat on both is you must never reveal what you heard or saw.

Draft room for sure. Way more interesting.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Would the league really consider position specific contract stipulations in the next CBA? I think Rodney from Gladstone's idea for RBs to renegotiate after Year 2 has a ton of merit. It just seems like a slippery slope. That and something tells me the owners secretly love not having to pay RBs' true market value. After all, the NFL is a bottom-line business and not paying someone what they're worth only adds to profit margins.

Slippery slope concerns are valid, but as for the owners' desires, they would just depend on what the union would be willing to give up in CBA negotiations to allow a specific position group to be treated differently.

Lee from Citrus Heights, CA

Brockington never led the NFC in rushing? Cliff taught me a lot about the Packers and football in general. I appreciate this site and column. Never bury the LEDE!

Brockington finished second as a rookie in 1971, 28 yards behind Denver's Floyd Little. He finished ninth in '72, and then second again in '73, but 859 yards behind O.J. Simpson's 2,003, the league's first 2,000-yard rushing season.

Jeffrey from Greenwood, MN

Good morning, Mike. Hope you have some relaxing downtime. Cap issues aside, wouldn't bringing in a veteran backup be risky in creating a QB controversy if JL struggles for an extended period of time?

Jordan Love has to play and the Packers have to find out if he's the long-term future. If that's your priority, there's no controversy in the first year to me. It's his season, and a veteran QB who's been through the battles can help him mentally in ways only fellow players can.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Besides the QB position, what two players on offense and defense need to have big years for the Packers to have a successful season?

Stars need to play and produce like stars, so I'll go with Aaron Jones and Christian Watson on offense, plus Rashan Gary and Jaire Alexander on defense.

Jim from Denver, CO

I always hear people say that the Packers like to draft versatile offensive linemen who can play different positions. What is the downside to that? Do most teams follow a similar approach or do they prefer to draft linemen who can only do one thing?

The Packers rarely are drafting an offensive lineman to step into an open starting spot on Day 1. Josh Myers at center is the only recent example. Generally, the goal is to build depth, and versatility builds better depth. Then as the player settles in at the pro level, the team can learn where he fits best and go from there.

Rudy from Cedarburg, WI

I always hear "the best five" will play on the O-line. Who decides which players are "the best five"? O-line coach, O-coordinator, Head Coach? The easy answer is "a combination of all" but … ? Really, who is it? And what factors are considered in the decision? It has to be fairly subjective? Huh?

Of course it's subjective, as well as collective. The coaches review the practice film, share their opinions, and decide who has performed the best and earned it. The quickest way to lose a locker room is to give jobs to players who don't deserve them. The players know, so the coaches let them decide it for themselves on the field.

James from De Pere, WI

Good morning, Insiders. With the clock ticking down to training camp. I am wondering what do the Packers (and the other NFL teams) do to help the players' mental health? Pressure to make the team, to perform to expectations, to justify a big salary. It could become overwhelming to some. Is there a team therapist? Thanks for the knowledge.

Dr. Chris Carr is the team's director of performance psychology and behavioral health clinician. Here’s his bio.

Nathan from Williamstown, MA

Good morning, Mike! After disconnecting for a while in the dead zone, I'm back with a new Inbox identity (previously hailing from Denver, Baltimore, and Philadelphia). In my new neck of the woods, I'm looking forward to watching plenty of Aaron Rodgers throws this fall. Some exciting shootout losses to Josh Allen, Tua, etc., would be ideal too.

Two showdowns per year against Allen and two against Belichick's defense have me most intrigued.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

I remember being at the Dez drop game with my brother. While the call was being reviewed, he looked at me and said, "This one's going down in history." I've thought of that many times since, particularly with the overall 2014 NFC playoffs. Detroit lost painfully to Dallas, Dallas to us, us to Seattle, Seattle to New England. Has there ever been a more overall snakebitten playoff year for either conference?

One man's snakebite is another's crapshoot.

Tom from West Palm Beach, FL

Packer haters always cite the Dez Bryant catch/no catch as their go-to reference in their "Packers get all the calls" arguments. It's always irked me because the rule was applied correctly. But take that part out. Assume Dez did catch it, and the Cowboys took as much time as possible before scoring the go-ahead TD. The Packers' offense was unstoppable in that second half and Rodgers would've had about two minutes to do what he did best, especially against the Cowboys. The Dez play was irrelevant.

I don't know about irrelevant. But you're right, the Packers would've had two-plus minutes (or more), with one timeout left, to mount a final drive, and they'd scored 16 points on their last three possessions. I think a lot would've hinged on the Cowboys' two-point try. Is the score 27-26 or 29-26 when Rodgers gets the ball back? Two very different scenarios.

Josh from Newhall, CA

Great submission about bad or missed calls benefitting the Packers. It makes you think because we don't really store those in our memory like we do the ones that may have cost us a game. I think one that gets glossed over by us fans a lot is the facemask call that set up the Hail Mary in Detroit. I wouldn't say it was a bad call; in real time it looked like a legit facemask to everyone. But it was definitely the wrong call, and gave us one of our most iconic Rodgers moments.

I thought about mentioning that one, too. But even if it technically wasn't a facemask, there's an argument for unnecessary roughness the way he was clotheslined on the tackle.

Bruce from Travelers Rest, SC

You are too young to answer completely the question from Mike from Franksville, WI. Jerry Kramer did come out of his stance a bit early and Don Chandler's field goal could just as easily been called no good as good.

All true, but my frame of reference with such questions is games I've covered or recall watching live. Others mentioned Reggie being out of bounds on the lateral to LeRoy that led to the Lambeau Leap, but the Packers won that game 28-0, and we've discussed previously in this forum that a replay reversal might not have altered the birth and growth of the Leap. The play being correctly blown dead on the spot almost certainly would have, though.

Barb from Marengo, IL

We can all make educated guesses about how well Jordan Love will do this year. In the end a big percentage of success comes from how well one holds up under an entire season of play in the NFL. I'm wondering if you ever covered a player who looked "iffy" in practice but went on to have a successful NFL season.

Aaron Jones. The Packers drafted three running backs in 2017, and at the end of training camp that year, he was last on the depth chart. He was inactive for Week 1, didn't touch the ball in a game until Week 4, and finished his rookie season with 81 carries for 448 yards and four TDs.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hi Mike, the ILB position should have been one feared last year with the addition of Walker, but his temper cost them at times and Campbell seemed to wane from his first year. So what can we expect from them this season?

It's interesting Campbell has revealed on social media recently that he played hurt quite a bit last season, and then when he finally felt healthy, he injured his knee in Buffalo and missed a month. He clearly feels he wasn't himself in 2022. Walker played a ton as a rookie and should progress in ways that allow him to react faster and miss fewer reads. The ejections obviously must be major lessons learned as well.

Tim from Duluth, MN

Hi II! I'm wondering if you've seen enough of Jordan Love in games to compare Love's running and scrambling abilities to Rodgers'. Also, his ability to move in the pocket to avoid pressure.

There are no shortcomings when it comes to Love's mobility. But using that mobility to his advantage requires learning the proper timing of when to deploy it. Run too early and downfield options can be missed. Run too late and he still gets sacked. Quarterbacks absorb the mental clock of the NFL game by playing the NFL game.

Pat from Fond du Lac, WI

What are the biggest factors for a player to make the team in training camp? Is it in the preseason games, drills, or team 11-on-11 periods? I know the easiest answer is all three, but what if a player is great in drills and team 11-on-11, but just has poor games in preseason, or vice versa?

Then it comes down to digging into the reason(s) for the inconsistency. Are there explanations that lend belief the ups and downs can be smoothed out with more experience? Or does the player suffer from lapses in focus and concentration that make him unreliable?

Roger from McGrath, AK

21 of 90 preseason roster players won't have a paycheck during the season from the Packers, but in general, during a normal year, about how many additional players would you guess are churned among those at the bottom of the roster? I really feel for and admire their quest to chase their dream.

Last year, a total of 87 players were on either the active roster or practice squad at some point. Of those, 70 of them either appeared in a game, were elevated to the game-day roster, or were a game-day inactive at least once.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Hi Mike, which position groups, besides R-pitcher, would GM Spoff hope the Brewers address before the trade deadline?

A hitter. Any hitter.

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

Are you preparing any differently for the season this year, given the big change at QB? I am trying to temper my excitement and see where the road takes us. Easier said than done.

My preparation for any season involves physically taking a deep breath and mentally embracing the grind. It matters not who's taking the snaps.

Megan from Noblesville, IN

Do you think Spoff will be the first team writer fined by the league for his comment on the commissioner salary?

That's my cue to leave.

Paul from West Allis, WI

Good day sirs! I can almost see it now, Spoff is laying on the mat, reaching his hand out and Wes is jumping up and down by the ropes. Wes is yelling to Spoff for the TAG... and then the Rock appears! The Inbox is IN shock – what will happen next? Stay tuned.

See you next week. Happy Thursday.

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