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Inbox: His versatility is unparalleled

Developing rookies and key contributors is integral to winning football games

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G/T Elgton Jenkins

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Merry Christmas to you gentlemen, your families, and your colleagues. This season has not gone as any of us had hoped, thus far, but we have enjoyed another year of stellar packers.com content. Thank you.

Thank you, Eric, and everyone who makes Insider Inbox a part of their day. On behalf of Mike and our packers.com staff, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. OK, let's answers a few questions before Spoff and I exchange presents on the plane.

Joe from Swansea, IL

Merry (Early) Christmas to Elgton Jenkins. Who comes next in the pecking order of pending free agents? Mason Crosby? Bobby Tonyan? Somebody else?

I'm not sure who's next but Elgton Jenkins deserves so much credit. Not only for how he's returned from the ACL but also just the way he's carried himself since he was drafted here in 2019. I don't know if there's anyone in the Packers' locker room with a bad thing to say about "Big E." Oh, and his versatility is unparalleled. Jenkins is a player you can win with, which is why the Packers placed such importance on extending him.

Kent from Lewiston, ID

Hello II. Will you two gentlemen wear short-sleeve shirts and golf shorts to and from Miami? Show off how tough a writer can be?

No, I think I proved I'm tough on Friday while standing outside the Hutson Center for 10 minutes in minus-5-degree weather with 30-below wind chill. Fifty-five degrees in Florida never felt so good. Tough…or senseless. One or the other.

Ron from Appleton, WI

Just read "The KEI to the Packers' process." Thank you for the insight into Kei and Aaron Rodgers. This process builds the team's success at its core. It is why players do want to come to GB. This is a team to be proud of, regardless of the record. First-time submitter, Milwaukee tickets holder since they upgraded the stadium.

Thanks for checking it out, Ron. I think it's important for two reasons. First, Keisean Nixon has been such a big addition to this locker room, even before he was returning kickoffs and starting on defense. He set the tone early with how he performed as a flyer on punts and built his base from there. Secondly, it's key for NFL teams to find talent where others aren't looking. In the salary cap era, you can't afford to have veteran All-Pros at every position. Developing rookies and key contributors (no pun intended on that one) is integral to winning football games.

Keith from Fishers, IN

I remember watching the great Devin Hester return kicks, and I saw three things that made him great: his speed, his ability to see the whole field in one glance, and then the ability to take what he saw and make the best decision to make one move and go. There wasn't much dancing around with Hester, and he proved to be one of the all-time greats. I see the same three things in Nixon, and I suspect he'll only get better with each game of experience. Do you agree with all that?

Well, Hester may be the best to ever do it, so I don't want set expectations too high for Nixon. He is still relatively new to the job, at least at the NFL level. But this is no fluke. Nixon has underrated speed, elite vision, and absolute fearlessness. He's the very definition of playing fast and free.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I loved Spoff's answer to my question regarding how deep in the end zone Nixon would have to be to accept the touchback rather than running it out. (They'd have to chain him to the goalpost to keep him from running it out.) Your turn, Wes. Five yards deep? Eight yards? Third row of seats?

If I have Keisean Nixon's talent and vision, I'd probably be taking anything out of the end zone, too. Rasul Douglas had a funny joke about him taking it "109" in the locker room on Thursday. At the same time, it should be noted that it's not like Nixon is playing with total reckless abandon. When the ball is kicked to the corner of the end zone, Nixon will take a touchback. The closer it is to the middle of the field, though, he's likely to test the coverage.

Sal from Hailey, ID

Merry Christmas to everyone at the packers.com team and to all of my fellow Insiders! I'm nervous about our cornerbacks and safeties keeping up with two of the fastest receivers in the NFL, but anticipating Raheem Mostert in the backfield is giving me nightmare flashbacks. Best wishes to Mike on the live blog this week and Ho, Ho, Ho, Go Pack Go!

I don't want to say this game is a shot at redemption for the Packers because many of these defensive players weren't even on the roster in 2019-20. However, this is a great opportunity for this year's unit to set the record straight on its run defense. The statistics are what they are but that doesn't have to be a precursor of what's to come in the weeks ahead.

Jared from Rigby, ID

Hey gents, without perspective I'm not able to show proper admiration of the way the Packers' receivers block. What do other teams coach their receivers to do during run plays? How does it differ?

That's been a staple here for as long as I can remember. It's something the Packers' coaches emphasize and an attribute scouts consider when looking at college prospects. Allen Lazard may be the gold standard, but Christian Watson has the size and background to be a force in that area for years to come.

Bob from Bella Vista, AR

I am aware of not doing any physical lifting and other football related exercises for David Bakhtiari, but what about aerobic exercise? I would think that IF we got into the playoffs, he'd need to be fit in that respect.

Bakhtiari confirmed he is in the "return to play" process but didn't disclose what that all entails. I'm sure he'll discus it at greater length after the season. But it's not like he's letting himself go or anything. Bakhtiari is still Bakhtiari, and doing what he's able to do in lockstep with the training staff.

Jim from Tucson, AZ

What is a pass defensed? What is the difference between an OLB and an edge? Just when I thought I knew a little bit...

Edge rusher is kind of a catch-all term like defensive back for cornerbacks and safeties. It covers both 3-4 outside linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends. A pass defensed is any time the defensive player gets his hand on the football whether it's an interception, deflection or tip. In other words, it's anything that causes the offensive pass play to fail.

Yariv from Nutley, NJ

I know we should just focus on beating Miami this weekend; however, I have a question about potential playoff implications against the Lions in Week 18 (if we win out of course). Both teams are in the same division and have played the same teams this season. So, if they both finish at 9-8, how is it decided who advances?

By my math, which could be wrong, the Packers and Lions would be tied in head-to-head (1-1), division record (4-2), conference record (6-6) and common games (6-6). Then, it comes down to strength of victory. I think that tie goes to Detroit right now but the next two weeks could affect that quite a bit.

Rob from Lennox, SD

II, as I sit back and look at the entire season with all the downs and some of the ups, one thing comes to mind that I believe may have made a very big difference in where the team sits right now record-wise…in my mind taking the bye week after London seems like a no-brainer in hindsight.

This game is played in the present and the future, Rob. The past is already written. The ink is dry. All the Packers can do is build off their good health for mid-December and try to win these last three football games.

Ryan from Carmel, IN

Haven't missed an Inbox since 2011. You guys (plus Vic, of course) always have great insight, sharp wit, and big hearts. Countless articles on the person behind the pads. But Friday, posting the Commanders' Pro Bowl video link, takes the cake. You made all of humanity a team, celebrating the personal victories of people whom I consider to be "the enemy" 364/365 days of the year. Way bigger than football. Made me cut onions with dirt in both my eyes during a terrible allergy flare up. GoP(eople)Go!

Those are the special moments often hidden in this game. Kudos to Ron Rivera and the Commanders for pulling back the curtain.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Watch as the presents are opened on Saturday and hope they aren't coal. Avoid the Grinch on Sunday. On Monday morning, may we all be living in the land of milk and cookies.

Win on the road. Finish the job at home.

Jeff from Montclair, VA

Merry Christmas! I saw the video of the players' favorite holiday songs and movies, and hope you can settle it once and for all. Is "DIE HARD" a Christmas movie? Safe travels and peace be with you and your families.

Believe it or not, I've never actually seen it. However, I want to be on record that "American Psycho" is a Christmas movie and one of my all-time favorite holiday films. Merry X-mas, Patrick.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, will Santa be able to find the Hod home if you aren't there Christmas Eve? What is on Young Hod's present list?

I think so. My son will make sure the lights are on, the milk is cold, and the cookies are fresh. I look forward to FaceTiming him on Sunday morning and seeing what Santa brought.

Jim from Dover, NH

Looking at the schedule for Christmas my first thought was "it isn't what the NFL was hoping for." Three 4-10 teams and only one team with a winning record. Making predictions is hard, especially about the future.

I'm just thankful they weren't allowed to flex the Packers and Dolphins out of the noon CT timeslot because that's the only game really worth watching. "Christmas Around the USA" might give Tampa Bay and Arizona a run for its money in primetime.

Mark from Naperville, IL

Just finished reading Friday's II and so disappointed there was no mention of Festivus by Mike. I've got a lot of problems with you people! Hope everyone gets their Christmas gift on Sunday – a Packers victory! Happy holidays, II!

Silly Spoff. Happy Festivus to all who observe. May your poles be sturdy, and the feats of strength be competitive.

On a frigid day in Green Bay, the Packers held practice inside the Don Hutson Center on Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, as they prepared for a Christmas Day matchup with the Miami Dolphins.

Dan from Oak Creek, WI

No question, just a little dose of holiday perspective. Last Christmas, I had to watch the game from the hospital, where I was recovering and rehabbing after a surgery. This year, barring something completely unexpected, I get to watch from the comfort of my home. No matter the outcome of the game, I'll take that as a win. Merry Christmas to all, and Go Pack Go!

Now, that's a special gift worth celebrating.

Bil from Stateline, NV

"God bless us, everyone" – Tiny Tim.

"Tiptoe through the tulips" – also Tiny Tim, but a different one.

"Merry Christmas to all and to all a good win over Miami" – Santa, I think.

"Wishes for peace, love, health, prosperity and happiness for all of Packer nation, friends, family and beyond, around the world" -- Bil from Stateline, NV.

"Indubitably." – Wes and Mike from various corners of Green Bay, WI

Dar from Mansfield, TX

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the 'Box,' not a creature was stirring except maybe Spoff.

As playoff hopes hang by the tiniest thread, we hope a Dean poem might help us ahead.

Now Lori and Margeaux, on Derek and Weston, this place is like family, may all here feel blessed in.

So if you're a reader or bravely write in, glad tidings to you as we go play the 'Fins.

The team's in Miami and though there's no snow, Happy Christmas to all and to all…Go Pack Go.

Take our talents to South Beach, Dean.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

'Twas the day before Christmas and all through Packerland

Visions of hope and the playoffs danced through the fans' sparkling eyes

An opportunity to keep their hopes and the flame alive

Now on to Miami and a chance to show your worthiness, Green and Gold

Through this cold, restless eve, we wait to open our Christmas gift from our team

Again, we wish all our Inbox readers a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of holiday weekends.

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