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Inbox: How do you pick just one?

It’s always been about strength in numbers in the receiver room

DL Kingsley Enagbare
DL Kingsley Enagbare

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, why is the offseason so long? Since my TV is only on during football season, the house is pretty quiet. Thank you for helping us pass the time with great stories about players like Bo Melton. Anticipation builds as backstories of some of these amazing young men are told. Your hard work is appreciated.

Long? It ain't long enough, Lori. While different receivers, Bo Melton reminds me of Allen Lazard in so many ways. Both were signed off other teams' practice squads at the tail end of non-playoff seasons and had to earn their opportunities the hard way. I think you saw the respect Melton earned from his peers after he started producing late last year. The guy has prototypical speed and a good head on his shoulders. Those two traits can take a wideout far in this league.

Dan from Algonquin, IL

Hi Inboxers. Great articles on the WR corps, and Bo Melton, specifically. It would be intriguing to see Bo match up directly against brother Max in the Cardinals game. Given that NFL siblings tend to play on similar sides of the ball (the Watts, Bosas, Kelces, McCourtys and Mannings), have there been many elite siblings who directly matched up on the field in an NFL game? That would be fun for the family. Did the Barber Bros. or Diggs Bros. ever butt helmets in NFL action?

Stefon and Trevon have yet to play each other in the NFL but are scheduled to meet this November. Beyond that, I can't recall many instances where a receiver lined up against his sibling in an NFL regular-season game. I'm sure it's happened several times over.

Michael from Baraboo, WI

What position group will have the biggest battle leading up to the season opener?

How do you pick just one? The stakes are high at receiver, offensive line, inside linebacker, and even QB2. Maybe this is a "niche" pick but the one I'm most interested to follow is the defensive line. That expanded position room is stacked with experience and skill. Jeff Hafley has a wealth of rotational possibilities on both the interior and edge, making this defense that much more dangerous.

John from Worthington, OH

I agree that Tom Clements probably enjoys coaching both QBs as "newbies" and veterans. And he typically has both to coach as there are multiple QBs in the room.

That's what teachers do. You don't just teach the best student. It's mentoring the entire classroom. In Clements' case, it's helping all those men be the best they can be. That also includes a pair of up-and-coming coaches in Connor Lewis and former NFL QB Sean Mannion.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Wes, Mike's narrative about the WR talent indicates to me the Packers have WR1 talent. There simply has not been one individual to receive that particular designation. Does the media generally confer the title or does that happen organically, or…? I don't care if the Packers have a named WR1, just wondering.

It can be measured with targets and overall production, but you know it when you see it. It's a feeling. It's how teams defend your offense and which playmaker they shade with a safety. It's having that wideout every team is scared to face.

Samuel from Skokie, IL

On "Unscripted," you addressed Brian Gutekunst's optimism about Eric Stokes but also pointed out he didn't exercise his option. It seems somewhat contradictory. If Gutekunst is right about this former first-rounder living up to expectations, won't we then have a good chance of losing him right when he becomes the player he drafted?

Fifth-year options are tricky because they're fully guaranteed now. If a team exercises that option, it does so with the knowledge that it will pay that player guaranteed money at a high rate one year from now. Personally, I don't think the Packers not exercising Stokes' option is what some people are making it out to be. Green Bay didn't exercise Nick Perry's option, either, and he wound up signing a long-term extension with the team following a career year in 2016.

Tom from Baraga, MI

I just read Mike’s article on a No. 1 receiver: I have been saying this since last year. In my opinion, we have numerous receivers capable as filling that role. But if you have that No. 1, go-to guy, I feel our offence starts getting predictable. Whom do they double cover? Which one is covered by a LB? I don't have the ability to do the math, but if someone were to total stats of our receivers and added them up, I think we have a top five or better receiver group in the entire league. Great article Mike.

With a few exceptions in the Davante Adams era, the Packers have been in pretty much the same position at receiver the past two decades – it's always been about strength in numbers in the receiver room. Even when Jordy Nelson shattered numerous single-season records in 2014, Randall Cobb turned in his best NFL season (91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 TDs) and Adams was on the come up, as well.

Hank from Centennial, CO

I have heard some commentators say that linebackers seem to have receded in importance in the modern NFL, because teams play so much nickel now. I would think that would make them even MORE important because there will often be only two of them on the field at a time. But I'm no pundit, just your average pilgrim. Assuming it's unlikely you can be strong everywhere, do you think linebacker is one area where a team could make do with less heralded talent?

Sure, at one's peril. There might have been a case for that approach 15 years ago, but you've seen the difference having two elite off-ball linebackers has been for Seattle, San Francisco, the New York Jets and Tampa Bay. NFL GMs have to be pragmatic with how they spend their cap space, but I argue it's imperative to have at least two athletic ILBs in the heart of your defense. They touch every part of the game. The position is too important to overlook.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I haven't heard or read much about Ty'Ron Hopper. Drafted in the third round (91st overall), the pundits were unimpressed, believing he was drafted too soon. Poor combine performances in the shuttle and three-cone drills suggested poor agility. But testing is testing, and on-field performance is what counts. What have you seen from him in OTAs?

The reason you probably haven't heard much about Hopper is because he's been running with the twos during the split-squad periods. Most of the media's eyes, including my four, have been on the starters. Again, I was impressed with what I saw from Hopper during rookie minicamp last month. He may be listed at 6-2, 228 pounds but looks and plays larger than that to me.

Gary from Tompkinsville, KY

Can you tell me how the kicking competition is coming along?

Tuesday was a key checkpoint in that three-man competition. Matt LaFleur and Rich Bisaccia revved the engine, too, with Anders Carlson, Greg Josephand Jack Podlesny all kicking. The competition to end practice also was a sight to see, as Green Bay had all three attempt 51-yarders with the team circled around them. Carlson was mobbed by teammates after his kick following misses from both Joseph and Podlesny.

Fred from La Crosse, WI

We have purchased tickets to the Lions game in Detroit and look forward spending a few days exploring the city while in Detroit. How much time do either of you have to explore when traveling with the team? My thought is the plane will not wait for the Insider scribes to come back from visiting Greenfield Village, one of our stops.

It just depends on where we're staying and the proximity to things. That window gets condensed, as well, if we have a pep rally. I'll enjoy a meal with coworkers or friends in the area but typically don't do much sightseeing, especially now that I've been to most of these cities several times over.

James from Chicago, IL

Considering most top players' contracts become outdated the moment the next guy signs his deal, I doubt most players would want to be locked into a six-plus-year deal. Tim from Beloit should ask Scottie Pippen how well a seven-year deal worked out? He missed out on a TON of money from '94-'97.

This topic also led to people mentioning the 10-year deal Patrick Mahomes signed in 2020. First, that contract already has been restructured twice and is reportedly set to pay Mahomes $210.6 million between 2023 and 2026. Elite QBs get paid, and once they do, it sets the market for the next one.

Jay from Altoona, WI

In the latest Murphy Takes 5, a supposed Green package ticketholder complained about no home division games. As a Gold package ticketholder since 2013, this season will be the first opportunity I have had to watch the Bears in Lambeau, and it is only happening because the Gold package got the Week 18 game. ATMR (wcbw), the gold package hasn't had a Bears game since 2008. I suggest such fans complaining should instead be thankful for all the division games they have gotten over the years.

Fair's fair. That 9-1 rotation will come back around for the Green package in 2026.

Jeff from Council Bluffs, IA

Where does Samori Toure fall on the depth chart? Did Dontayvion Wicks and Melton get time because he was injured?

I don't talk depth charts until the pads come on, but certainly Toure's injury contributed to Melton getting more opportunities late last season. Toure is healthy again, though, and right back in the mix.

Mike from Granite City, IL

In "Packers Unscripted," Wes announced that on Monday, July 22, there would be an open practice in the morning and a shareholder meeting in the afternoon. That is great. And down the road in Oshkosh that week is the annual Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) fly-in, which for me is always fun too. If anyone was "on the fence" about going to GB that week, this should help push them over. Thanks for the information and all that you do.

I'm obviously shaking my fist at the early start date for training camp, but like I said on the show, I love the idea of pairing the first practice with the shareholders meeting in the afternoon. We just need Mother Nature to hold up her end of the bargain.

Chris from Kennesaw, GA

I'm curious as to the uses of Hinkle vs. Nitschke fields. Nitschke has the bleacher seating so obviously that's used for when there're open practices. Is Hinkle then used for closed practices or are there other reasons that one field or the other is used? Are the playing surfaces the same, and are those surfaces the same as Lambeau? (a cross of bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, featherbed bench, and northern California sinsemilla?)

The surfaces are all the same; no difference there. The Packers used to practice at Hinkle during OTAs but switched over to Nitschke a few years ago. Your speculation is as good as mine other than to mention Nitschke is more spacious. The Packers will switch over to Hinkle once the regular season begins.

Ric from Longmont, CO

I think the NFL could help increase interest and television ratings for preseason games by having the broadcasters announce the games through a different lens. Less play-by-play and team-results driven, and more player-by-player focus on how they are doing on their quest for a roster spot. Do you think the league would encourage this? Would it help ratings?

That's pretty much what the Packers already do, including in-game interviews with coaches and veteran players. In my opinion, more won't make preseason games taste any better, but why must it? It's not like the NBA preseason is a huge draw in the ratings. Let the NFL preseason be what it is – a vessel to identify young talent and improve football teams for when the games actually matter. I get it's a bottom-line business but I'm growing increasingly disenchanted with the league's need to wring every cent out of fans' wallets.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

Not a question, just an observation: 8-9-10-11. It's kind of cool how our core offensive skill players' numbers line up. Not. 12, though, is that being reserved for when Aaron Rodgers' number is eventually retired?

No. 12 was last worn on Jan. 8, 2023. It will not be worn again, at least in my lifetime.

David from Janesville, WI

Gents, Bill's comment about Aaron Jones (rightfully) getting an ovation from the Lambeau crowd made me wonder what reception the other Aaron would get. Rodgers has done so much for the franchise and deserves appreciation for that, but his is a more complicated situation with a "complicated fella." His relationship with the organization soured a bit, and there were some veiled (or not so veiled) shots in his media appearances. If we get to see it someday, I do hope he gets a warm welcome, as well.

Bygones be bygones, David. Rodgers would get a nice ovation (as he should).

Steve from Wabasha, MN

I was so happy to see the Packers rookies volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. It is a great organization that will help stabilize our communities. Do you know who picked that charity?

The Packers' outreach efforts are vast in addition to many players having their own individual causes they donate time and money towards. It was neat to see so many rookies get involved, including top picks Jordan Morgan and Edgerrin Cooper.

Craig from Lakeville, MN

Just saw that Corey Linsley is retiring. What is your favorite Corey Linsley memory while in a Packers uniform?

It was more of a procedural move on the Chargers' part, but still nice to see Linsley get his flowers. It doesn't surprise me. Linsley, who strongly hinted at retirement after last season, has trimmed down quite a bit. I don't have a favorite memory of Corey more than just an enjoyment and appreciation of his dry wit. On top of being an All-Pro center, Linsley is one of the funniest players I covered.

Julius from Portland, OR

Two suggestions for the Outside Inbox or Insider Outbox or whatever it is called.

  1. What piece of football knowledge have you gained from Insider Inbox that has most increased your enjoyment/appreciation of the game?
  2. What is your favorite Packers/football joke?

Keep 'em coming. I'm still in the market for 5-6 more. The 12 questions will be posted in the June 24 column with this year's Outsider Inbox running July 2-8.

Phillip from Corona, CA

Haha Mike, Good one. "The delete button is more efficient." Thanks for making me laugh. Wish you guys the best. Take care.

Dodge, duck, dip, dive, delete – if you can dodge a hater, you can dodge 'em all. Have a nice Thursday.

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