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Inbox: It all feels so familiar

Put enough pieces around a healthy Aaron Rodgers and it’ll take you places

CB Kevin King
CB Kevin King

JoAnne from Seattle, WA

Hi Insiders! I thoroughly enjoyed being on the sidelines Thursday. I saw you. It was very hot and I appreciated the efficiency of the training camp schedule. The variety of music being played was fun. Players were giving it their all. I loved seeing bikes and watching the Packers selecting them.

I wish I could hop in a time machine and see how different practices were in 2012 (my first year) compared to now. While seven years isn't very long ago, I bet it's still a night-and-day difference with the introduction of music and regeneration periods. Still, between practices at Nitschke Field and the time-honored bike tradition, it all feels so familiar. You gotta love training camp. Good morning!

Bill from Indianapolis, IN

I really like the changes we have made the past two years with new GM and new head coach. As a loyal Packer fan, it's nice to see a fresh new start. How do you see this team being built on offense in the next couple of years? A lot of attention has been on the defense in the last decade and rightfully so. Do we have enough on offense currently to win a Super Bowl?

You're seeing it already with the type of receivers and tight ends the Packers have acquired over the past two years. There's been an obvious emphasis placed on size and speed, even on the offensive line with Billy Turner*'s signing. More than anything, however, the Packers have enough to win a Super Bowl because of who's playing quarterback. Put enough pieces around a healthy* Aaron Rodgers and it'll take you places.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

For all those seeking reassurance from Wes and Mike that the Pack can make the playoffs: Stop. Of course they can make the playoffs. Or go 4-12. It is a very thin line between those extremes. Disagree? Ask the Chargers, who – in just the past 24 hours – are having to deal with the holdout of a top-five talent at RB, and the loss of a premiere player at a premiere position, Okung at LT. The latter from a non-football injury. That is the stuff that can turn 11-5 into 5-11. Without warning.

It's a blunt take, but Rich is not wrong. The talent level is so high among the NFL's 32 teams. The difference is the field-tilters and you have to keep them on the field.

Max from Urbandale, IA

What font should I pick for my 2019 "Optimism without expectations" tattoo?


Jake from Waukesha, WI

I love seeing the videos of Aaron Rodgers drilling the net in the corner of the end zone with a perfect pass. What's the most impressive pass during camp you have seen from Rodgers or one of the backups over the years?

The most impressive thing about Rodgers isn't when he drills the net with a deep pass – it's how often he does it. He's good for a few every time they practice that drill. They need to start putting the net on a horse or something to ramp up the level of difficulty.

Jerry from Belmont, NC

After training camp, which QB are you rooting for to back up Aaron Rodgers?

The one who deserves it the most.

Jason from Des Plaines, IL

This time of year makes me miss the old Rodgers-Nelson ball spins in the end zone. Those two had some chemistry. Does Aaron have any new rituals with Davante Adams or Geronimo Allison or anyone? Camp is the perfect time to practice ball spins.

I don't know about ball-spinning, but Rodgers seems to have developed a new ritual with Adams – throwing him a bunch of touchdowns.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

How many receivers are getting reps with Rodgers in the team periods?

Most of them. The Packers have done a nice job of rotating all those young receivers in with the first-team offense during the first two days. Adams and Jake Kumerow have had a few nice connections with Rodgers thus far. There was one pass Rodgers threw to Adams Friday that was classic QB1 – putting a pass right on the money near the sideline before Adams even broke off his route. It was a thing of beauty.

Michael from Hammond, IN

Did anyone stand out on the first day of training camp?

I liked how DeShone Kizer battled back from a slow start to Thursday's practice to finish strong in the red-zone team period. As Spoff mentioned in **his practice recap**, Kizer made a nice check-down completion to Danny Vitale in the face of a free rusher. On Friday, he dropped a picture-perfect pass to former Notre Dame teammate Equanimeous St. Brown in the first team period, which was almost identical to the deep pass he missed on Thursday. Training camp is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to bounce back and Kizer did. That's what you need to see from a young quarterback.

Owen from Sandpoint, ID

What player stuck his hand in Kenny Clark's face during his interview yesterday? I thought that was hilarious.

Montravius Adams*. He's a persistent young man.*

Evan from Fort Wayne, IN

Everyone talks about how big Za'Darius Smith is, but I saw a picture with Preston Smith standing next to him and from the looks of it Preston is a bigger guy. Is that true or just how the picture was?

They're comparable, though Za'Darius' dreads might give him a slight height advantage. Talking with Rashan Gary, whose locker is between them, gives a 5-foot-9 reporter like myself an appreciation for how big these new outside linebackers are.

Jeff from Princeton, TX

When Caleb from Knoxville, TN, asked about great Lions memories, my first thought was minus-1 yard in 13 carries for one of the greatest running backs ever. Of course, how can we forget that Favre-to-Sharpe pass all the way across the field for the first real playoff win in more than 20 years?

You can't go wrong with either pick. Both classics.

Christopher from Savage, MN

How often do you see the (tooth) injury designation? It looks silly on paper but a tooth in need of a filling or root canal can be debilitating! Don't forget to brush and floss, Inboxers!

That was a new one for me, but Savage should be back on the field soon enough. They're just being cautious.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

I smell a Lions sweep of the Packers again this year. Go Mike Daniels.

That's the spirit, Dan. Way to go. All the best to Mike D. on his new gig, but this reverse psychology garbage is one of my least favorite traits of some Packers "fans" and I've been hearing it for the last decade with Brett Favre, Greg Jennings, T.J. Lang, Desmond Bishop and Josh Sitton. Grow up.

Dan from Toledo, OH

As a GM, if your rival signs your former Pro Bowl player, do you second-guess your decision to release him at all?

Not at all. They knew this was a possibility.

James from Chicago, IL

Just so I have this straight, fans want the Packers to spend, spend, spend in free agency, but they also want to be upset and confused when the Packers cut a veteran fan-favorite with a big salary who's on the back half of his career? What did they think was going to happen?

I don't fault fans for being upset. They spent years cheering for these players. They become like family. Sitting in the GM chair means having to make difficult choices with the checkbook. The decision to cut Daniels wasn't personal. It's business. At the end of the day, I firmly believe the shrewd moves Gutekunst has made will make the Packers into a Super Bowl contender sooner rather than later. And after seeing the reported numbers on Daniels' contract, I think he'll be OK, too.

Will from Mechanicsville, VA

As a JMU alum, I was excited to see Raven Greene taking first reps while Darnell Savage is recovering from his wisdom teeth. I realize he was a big part of special teams before his injury last year, but how do you think Raven fits into the defense this year?

I think he fits in really well. Greene and Josh Jones have the right makeup to play that hybrid linebacker in addition to their usual assignments at safety. I also like how Greene didn't allow his season-ending foot injury to prevent him from preparing for this opportunity. He's ready to compete.

Florian from Kronach, Germany

Is there a special reason why defensive players always wear the green home jerseys and offensive players always wear the white ones?

Great question. You stumped me on this one. I'll ask Red Batty and try to get you an answer on that.

Jim from Seminole, FL

With all the talk of the "17th game" and it being "international," could you see all teams play near the middle of the season (two or three weekends maybe) – then all have byes after that game? Would give all teams a midseason bye rather than an early bye or a late-season bye.

I wish I could give you guys a more intelligent answer as to why bye weeks are spread out, but I have to imagine it's in relation to TV network scheduling. Otherwise, it makes way too much sense to just group all 32 byes into two or three weeks of each other.

Andy from Mesa, AZ

I'm loving the Olive Sagapolu signing! Yes, I'm a biased Badgers fan, but he is a valuable space-eater that could make everyone's life easier for the front seven. I'm hoping he can stay in the mix and maybe someday fill a Grave Digger-type role.

When a few of us were talking to Natrell Jamerson Friday, Zach Helprin mentioned how nine of the starting 11 players from Wisconsin's 2017 defense are now on NFL rosters. I also was blown away by that video of Sagapolu doing a backflip on the beach. I don't know how much he weighed in the video, but the Packers are listing him at 331. I'm excited to watch him work.

Erik from Sisters, OR

Thanks for the "Airplane!" reference. Whenever I see a downer in the Inbox, I think about the "I gotta get out of here!" scene. My question is about an UDFA by the name of Yosh Nijman. Please tell me more about this young man. For some reason I feel he could be a gem. Roger, over!

At 6-7, 314, Nijman is one of the largest players I've covered, but that's all I really know about him at this point. Height can be a help or a hindrance depending on the O-lineman. If Nijman has good pad level, he'll have a chance and that's why I'm eager to see the pads go on.

John from Indian Trail, NC

Shout out to the whole Packers organization for the 2019 Packers Official Yearbook. I received it yesterday and have already devoured every nugget, including a fantastic section dedicated to the late, great Bart Starr. Great job, y'all!

Spoff did a really fine job editing the yearbook. I think we might have combined for seven or eight articles. Be sure to pick one up on your local newsstands or on the **Packers Pro Shop website**.

Terri from Shreveport, LA

My response is to John from Superior, WI. I have been a diehard Packer fan since the early '60s. I left Wisconsin in 1977 and lived in Texas for 29 years and am now living in Louisiana and this is the year I will finally attend my first Packer game. Seeing a Packer game at Lambeau is the only item on my bucket list and my nephew will make that wish come true for myself and my baby sister. I will be at the Packers-Eagles Thursday night game ready for all the excitement I can handle.

That is awesome, Terri. I hope you all have a great time.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

As far as top Packers who seem Canton-worthy, Bobby Dillon is probably the biggest oversight by the selection committee. His numbers during the era of 12-game seasons, along with his visual impairment set him apart. Ron Wolf mentioned during Brett Favre's Packers HOF weekend, Dillon should be the next Packer inducted, over Kramer.

Cliff could give you a better evaluation, but my hunch is Dillon was a victim of playing only eight seasons on some bad Packers teams. As you said, Dillon's numbers (52 INTs in 94 games) are out of this world considering how long the seasons were and it still being a run-first league.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders. You have had the opportunity to interview/listen to the new Packers (free agents, draftees, UDFAs) at the start of training camp. What have they been saying about the crowd size/participation? The Bicycle Brigade?

I don't think any of them have really been asked about it, but the stands have been full during the first two practices. There has been a nice turnout for the bicycles, too. Hopefully, they keep that momentum going for when the Texans come to town in a little more than week.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

Good morning, Insiders. I sat next to people from five different states at training camp yesterday. Not one was a native Wisconsinite. I asked them all the same question – "What made you a Packers fan?" The unanimous answer was "my dad" regardless of the age of the person asked. That is my reason, too. So here's a shout-out to all the dads that share this great tradition with their kids.

Dads are the best.


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