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Inbox: It all starts over, again

There’s just no telling until it’s real football

Team huddle

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Great morning II. I was so happy to see Wes finish an answer with "Good morning!" While it was the second question, I'm still taking it as a sign things are on the mend. What is something you're happy to see again as we keep working to put the pandemic behind us?

A live baseball game. I'm heading to Miller Park tonight for the first time since 2019 and can't wait, but I need to put in a solid (3/4) day's work first.

Christopher from Frederick, MD

"Nudge me when the light turns green" is beautiful! I'm using that when my friends ask me my opinion about the Aaron Rodgers situation from now on, so thank you for that, Wes.

He went into the weekend on a roll, that's for sure.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders! With the announcement Lambeau Field will be at full capacity for the 2021 season, what are you most looking forward to while covering the Packers?

Noise on third down.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

Do you think the Packers' assessment of Jordan Love's development will influence their Aaron Rodgers negotiations? In other words, have the Packers determined where they will and will not yield with AR, or does the line in the sand move based on how comfortable they are with Love taking over next season? Thanks, gentlemen. I appreciate all the work you and the rest of the media team does.

I think the two issues are independent at this point. They've never seen Love play in an NFL game, and his first one (which isn't even a real one, just a preseason game) is two weeks into training camp. Leadership has declared, repeatedly, they want Rodgers to quarterback the team, and that stance isn't changing this summer.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

How do the coaches test players' understanding of the system when they don't get many reps? Do they do classroom tests?

Yes, all the time.

Tim from Cameron, WI

So now I see Amari Rodgers also throws lefthanded like his protege and is often compared to Randall Cobb. Nice to see him throw out the first pitch at a Brewers game. The comparisons are approaching the eerie stage.

Not really. If Rodgers runs a kickoff back for a touchdown against the Saints in the opener, then we can talk.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

What will be the biggest obstacle the Packers will have to overcome this season?

Putting aside the QB situation for the moment, and rather than say good health (which is generally a knock-on-wood deal anyway), I'd point to embracing the grind. A team that's been to the conference title game twice in a row, right on the cusp of the Super Bowl, wants another shot, obviously. But there's so much work that goes into getting that shot, from the start of camp through 17 games. You have to earn the playoff spot and the best possible positioning. It all starts over, again, and that can be a major mental hurdle for a team that's been so close.

Dave from Coloma, MI

So, who takes the pictures of Evan Siegle taking pictures?

If we told you, then we'd have to ban you.

Kelly from Kimballton, IA

How's Josh Jackson looking. Does he have a place in this defense?

It's pretty clear the top four cornerbacks on this roster are Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Eric Stokes and Chandon Sullivan. But they'll keep six if not seven on the 53 following camp, and Jackson is squarely in the mix to be that next guy. He, Stanford Samuels, Shemar Jean-Charles and Kabion Ento all have had their moments in the workouts we've witnessed. We have not seen Ka'dar Hollman practice. It appears he has been rehabbing an unspecified injury.

Joel from Green Bay, WI

"He's a complicated fella." I fail to see how that's controversial. Are we really at the point in the offseason that every quote is going to be twisted to make it a story?

If that's not a rhetorical question, then you must have hurt yourself falling off that turnip truck.

Matthew from Shelbyville, KY

Why the PR move saying Love isn't ready and now he is awesome at practice? Do you all think we are dumb? What's up with the lying and flip-flop? Tell us how it really is.

We are. All the reports of Love's impressive practice last Wednesday were not some PR stunt. It was obvious to every media member in attendance he had a good day, which was reported, but I didn't hear anyone declare he's suddenly ready. He can have a good day at practice and still not be ready. Both can be, and are, true. If it comes to that, Love said he plans to be ready for Week 1, which is still three months away.

Dan from Royal Oak, MI

So some of the same players that will go to the extent of taking pain injections in order to stay on the field, are putting their (and other players') availability at risk by refusing to get vaccinated? It drives me nuts that the league won't just mandate vaxing for all players and staff.

Such a mandate would have required collective bargaining with the players' union, and that was a negotiation the league did not want to take on.

Joshua from Houston, TX

Which rival team is poised to make the biggest jump?

Minnesota's roster looks significantly stronger than 7-9 to me.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

I don't think I've ever so looked forward to a preseason.

I think I'm with you.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Good mourning Mike. Will the press have any access to practice during this final week of OTAs?

We get to watch one more day of practice, on Tuesday. Then that's it until training camp.

Jake from Lake Mills, WI

When does the dead zone officially start, again? I have a few questions I've been holding onto...

Five full weeks of zero media access begin next Monday.

Jeff from Ogden, UT

I know he's a fifth-round pick, and I need to check my expectations, but I can't wait to see T.J. Slaton in pads. If he turns out to be a two-down, two-gap, block-eating monster he could have as much impact on this defense as any other rookie this year. Am I nuts?

A little, but there's nothing wrong with tempered enthusiasm. Mark from Homewood, AL, also asked about Slaton. I'm curious to see what impact he can make, too, but as I've noted in previous columns, there's just no telling how a player will handle the transition from the college to the pro game in the trenches until it's real football.

Green Bay Packers players had their 2021 season headshots taken by team photographer Evan Siegle during the team's minicamp.

George from Dover, DE

Did anyone notice Darnell Savage wearing a giant diamond star necklace? Is he trying to tell us something?

I guess we'll see.

Steve from Green Bay, WI

Why does it seem that Jordan Love is consistently looked at with pessimism, while Justin Fields seems to have everyone worried. Both first-round draft picks, both unproven as pro starters. Is it because the Bear bar has been set so low?

Circumstance does influence perspective.

Steve from Middletown, KY

Good morning. Friday Spoff mentioned Juwann Winfree as a player to possibly watch. If I ask what his jersey number is, will I get banned? I can't imagine he would set you up, so I assume that was a legit observation?

It was, honest, and the jersey number didn't even occur to me until I saw your submission. Maybe I'm finally healing.

DT from Bozeman, MT

Mike mentioned this year's roster is deeper that any roster he has seen since at least 2014. Who is most responsible for the decisions that create this depth?

The personnel department provides the options, the GM makes the final calls.

Margo from Solvang, CA

Hi Mike and Wes, are there any injury updates from minicamp that might be significant down the road? During "Three Things," Larry mentioned that Dean Lowry was out and in the piece on Rashan Gary, you wrote that Preston Smith was out. Anything to worry about or there's lots of time to heal up? Thanks!

We were told Lowry and Smith both missed minicamp due to COVID protocols, but no specifics were shared, whether that meant positive tests or close contacts or what.

Mike from Lake Villa, IL

Good morning Mike and Wes! I was scrolling through the photo gallery of 2021 headshots and there is a picture of LB Ray Wilborn that immediately made me think of a young LeRoy Butler. Have either of you had to do a double-take when you saw him on the field without his helmet? Is he wearing No. 36?

He's No. 57, but yeah, now that you mention it, there is a bit of a resemblance to Butler's early days.

Dan from Rice Lake, WI

Coach MF mentioned he was impressed with how Funchess could "sink his hips." Translation?

Stop at full speed and then explode into his next move. Think of a receiver selling a go route, but then he's actually stopping to come back to the ball. The smoother he can sink his hips, the faster he can stop, and the more power he then generates with his body to change direction.

Kyle from St. Charles, MO

Game days, understandably, are your biggest work days. It's unfortunate that you aren't able to take on the fan experience for the team you seem to passionately cover. So I'm curious what are your Sunday rituals on Packers bye weeks? Are either of you super into fantasy football? Are there other teams you follow? Or do you simply disconnect from it all during those weeks?

I don't play fantasy football, though I think Wes does. I follow the other games to the extent necessary in order to do my job effectively, but there are always plenty of things I've put off that get my attention when I have a weekend off.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning. In Saturday's Inbox, Wes wrote about Russ Ball and the salary cap with, "It's on Ball to put pen to paper." Would that be a Ball point pen?

Where's Dan? Dan? DAN!

Richard from Madison, WI

"Stop clicking on crap." Let me be the 571st to applaud that as good advice for life in general, not just sports sites.

That'll work to start my week. Happy Monday.