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Inbox: It could be anyone at any position

You first have to figure out what you have with the young guys already here

Former Packers CB Sam Shields
Former Packers CB Sam Shields

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, thus far I have bounced around the practice squad. Yes, I have had my "moments" in training camp, but this year I have put in the work and I'm coming into the season in the best shape of my life (intellectually, wit-wise, and analytically…not physically) The goal? Stack days, get noticed, make the roster. I will let that MVP stuff work itself out. Every season needs a dark horse.

Just trust the Inbox process and you'll be fine. Good morning!

Jon from Broken Arrow, OK

We have heard a lot about the defense and for good reason. We added real talent in the draft, and I feel the Jarran Reed signing is going to help solidify the DL rotation. If mostly healthy, what do you feel the floor and ceiling is for this unit? Thanks, as always for your great work. GPG

The sky's the limit. On paper, there's nothing the defensive front can't do, schematically. After several years of having the same core of four or five guys, the addition of Reed, Devonte Wyatt and perhaps Jonathan Ford gives the Packers a few new wrinkles. I'm excited to see what Joe Barry and his staff come up with.

Julius from Providence, RI

I am really excited about the Packers' top three cornerbacks (and I hope all three are the best in the league). Looking at the backups, it feels like the depth is weak. Is that just because of how great those three are? How does depth compare with previous years?

I wouldn't say it's weak. It's not like the Packers are going to have five Jaire Alexanders. There's some experience behind the top three but also potential. Signing Keisean Nixon was a plus. He gives you a veteran who can play in the dime and move outside in a pinch. Shemar Jean-Charles didn't play much last year but has a fifth-round pedigree. Also, Shawn Davis and the starting safeties can move to the slot, too. So, the Packers have options.

Thomas from Madison, WI

I continue to see mention of how shallow the Packers' cornerback room is after their top three options. I would posit that the top three make the position deeper than most in the NFL. Many other teams don't have talent to match two of the three, and after them, are their backups that much more experienced than Nixon and Jean-Charles? Oh, and happy birthday to Mark Murphy!

I guess I could've just posted Thomas from Madison's reply to the cornerback quandary and saved my breath.

Steve from St. Croix Falls, WI

This past Outsider Inbox, in my humble opinion (which, with it and $1.25, might get you a cup of coffee), is the best yet. So many great stories! Packers fans on II are a family. It's why I read it just about every day. Now that we are past it, though, I have started thinking about training camp and who will emerge as the next generation of Packers. Particularly, who will be the five or six core members of special teams?

Nixon is a key piece. He not only has played a lot on special teams but also has three years of experience playing for Rich Bisaccia and Byron Storer. We already saw Nixon being a coach on the field earlier this past spring. There will be other staples such as Tyler Davis and Jean-Charles but I'd also keep an eye on Shawn Davis, a returning Randy Ramsey and Ray Wilborn.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

I peeked at the roster this morning and couldn't help but notice that Gabe Brkic was the only player listed without a jersey number. Any idea what number he'll wear when the players return for training camp?

Not yet. Brkic was claimed at the end of the offseason program. He'll get his number once he returns for camp.

Former Green Bay Packers players Tramon Williams, James Starks, Mike Neal, Tony Moll, Jason Spitz, Scott Wells and President/CEO Mark Murphy departed Wednesday on a five-day "Packers Road Trip." The tour bus made its first stop of the day at Green Bay East High School.

Matt from Troy, MO

I was thinking about how much the game has changed in all the years that I have been a Packers fan. It's quite remarkable really. Change isn't really my favorite thing, but I can adapt. So, I want to ask you to put on your Nostradamus hat if you would and speculate on where you see the league going in the short, not so short, and long term. What is likely to happen in this ever-evolving sport that we love?

The X's and O's will remain the same, with schemes and strategies cycling like they always have. After all, you never want to get too far from what made the game successful. I think most changes will have to do with equipment and helmet technology. If you attend a training camp practice this summer, you'll see some of it with the league mandating guardian caps during early contact practices. The game has never been safer but there's still room to grow. That's the future.

Greg from Marquette, MI

Hi guys, thanks for all you do. How does a healthy Bak and potential talent on the OL expand the playbook for AR or at least give him a little more time? How can this time and a healthy OL help the team incorporate the revamped WR room?

It's a game-changer. Defenses have to alter game plans to account for David Bakhtiari's presence at left tackle. I think the competition at guard and right tackle will bring the best out of a very deep room. As history has shown, the offensive line is where everything starts for this offense. It not only keeps the pocket clean for Aaron Rodgers but also makes life easier for Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. And a healthy Bakhtiari does as much for the run game as it does the passing offense. When it comes to all-around line play, Bakhtiari is as good as it gets.

Ross from Hudson, WI

UDFAs have always been given what feels like more than their fair shake to make the Packers team, rather than simply be camp bodies. In looking at the roster this year, safety and OLB/edge seem to be the most likely spot for a non-draftee to secure a roster spot. Is there another position where you feel one could sneak on?

It could be anyone at any position. I remember writing off Jake Kumerow in 2018 because the Packers had just drafted three receivers – and we all know how that turned out. Sometimes reporters accurately identify the undrafted rookie who will emerge (e.g. Sam Shields, Mike Pennel and Frank Zombo), but it also can be a prospect no one saw coming such as a Jack Heflin, Darrius Shepherd or James Crawford. That's why they practice and play the games.

David from Janesville, WI

Insiders, maybe I'm missing something but I'm not a big believer in the "Bring in another veteran wide receiver" theory being thrown around. They already have three seasoned vets in Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and Sammy Watkins. No way they are not keeping Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs and I can already hear the fanbase gnashing of teeth if Samori Toure, Juwann Winfree and Malik Taylor are all let go. The only way that happens is if a high-end veteran is available within the budget and that seems unlikely. Do you see a logical option out there?

I'm not big on trying to win today with yesterday's stars. I never have been. Circling back to fantasy football, I won my league title on a fairly consistent basis because I'd draft Larry Johnson when he was the backup to Priest Holmes or peg Doug Martin as a rookie starter. I'd rather miss on a prospect than hitching my wagon to guys past their prime. I'm not saying you can't win or be successful with a veteran addition. But I do believe you first have to figure out what you have with the young guys who are already here…and go from there.

Brian from Urbana, IL

I recently got my wife to watch "Moneyball" with me, and we discussed how we both feel analytics has made sports better. I notice in this forum many refer to analytics as a "fad." I vehemently disagree and feel that the analytics vs. human approach to managing sports teams is a false dichotomy. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

I love analytics as much as the next guy. I think the Press-Gazette was one of the first newspapers in the country to partner with Pro Football Focus in the early 2010s. Evolution happens. Businesses need to evolve. But I still want the same "stuff" from analytics that I did in 2013. Tell me how much production a nickel cornerback gave up in the slot last season. What was Aaron Rodgers' passer rating when throwing intermediate routes to the right side of the field against the blitz? I want facts, not opinion. That's where I've grown disenchanted with the enterprise.

Orv from Myrtle Beach, SC

II, Mike from Cottage Grove had a great new name for the Dead Zone, "rest and rejuvenate." I don't like doing a one-up but how about "rest and recreate." Thinking of our coach as a wizard stirring the pot with his fellow coaches adding their individual spices so that they brew us the best that can be served to delight us.

"Rest and rejuvenation, "Rest and recreate" or "Rest and recombobulation." Whatever you want to call it, we are a long way from R&R. Let's talk after Super Bowl LVII.

James from Ottawa, Canada

Wes, I'm sure a lot of hay is being made about N'Keal Harry to the Bears for "only" a 2024 seventh-round pick. Do you think that's fair value, and if so, is that compensation something you feel the Packers might have mulled over in consideration? I feel like with the diligence of our GM, the tires would have definitely been kicked on Harry's services.

Adam Hoge hit this out of the park: "The Bears took a flier on a former first-round WR who never made it in New England. The reported seventh-round pick going back to NE is two years from now. Sure, why not?" My thoughts exactly. I don't think the Packers missed out on anything, but it's a fair price for rebuilding team to pay for a receiver with some buzz three years ago.

Dane from Temecula, CA

What was the most prolific TE combo in Packers history?

The answer is Ron Kramer and Marv Fleming, but I hold Keith Jackson and Mark Chmura in high regard as far as tight end tandems go. I gained a new appreciation for the position watching those two at work in 1995-96.

Robert from Verona, WI

Wes, your comment about the Packers-Steelers game on Christmas Eve 1995 brings back some great memories. My brother and I attended that game as well, with tickets given to us as a Christmas gift from our late grandfather. What a gift it was! Our tickets were on the 40-yard line, about 15 rows up behind the Steelers bench. I recall the sinking feeling watching the ball cut through the air on its way to Yancey Thigpen, followed by pure elation and the roar of the crowd. Incredible!

I was in that end zone, bro. Talk about setting a high standard for every live sporting event that's come after.

Richard from Eagle River, WI

Hardly miss a day at lunch time! Have been a Packer fan since the early '60s, and started with the good, suffered through the bad, and am basking in the glory of the last 30 or so years! Our first game in 1970, in the upper row of the north end zone, we witnessed the 75-yard QB sneak in the 40-0 loss to the Lions. We just finished the audible book, "When Pride Still Mattered." WOW! What an insight into arguably the greatest coach of his time in the history of the NFL! Have you read it?

I have. It's a wonderful book. I read it at the suggestion of my late grandfather. In fact, I still have his copy. A lot of what I know about Vince Lombardi and his background came courtesy of Mr. Maraniss' work.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

Are purchasing tickets necessary for training camp? I've never been before. But we are coming home from Door County on July 28 and are contemplating stopping by. Thanks!

No tickets required. Just stop by and grab a seat.

Aidan from Sandy Springs, GA

Typically, when "Hard Knocks" starts is when I start getting fired up for football season. I am especially interested this year to see a division foe on the series. With that, how many days do you think it will take HBO to realize they need a camera on Jamaal Williams at all times? I am hoping they make it a point to follow him around. His personality was infectious, and I am hoping to have my weekly dose of Williams quotes/dances to fill the void (in addition to II of course) until the season.

I'm sure that was communicated in the pre-production meetings with the Lions' folks. For that reason, this is the first time in a long time I'm excited about "Hard Knocks." I just hope they let Williams be Williams. You don't need to force anything because it's not an act. For example, the clip that went viral of Williams telling Mark Daniels that he "stopped listening" to his question wasn't Jamaal trying to be funny or disrespectful. That's just Williams.

Barb from Marengo, IL

Wes, were you at the Iola car show last Thursday? My 16-year old son shares a love for the Packers and old cars/trucks with my dad and me. We were walking the grounds last Thursday and I saw someone that looked like you. I didn't want to interrupt your day so didn't approach you but sure am curious. The state of Wisconsin is wonderful for many reasons!

I was there. Pa Hod and I have been going to Iola since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Ernest from Key West, FL

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff on Green Bay and he had gone eighty-eight days now without getting an Insider Inbox question answered. This is the opening line of my latest book called "The Old Man and the G." Wes, have you ever thought about writing a novel?

Maybe when I'm retired…but not a second before then. Congratulations on being back in the club, Ernest.

Tim from Rochester, NY

No question, just a comment. You do one heck of a job with the Insider Inbox. Ask Vic brought me here, you guys keep me here.

Thank you. Best part? You get two writers now and we haven't even upped the cost of the subscription!

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Dar asked for name suggestions for the eatery/watering hole. How about Insiders Inn-Box Lunch?

I think I just heard Spoff's tummy rumble.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Not a question, just a "Thank you!" I've recovered from COVID-19, though still have lingering fatigue issues. I have to tell you how much I enjoyed II during my illness and recovery. Seriously, it was a big help. Congratulations to all the II winners. I've enjoyed their questions and poetry. Though I'm nowhere near their level, I'm content to have the distinction of having had my posts start, end, and come in the middle of II. Keep up the great work.

I'm so glad to hear you're doing better, Dwight. You'll be running marathons in no time. Well, that brings us into Thursday, folks. Two more II days of Hod before Spoff is back in the saddle. Have a great day.