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Inbox: It just shows how serious he is about taking another step

Lambeau Field is an experience unlike any other on gameday

TE Robert Tonyan

Robert from Verona, WI

Good morning, Wes! Thank you for making it clear that the Outsider Inbox won't include questions to specific readers. I don't want to have to answer what led me to ask you on April 29 what draft-day scenario would make writing the next Insider Inbox the most painful.

You started this, Bob. Don't ever forget that.

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

Not to be a name dropper, but I was talking with Al from Green Bay the other day (my brother). We were wondering about the defense. It seems like the secondary and edge rushers are the strength of the defense. The inside linebackers and D-line (Kenny Clark notwithstanding) are the units with the most room for improvement. Which of those two units do you see as making the biggest jump this year, and why?

We really do have so many brothers, sisters, spouses, parents, children, siblings, uncles and aunts in the Inbox, don't we? The defensive line is going to open some eyes this year but I'll say inside linebackers because of how young that room is. And where there is youth, there is also upside. De'Vondre Campbell gives them the coverage linebacker the Packers have lacked, while the arrow continues to point up for both Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin entering Year 2.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Hi Wes, are you planning on a story about Robert Tonyan and TEU?

I'm not planning to, but we talked with Tonyan a little about TEU during his offseason media availability. The idea started with Tonyan's good friend, George Kittle, and some of the game's other top tight ends just looking to bring their unique fraternity together. The tight end position is the future of the NFL, so it's great to see them all come together to talk some football, have a little fun and network. In Tonyan's case, it's one more opportunity to grow as both a tight end and a leader. It just shows how serious he is about taking another step.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Sure, Indianapolis is also a Midwest city, but more so than the hotel issue with a potential Green Bay combine can you really imagine all of the NFL executives willingly choosing to go to Green Bay in February?

If it gets to where the NFL can't convince its executives to come to the small town where the league's deepest roots are sowed, then we've officially lost the plot.

George from Kennebunkport, ME

Am I too optimistic about the Packers heading into this season? On offense we have a great tandem at RB, we are well-stocked at WR, we are loaded at TE, and we have another strong O-line shaping up. The defense looks poised for improvement and special teams almost certainly will be better after a weak 2020 (just adding Amari Rodgers alone does that!). No matter who is behind center I see a team that will be entertaining and competitive, even with a tough schedule. Is my outlook too rosy?

I don't think so. We've touched on this topic a few times this offseason, but again there wouldn't be so many eyeballs fixed on the white elephant in the room if the Packers weren't built to contend for a championship this year.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Good morning, Wes. I know that ML has an affinity for joint practices. Has there been any talk of that in 2021 or does the NFL's or Brown County COVID protocols prevent them this year? If not this year do you foresee more of this league-wide due to shortened preseason schedules?

NFL teams are beginning to announce joint practices, but there's been nothing new to report on the Packers' front. I don't think LaFleur was asked about it during the offseason program. He obviously is a huge fan of them but that was pre-pandemic.

Sal from Hailey, ID

Good morning, Wes. I'm glad we have Nathaniel Hackett on our team. Are non-head coaches under contract for a period of time or just employed at will and able to walk if they are offered a job elsewhere?

Most NFL assistants work on one- or two-year contracts, which prevents them from walking at will. However, an assistant is permitted to interview for a head-coaching or coordinator job without needing his current team's consent.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

Whom do you expect to take more snaps in preseason: Jordan Love or all other QBs combined?

That's an interesting question. It depends on Aaron Rodgers. If Rodgers returns, then Love is surely taking a majority of the snaps in the preseason. If Rodgers doesn't report, however, the Packers need to be careful how much Love plays in the preseason. You must keep QB1 healthy at all costs in August and Love is going to get just as much out of taking first-teams reps all summer as he will playing in a preseason game against a bunch of ham-and-eggers.

Blake from Marion, IA

Is this "opt out" option that has made headlines recently legit? Any thoughts on that being how this all ends? Go Pack Go!

Players once again can "opt out" as they did last year due to the pandemic, no questions asked. How does it relate to the Rodgers' situation with the Packers? I don't know and am not going to act like I know. From the beginning, I've operated under the assumption Rodgers wants to play in 2021. I'm sticking with that until proven wrong.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

So, the NFL has approved the use of alternate helmets beginning in 2022. Can you see a tradition-bound team like the Packers ever doing one? I'd be against it unless, of course, they figure out a way to make it look exactly like an old leather helmet with earflaps.

I doubt it. Well, I should stop myself. I guess, never say never (which I sorta just did). But maybe this opens the door to the Packers being able to use a helmet color corresponding to their throwback uniforms.

Dan from Morehead City, NC

I have found the easiest way to answer other people's questions about the Rodgers situation when they see me in my Packers gear is to just state, "As a team owner I can't comment on ongoing negotiations." Anyway, I got Gold Package season tickets the year I moved to North Carolina. I have given or sold them to friends and family since then. I will be attending the Jets game and staying at the Kohler Lodge. I haven't been to a game in 20 years, what will I find new?

I'd be willing to buy a share myself at this point, if it meant I could claim confidentiality for the next month. And what's new around the stadium over the past 20 years? Everything, really. Titletown to the west, the Johnsonville Tailgate Village to the east, the Atrium to the north and the expanded south end zone. Lambeau is an experience unlike any other on game day. That's why I missed it so much last year.

Tom from Phoenix, AZ

Greatest play in Super Bowl history? How about a pair of circus-catch TDs by Packers receiver Max McGee in the first Super Bowl. Called off the bench by Vince Lombardi when Boyd Dowler went down with injury, and barely making breakfast after spending the night bar-stooling with a couple of flight attendants on the Sunset Strip of LA, Max grabbed seven passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He should have been awarded the game's MVP.

If only they'd known at the time…

Andy from Verona, WI

Where did you learn your football X's and O's? Did you have to study while on the job, did you just pick things up by being on the job, or another way?

Both. Legendary Press-Gazette sports editor Mike Vandermause quizzed me about schemes and defensive personnel groupings when I interviewed for the job, but most of it is observing and processing what you're seeing. That's what I enjoy about football the most – you have a billion stats in today's age of analytics but there's still something to be said for letting your eyes be the judge. And you learn more and more as you go along.

With 79 days until the regular-season opener, looks back at those who have worn No. 79 in Green Bay.

Mark from Burlington, VT

Really enjoying the daily countdown to the season showing everyone who has worn each of the numbers. Not sure if it has been done before but it got me to thinking that a fun article and debate would be around listing the BEST Packer to have worn each of the numbers. Appreciate all you guys do to keep us informed and engaged.

Maybe we can leave it up to the fans and do that for our weekly trivia question next offseason.

Al from Green Bay, WI

To your surprise, you got a call from Rodger Goodell with a scheduling request. You can erase any road game on the Packers' schedule, and you can replace it with any team not currently on the schedule. Further, the game can be played anywhere on the planet. Which game to you eliminate? Which team/venue do you add?

It's well-documented how the Kansas City game drives me bonkers. So, I'd throw that one out and replace it with Jacksonville in London – as should've happened five years ago.

David from Janesville, WI

I like movie line references that I actually know! You're a lousy blankin' softball player, Wes!

For all the "A Few Good Men" references littered throughout this column on a monthly basis, I was surprised it took this long for that classic quip to seep into II.

Randy from Westminster, CO

In anticipation of the "dead zone," does your content team meet in advance to discuss what to post with so little to report on? How do you decide to fill the void so to speak?

We run as many stories as we have left over from the offseason program and pick out a few other projects to bridge the gap. After that, Spoff and I get the heck out of the office. There's PTO to burn and time's a wastin'.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Can't we do better? The "dead zone" sounds like a place for zombies. The "void" is just endless nothingness. With all the imagination and creativity here, surely we can do better!

I thought…and I thought…and I thought some more, but I found no word to properly describe this abyss.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

When Dean wins Insider of the Year next week I will once again have to start back at the bottom of the mountain and climb again. I feel like I can't win the NFC Championship Game…

So, this seems like as good a time as any to mention Outsider Inbox is going to run the week of July 5-10. There will be 12 questions (two per day). We're going to post them next Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the first pair of responses posting on the following Monday. Have a great weekend, everyone.