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Inbox: It'll be interesting to track the depth charts

Those skill sets are in short supply

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Linebackers Kamal Martin, Ty Summers and Oren Burks

Sal from Hailey, ID

Nice of Quadkiewicz to flood the inbox with "J.J. WATT BROKE THAT BIKE" responses just in time for Quadford to step into the hot seat.

He's real helpful that way.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, I was watching the OTA remix and noticed how natural AJ Dillon looked when catching that swing pass. Good motion with hands, great catch point, and a natural tuck. After watching that, he WILL be able to catch the balls he should catch. All that remains to be seen is whether or not he can catch the balls that make us gasp (think Williams in the back corner of the end zone against KC or Aaron Jones turning and elevating down the sideline).

If he catches the ones he should catch and can protect the ball in the open field, that's good enough for me in this early stage of his career.

Al from Green Bay, WI

"You can never have too many quality cornerbacks" is a common viewpoint. Of course, you could make the same comment in reference to the offensive line, the receiver group, and edge rushers. If forced to "skimp" on a position group, what would it be?

Probably tight end, not because they aren't valuable, as many offenses including the Packers' have shown they are. But because it's easy enough to adjust offensively with other concepts if you run short.

A.C. from Jasper, MO

What were Jermichael Finley's career stats? You guys are always mentioning him as one of the team's all-time tight ends. I mean no disrespect but, it seemed to me that he dropped a lot of balls.

He had his share of drops, and his overall numbers won't blow anyone away because his career was cut short by an unfortunate (and scary) injury. But when he got rolling, defenses feared his big-play ability because they didn't know how to handle him. At the end of his second season, he started coming into his own. In December 2009, he had four straight games with at least 70 receiving yards and then set a Packers playoff record (at the time) with 156 yards, on just six catches, in the shootout loss in Arizona. He had a pair of 100-yard games in the first month of 2010 before he blew out his knee. In 2011, he averaged 13.9 yards per catch on the year, an absurd number for a tight end. Comparatively, in that unstoppable offense, Jennings averaged 14.2 and Driver 12.0. In 2013, he had 25 catches for 300 yards and three TDs through six games when his career ended. He was on his way to an 800-yard season (to top his 767 from '11), a number I believe only Paul Coffman hit among Green Bay tight ends. He's athletically the most dynamic player I've ever seen play the position for the Packers.

Ian from San Juan, Puerto Rico

Sometimes football gets referred to as a "chess game" – and rightfully so. Are you aware of a coach that plays chess?

I'm sure some do, but I think the real question is whether any of them play chess on the ceiling of their offices.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

What is the biggest takeaway, in your opinion, from the Packers' OTAs?

So far, I'd say the different combinations we've seen getting work on the David Bakhtiari-less offensive line and in the young inside linebacker group. It'll be interesting to track the depth charts in training camp during the 11-on-11 periods.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

It seems to be the worst-kept secret that Amari Rodgers will be the motion back on the team. However we saw last year what happened when that role had only one player to fill it and then after injuries no player to fill it. Don't we need at least 2-3 guys in that role for it to be a concept we can rely on?

Ideally, sure, but it takes a special skill set for defenses to take that guy seriously, and therefore for him to have the impact desired. Those skill sets are in short supply, which is why the Packers traded up in the third round to acquire it and don't have a stable of options at their disposal.

Fred from Morehead, KY

Hi II! I saw Rob Demovsky predicted yesterday that Aaron Rodgers will never play for Green Bay again. What say you...wait and see?

You should know me well enough by now to know that's what I always do.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

Good morning, Insiders. Getting anxious for next week and the arrival or absence of Aaron in Green Bay. If Aaron does not show I feel like that is our "final answer." Thoughts?

Not at all. Next week will make a lot of news if he stays away as expected, but it doesn't change the start of training camp as the most meaningful date on the calendar regarding all this.

Neal from Fort Worth, TX

In Mike's reply to Pete from Chippewa Falls he said, "Fines for missing minicamp and/or training camp are mandated by the CBA and cannot be rescinded." What I've been hearing is that absences from minicamp are subject to fines but at the team's option. However, fines for missing training camp are mandatory and cannot be rescinded. Which is it and how does it apply to the cap?

You may be right and I may have misunderstood the minicamp difference, so my apologies there. Either way, fines have no cap implications.

Gary from Austin, MN

You said, "The best way for this to work out is for both sides to put all their cards on the table." That's actually an unfair labor negotiating tactic and the guy that started that "lay all your cards on the table" idea was Lemuel Boulware who worked for GE and got the practice named after himself and is called Boulwarism. Oh, by the way, he got fired. Any more ideas?

Except this isn't just a negotiation, it's a relationship problem. Relationships don't get mended if any cards are held close to the vest.

Andrew from Clearwater, FL

Robert Tonyan's contract has four void years. My understanding is that he then becomes a free agent next year. Next year is he a Packer free agent, meaning they have until the start of a new contract year to negotiate a new contract before any other team can make an offer? Also, can the Packers franchise/transition tag him?

Yes, as with any of a team's own free agents, the Packers would have exclusive negotiating rights with the player until the start of the new league year, and a tag would be available should the team choose to apply it by the deadline.

Jim from Chelsea, WI

I have a follow-up question to Michael from Novato, CA. Is there data comparing Mason Crosby's stats outside vs. domes? I just wonder if he's consistent in both arenas? I sure can't remember him missing many indoors.

I don't have all the numbers in front of me (if a reader wants to tackle this research, be my guest), but I can tell you Crosby's seven longest field goals, from 56 to 58 yards, which are also the seven longest in team history, were all kicked on the road, and four of them indoors. His longest kicks outdoors were 57 at the Meadowlands (Nov. 2013), 56 at Philadelphia (Sept. 2010), and 56 at Denver (Nov. 2015). His longest at Lambeau is a 55-yarder in 2014.

Randy from Westminster, CO

With all the talk of there now being 17 games in the NFL season, do you believe football careers will get shorter? Or does it even out with the new player safety rules?

Any additional regular-season games do increase the odds of major injuries, but the limited offseason work and more stringent rules for training camps (no more two-a-days) give players, on balance, a greater opportunity for longer careers now.

Mark from Sheboygan, WI

Was LeRoy Butler the first edition of the star? If not, to whom can we further trace it back?

Totally different scheme, but he was utilized in similar ways by Fritz Shurmur, yes. The Steelers used Rod Woodson like that, too. To go back any further, I'd be guessing.

David from Appleton, WI

The life of an assistant coach is itinerant at best, with seemingly constant movement the norm, added to the fact the hours are abysmal. This can't be healthy for family life. With the relative calm of the head coaching situation in Green Bay since the 1990s, does this make the Packers a wanted commodity? Or is this simply just an added benefit?

Assistant coaches are evaluated thoroughly by their bosses just like the players are. They still have to perform and get results. It's a precarious, high-pressure existence with any franchise, really.

Scott from Noblesville, IN

Every season "stopping the run, getting a lead, and forcing the opposition to become one-dimensional" are among both the "coach speak" and "analyst's keys" we fans hear. SF twice in '19 and MN last season are PAINFUL examples in which the run was never close to being stopped. Without No. 12, getting leads seems much less likely in '21. So, my question is, are there specific ways you feel our team has strengthened our run defense this offseason?

That's impossible for me to answer, not knowing Joe Barry's approach and how he plans to deploy different fronts. While there's room to improve, the Packers finished tied for 13th in the league in run defense last year, and they allowed only three other 100-yard rushers aside from Dalvin Cook's big game in Week 8 you referenced. Ten times, including in the NFC title game, the opponent's leading rusher had fewer than 60 yards. I'd take that again.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Good morning II. I read recently where although no decision has been made yet, both the NFLPA and NFL seem to be in agreement on the IR rules from 2020. When will the decision regarding practice-squad size, veterans on the practice squad and IR be made?

Presumably before training camps start, or shortly thereafter.

Tom from Douglasville, PA

Besides Rodgers what's your biggest concern for the Packers leading up to the start of the season?

If they need to rely on rookies for major contributions, such as from Eric Stokes, Amari Rodgers and/or Josh Myers, can they deliver as needed right away? Or how long will it take before they settle in?

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

Will David Bakhtiari be ready for Week 1?

I'm not betting against him, but it's not a requirement for a successful season.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

I would like to apply for the job of Inbox bouncer. Some of these guys just aren't seeing themselves out when they're instructed to do so.

You're hired. Your compensation is a free subscription to the column.

Mike from Ames, IA

No math in the Inbox, I know, but is quadratics an exception thanks to Dillon?

DAN!

Dennis from De Pere, WI

What caused the tension between Demoski and Hockeywitch?

If I told you, then I'd have to ban you. Have a great weekend, everybody.

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