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Inbox: It'll take a surge

It’s probably going to be close

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LBs Rashan Gary & Preston Smith

Jeff from Ogden, UT

I nominate Vic Ketchman as the honorary II team captain today.

Works for me. I'll reminisce about Vic for a little while here and then proceed to other topics down the way.

Ben from Harrisonburg, VA

Good morning Wes/Mike. After 20 years, "Ask Vic" has come to an end. "Ask Vic" changed me from a casual observer of packers.com to a daily visitor, and I've enjoyed simultaneously reading Vic's retirement column and seeing II take off in all its wonderful weirdness. As a guy who grew up in the '90s, I've learned so much from Vic about football's rich history. I'm wondering what influence he's had on your professional life, besides the daily tedium of having to answer questions from knuckleheads.

That's a lot of ground to cover, but I'll try to touch on a few things. For one, he taught me to write tighter, more succinct copy, which has become an essential tool in our online, short-attention-span world. He also emphasized never taking your focus off the big picture. Always pay attention to what really matters. The minutiae can be fun and educational, but don't get lost in it. Last but not least, make the two main goals to inform and entertain, and learn how to balance them. I hope those lessons have continued to manifest themselves in my work over the years.

Tyler from Dallas, TX

I haven't kept up with Vic's column much since he left packers.com, but I hear he's finally retiring, and I wanted to acknowledge him one more time. I always appreciated his blunt and honest writing, but I think Vic's greatest contribution to my appreciation of football is proper perspective. Green Bay fans have experienced stellar highs and chasmic lows the last 100 years, but the memories are what make us rich, and I loved Vic for hammering home that point.

Me, too.

Michael from Gay, GA

Vic Ketchman wrote his last entry of "Ask Vic." I began reading the Packers website after Vic was hired with the team. I still remember the first video Vic and Mike did together. I still remember coming across this column (under its original nomenclature) and falling in love with the community, the friendly banter, and learning more about the beautiful game of football. Thank you for taking the reins and continuing this column. Could you please share a favorite Vic story? We will miss you Vic!

I did share one in my mid-week chat that you'll want to read, but I'll provide another. His routine for a game was to leave the press box at the start of (or during) the fourth quarter and have me take his live blog to the finish line while he'd get set up in the interview room, so he could write a quick bulletin with the final score and stats when the game ended and be ready for the press conferences. In 2014, we were in Buffalo and about 10 minutes after he left the press box, I got a simple text: "There's no TV." He couldn't watch the end of the game, which had never happened to him before, and I knew it meant I had to write the bulletin before I came down to the locker room. The most memorable part was our department manager at the time, Joan, took a picture of him sitting on the mini-stage next to the podium in the interview room, all by his lonesome, just staring at the floor. He looked so depressed. A man without a purpose. He loved football, loved what he did, and it had been taken away momentarily. For all his sarcasm and snark, that picture captured a piece of his humanity.

Jack from Edina, MN

Well, it looks like Vic is throwing in the (terrible) towel. He gave us all a great perspective on the game. We will miss the legend that he is and after 50 years I hope he can enjoy a great retirement. Thank you, Mike and Wes, for continuing his legacy here in GB for us loyal fans.

So many of you sent wonderful, heartfelt words and there unfortunately isn't room to publish them all. But I had to include this Terrible Towel reference. Nicely done. OK, moving on.

Rhonda from Italy, TX

What is the Inbox schedule this weekend? No Inbox on Saturday, since it's game day? Inbox for rants and raves on Sunday? Or delaying that till Monday? Thanks, and Merry Christmas.

Wes will have a column Saturday morning, albeit likely a shorter version, in advance of the game. There will be no column Sunday, so all of our postgame stories will have to suffice. Then I'll write II for Monday morning like usual.

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Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

Happy Christmas Eve, Mike. For Kenny Clark or Marquez Valdes-Scantling to play tomorrow, do they have to be removed from the COVID list today? I can't remember the cutoff time for non-Sunday, non-primetime games.

I believe with the COVID list, players can be activated the day of the game.

Joshua from Appleton, WI

Do you believe any Packer defender will reach double-digit sacks this year? If so, who do you believe will get there?

It'll take a surge, but it's not out of the question. Preston Smith has seven sacks and Rashan Gary has 6½ with three games to go. Not overly likely, but doable.

Kyle from Eden Prairie, MN

As much as I don't want to be the guy asking you to check the stat book, we all need to know…who (besides Aaron Rodgers) has been voted into the Pro Bowl in three different decades? Insane. Serenity now!

It's a first for this franchise. I don't know about Pro Bowls overall, but I read somewhere that Gene Upshaw, Jerry Rice and Bill Romanowski played in Super Bowls in three different decades. That's pretty cool.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

Biggest Pro Bowl snub for the Packers is De'Vondre Campbell! Agreed? Other candidates?

Campbell has certainly had a Pro Bowl-caliber season, but the two inside linebackers chosen in the NFC are Micah Parsons and Bobby Wagner, and I can't argue with that. Alternate would have been nice. Same for Adrian Amos and/or Preston Smith, but I'm admittedly biased toward seeing the leadership they provide as well as their solid play.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

Can you think of any other players that have gone from a practice squad promotion to Pro Bowl recognition of any kind in the same season? I can't imagine it's happened very often, especially for guys who switch teams. Mad props to Rasul Douglas for pulling off what I imagine is a rare feat.

It has to be. What a journey for him. It's the most impressive Pro Bowl alternate recognition I can recall.

Travis from St. Johns, FL

Which happens first – Rodgers throws his 500th TD or his 100th INT?

It's probably going to be close. He'll have to throw 58 TD passes before seven more INTs. I'll say he gets 500 before 100, which would be an incredible achievement.

Larry from Apollo Beach, FL

I liked your answer to Hap from Graham, WA. I guess you could say Marcedes Lewis bends the rules about age for the tight end position.

Even on the holidays, you're gonna have to see yourself out for that one.

Don from Riverton, UT

Just watched Larry's feature on MVS. Is 'Quez the fastest receiver that No. 12 has ever thrown to in the Green and Gold?

I'm pretty sure he is. Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis were awfully fast, but I think MVS has the edge.

Keith from La Pine, OR

So, Mike Smith is passionate about how the game should be played?

Indubitably.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

I have never noticed such parity. Cleveland dropping from first to last in the AFC North on Monday's game-ending kick exemplifies it. As well, I have never seen us in late December with such a hang-by-a-thread record. Mike in his mid-week chat mentioned we are literally only four plays away from 7-7. We are, as well, about that same hair's breadth from 13-1. Would you please recap the latter?

I don't know about that. While it's a clearer argument one play could have swung each of the games against San Fran, Cincy, Arizona and Baltimore, and maybe the same could be said for Minnesota, but not really for Kansas City.

Christian from Plymouth, MN

LA gained headlines this offseason by playing with what seemed like Monopoly money, but once again heading into January we're in the NFC driver's seat. Chess not checkers?

I would not scoff at the Rams. That's a dangerous bunch. Matthew Stafford has never won a playoff game, but if he gets that monkey off his back in the first round, look out.

Subhadeep from Middletown, CT

Synopsis at end of Week 15 going into Week 16 … One team has punched its ticket to the playoffs and five teams have been eliminated. Looking at AFC and NFC, who are the top two teams outside looking in presently that the leaders don't want to face during the playoffs? I know the Vikings are a pretty strong dark horse in the NFC.

I've mentioned the Vikings before, if they have their offensive triumvirate of Jefferson, Thielen and Cook all healthy. The Eagles are running the heck out of the ball right now and that type of game can travel well in January. Same thing with the Colts, while Herbert is the type of QB who could get hot enough to beat anyone in the AFC.

The Green Bay Packers held practice on Clarke Hinkle Field on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021.

Brian from Monroe, WI

DL often don't get the credit they deserve. Missing Kenny Clark last week shows how important he is to the whole Packers D. Hope fans appreciate his talent.

I think they do. I'm not comfortable pinning last week's defensive performance on Clark's absence, though. Yes, it made a difference, obviously. But Clark went down in the first half at Kansas City and the defense held together just fine. The unit can play much better without him than it showed in Baltimore.

George from North Mankato, MN

If you could choose the broadcast crew for Saturday's showdown with the Browns, who would you choose? All-time and current group? Is there a team in college or the NFL that when they lose it just kind of puts a smile on your face?

Probably Ohio State. As for the broadcast crew, give me Pat Summerall and John Madden circa 1985 anytime.

Craig from Sheboygan, WI

Do you know what teams the Packers will be playing next year?

In addition to their six division games, the Packers will play the entire NFC East (Cowboys and Giants at home, Eagles and Washington on the road) and the entire AFC East (Patriots and Jets at home, Bills and Dolphins on the road). They'll also get the NFC West winner at home (likely Cardinals or Rams), the NFC South winner on the road (likely Buccaneers), and the AFC South winner at home (Titans or Colts).

Jesse from Greasy, OK

Special teams where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Leon Lett's bumbling fumble in the snow. And when Mason Crosby kicks that game-winner between the lasers, we're gonna find the jolliest bunch of special-teams players this side of the nuthouse."

I was going to just overlook this one, but getting Leon Lett and laser goalposts into the same submission was too good to pass up.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Dear Mike and Wes, thank you for working weekends for us. Thank you for working holidays. I sincerely hope this Christmas finds you and yours, warm, happy and safe. May the Packers give all of us something to be thankful for. And in the paraphrased words of Col. Sherman Potter, "Here's to the new year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one. And may the Lombardi Trophy be home before she's over."

Merry Christmas everyone.

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