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Inbox: It’s a positive first step

S Darnell Savage
S Darnell Savage

Paul from Indio, CA

A Brinks truck? Hot-air balloon? Hang-glider?!? I'll arrive riding a bicycle. Thank you very much!

Hovercraft. Any other answer is wrong. Good morning!

Bob from Grand Rapids, MI

Now that Darnell Savage has been cleared to practice, did he start out with the ones? How is he looking?

Savage was with the first-team defense in walkthroughs, but sat out of the team periods Wednesday. The Packers plan to bring him along incrementally. It’s a positive first step, though.

Jason from Des Plaines, IL

How will Darnell Savage’s balance be affected now that his wisdom teeth have been removed? Just kidding. What I really want to know is how much knowledge and experience he truly missed not being able to participate in the first five practices or so. I’m sure the first week of practices cannot be taken for granted when you are a first-round pick and expected to be on the field Week 1 against Chicago.

I don’t think it’s a big deal. He’s still been in the meetings and out at practice every day. It may take a week to get comfortable in pads, but Savage showed a lot of natural instinct during the offseason program. I don’t foresee him having any issues getting back up to speed.

Timmy from Chicago, IL

Can Za'Darius Smith have the same impact this year Khalil Mack had last year? I will share with you it seems no one in Chicago has ever heard of him. I expect that will change on Sept. 5.

The Packers don’t need Smith to be Khalil Mack for this defense to be successful. They need him to be Za’Darius Smith, a uniquely talented pass rusher who can line up at outside linebacker and move inside to the three-technique and still hold his own.

Todd from Eau Claire, WI

With all the talk about companies blocking the team website, you should have made a shameless plug for the Packers app.

Did I mention we have an app?

John from Green Bay, WI

With the release of Mike Daniels, who is the next person to step up to fill his position as a defensive leader?

KCBoutThatLeadership. Leadership is more than what you say – it’s what you do. Sure, Kenny Clark isn’t as boisterous as Daniels, but he has a personality guys can rally behind.

Mike from Park Ridge, NJ

Hello II, which player's abilities have been most confirmed since the pads have gone on?

Rashan Gary and Za’Darius Smith. You knew those two had speed rushing off the edge, but the power they can generate inside makes them all-around threats.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Is Kyler Fackrell the least talked about 10.5-sack player in the history of training camp? I can almost feel the chip on his shoulder growing and growing...

Sure, but with how often Gary and Smith likely will move around, I bet Fackrell’s reps will be comparable to last season. He’ll still get his.

Tyler from Kaukauna, WI

Who has been the biggest surprise in training camp so far?

Darrius Shepherd wasn’t a guy I thought much about heading into camp, but I think he’s helped his stock during the first week. He’s very sudden breaking off his routes and provides special-teams flexibility. He’s in the mix at receiver.

Michael from Hammond, IN

Will Mason Crosby's injury cost him his job?

Crosby has missed one week of training camp. To the best of my recollection, it’s the first injury that’s kept him out of practice in my seven-plus years covering the team. I think we can give him the benefit of the doubt.

Joe from Hartford, CT

Gentlemen, one week in can you make an observation how this camp is shaping up compared to previous years under Mike McCarthy through your eyes?

There are subtle changes but nothing too drastic. There are shorter walkthroughs at the start of practice. Offensive and defensive linemen take two reps against each other in one-on-one drills. LaFleur also pulls the team together before the final team period of practice.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

With all the new faces on the coaching staff, how do press conferences feel this year compared to past years with McCarthy and his staff?

I love that LaFleur talks after practice. In recent years, McCarthy had switched to speaking before practice and I always found that difficult considering what happened yesterday is already kind of in the past. LaFleur has been great so far. He’s thoughtful in his responses and doesn’t beat around the bush. The assistant pressers have been fun, too. With personalities like Nathaniel Hackett and Mike Smith, I’ve found it to be a really engaging coaching staff.

Craig from Laramie, WY

“The Rock Report" on Matt LaFleur's tough love was both informative and revealing about the new HC's personality and character. My first impression of him was "young, gifted, friendly, gentle..." My current perception is: There are teeth behind his genuinely engaging smile! For me, this is the most encouraging sign yet.

LaFleur didn’t win a lottery to become the head coach. This is his life’s work and he had to bust his you-know-what to earn this opportunity. If guys need to be coached up, he isn’t afraid to do it. That’s his job.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, if you could include one play from the McCarthy era in the new playbook, what would it be?

The shot play. McCarthy’s offense was at its best when Rodgers and the Packers were in position to take those deep shots on second and third down off play-action.

David from Merrill, WI

Are Elgton Jenkins and Cole Madison looking like they can both add to our offensive line depth? The NFC North may have the most formidable collection of defensive fronts in the NFL, and we have to play Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit twice every year.

Jenkins has looked really, really good, especially with the snaps he’s taken at center in one-on-one drills over the past few days. Madison is still getting his feet back under him – he put pads on for the first time in 18 months this past week – but the talent is there. I expect Madison to make some big strides over the next few weeks.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

I love when a high-profile receiver signs a contract. It’s a nice reminder of how well the Packers did getting Adams’ deal done.

And David Bakhtiari’s…and Corey Linsley’s…and Jordy Nelson’s…and Tramon Williams’…and the list goes on. The Packers have been one of the best at taking care of their own.

Lennard from Kolding, Denmark

I saw on the "social media reactions" article that Montravius Adams had a belt and Aaron Jones had a belt. I can remember from last year that either D or O won the belt on that particular day if I am not mistaking. Is that something new with those belts or am I just not paying enough attention?

According to our social-media guru Ryan Hartwig, Adams and Jones were given those belts from fans on the way down to practice. The belts weren’t brought to the field like last year when Bakhtiari and Daniels were battling it out.

David from Appleton, WI

DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle, and Manny Wilkins are all battling for a roster spot as backup QB. How many QBs do you think will be on the final 53? Have each of these men performed well enough in camp to where if the Packers keep three on the 53, will the fourth be able to clear waivers and remain with the team on the practice squad? (Taysom Hill is the example where we "lost" one recently.)

We’re at least three weeks away from being able to remotely answer this. They’ve all had their moments.

Michael from Portland, OR

Besides Watt are there any other players on the Texans with state ties?

Green Bay Southwest grad Max Scharping is a rookie second-round pick for the Texans. I believe he used to bike down to practice with players when he was a kid.

Glen from Green Bay, WI

There seems to be a number of players attributing their improved physique to a healthier diet after their second or third year in the league. Does the team talk to players about diet after they’ve been drafted or signed as free agents? It seems incredible players looking to gain an “edge” don’t do this immediately?

You can always be thinner, look better. That’s an “American Psycho” reference, not actual advice. I think a lot of times it’s just a matter of guys being willing to go that extra mile to cut out the junk food and clean up their meals. That’s sometimes easier said than done, especially in the offseason, because honestly who doesn’t love chocolate cake?

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I've been hoping Josh Jones can make a significant contribution to the Packers’ defense this season. Does yesterday’s tackle, scuffle and banishment signify a return to the doghouse? I guess the question is where does he go from here?

I guess we’ll find out this morning. Personally, I don’t feel Jones did anything flagrant. It wasn’t like Jermichael Finley throwing punches at Jarvis Reed’s helmet back in 2013. But, according to Tramon Williams, Matt LaFleur made it clear before camp started he didn’t want any skirmishes. Rules are rules.

Russell from Des Moines, IA

What is the closest the NFL has come to having the same six teams in each conference come playoff time as the year before? Has it ever happened?

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain this to a man that gets informed by the words I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I’m obviously kidding, but re-ask this at the bye or after the season when we have more time to look it up. It’s a good question.

Ron from Riverview, FL

Mike/Wes, if I remember right the mantra is optimism without expectations. I look around the league at free-agent signings, draft, etc., this is not a lock. For the Packers fans who expect a Lombardi this year, enjoy the ride, root for and encourage the team. As the line goes in the movie, “What about Bob?” – “Baby steps Bob, baby steps.” Just be all-in for the best team to be a fan of.

As my old friend Jon Cooper once said when he was hired as the Green Bay Gamblers’ head coach in 2008, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we’re really going to try to.” This thing may take a little time to come together, but there’s no question this roster is better today than it was at the end of last season.

Dave from Coloma, MI

How long until they have a Mike and Wes portion of the Lambeau Field tour? You know, take us to the offices and say, "This is where Mike and Wes write,” then to the studio, "This is where Mike and Wes shoot ‘Packers Unscripted,’” then finally to the press box, "This is where Mike and Wes sit on game day.” I would pay to see that. OK, maybe not, but my question is, during practices do you take notes and start mentally writing columns or wait until you start writing and process what you've seen?

Ha. Good one, Dave. I take notes and tweet from practice, but rarely do I have a preconceived notion as far as what I’m going to write as my “News of the day” story until we get to the locker room.

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Wes, Mike says that you're never the same guy two days in a row. For all your separate and distinct personalities, you're still good people to us! You just keep on being you (plural)!

I’m a million different people from one day to the next. I can’t change my mold.

Ralph from Johnsonville, WI

Wes, the core element of baseball is the confrontation between pitcher and batter. Now that fans can see how many calls are missed and how it affects the game, baseball has no choice if they want to maintain the integrity of the game. How soon do you think it will happen?

What does any of this have to do with laser goal posts?

Nick from Oquawka, IL

I can’t believe nobody has mentioned the three microphones. You guys are moving up in the world! Congratulations!

It only took three years. At this pace, I should make junior writer by the time I’m ready to retire.

Jim from Naperville, IL

Wes, it doesn’t matter what mode of transportation you use to show up for summer camp. You arrive by putting in the necessary work to make the team. Thanks for your writing. It’s a daily read.

Right, but a hovercraft can’t hurt your chances, either.

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