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Inbox: It's always fun when the pads come on

Jaire Alexander is unapologetically authentic in everything he does

LB Jimmy Phillips, LB Tariq Carpenter
LB Jimmy Phillips, LB Tariq Carpenter

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, when you came on board Insider Inbox, did you go through a time of walking through the valley of the shadow of Vic? You weathered it well! What wise words would you give Jordan Love as he emerges from the shadow of Aaron Rodgers?

Hey, we stand on the shoulders of giants, right? My advice to Love is advice he's already following – do the work and be yourself. Those two attributes will keep teammates in the foxhole with you – through the good, the bad, and the grey.

James from Appleton, WI

When Jaire Alexander was back at the start of last season, it seemed the coaches took a while to realize the scheme had to be altered to allow for his great talent. Watching him shut down Justin Jefferson in the second Vikings game was amazing. I've been burned on this before, but if the defense picks up where it left off, Alexander is going to have a monster year

I really believe this could be a special year for No. 23. Now 25, Alexander's physical maturity has caught up to his natural gifts. The best part? He wants to get better. I think Joe Barry and the staff found the right formula with Alexander during the second half of the year, too.

Cody from Round Lake Beach, IL

Caught Wes's chuckle during Jaire's locker room interview today when Ja proclaimed, "The best has entered the chat …" My question is who is the most entertaining character you guys have had the chance to cover during your time with the Pack?

It's Ja. Hands down. He is so unique and refreshing. Alexander would never go for it, but having a camera follow him all day would make for great reality television. The guy is naturally entertaining and unapologetically authentic in everything he does. And fans love him for it.

Gary from Bear Valley, WI

Unable to attend practice this year. Does Lukas Van Ness pass the eye test with pads on? Does Christian Watson's speed still stand out with the addition of speed at WR and TE?

One of the first videos I filmed on Monday was Van Ness. It truly is hard to believe he just turned 22. He looks like a grown man. As far as Watson, his speed is so smooth and effortless. Jayden Reed and Bo Melton can scorch some grass but they're not 6-4, 208.

Thomas from Evansville, IN

Based on minicamp and training camp so far, how do you think our TEs will be utilized? Josiah Deguara has the experience, but Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft have high potential and the draft capital. Will they have more of an emphasis on blocking than receiving? Musgrave seems like a WR at the TE position to me, but maybe I've just overlooked his blocking due to his sneaky speed and hands.

I think you're gonna see more variations of the "12" personnel packages. We saw Musgrave and Kraft run together with the first-team unit at the end of last week, but the Packers have opened most practices with Musgrave as an in-line tight end and Deguara in the backfield. Musgrave and Kraft have the ability to make an impact as pass-catchers right out of the gate. Blocking is the key, though. It ain't easy to keep 6-foot-5, 270-pound pass rushers the quality of Preston Smith in front of you. They have to keep repping and working at it.

Steve from Kaukauna, WI

With the four tight ends we have, which one will be the best surprise for Jordan? I'm thinking Musgrave.

I don't know if you can call a second-round pick a surprise, but Musgrave seems the most likely candidate to be that top in-line option for Love in this offense.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes, your feature story on Kenny Clark and his family was very touching. As a fan, you make stupid statements about players without knowing anything about their personal life. Several Packers present and past have overcome and/or deal with far more pressing personal issues that make football secondary. Thank you for showing us that players are truly human and deserve our respect.

I had the privilege of interviewing Mrs. Clark four years ago and I gained a deep respect for everything she did to keep her family together during those hard times. Even when her world was crashing down, that lady did not fold. She worked tirelessly to give her children the best life possible, and it helped set Kenny up for an athletic scholarship at UCLA and a successful NFL career. Kenny Jr. is one of my all-time favorites, a true 1/1. I can't imagine losing my father to a lifetime prison sentence when I'm just 8 years old. Kenny stayed on the straight and narrow, though, and I'm happy he gets to see his family together after 19 long years.

Bob from Rome, NY

Gentlemen: First day with pads, what position or player surprised you the most in the "didn't expect that" category? Thank you.

First and foremost, it's always fun when the pads come on. It's just a different vibe out there, especially in the one-on-one linemen drills. T.J. Slaton looked like a beast in his second rep against Josh Myers, a good mark of progress for the third-year nose tackle. I also thought Jake Hanson and Caleb Jones looked good in the drill. People forget Hanson started in Week 1 last year before tearing his biceps, while Jones is one of the most intriguing undrafted free agents Green Bay has signed during my time on the beat. The 6-foot-9, 340-pound tackle is in great shape, as well.

TK from: Grafton, WI

Here's a new feature called "Armchair Psychology with TK: When fans are overly pessimistic, there are two main causes. One is they think by being negative, they sound smarter. The second is their hopes can't be dashed if they never get their hopes up in the first place. Don't set a goal and one can never fall short. Thank you! That'll be $150. All major credit cards accepted.

It's easy to be negative. It creates an easy off-ramp for excuses and softens the blow if you fall short of expectations. But toxicity is quicksand. It drags you down. It's much harder to be positive and stay positive, but that's the true secret to achieving lasting greatness.

Tim from Clear Lake, IA

I was really sad to see Allen Lazard leave. I think it shows a high level of character and unselfishness in a player when they take pride in being a good blocker. Just curious if you can tell yet which of the current crop of receivers will be the next best blocking receiver? And do the Packers' coaches do anything specific to teach blocking or encourage blocking from their receivers? I've heard Christian Watson was a good blocker at ND State.

Watson is the best blocker in the bunch, but it's going to take a few more padded practices and preseason games to get a feel for the rookie class. In addition to having a great frame for it, Watson took so many blocking reps at North Dakota State and that background seemed to ease his transition to Green Bay's offense.

John from Livermore, CA

Out of all the offseason player moves, what intrigues you the most?

Drafting Jayden Reed. His explosiveness and route-running have come as advertised so far. He's a hot knife that can cut through a defense.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hello II, personally I feel the run defense should be a priority this camp. Do you see any steps being taken to improve from last season?

It was an offseason emphasis, and an area Green Bay has worked to improve. Slaton will play a huge role in that. He's a big, athletic defensive lineman and the most prototypical nose tackle the Packers have had since Ryan Pickett manned that spot a decade ago. The Packers are scheduled to see a few of the league's top running backs and two rookie first-round picks the first month of the season. To piggyback off what Spoff wrote yesterday, we'll find soon enough where things stand.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

During the home opener Week 3 we are hosting the Saints of New Orleans, La. Will the stands have more "12" jerseys or more "10" jerseys for that game?

I won't have a hand tally counter on me – maybe Demovsky will – but I think we'll see a lot of "10s." They've been a popular seller, both in the Packers Pro Shop and

Jeff from Cedar Rapids, IA

Is it hot there?

I'm going to quote Josiah Deguara on this one: "Every time I think it's hot, I think, 'Man at least I'm not down south.'" The temperatures have been fine. It's summer.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

Of all the great things you could say about Coach LaFleur, what's the greatest?

He's the first to take blame and the last to accept credit. For me personally, that's the type of leader I'd follow anywhere. Find solutions, not excuses.

Adrian from Chula Vista, CA

Packers to-do list for this season: 1) Attend shareholders meeting (done); 2) Attend Raiders game; 3) Attend Broncos game; 4) Attend both Raiders and Broncos pep rallies; and 5) Have my question make the July special Inbox. How is the international prospect progressing?

You're off to a good start. Kenneth Odumegwu has a way to go on his football journey, but he's making progress. He was working as a lineman on punt coverage Monday and received some reps against Caleb Jones in one-on-ones.

Lee from Citrus Heights, CA

Nine wins would be a great season. How did Anders Carlson miss – hook, sail or out of gas in the windy conditions? Is he OK indoors? Thanks.

He just pushed it a couple times. It wasn't like they were boomerangs or anything. It was the first hiccup we've seen from Carlson. He hit the ball fine inside the Hutson Center during the offseason program and made 5-of-6 during the first practice of training camp. Matt LaFleur isn't fretting. He said Carlson will kick again today. Just gotta bounce back.

Scott from Tukwila, WA

Greetings II. It seems that during preseason games the norm is to go for it on fourth down instead of attempting FGs in order to practice that scenario. Do you foresee seeing more FG attempts this preseason to better gauge that unit? I know I would be begging for more opportunities to ensure my new kicker was confident/prepared.

Perhaps. They're not gonna purposely kick 45-yard field goals on third-and-8 for Carlson's sake, but I'm sure there will be situational opportunities to give the rookie kicker work. We also haven't seen him kick off yet. Frankly, I'm more interested to see that.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

With all due respect, why in the world do we allow owners into the Pro Football HOF? What has Bobby Kraft done for the game, truly? I agree with your assertion that Mike Holmgren is probably behind Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan, but the thought of Kraft going in first doesn't feel good to me. I whole-handedly object. The committee is really blowing it with this one. Not a happy ending for Packers fans.

I don't like the optics of it, especially with how much of a grind it was to get a revolutionary head coach like Don Coryell into Canton. With Bill Cowher in, Holmgren, Coughlin and Shanahan all seem like locks to me. It's just how long it'll take – and how many owners get pushed through.

Marteen from Reno, NV

Hi II! Is Netflix in our future with Peyton Manning's visit on Monday? I'm sure the place was abuzz. I think the visibility and getting to know Jordan would be a plus! Someone should have given him a bike for a dream ride!

That isn't why Manning was here. I'm sure LaFleur will field those questions this morning.

Zach from Jacksonville, FL

OK. So! I'm driving to Atlanta for the Falcons game, and I want to take part in the Packers Everywhere really. When will we find out when and where? Thanks!

We have two this year and unfortunately neither is Atlanta. We'll have October pep rallies in Las Vegas and Denver.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

So, Thursday is the first preseason game. It features the Jets vs. the Browns. Do you think Aaron Rodgers will play?

Rodgers isn't gonna play, but the Tim Boyle Laser Show will.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

Will the NFL bring in a rule to say all playing surfaces must be natural grass rather than hybrid to cut down on injuries?

That would be my suggestion but I just cash checks. I don't write 'em. The longer I cover this league, the more convinced I become that natural grass is the way to go. With that, I wish you all a pleasant Tuesday.

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