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Inbox: It's never an exact science

Rookie minicamp is a crash course to life in the NFL

Defensive linemen drills

Tom from New Berlin, WI

Why do some people try and aggravate you and Wes? Happy Monday.

Because it's cheaper than a movie?

Ross from Hudson, WI

Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement – there is no such thing as best, only getting better. The Packers added a lot of talent this offseason. Which position group has the chance for the greatest level of "kaizen" this season over last? I would say the defensive front and run defense in general.

That's a good pick. I'll go with receiver. The Packers had the No. 1 scoring offense in the league last year and they're positioned to return almost every skill-position player they had in 2020. The selection of Amari Rodgers in the third round and return of Devin Funchess makes that room even more dynamic, while adding two completely different skill sets at receiver.

Scotty from Lombard, IL

Insiders, if the NFL did not change the uniform number designations for skill-position players, would Amari Rodgers have been issued No. 88?

Or No. 18?

Dominic from Chesapeake, VA

Gentlemen, I had the chance to watch all the recent rookie interviews on packers.com and, once again, I am so impressed with the character of these players. You just want to pull for all of them! I have such high hopes for this year and this class only strengthens those hopes. When was the last time a new player came in and you thought, "How did this guy get picked to play for us?" I'm guessing it's been awhile. Thanks.

From a coachability and locker-room standpoint, the Packers have had some all-time human beings in their draft classes over the past five years. While it's only been a handful of interviews, I get that same sense from this incoming crew. As we've seen so many times, you can be the most gifted performer on the planet but it's not worth much if you don't check your ego at the door entering the NFL. The right approach will keep you headed in the right direction.

Curt from Atlanta, GA

What skillset makes a coach project one 6-foot-4, 300-pound man as an offensive lineman and another as a defensive lineman? Or is it mainly player preference? Are they all such good athletes it becomes what they have focused on?

It's never an exact science. Some of it is where a player feels most comfortable playing or a coach seeing a trait in an individual and believing it can be developed at a certain position. Tyler Lancaster is one that always stands out to me. When he got to Northwestern, there was a lot of discussion about which side of the line he should play on. In the end, opportunity knocked first for him on defense and the rest was history.

Jeff from Milwaukee, WI

How will the Packers' defense change this year with the turnover in the coaching staff?

I don't know if the defense will be drastically different to the naked eye. The easiest thing to spot might be how the defensive front is aligned. I don't have any inside knowledge of Joe Barry's plans but the Rams used a lot of five-man fronts last year under Brandon Staley. If the Packers want to get Rashan Gary on the field more this year, that might be the path of least resistance.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

I read that three tryout players (Kurt Benkert, Chad Kelly, and Alvin Jones Jr.) were brought in for rookie minicamp. When is the last time a tryout player made the active roster or practice squad?

It actually wasn't that long ago. Darrius Shepherd (2019).

Al from Green Bay, WI

Rookie minicamp: Is it more about the players learning how to succeed at this level, or is it more about the coaches learning what they have in a new crop of players?

Aside from tryout players trying to win jobs, it's more the former than the latter. Rookie minicamp is like the first day of school. There are no quizzes or tests. It's more about finding where your locker is and which room you have to go to for ninth-hour biology. It's a crash course to life in the NFL. So, when OTAs begin next week, the rookies understand what the expectations are.

Curt from Antioch, IL

Now that rookie minicamp is over, do signed rookies have access to the building to do weights, meet with the trainers, have in-person one-on-ones with position coaches, etc.? What are the rules and regulations going forward toward training camp?

Yes. Monday was the beginning of the shortened Phase Two of the offseason program. It's just one week this year and consists of various walkthroughs and individual instruction.

Dave from Coloma, MI

How soon after the draft do rookies have access to the weight room and training rooms? Also, do the athletic trainers get files from the different colleges that would outline previous injuries and/or treatments?

Once they're on the roster, players have access to all of that during the offseason program. By now, the Packers have files built on the medical history of all their players. That's what the pre-draft background checks are for.

Brian from Cranford, NJ

We, and only us, now have three QBs drafted in the first round. What will Blake Bortles' number will be, since the No. 5 has been retired because of the "Golden Boy"? I did find an authentic Jags jersey for $40.

There has been no announcement yet on Bortles' number but there really are only a handful to pick from at this point. It is funny we haven't heard more about the Packers having three first-round QBs considering the lack of a first-round receiver was a problem for some pundits.

Brendan from Mount Clemens, MI

Hey Wes. On the "Five Things" article on Bortles, found it really interesting that he had never played for a team outside of his home state of Florida prior to signing with LAR (another warm state). How much of an adjustment is it for players who are predominately accustomed to warm weather to play for GB? Do they get used to it pretty quickly from practicing outside, or would you expect a guy like Bortles to struggle a bit in December/January if he were hypothetically the starter?

It's an interesting little footnote that Bortles never played outside of Florida but I don't think it's too big of a deal. He should be fine. His hand size (9.38 inches) is the same as Aaron Rodgers' and in the ballpark for what teams want. So, I wouldn't expect gripping the ball in colder temps to be an issue. First thing's first, he has to get through the summer before we start worrying about November and December.

Michael from Winchester, VA

I see the Packers just signed a backup QB prospect the Atlanta Falcons didn't want. Like, when has that EVER worked? Seriously, though, what can you tell us about the new guy from UVA?

The Falcons keeping Benkert around for three years says something about what they thought of his potential. He was signed an undrafted free agent during the same 2018 offseason Tim Boyle signed with the Packers. Benkert had a good two-year run at UVA, throwing for 5,759 yards, 46 TDs and 20 INTs. I'm excited to learn more about his game.

Sal from Salt Lake City, UT

Since you're our eyes on the ground, who is the biggest threat to David Bakhtiari's "Best Hair" title: Benkert or Royce Newman?

Bakhtiari is in a league of his own. I think he's gonna hold that title down as long as he's in Green Bay. That being said, Benkert's mane is a sight to behold. When Benkert stepped on the field Friday, I immediately said to one of the other writers – that dude means business.

Scott from Muskego, WI

Within his II submission Saturday, Greg from Johnson City, TN, stated "Until Russell Wilson, Wisconsin hadn't had a single notable QB in the NFL, like ever." It appears he may have forgotten about another highly successful QB to come out of Wisconsin: Arnie Herber. He joined the Packers in 1930, six years before the first NFL Draft. He went on to become a four-time NFL champion. Oh, and he's also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So, I would say his career was "notable"... and then some.

Well, we were talking about Wisconsin aka UW-Madison – not just the state. Herber attended Regis University in Denver. I take nothing away from him, though. Herber has one of the greatest stories in Wisconsin sports history and a career Wisconsinites could only dream of in going from Green Bay West to the Packers and all the way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's the blueprint.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Three guys with "Three Things" is back and maskless to boot! On the road back to normal, it's probably not that big a deal but it felt/looked good to me. How about you Wes?

It felt good to me, as well, especially after a year of Zoom calls and doing videos in the studio with masks. As Spoff said on "Unscripted," the three of us are all vaccinated and cleared for video takeoff. Here's to a more normal 2021.

Rachel from Green Bay, WI

Do you have any thoughts about Tampa Bay, as the Super Bowl champs, having one of the easiest schedules this year? Is this coincidence, or is the league cradling Tom Brady? Looks like the Packers have the fourth hardest, and the Buccaneers have the fourth easiest.

That's just how it goes. The only thing that's undetermined each year are which two intraconference teams and one interconference team every club will play. In this case, that's based solely on which NFC divisions the NFC South isn't already matched against that year. As the second-place team in the South, the Bucs were paired with Chicago, Dallas and the New York Jets.

Dan from Mahtomedi, MN

With 17 games, what are your top five most likely records to be broken?

Passing yards, receptions, receiving yards, rushing yards and sacks. Derrick Henry had 2,027 yards in 16 games last year. Can you imagine what he might've had with a 17th?

Dan from Portland, OR

Last weekend I attended my goddaughter's college graduation at the University of Idaho. To my surprise, the guest speaker for that day's commencement ceremony was none other the great Jerry Kramer. It was really cool to hear him talk of his time in college, as well as hearing a few good stories about Lombardi and the Packers of the 1960s. Definitely a cherry-on-top-the-sundae for what was a special day already.

What a wonderful memory. It's one thing to be a Hall of Fame player and lifelong ambassador for the Packers but Kramer's ability (and desire) to still hit the road at 85 years young is inspiring. They broke the mold with that man.

Steve from Land O Lakes, FL

Is there such a thing as a Larry McCarren highlight video and would it be VHS or Super8?

It would be either VHS or Betamax, cut from the edit bay at WFRV in Green Bay.

David from Janesville, WI

Insiders – Great to see Larry being Larry during "Three Things." We're pretty spoiled to have him, I hope he plans to continue in media for a long time. I've always appreciated every game I hear Uecker call, and feel fortunate he's continued to entertain us well into his 80s. Tell Rock if he agrees to a similar schedule, I'll buy him a cold one at 1919 Kitchen and Tap next time I'm at Lambeau. We need to make sure we don't take him for granted. There's one for Mike, as well, and a soda for Wes.

There have been thousands of Packers players but just one Larry. He's a true legend – and not because he was a Pro Bowl center or a WBA Hall of Fame broadcaster or the Packers radio guy. It's because of all the lives he's touched during his time in Green Bay, personally and professionally. I can tell you for a fact there are countless men and women in this business who have benefited from Larry's kindness and wisdom over the last 35 years.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Before we get too immersed in bigger matters, to revisit an appealing idea that once enjoyed a momentary place in the Inbox sun, has there been any action on the II T-shirt suggestion?

Unfortunately, I'm not a graphic designer. My idea would probably be as boring as "Wes and Spoff. Inbox. Yeah," written in black Sharpie on a white T-shirt. I'm open to better suggestions, though.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders! You are granted by God the opportunity to ask two questions to Curly Lambeau, but you have to report the answers to the Insider Inbox. What two questions would you ask him?

"What happened with Rockwood Lodge? And then, "OK, now what really happened with Rockwood Lodge?"

Michael from Tama, IA

Good Morning II team, your mission if you accept it, is to infiltrate the third-floor operations. Since your office is on the second floor, you need to find an opening, (air duct or heat/cool air register) and send a camera and microphone into the important offices above. Find out information on all the important items going on to ease the Packer fans' minds going into the summer. As always, if any of your team is caught and detained, the fans will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck!

I guess I better get climbing.


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