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Inbox: It's the great equalizer

The complexion of an NFL schedule often looks vastly different come December

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CB Kevin King and LB Krys Barnes

Jon from Somerset, England

Hi Mike. I've been following NFL and the Pack since "The Majik Man" days and can't wait to finally see the green and gold play in London (fingers and toes all crossed). But whilst a pint of Boddies is perfectly quaffable, please let me buy you and Wes a proper Ale, say Timmy Taylor's "Landlord" or Sharp's "Atlantic." Can't wait! Cheers.

A lot of beer and baseball chatter today. I may have picked the wrong day to return.

Matthias from San Antonio. TX

The most important physical attribute to being a good hitter in baseball is eyesight. The second is confidence in one's ability to hit said baseball and perform well even in a hitting slump. What would you say is the most important physical attribute to being a successful football player is in your mind?

Toughness. You can be the smart quarterback, the fastest receiver or the most fundamentally sound linebacker. But you have to be tough to last 17 games in the NFL. It's the great equalizer. If you don't have that, nothing else matters.

Brian from Louisville, KY

I would love the league to add a second bye week to the new schedule. That way, the Super Bowl would be the Sunday before Presidents Day and most would hopefully have that Monday off. What do you think, Wes?

I'm still in favor of a single bye. The season is long enough as it is. Maybe players feel differently but I think everybody would rather have an extra week in the offseason rather than an additional week that you're tied to the NFL season.

Thomas from Appleton, WI

It kind of just dawned on me that the versatility Billy Turner, Lucas Patrick and Elgton Jenkins allows the team on game days also carries over into the draft. I'm sure the Packers would like to add a talented prospect or two after losing Corey Linsley, but it doesn't really matter which position he plays along the offensive line. With David Bakhtiari's availability in question early, this has to be 1A or 1B in terms of priorities heading into the NFL Draft, right?

I agree. Simply put, draft the best offensive lineman available and figure the rest out in July.

TK from Grafton, WI

Do most players care what number they wear?

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while.

David from Kenosha, WI

Hey Mike and Wes, with all the talk on position and depth, it seems some players are not talked about and I am curious on your opinion on guys such as Equanimeous St. Brown, Jake Hanson, Vernon Scott and Ka'dar Hollman. All were drafted players for a reason with a good level of talent, but they seem to be forgotten when discussing their position groups.

Hanson is a wild card because we didn't see much of him over the summer and then he got hurt while on the practice squad. St. Brown and Scott have had their moments, but Scott really intrigues me as a second-year player. He was a one-year starter whose draft stock took a hit with TCU not having a pro day. I liked what I saw from Scott, though. He has the requisite size, speed and wherewithal to play dime safety.

Joshua from Houston, TX

Did you just open yourselves up to a load of questions/discussions about the draft board?

Spoff might have, but I didn't. My name is Weston.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

The Packers probably don't let even team reporters within sight of the room with the draft board, but as far as you know, does the big board have every eligible player on it somewhere? Or does a team ever consider the red flags about a guy's character or history so significant that they would not draft him in any round?

You know, I've heard of the phrase, "Taking a player off the board," but I never followed up to ask if that's to be taken literally. Maybe there's a smaller board off to the side?

Nik from Moore, SC

How many immediate "starters" do we need from this draft/FA signings? I'd say two: one IDL and one OL (OT or C). This seems very attainable. Some may not like Kevin King or Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but they are starters in this league on many other teams. I don't think our "needs" to improve are as great as many in the media think they are. Dean Lowry and Kingsley Keke may not be stars, but they are starting quality NFL players. This draft may turn out to be more about depth for '22-23. I can't wait for those comments.

The Packers don't paint themselves into a corner like that, so I don't know if there's any position where they need to draft a starter. Now, are there some positions where it would behoove the Packers to have a rookie compete for a starting role right off the bat? Absolutely. Both lines, cornerback, linebacker and even receiver top that list for me.

Scott from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, a wizard comes to you and says "I can guarantee the Packers will play in the next Super Bowl, or I will grant you invisibility for three days so you can be in the Packers' war room during the draft." Which do you choose?

I stop the wizard at "The Super Bowl" before he can finish his sentence.

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

So, I'm guessing the Packers will play their first international game in London in 2022 or 2023? They may be giving up a home game, but they should still have eight games in GB. Looks to me like refusing to give up a home game in the past has worked out for the area's economy just fine!

This was the biggest silver lining for me with the expanded schedule. The only two things I haven't done as an NFL beat writer is cover a Super Bowl (see previous answer) and an international game. Hopefully, we check both off the old Hod bucket list in the coming years.

Steven from Edgewater, MD

NFLPA president JC Tretter argued that teams' ability to function the way they did this past season proved that you do not need preseason games or OTAs; things veteran players have typically seen as a lose-only proposition risking injury for no benefit. He inadvertently may have pointed out that regular team practices are plenty to evaluate and develop players. Do players get better by playing preseason games or is it just showing what the coaches already figured out from training camps?

I get where JC and veterans are coming from. I mean, you all know my feelings by now on a 17-game season. That being said, I still believe there is a huge benefit to conducting a preseason for young players and undrafted free agents to compete. Without a preseason, there is no opportunity for NFL teams to see these players, and teams aren't going to blindly claim players unless the active roster is expanded beyond 53 players. Those spots are too valuable. Personally, I don't believe it's fair to young guys making a couple thousand dollars a week with no guarantees past Sept. 1.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

With the expansion of the regular season, will any padded practices be added?

I highly doubt that.

Ferdinand from Woodbury, MN

Am I missing something? Won't the Packers now be guaranteed TWO international games every eight years instead of one (one home and one away)? Unless the NFL makes some other division play three in an eight-year period...

Potentially. But it depends on whether teams will still be allowed to protect one home game like the Chargers did in 2019. If they can, there's no way any NFL team is letting the Packers game be played anywhere but its home stadium.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Welcome back Wes. When asked earlier this week if there was a chance with the 17th game being added the NFL might add an additional game to the total number of games a team can participate in primetime, Mike responded, "Selfishly, from a work standpoint, I hope not." Do you think he was serious? We're talking about one additional game. I would think with more basketball and baseball evening games you both would be more night owls than morning folks. The exposure has to be better for the team.

Spoff was absolutely serious and I concur with him. I don't get much sleep after night games. As the Monday "Packers Daily" guy this past season, I needed to be back in at 9 a.m. CT regardless of when I left the building. Spoff's lot is even worse because he's responsible for penning Inbox for the next morning after already filing two game stories. If we could play every NFL game at noon, that would be grrrrrrrrrrrreat. OK?

Packers LB Krys Barnes celebrates his birthday Apr. 2. Take a look at photos of him from the 2020 season.

Jason from Austin, TX

IIs, the financials for 18 regular-season games would be too easy for the owners to get behind and I'm surprised it didn't happen last CBA. Eighteen regular-season games, plus an extra bye week, making it two per team. The regular season would expand over 20 weeks. That would be three more weeks than last season and two more weeks than the current schedule. Two additional weeks of regular-season NFL games would be a lot of TV revenue.

Sure, but there's also these 2,000 or so human beings who play in the games that need to be involved in these decisions. They're called players. They have a say in the matter, as well. You can't just tell your millwrights they're losing two weeks of vacation to work more. You gotta discuss it with the union.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

Happy Easter/Passover Inbox! Is the 17th game going to be played against a new division each year? If so, do we know the rotation after the AFC West?

It will be a four-year rotation against the AFC but an official announcement hasn't been made. It'll be a team from either the AFC North or South coming to Lambeau, though.

Joe from Swansea, IL

For all the angst about the '21 schedule (Chiefs! Ravens! Steelers! Seahawks! Browns! 49ers! Saints! Cardinals! WFT!), maybe it will help to think of the fans of all those teams with a little angst of their own (Packers!). Wanna be the best? Beat the best. And it's way, way, way too early to know how those teams will be playing when The Pack encounter them on the schedule.

I've also covered the league long enough to tell you the complexion of an NFL schedule often looks vastly different come December. Teams rise and fall every year.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Insiders, who's your pre-draft candidate to go worst-to-first in 2021?

I'm going with the boomerang theory: San Francisco.

Eric from Baker, FL

Philadelphia is proposing "to amend Rule 6, Section 1, Article 1, to permit a team to maintain possession of the ball after a score by substituting one offensive play (4th-and-15 from the kicking team's 25-yard line) for an onside kickoff attempt." This is an intriguing alternative that I could get behind to at least try out for a year. Thoughts?

It's an interesting idea, but I still have the same problem with it that I did last year: I don't trust the refs not to blow it.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers CB Ka'dar Hollman from the 2020 season.

Stu from Shawano, WI

I am 77, a Packers fan since age 4, and attended the Ice Bowl (my favorite Packers game). Would love to hear from you and others your ages, years of being fans, and favorite game. Could this possibly be a future Outsiders Inbox question?

We've asked questions like this in the past but I don't recall asking the favorite game a person has attended. I'll jot it down.

Dave from Coloma, MI

With Cliff Christl's article on people who claim to play for the Packers, I'm going to tell my grandkids I wrote for the Insider Inbox. Whoever is in charge then can state, "While he never wrote for the Inbox, he did have his questions published several times." It's the equivalent to players who might have played an exhibition game but never during the regular season.

Fair. Cliff has penned so many interesting and important stories about the Green Bay Packers during my lifetime, but Thursday's Q&A was easily my favorite thing Cliff has ever written. Just Mutumbo-ing everybody.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi Wes, welcome back. With all the focus on QBs in the upcoming draft, how do you think this year's crop compares to the 1983 QB draft class?

That's a lofty comparison. It would be cool to see five quarterbacks get selected in the first 10 picks but get back to me when three of them are Pro Football Hall of Famers. The 1983 class had equal parts quantity and quality.

Mark from Pitt Meadows, British Columbia

I got an April Fool's text message Aaron Rodgers was traded to the Vikings; he was in purple helmet and all wearing No. 12. I immediately knew it was just to get a reaction on a day of pranks but I still cringed at it! It's all fun and games till someone gets hurt. Go Pack Go!

When I was just a wee lad, Grandpa Hod, God rest his soul, gave me the best advice I've ever received on the topic of April Fool's: Don't.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Welcome back Wes! What's your go-to Easter side dish?

Polish sausage and potatoes. Or as Spoff says, "Puh-tay-tuhs."

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Hey Wes, it's back to the grind time. What was the highlight of your time away?

Pushing my son on our swing in the backyard and driving my wife to work one day while her car was getting fixed. I'm not one to lay on a beach somewhere and post "YOLO" photos to make my life seem cooler than it is for Facebook. I'm a simple guy. I don't need much. I just wanted to hang out with my son. Honestly, that's what I missed the most from the pandemic offseason. But yes, it's good to be back.

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