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Inbox: It's the problem every GM wants

Brenton Cox Jr. is earning his reps in a talent-rich room

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Dave from Waterford, WI

Is the Packers' minicamp still going or is it over now?

It's over. It's just me and Spoff keeping the lights on now.

David from Janesville, WI

Gents, the start of the dead zone means a number of 53-man roster predictions. I know they are too early. I know the pads haven't even been on yet. But it sure looks like the Packers will need at least 55 or 56 roster spots. As with any year, those final cuts will be difficult. Here's hoping everyone makes it to that point healthy to keep it difficult.

It's the problem every GM wants. If you polled the NFL, I promise you every personnel executive would rather have a hard time trimming to 53 than having to work the waiver wire to piece together a team two weeks before the start of the regular season. As I've written before, teams also can deal players for future draft picks at the end of training camp. It's better to have multiple options than not enough.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Based on a way too early first take on the final 53, it's not about the locks or the starters for me, the intrigue begins in deciding between a sixth CB, seventh WR, fourth RB, or fifth "TE." Brian Gutekunst certainly has created competition for spots all the way through the depth to the final spot on the practice squad. Yowser! I am in no hurry to rush through early summer, but training camp will be intense. That bodes well for games that count. Where, beyond CB, do you see the most intense battles occurring?

Receiver will be fun because it's not just making the 53-man roster. They're also battling for roles on gameday. The stakes are high on the offensive line, too, and how the "starting five" shakes out could impact the players Green Bay keeps as reserves, as well.

Josh from Newhall, CA

So, I had a nightmare a few nights ago in which it was the season opener and Jordan Love threw three bad INTs in the first half. No joke, I woke up sad and my wife made fun of me. It got me wondering, have you seen anything in particular the last few weeks that gives you confidence last year wasn't a fluke? I don't believe it was (maybe my subconscious is running out of ways to deal with the long offseason), but we've seen it plenty with young QBs in the NFL.

I can't do anything about your night terrors, Josh, but I can tell you Love was one of the best QBs in the NFL during the last month of the season and looked like a stud in offseason practices open to the media. During the final media session of minicamp, Rashan Gary told reporters Love and the offense had a lot more swagger this spring than a year ago.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

So much goes into playing receiver. Responsibilities include route running, reading defenses, blocking, etc. Which WR on the Packers do you think has the best pure pass-catching ability (e.g. best set of hands)?

Romeo Doubs. He catches the ball effortlessly. It's rare to ever see him drop a pass. Frankly, Doubs probably flies under the NFL radar because of the ease with which he plays the position. He's the very definition of consistent.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

With all the receivers the Packers have in camp, do you think they might trade some for a big-name receiver before the season begins?

Some of you and your "big-name" wideouts. The answer is no. This is also a good time to remind everyone that if "The Heavy" is pitching a trade on Instagram, plant your foot in the ground and run the opposite direction.

Jake from Marina Del Rey, CA

Now that it's the dead zone, here's a question I've been waiting to ask. Why are some positions called "skill positions"? Seems to me all of the players and positions are skilled. Is it anything more than convention?

I don't think so. I couldn't tell you when that term was coined, but it's just widely accepted that any position that touches the football is considered a "skill" position.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

Since almost all of our O-linemen play multiple positions, and if tackles make more than guards or centers, do any of those players get sliding-scale contacts or bonuses if they play inside and outside during the season?

No, in almost every case. However, Elgton Jenkins has incentives built into his contract if he makes All-Pro at left tackle. I could see that becoming a standard for contracts for versatile offensive linemen.

Jon from Guttenberg, IA

The player I am interested in watching for a big jump is Brenton Cox Jr. His potential and background make for a fascinating story. Do you see a more significant contribution from him this year?

I've tackled a few Brenton Cox questions already this offseason, but I felt he had a strong spring. Cox's hands have really impressed me. He's non-stop motion. There's only so much you can do rushing in non-contact practices, but Cox is earning his reps in a talent-rich room.

Roger from McGrath, AK

How much credence would you give the notion that the Packers are taking an extended look at multiple kickers to better address the prospect of an in-season stumble by the incumbent?

If the Packers feel comfortable rotating all the three kickers, I have no problem keeping Anders Carlson, Greg Joseph, and Jack Podlesny on the 90-man roster. I'm in favor of them taking as long as they need to get the right guy.

John from Beloit, OH

What is the longest touchdown scored by a Packer and who was it?

The longest touchdown from scrimmage in Packers' history is Robert Brooks' 99-yard TD reception at Chicago on Sept. 11, 1995. It's tied for the league record with 14 other 99-yard plays (13 receiving, two rushing).

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Christopher from Sun Prairie, WI

How does the Packers' training staff ensure proper hydration during organized team activities and minicamps when temperatures reach 90 degrees outside?

First, the temperatures didn't come close to 90 for any of the offseason-program practices. If it ever does, the training staff just makes sure players get their fluids both before and after practice.

Hugh from Penn State, PA

Innovation? I'm definitely a Green Bay Packers fan first but also a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid tops them all with some really cool plays. I have watched games where even as the play is unfolding, I am saying to myself that is just so cool.

Kansas City sometimes puts a little too much seasoning on its trick plays for my tastebuds, but I'll always respect the creativity. The NFL has been around for more than a century. It's not easy to find legal ways to innovate.

Phil from Madison, WI

I was reading the new kickoff rules, and since hang time is now irrelevant, it seems kickers should be trying to learn how to kick a knuckleball. Line-drive kicks into the landing zone might also be effective in making it hard for returners to handle the kick. The risk is the rule states if it bounces through the back of the end zone the ball goes to the 30. But no mention of a ball bouncing out the side of the end zone. Presumably this is not an out-of-bounds kick. Any idea what happens then?

The end zone is all the same. The only way the ball goes anywhere but the 30-yard line is if it hits in the landing zone and then bounces into the end zone. Then, the receiving team must either return or down the ball. If downed, the touchback goes to the 20-yard line.

Ron from Mitchell, SD

With the new kickoff rule, would it be legal to kick a line drive into the opponent's front line and hope for a bounce, or would that be forbidden as a quasi-onside kick attempt?

I believe the latter. It's my understanding that unless it's a declared onside kick, the ball must first touch the ground inside the landing zone before it can be legally returned.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

Not a math question, but a stat question. Sacks did not become an official stat until 1982, but it looks like Pro Football Reference has done some extensive research (30 years' worth) through studying official play-by-plays, watching game film, photographs, and coaches' stats to add "sacks" to some or the all-time greats. Just curious why the NFL wouldn't eventually include pre-1982 sacks in their official stats. By the way, ATMR (wcbw), Deacon Jones was an absolute beast racking up 173.5 in his era.

I'm guessing it's because play-by-play can vary among teams and there's no way to officially, and fairly, determine what constituted a sack. For example, there are plenty of times each season when a scrambling quarterback is tackled for a loss after declaring himself a runner (e.g. QB draw).

Patrick from Forest Lake, MN

Happy offseason! With no practices right now, why don't we take a trip down memory lane, and reflect on the veteran signings that have happened over the years, the real head-scratchers (I realize they all had their purpose, but still): Whitney Mercilus, Cedric Benson, Jeff Saturday...

You're putting Mercilus in that group? Do you remember how banged up the Packers were at outside linebacker in 2021? I'd argue Mercilus was a good pickup for Green Bay. Unfortunately, he blew out his biceps four games in but toughed it out to return for the San Francisco playoff game.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Wes, after interviewing Preston Smith, are you inspired to spend time in the cold tub or sauna after your workouts? I was hoping to hear more about his stretching and recovery regimen, or are you saving that for a book you will be ghost writing for Preston when he retires in a decade?

I like the sauna. I wish I had one of my own. I'm still trying to build up the gusto to hop into a cold tub, though. That scares me. But I'm totally game to do a story on Smith if he wants to talk about his recovery process. Send me location.

Ross from Summerville, SC

Gents, have the preparations begun for Brazil for you both?

I found my passport. Does that count?

Dave from Comer, GA

Will someone please tell Mike that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating"? Thank you.

That's how Ted Thompson said it, so that's how we're gonna write it.

Dan from Richmond, VA

Appreciate you taking the occasional non-football question. On Sunday, I was rooting for Rory down the homestretch of the U.S. Open (not a big fan of Bryson or any of the LIV guys). But after losing, Rory absconded without talking to any reporters, and my allegiance shifted. I mean, if Jean Vandevelde talked to reporters after the 1999 British Open, Rory certainly could've sucked it up. As reporters yourselves, what's your take on athletes "facing the music" (or not) after a gut-punch loss?

I'd say it was a poor decision on Rory's part, but I've also stormed off the course after a disappointing round/finish instead of partaking in the 19th hole with friends. So, maybe I shouldn't be casting stones at that glass house. But yes, Rory should've faced the music. The elephant won't jump off your back by you pretending it isn't there.

Richard from Madison, WI

"I'm often asked about any past event I wish I could've covered as a sports journalist, and the 'Miracle on Ice' is always the answer." You'd get a feel for the flavor by watching the 2004 movie "Miracle," starring Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks. It is, in my not-at-all-humble opinion, the greatest sports movie of all time. And I don't even LIKE hockey!

Our UX coordinator Jen Ward would agree with you. I remember going to Bay Park Cinema on opening weekend for "Miracle." I can't believe that's already 20 years ago.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

When will Wes's Inbox photo be updated to reflect the new bearded Wes?

Probably the next time I take a staff photo…in 2036.

Chas from Modena, WI

No question, just want to thank you both for keeping us entertained during the dead zone and all year long.

We're squeezing water from rocks amidst this football draught, Chas. Have a great Tuesday.

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