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Inbox: It’s up to him to prove them right

RB Dexter Williams
RB Dexter Williams

David from Appleton, WI

Leaving the country for two weeks. What do you think the big Packer news will be over the time I am away?

Hopefully nothing. A quiet dead zone will be a good dead zone.

Brett from Boonsboro, MD

I never thought about yours and Mike’s families being so involved in your careers until I read your thank-you’s for the Mitchell story. I think I can speak for most of the II readers and say a big thank you to all of the people you love that understand and help you guys through your careers day after day. It’s certainly not a 9-5 job and it must take a lot of understanding and support. Keep on keepin’ on...

Appreciate you saying that. Every family makes career-related sacrifices, so no one here is looking for a parade, but being in the public eye makes a public acknowledgment appropriate.

Evan from Oesterle Lake, WI

Who has the edge at earning the No. 3 spot at halfback for the Packers?

We’ll know more come training camp and the preseason, but the Packers drafted Dexter Williams because they believe he fits this scheme well. It’s up to him to prove them right.

Shawn from St. Peter, MN

Hey guys, could you give us a quick rundown on the differences between minicamp, training camp, etc.? Do all of these fall under the category of OTAs?

OTAs are spring, non-padded, voluntary practices. Minicamp is really just an extension of OTAs, except player attendance is mandatory. Training camp is also mandatory, and it starts out much like an extension of minicamp, without pads, but after a few days the pads go on and the practices have much more contact. They still aren’t full-contact, like a game, because players are not tackled and taken to the ground. Also, defensive backs don’t hit receivers at full speed to break up passes, but blocking on running plays and passing plays is full-go.

Theologos from Athens, Greece

Mike, if you had to guess, how many UDFAs will be on the roster in Week 1?

Someone always makes it, somehow, some way. So I’ll put the over/under at two.

Jason from Des Plaines, IL

What will the defensive scheme with four OLB on the field be called?

Third-and-long.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

I’m not sure there is a defensive play-caller in the league dumb enough to just let a corner get worn down by letting said offensive players run straight go routes against his same guy over and over.

Substitutions and different coverages could obviously foil such a plan, for starters. If you don’t coordinate schemes for a living, just remember when you think you have a brilliant new idea, there’s probably a reason it’s new, and that doesn’t make it brilliant.

Josh from Green Bay, WI

Is Josh Jones in the building?

He was at practice Tuesday but not participating due to a hamstring injury. The rest of what we know I included in this story.

Jill from Oshkosh, WI

Who is the most impressive rookie in minicamp?

As Larry pointed out in “Three Things,” cornerback Ka’Dar Hollman is starting to show up. I have reservations about any proclamations this time of year, but Hollman is definitely heading into training camp on the right note.

Alan from Madison, WI

Finally our long national nightmare is over, Jace Sternberger has signed his contract.

The angst in the Inbox over that was totally unnecessary. When I tell you not to worry about something, just trust me. I think I’ve been honest about my genuine concerns and expressed them. If I express a lack of concern, it’s just as honest, and if I ignore a potential concern, understand I have my reasons.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

Dear Spoff, which other stadiums do you have left to visit for the first time and do you think you'll get to them all?

The trip to the LA Memorial Coliseum last year chalked another one off my list, leaving me with the StubHub Center as the only currently in-use NFL stadium I have not visited, and I’ll be there on Nov. 3. That trip, combined with the preseason jaunt to Winnipeg, will bring my total to 40 different stadiums in which I’ll have covered an NFL game. I’d have one more if not for a botched paint job in Canton.

Jim from Woodbury, MN

Why are ticket prices so high for the Winnipeg preseason game?

The company organizing the event obviously feels the demand for tickets will be there. I’ve read articles out of Canada questioning that assumption at those prices.

Ross from Meyer, WI

Which returning player should benefit most from Coach LaFleur’s offensive scheme?

My top three are Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones and Jimmy Graham.

Carolina from Olympia, WA

Which rookies have the best chance of securing a roster spot?

A draft class of just eight, as opposed to 11 last year, increases the odds the entire group could make the team, barring injuries. But I’d never guarantee that.

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

Wes, that was an AMAZING piece on Mitchell Henry. Thank you. I believe I asked the original question. So I pose the same question to you, Spoff. With a 90-man roster to start each spring, that’s a lot of human interest stories. Is there one you wish you had more time to tell, or a player you had more time to get to know?

I’ve pursued at different stages many off-the-field stories over the years that, through nobody’s fault, never came to fruition. It’s just how it is. Too many to mention, frankly, but I’m thankful for the ones that worked out, and I try not to get bogged down by regrets, because players coming and going is an everyday part of this business. In Wes’s case, the Henry story fell into a whole different realm of regret, obviously. The opportunity to compensate for it as beautifully as he did represents, in some respects, the power of the Inbox to the nth degree. I’ll never underestimate it.

Tom from Omaha, NE

Is there a possibility that the tribute to Bart Starr in Alabama was recorded and available to see? Would love to see how he was remembered.

There are two videos posted on our website. The full 90-minute service from Alabama is right here, and a four-minute piece with brief portions is here.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Mike or Wes, we know about a few players who came into 1265 out of shape such as when Eddie Lacy was called out by Coach McCarthy, and you have talked about a few players who stepped up this offseason via the eye test like Aaron Jones. Overall, how does the team evaluate current roster players for fitness after being away from football for several months?

The ones who do all their offseason workouts here beginning in mid-April have everything tracked and recorded, and files are kept. So they know. They’ll also have a conditioning test on the day they report for training camp as part of their physical, and if they don’t pass it, they can’t practice.

Donny from Green Bay, WI

If the NFL got rid of a preseason game, I don't believe they would have to add an extra game to the regular season to make up for the lost revenue. I think they could accomplish that break-even by adding one more team to each conference playoff and reducing the playoff bye week to only one team. Two extra playoff games on that first weekend could be an interesting compromise. You would also increase the level of competition late in the year for that No. 1 seed for the only bye.

I have zero interest in playoff expansion, and I’ve been steadfast in that position. Please, no. I wouldn’t be as strongly against a 3-17 schedule format, with the extra game being a cross-conference, neutral/international site addition, but I can totally appreciate the players’ resistance to any more games. If the owners need 20 games and the players don’t want more than 16 in the regular season, then don’t mess with anything.

Brett from Oshkosh, WI

I keep hearing the “experts” say they expect the Packers to be a sub-.500 team again, citing the roster as the reason. I can understand that argument for the past few years, where we had a lack of depth behind some of our most talented starters, but I actually feel like we have a really talented roster with depth. I think the only question mark at this point is the massive changeover on the coaching staff. What do you think are the biggest questions marks on our team at this point?

There’s just a lot of unknowns on both sides of the ball. With all the new personnel on defense, we won’t know until the games start if they can take the ball away more and stand tall in big fourth-quarter moments. On offense, the adjustment to the new system across the board, starting with Rodgers, is another great unknown until the games are for real. Depth-wise, I’d like to get a better feel for how things are shaping up at quarterback, left tackle and on special teams, and we’ll learn more in training camp and the preseason. But overall the roster is in better shape than either of the last two years, at this point. I have no doubt about that.

Brett from Winchester, VA

Are you more interested in seeing Gary or Savage take the field against an opponent?

Why do I have to choose?

Markus from Aurora, CO

Insiders, with the official start of summer only about a week and a half away, what is your favorite non-football-related activity for the next month and a half until training camp starts?

Aside from generally spending time with my family, it’s going to Miller Park to watch the Brewers. Between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp, I plan to attend at least five more games.

Kyle from Sun Prairie, WI

Have you seen punters go for maximum distance instead of hang time? If yes, about how far can they consistently kick it? Question is bred from wanting a punter to kick it through the end zone when roughly at their own 30. In soccer you see keepers kick the ball 80-90 yards in the air consistently. I am trying to better understand what prevents NFL punters from doing the same. I have ideas, but am more interested in hearing your experiences/ideas than mine. Thank you.

Well, the shape of the ball has something to do with it. I have no doubt NFL punters could boot a soccer ball 80-90 yards very easily. But for punters it’s all about developing a consistent swing they can trust and rely upon. Constantly trying to max out on anything, whether it be distance or hang time, only increases the chances of a mis-hit, something going wrong mechanically, etc. Most NFL punters could probably record a 70-yard punt every game, but if that came at the expense of one bad punt every game, it’s not worth it.

Robert from Saginaw, MI

It has always been my opinion had Lombardi not died the Super Bowl trophy would have been named after Bert Bell.

A distinct possibility.

Mark from Carmel, IN

Reading the question about Charles Woodson and his HOF credentials and number retirement got me thinking. If he had played all of his career in GB and had produced the same stats would your answer have changed?

Indubitably.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I don't know if you've had an opportunity to observe any special teams work in OTAs, but if you have I'm curious what changes you've seen in the ST coaching. I'd be happy if the Packers finished near the middle of the ST rankings and most importantly eliminate penalties and turnovers.

Some of the drills look a little different, but that’s about it. There’s no magic practice regimen for special teams. It’s assignment football requiring solid fundamentals, like anything else, and then on game day you have to be better than the guy across from you. We won’t know until we see actual opponents.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Thanks Wes and Mike for how you inject the human focus into your writing on sports. Mitchell Henry is another example of how much more important life is than sports. You help us realize that those who play the games are human beings with issues that follow them when they are not between the lines.

Just a friendly reminder to anyone who has not checked it out, give yourself roughly a half-hour to read and watch Wes’s piece.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

The sock-shoe situation goes back to an “All in the Family” episode in which Archie got upset when he saw Meathead doing sock-shoe rather than sock-sock.

Several readers sent me a link to the clip. I enjoyed it. That episode must have been a tad before my time, because I do remember the show, but not that particular scene.

Jim from Hainesville, IL

On Friday the minor league Durham Bulls are wearing alternate jerseys. Apparently they lollygag the ball around the infield. They lollygag to first and they lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes them? Spoff?!...

Happy Wednesday.

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