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Inbox: It takes a special person to play on that fabled island

Father Time always has the NFL’s fastest 40, but a few still can outpace it for a while

CB Jaire Alexander
CB Jaire Alexander

TK from Grafton, WI

I am ready and waiting for Edgerrin Cooper to be my favorite new player. Good choice?

I can't help but be excited about Cooper watching him in practice. His speed is different. The Packers called a couple weak-side blitzes during team periods on Tuesday and Cooper's ability to go from zero to 60 was clear off the edge. There was one play where Cooper pressured Sean Clifford into a pass that was then batted down by Keshawn Banks at the line of scrimmage. A lot goes into playing inside linebacker in the NFL, but he comes as advertised athletically.

Troy from Westminster, CO

In regards to WRs vs. CBs, I tend to believe most CBs are simply WRs who can't catch. However, the receivers know what route they're going to run. It seems it takes a whole other level of ability to react to that extreme athleticism. Like Giannis's block in the NBA Finals, spontaneous reactionary athleticism at its best.

I'm not sure if any of you caught Randall Cobb's recent appearance on "Bussin' with the Boys," but the longtime Packers receiver said cornerback "without a question" is the hardest position to play in football. A premier corner must possess elite instincts, reaction time and the effortless ability to flip his hips. Even if a cornerback has all the intangibles, he also must be comfortable covering top wideouts on the perimeter. It takes a special person to play on that fabled island.

Ben from Buckeye, AZ

Good morning, each season I pick out a jersey of my favorite player. This year, it's looking to be Carrington Valentine. Have you seen his YouTube channel? I was looking him up as I don't want to rep players who are jerks. He has a hilarious video where he takes over a dodgeball park. Couldn't stop laughing! Seems like a great guy.

I'd say that's a solid pick. Valentine is hilarious regardless of whether he's in front of a camera or not. He also has the best laugh in the locker room.

Stan from Pensacola, FL

Good morning. There has been quite a bit of praise for MarShawn Lloyd and his running ability. I've yet to read anything about his ability to pass block which will greatly affect how much time he's on the field. Any info on that part of his game?

We'll learn more about Lloyd once the pads come on during training camp, but pass pro is always a work in progress for young running backs. During my time on the beat, Jamaal Williams is the only guy I can think of who came in as a rookie and looked natural in that area on Day 1. Conversely, nobody improved more in pass pro in a Packers uniform than Williams' 2017 draft classmate Aaron Jones.

Ross from Hudson, WI

Minicamp is to many fans the first part of the preseason build that feels real. It is where the underdogs find fan suitors looking for someone new to root for among the up-and-comers. Every year one player seems to rise to the top and turn into the player everyone is praying makes the 53. Bo Melton seems to be filling that role right now, but I have a feeling another will rise and overtake him. Anyone spring to mind who might leap into the hearts of Packer fandom?

I don't know whether it'll be this year, but the stage is set for Kenneth Odumegwu to become a beloved member of the Packers' roster. The Nigerian-born defensive end, who only started playing organized football last year, made huge strides this spring and is one of the kindest souls in Green Bay's locker room.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Wes, how many step-level improvements remain for Jordan Love to reach his ceiling? When did No. 12 get there? Year 3? Or 4? What about Favre? Once that happens, it's about sustaining excellence year over year. Mahomes is not still getting better. He just continues to demonstrate his mastery and shows out in the biggest moments.

I think Rodgers would tell you there's always things a quarterback can learn at any age. How fast do they pick up on the nuances of the position? Every QB progresses at his own pace. What I know is Love is a 25-year-old quarterback with just 1,240 regular-season snaps played. How far does his ceiling run? To quote "The Natural Boy" Ric Flair, "It's only just begun."

Bryan from Madison, WI

Is it harder for an NFL team to get young, or to stay young?

Stay young. Father Time always has the NFL's fastest 40, but a few still can outpace it for a while. More on that in our feature on Preston Smith later this week.

The Green Bay Packers held their final practice of minicamp at Ray Nitschke Field on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

Tyler from Mobile, AL

Do you think training camp and the preseason is mentally tougher on a player that is not guaranteed a roster spot if he's a late-round pick or UDFA rookie, or a veteran possibly nearing the end of his career? On one hand, you've got a young guy coming into the league trying to learn everything and make a name for himself well enough to stick on a roster, and on the other hand you have a guy fighting to prolong his career knowing his opportunities in the league could be dwindling.

It's probably harder for a young guy on the bubble, but there's one easy answer for any player competing for a roster spot – focus on yourself and control what you can control. Bo Melton, a first-year player, and Corey Ballentine, a fifth-year pro on his sixth NFL team, were prime examples of each scenario last year. Both players succeeded because they fought tooth-and-nail in training camp and kept that same energy while on the practice squad.

Troy from Westminster, CO

Looks like Caleb Williams has a decent chance to throw a TD pass to a first-rounder this year. Thank goodness.

Hey, sign me up for at least one Marcedes Lewis touchdown (against anyone but the Packers). In Green Bay, however, it remains one of life's great mysteries how the Packers have won all those games the past 20 years without a prolific first-round pick catching all the touchdowns.

Wayne from Stevens Point, WI

I always love a season surprise. I haven't seen much about Andre Dillard a former first-rounder. How can a first-round lineman fail when the hit record across the board for linemen is so high? I would love to see him as one of the "five." Any insights?

Dillard was in a tough spot in Philadelphia. He was injured early on and Jordan Mailata pretty much locked down that left tackle spot in Dillard's absence. There wasn't much film on Dillard when Tennessee bet on his upside last offseason and the sixth-year veteran told reporters on Tuesday that "wasn't a great fit all around for everybody." Now, he has a fresh start in Green Bay with a team that's had an eye on Dillard since he entered the league in 2019.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

When is the last time the Packers drafted a player and switched them from offense to defense (or vice versa)? Any unusual transitions (as opposed to a more common/obvious conversion such as a WR switching to a DB)?

The only player I can think of is Korey Hall, a sixth-round pick in 2007 who played linebacker at Boise State but switched to fullback in Green Bay.

Tim from Fayetteville, NC

Who was the first GBP player to be offered a million-dollar-plus contract?

That is an excellent question. I'm not 100% confident on this, but Sterling Sharpe might be the guy. He was the first Packers draft pick to receive a $1 million signing bonus in 1988. He then received a $1.5 million bonus when he signed a 10-year, $15.5 million contract extension in 1991. In 1989, after a holdout, Tony Mandarich received a $2 million bonus on his four-year, $4.4 million rookie deal.

Craig from Brookfield, WI

Spoff made an interesting point about the Packers "missing out" on Khalil Mack, instead ending up with QB10. On the flip side, what's the biggest woulda, coulda, shoulda in Packers history? My nominee: Taking Tony Mandarich in 1989 when the next three picks were Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders – all HOF. To add salt to that wound, the Pack won their last two games that year to go 4-12, missing out on the chance to pick Troy Aikman at No. 1. The Bay was angry that day, my friends.

You can lament the Mandarich pick, but we don't know the possible butterfly effect if Green Bay drafted someone else. Everything worked out the way it needed to.

Dave from Waterford, OH

Bill Belichick is for sure one of the best head coaches ever. But we saw what happened the last few years to the Patriots without Tom Brady. It makes you wonder how some of the great coaches would've fared without those top-notch QBs they had. One guy I think doesn't get near the credit he deserves is Mr. Joe Gibbs. I think he should be in the top five of all time. What other coach has taken basically three different teams, with three different QBs (who were good but not great) to a championship?

And then came back a decade later and led that same team to the playoffs twice in four years. Gibbs is an all-time great whose name doesn't get mentioned nearly enough in comparison to Belichick, Parcells, Shula, and Johnson.

Dan from Richmond, VA

I've never been a big NBA fan, and certainly never rooted for the Lakers, but I did raise a toast yesterday in honor of the late great Jerry West. When all the pundits and even your former competitors have nothing but praise for you as a player, coach, and front-office leader, you know you did something right. RIP, Mr. West.

Being immortalized as a silhouette on your sport's official logo is greatness on a different level. I don't know if anyone has ever done it better as both a player and personnel executive.

Rex from Chetek, WI

I went to the Pittsburgh game last year and I agree with Mike, Acrisure has a vibe to it. People were playing games outside the stadium before they opened the gates. Everybody was friendly, and I saw plenty of people together, one with a Steelers jersey and the other with a Packers. The concourse is pretty cool, too. Of course, it was disappointing for the Pack to lose, but what d'ya expect from an opera – a happy ending?

No disrespect to the stadium formerly known as Heinz Field – its history is truly unparalleled – but it's difficult for me to pick a venue that isn't even the best stadium in its own city.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

Along with all the great coverage and banter in the Inbox, I love looking at where all the submissions come in from. I know this has been talked about in the past but the submissions from TX (two from San Antonio) makes me even more excited to move there at the end of September with my new bride. She is a Cowboys fan so it's nice to know I'll have plenty of cheese brothers and sisters in my new hometown. Go Pack Go!

I took a trip to San Antonio in 2011. It's a beautiful city, especially the riverwalk. Safe travels to your new home.

Douglas from St. Germain, WI

Hod was in Eagle River? So that's why the root beer was sold out at Krogers. Next time try out Tribute Brewery.

Hey, Pa Hod and I might make a return trip before camp. We won a free 18-hole round at Eagle River Golf Course during our Trees for Tomorrow fundraiser.

Paul from West Allis, WI

Good day all. I knew someone who inevitably had to leave only to miss the BIG plays of the game. Question is, have you ever had plans to go to a game and missed it (with regret – missing a great game) or missing a HUGE play or turning point in a game?

Nothing comes to mind. I guess, maybe UFC 246? I was in very preliminary discussion to attend the Conor McGregor-Donald Cerrone fight, which lasted a whopping 40 seconds. Instead, I was in Santa Clara when the Packers advanced to face San Francisco in the 2019-20 NFC Championship Game.

Bil from Stateline, NV

Some people enjoy a relaxing day on the lake fishing for crappie, others prefer watching two guys beat the crappie out of each other. Different strokes for different folks.

God bless America.

Isaac from Abiquiu, NM

Dead-zone appreciation: Whenever someone writes II as an abbreviation, my brain turns it into Roman numeral two. Makes sense, right? Second incarnation of Ask Vic, led by two writers, one of whom was the second in command back in the early days of the column. I wonder if anyone else does the same thing?

Yes, but only a few times a month instead of five (or six) days a week. By the way, congrats to Michael who celebrated 18 years with the Packers organization on Wednesday. That's quite an accomplishment deserving of an extra lunch.

Shilo from Wildomar, CA

"That's all folks!" Dead zone time, here we come :)

In all its wonderful monotonous glory. Have a great rest of the week.

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