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Inbox: It was storybook

Former Packers RB Ryan Grant
Former Packers RB Ryan Grant

Dave from Bono, IN

What is your time running down the hall after stealing John Kuhn's lunch?

Good one.

Tim from Charlotte, NC

I am waiting patiently for the training camp schedule to be released, so I know which practices are open to the public, before making my travel plans. Any hope for this in the coming days?

Albert from Crystal Falls, MI

In the past, the Packers practiced in shells during the first few days of training camp. Looking at the schedule, it does not show any dates where the Packers will be in just shells. Will all practices be in pads?

The team stopped putting equipment/dress on the camp schedule a few years ago. CBA rules dictate the earliest practice that can be in full pads is the third one. Any practices after that may or may not be in pads per the coach’s discretion.

Leandro from Lexington, KY

In Wes' "Five things" story posted on Tuesday, Jimmy Graham was the only non-Aaron Rodgers player singled out for having spent time working with the new head coach. Obviously you didn't write that piece, but could you provide some insight on why Wes might have made that choice? Is it really just that apparent that LaFleur has had an extra focus on those two players?

I can safely speak for Wes in saying the comment wasn’t meant to exclude anybody. On the field, we saw LaFleur in close contact with Rodgers, Adams and Graham more than with other players, but don’t overthink it. For one, we weren’t at every practice. For another, a head coach can’t be in everybody’s ear at all times, but if he’s talking to the veteran leaders at the various position groups, it’s the best way to get his messages passed along.

Jack from Naperville, IL

Hi Mike, regarding the Packers referred to as "we" and "our," I believe we're totally justified in doing so. Owned by the community of shareholders, the Packer franchise is truly one-of-a-kind where fans can use "we" and "our team" and truly mean it. Love this franchise.

I have no problem with it, and your point of view, expressed by many, makes reasonable sense. And I’m not trying to call anybody out or make an overly serious point, but I do find it humorous when fans use “we” after a win and “they” after a loss, among other contexts. Just for kicks, pay attention to your own words during and after games and see if you do or not.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Pro athletes know their bodies extremely well since their livelihoods depend on it. Do you think they can feel when they are starting the decline before fans notice it from the stands?

Oh, they know. Then it comes down to how much their experience, smarts and savvy can make up for the inevitably declining physical skills, and for how long.

Brandon from Orlando, FL

At which point do you think it became clear Rodgers was headed to the HOF, no matter how the rest of his career went?

When he followed up his Super Bowl MVP with a league MVP and one of the best seasons a quarterback has ever had in the history of the game, he was on his way.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike, I remember when Vic started this column, he stated that he would always read every submission. With the obvious growth of the Inbox have you been able to keep that promise?

I have with a couple of exceptions. When I go on vacation, I don’t open the Inbox, and in the roughly 24 hours after a game, I simply don’t have enough time to read them all, because the volume is 10 if not 20 times greater than a regular day.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Success for players in the NFL requires great athleticism, uncanny instincts, and a high level of grit. Can you think of Packers (current or past) that would be the poster children for each of those characteristics?

Sticking strictly with players I’ve covered, I’d go with Nick Collins for athleticism and Charles Woodson for instincts. For grit, I’m flipping a coin between T.J. Lang and Mike Daniels.

Eric from Oshkosh, WI

Looking at the current roster, there are 38 guys who I think are "locks" to make this roster; 12 more are "fairly likely." There will be a few injuries and surprises, but that's only a handful of roster spots and 10 practice slots up for grabs. Six weeks and four meaningless games are overkill to figure that out. I get that players need practice time to develop, but these coaches/GMs see them every day. They know what they have, and should be able to complete a roster in half that time, easily.

If they had to, they could, but camp and the preseason provide significant measures of progress when no one has put pads on since the end of last season. Young players can improve considerably from the beginning of one training camp to the end, too. Trust me, I’ve been doing this long enough to know there aren’t 50 guys who just need a rubber stamp from the personnel department this summer. No way.

Perry from Ishpeming, MI

Spoff, I promise I'll be nice since Wes said we have to be. What does Trevor Davis bring to the receiving corps? He is certainly electric in the return game but has he shown enough to warrant reps as a receiver and leapfrog the others to become a solid No. 4?

Davis has speed, hands and smarts, all of which he has employed when healthy to make up for his lack of size. I don’t know how it’s going to shake out, but Davis is right in the mix at receiver.

Take a look back at photos of 2018 Packers Training Camp.

Thomas from Burlington, WI

What may be overlooked in this Rodgers/MM/MLF conversation is game strategy. Successful and unsuccessful strategies in the first quarter affect play-calling and success in the fourth. If that part of the chess game doesn't develop because of play changes early in the game, you end up stagnant in the fourth with no foundation to build off of. Did you see that in our fourth-quarter troubles last season?

I’m not really interested in revisiting last year. I think I’ve made my point several times this offseason about an overreliance on the analytics surrounding “big plays,” and how that simply wasn’t a viable offensive basis for sustained success. Your point is a valid one, though I’d temper it a tad. With all the substitutions, rotations and packages used on defense these days, there may not be as much of the in-game progression you’re referring to as compared to, say, 20 years ago. But there’s definitely a starting point in every game plan, to see how the opponent will react, and then the adjustments and subsequent counterpunches are brought out from there. I think this whole Rodgers-LaFleur scheme/freedom issue will come down to communication. What are the concepts that need to be run at certain times in certain situations, and when will some change-ups not undermine the overall plan? Communicating in those terms is how you strike the balance I was talking about yesterday.

Jack from Eastleach, UK

Do you have any idea if Danny Vitale has good hands? I think a powerful fullback with soft hands, like Kyle Juszczyk, can be a very useful and productive asset. Any idea if MLF’s system uses the fullback as a potential pass catcher?

Yes and yes. Vitale caught 135 passes over four years at Northwestern.

Brian from Menominee, MI

Other than the obvious “drone dome” and laser uprights, are there any stadium renovations you would like to see at Lambeau, big or small? I would imagine with the amount of stadiums you've seen you must have some ideas.

When I go to other stadiums, I’m more likely to be reminded of all the things I’m glad aren’t at Lambeau. Large, inflatable mascots and raging flamethrowers at the tunnel entrance during player introductions top the list. I hope to never see them in this stadium.

Mike from Lake Mills, WI

This could apply to any sport, but probably best applies to baseball. What’s more difficult: a team playing a day game on the road two or three time zones east, or a team playing a night game two or three time zones west? Playing games that start at 9 or 10 p.m. seems awful.

In football, West Coast night games start at 9 or 10 p.m. CT only in the preseason when they’re not nationally televised. West Coast teams playing an East Coast game at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT is the bigger challenge.

Josh from Rochester, NY

Mike and Wes, longtime reader, first-time submitter; appreciate all of the content. Following up on Mike's answer regarding JK Scott, I've repeatedly seen it mentioned in the Inbox and by Scott that he was not as effective as he'd like his rookie year largely because he didn't properly manage the workload of a full NFL season. Can you provide a little more insight as to what the “grind” is for a player who plays a non-contact role and is only on the field for a small percentage of snaps?

A lot of folks asking about Scott wearing down. Just like a baseball pitcher’s strong arm, a punter’s (or kicker’s) powerful leg can get worn out. Young punters accustomed to a shorter college season are prone to use practice to kick their way through a slump or to fix a mechanical flaw. The length of an NFL season can make that counterproductive. That leg is only going to have so many effective, full-force swings in it over the course of 16-plus games. Scott has a better feel for how to manage his entire workload now.

JR from East Moline, IL

Spoff, crazy how one play (a missed interception) or half a play (broken sack or helmet catch) is the difference between the '07 NE team being the undisputed best ever and maybe being considered for top five (if that's even the NE team you were considering). I sometimes wonder what they would have done in '08, considering they still had Moss and went 11-5 with Cassel. My next question is, have you ever been to a game that you felt the weather epitomized perfect football weather?

Jan. 12, 2008. Thirty-one degrees and snowing. It was storybook.

Scott from Martinez, GA

I realize the number of preseason and regular-season games isn't changing soon, but I for one wish it would. Right now 1/4 (yes, math) of the games played don't mean squat. Sure they're used to evaluate, but surely there has to be a better way to evaluate than giving up a quarter of your hard-pounding, full-speed games every year. I just don't like that four out of 20 games are meaningless.

But you’re clearly fine with math class being rather meaningless, no?

Tom from Omaha, NE

OK, since it is dead zone time, think this might be a good time to get my answer to this. We say a quarterback threw for 300 yards in a game. Well, he doesn't actually throw for 300 yards. Each of his passes may only travel a short distance and then the receiver advances the ball further down the field, but we total the yards up at the end of the game and that's how we get to 300 yards. But is there a stat that shows exactly how far the quarterback actually threw the ball, minus the YAC?

There’s no specific stat I know of, but you could calculate it by taking the total passing yards and subtracting the YAC. Just don’t ask Scott to create the fraction.

Tom from Twin Lakes, WI

I'm curious about what the practice(s) against the Texans will actually involve? Will there be full-team offense vs. defense? Or is it more positional drills?

Some of everything I suspect.

Gina from Waukesha, WI

Hi Mike, thanks for continuing to put up with our questions during this down time. I don't know if this has been asked or not. Are the players allowed to take the playbook home with them during this time?

Yes, but they can’t be compelled to.

James from San Jose, CA

Ketchup or mustard on the brat?

I don’t put mustard on anything. Sorry, can’t stand the stuff. Don’t hate me for it.

David from Minneapolis, MN

Is it August yet? I'm in no rush, just ready for the 2019 Packers.

Happy Wednesday.

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