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Inbox: Lukas Van Ness fits that prototype

Aaron Jones appreciates the path he took to the NFL

LB Lukas Van Ness
LB Lukas Van Ness

David from Zephyrhills, FL

Is it Groundhog Day in the II? Love the II so much that I read all the posts a second time, a second time, a second time too. GPG

Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.

Craig from Lakeville, MN

Reading about Lukas Van Ness' love of hockey got me thinking about other NFL players who have paid their dues in the penalty box. The main one that comes to mind is J.J. Watt. I know Van Ness' NFL career is just beginning and Watt's just ended, but how comparable is Van Ness to Watt on the football field? From my brief research, it looks like they had similar collegiate production and a similar draft position. Here's hoping Van Ness has a similar career trajectory as Watt.

You guys know how careful I am with such lofty comparisons – and it would be a fool's errand for me to talk about a potential gold jacket in the same breath as a rookie linebacker. However, there is a solid track record of pass rushers with Van Ness' frame and body type succeeding in the NFL. The Watt Bros. probably are at the top of the list. Pass rushers with that much size, length and speed can be a handful for any offensive lineman to deal with. If we stick in that lane, Lukas Van Ness fits that prototype. He is uniquely gifted.

Trish from Columbus, OH

Wes, I really enjoyed your feature on Van Ness, not least because it wasn't overwritten. Can you tell us the story behind the key photo with the positive/negative effect ripped jersey?

Thank you, Trish. I asked my boss, Duke Bobber, for a graphic that reflects the theme of the story – Van Ness’ transition from Iowa to Green Bay. Duke did a fantastic job with the swap. I also loved the simple green-and-yellow background and it helped the image pop. Schedules can get tight around here with only two writers, but I always enjoy telling more expansive stories. I'm glad I finally had a chance to put pen to paper on Lukas'.

Dan from Herriman, UT

Good morning, Wes, enjoyed your response about D-lineman and growth required to make it to the next level. It made me think of a lineman we played back in high school. The guy was huge, and everyone knew colleges were looking at him. Watching from the sidelines, he looked slow off the line, but once he got started, he was a force. I felt speed off the line would negate his size. Pretty sure they play off each other. What do you think?

To succeed in the NFL, players must play the hand they're dealt to the best of their ability. You can't be someone you're not. Marcedes Lewis was a great example of that. Lewis didn't last 17 years because he was a first-round pick who made a Pro Bowl in 2010. 'Cedes survived because he adapted and provided value (as a blocking tight end) that's not easily replicated. You don't have to be the biggest, fastest, or strongest to play in the NFL, but you do need something to help your team beat the 11 guys lined up across from you.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

Two-parter in response to yesterday's column. Patrick Taylor and Tyler Goodson were brought up about the RB3 spot, but what about the rookie? Is Lew Nichols in any position to take the role? Second part has to do with QB. I heard they reinstated the emergency QB for gameday. Does that quarterback have to be on the 53-man roster, or can they use a practice squad QB?

Nichols shares a position with Taylor and Goodson but also brings something entirely different to the table as a running back. I can't wait to see all three in pads this August. Also, if a team is only carrying two quarterbacks on the active roster, it may carry a third QB who does not count against the team's gameday roster. The emergency QB may only enter the game if the two other QBs are injured or disqualified from the game, though.

H.R. from Henderson, NV

When a player becomes a free agent and decides to "test the waters," what exactly is that player doing? Does he send film to the other 31 teams? Phone calls to team personnel? Does he schedule workouts or dinners? Does any/some/all of this happen via his agent? Or does he just sit back and wait to see what teams come calling?

I enjoyed Robert Tonyan's take on this a couple months ago. He'd signed consecutive one-year deals with Green Bay and was on the verge of facing free agency yet again. His mindset was that's all for his agent to figure out. Tonyan has been with Jack Bechta since he was an undrafted free agent out of Indiana State. He trusted him to do his job then and he trusts him to get the best deal possible now. I think that's the best approach.

Bill from San Antonio, TX

It's been written here about several veterans "mentoring" the new guys. Aren't they essentially giving them help at taking their job? A follow-up question would be are they just helping with the scheme, and not providing the specific nuances of their technique?

It's a tough business. I couldn't imagine the stress involved with trying to outperform a colleague on a daily basis in hopes of keeping my job. I have heard stories around the NFL of veterans who refuse to help incoming rookies out of fear of that person taking their job. That's their decision but it doesn't go far in building cohesion. What I love about Aaron Jones is he appreciates the path he took to the NFL and the people who assisted him on his journey. Now that Jones has climbed the ladder of success, he's not pulling it up behind him. He's paying it forward to AJ Dillon, Tyler Goodson, and any young running back who asks for advice.

AJ from Rio Rico, AZ

Hi II, a story about linemen bulking up. My daughter went to college at Wisconsin and her roommate married an offensive lineman. He got drafted by Tampa Bay and started as a rookie. Third-year blowout of his knee. He never played again. After retiring he lost 100 pounds, he said he was so happy he didn't have to eat so much to keep up his bulk.

There are many like that. You can't even tell Aaron Kampman, Mike Wahle and Jason Spitz were NFL linemen. Today, they all look like triathletes.

Clipton from Pasadena, CA

Why do all the Packers Daily videos seem to clock in at 1 minute, 55 seconds.

High side of caution. Like USPS, my rate increases at 2 minutes.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

Were both punters holding for FG and extra points? Was anyone else on the team holding for kicks?

Both Pat O'Donnell and Daniel Whelan held on field goals, but only Broughton Hatcher was snapping during minicamp. Matt Orzech was excused for the birth of his child.

Al from Spearfish, SD

Speaking of the quirks of kicking inside Lambeau Field, do they do any kicking there during OTAs?

Not in front of the media. The field-goal posts are up inside Lambeau, so it's possible Anders Carlson has poked around in there. I didn't ask him, though.

James from Appleton, WI

I know sites need content, but there's absolutely nothing to be gained by redrafting a draft from a few years ago in hindsight. Sure, if the GMs knew then what we know now, they'd draft differently. So, what's the point? It's like trying to blame someone for 1970s fashion. Those checked, flare-legged polyester pants wouldn't be my choice today, but I rocked them back then. Everyone knows.

I agree with everything Spoff said, but you were wrong about one thing – not all 1970s fashion was bad. Bart Starr's gameday fits were very strong. This is not talked about enough. His suits stood the test of time. Mrs. Cherry had her husband looking good.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

Will the players continue their workout regimen leading up to training camp?

If they want to be here in September, they will. This summer break provides a chance for players to mentally reset before the real grind begins, but there are still expectations to stay in shape and be ready for camp.

John from Cedarville, MI

Longtime reader but not-very-often submitter. The recent discussion on K-balls made me wonder what happens to used game balls. Does the NFL or home team ever offer them to charities to be auctioned off?

It seems I've been getting this question a lot lately and I honestly don't know. I know the Packers donate a lot of cleats and equipment to youth football programs every season. I'm not sure what happens with the footballs. Maybe they're saved for practice?

Monty from Velva, ND

Football agents get 3%? What a bargain! I just sold a house and the realtor got 6%.

And it's often less than that. Three percent is the max on player contracts.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I look at our WR room as cutting back some old growth on a tree so the new branches can emerge. What's your metaphor of choice?

I don't know if I can outdo that one, Derek. That was solid. I just look at those three young receivers as seedlings in a garden. We knew this is the direction Green Bay was headed. Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure all took root last year, and they still have more room to grow. But this is their opportunity to show how far they've come and hint at where their promise is headed.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

A question on the quirks of Lambeau as for kicking. Are the new scoreboards going to be big enough to affect wind patterns on the field level that may (will) cause punting and kicking challenges that the Packers' kickers haven't faced before? Just curious.

I don't think so. While the digital videoboard is larger, the entire scoreboard is still the same height and width as the previous one.

Etienne from Saint Joachim de Tourelle, Canada

I got into football after my mom got me a Raiders long-sleeved shirt from the Sears catalogue. I think it was a Bo Jackson one but could have been anonymous, too. I am not too sure. My grandmother got for us a walnut tree out of the Sears catalogue back in 1983. That tree aged pretty well actually.

Kids these days don't realize how difficult it used to be to get branded sports apparel. Even 20 years ago, I remember buying a Glenn Robinson jersey at JCPenney and thinking I'd struck gold.

Roger from McGrath, AK

Van Ness' love of hockey has me wondering. What NHL team do Wisconsin hockey fans follow? For Packers fans in the U.P., it's easy to follow the Red Wings but I can't see Wisconsin Packers fans cheering alongside Blackhawks or Wild fans.

Some Wisconsinites cheer for the Blackhawks but I have a few friends who like the Nashville Predators because of their affiliation with the Milwaukee Admirals.

Bob from Fredericksburg, VA

Thanks for all you do. It's always a nice break in my morning when I can touch base with the mothership and connect with my brethren. I wonder if you guys ever tire of non-Packer related subjects, especially during "dead zone"? That being said, how 'bout them Reds?

Not at all. I'm just not going to answer Brewers questions if I know nothing about the Brewers…or Reds.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

If you could get any new food option offered at Lambeau, what would it be and why?

Booyah. Need I explain why?

Sam from Germantown, WI

Good morning, Wes. How many questions do I need to have answered before I can put "Published Author" on my resume?

If Rob Demovsky can have an IMDb page, this should pretty much do it.

Ed from Windsor, CO

If I understand correctly, in response to Dan from Maquoketa, Spoff says nothing tastes better than a free sub. If it's free, it's for me.

They don't call him "Half-Off" Spoff for nothing. OK, I'm done. I'm never gonna outdo that one.

Tiger from Augusta, GA

Hi Spoff! People are talking on Twitter about the putt heard round the world. Is it true that you had the greatest putt of all time at the department golf outing?

I'll leave that fish tale for Spoff's Friday column. Have a great day, everyone.

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