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Inbox: One year later, the core has been established

The Packers just wanna see the kid play. We all do.

LB Eric Wilson
LB Eric Wilson

John from Livermore, CA

I'm wondering what the vibe is around the team with all the new young players coming in.


Brian from Columbia, MO

I have a sneaky suspicion Jordan Love is going to really surprise the media talking heads. We're all used to new QBs starting off with modest expectations and some acclimation time. I suspect Mr. Love is going to come out of the gate playing like a veteran QB and it's going to catch some people unprepared. We can only hope the same applies to all our rookies and sophomore players...

I don't want to overplay the Philadelphia game last November, but I believe it was a critical turning point for both the Packers and Love. He looked like a completely different quarterback than the one who was thrown into action on short notice against Kansas City in 2021. The passer rating and touchdown pass to Christian Watson were great but my lasting memory is the confidence Love displayed in the pocket. Talking heads can fill their programming however they so choose. The Packers just wanna see the kid play. We all do.

Jake from Decatur, GA

Thanks for the tidbit yesterday about Love texting the new receivers. I had missed that somehow, but I think it really speaks to a quiet but important benefit of having him on the bench the last few years, and to having such a young stable of pass-catchers: Love is the most veteran player in GB's passing attack. His leadership has a kind of legitimacy that most rookie signal-callers don't get, and it comes with the responsibility of bringing the young guys along. I'm glad he's embracing that.

You wanna know how fast the league moves? Jordan Love is the 10th-longest tenured player on the Packers' roster.

Bill from Arlington, VA

If the offense is run heavy to start the season, should we expect some big play-action passes out of Love as defenses try to pack the box? Will they be to the WRs or the TEs?

Perhaps. First, the addition of Jayden Reed, Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft suggests the Packers want to attack the middle of the field. Beyond that, I do expect a lot of pre-snap motion and play-action this season. It not only keeps defenses from stacking the box against Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon but also allows Love to make plays with his feet. This is now a game of movement and speed, which plays to Love's strengths.

Darrel from Pueblo, CO

II, I was flying out of GRB Sunday morning and was in line with Dontayvion Wicks. What a pleasant and polite young man. If his game is anything like his demeanor and manners, he will be on the team. What a thrill to meet him in-person.

I was blown away by all the rookies with whom I spoke, especially Grant DuBose. Jason Wilde, Kassidy Hill and I talked with him for more than 20 minutes on Saturday and what an impressive young man. We'll be writing more on DuBose in the days and weeks ahead.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes, now that a player has been drafted and/or signed, what do you look for at practices and/or drills to see that the player has potential at the next level?

Two things – how position coaches interact with their rookies and how those rookies react to coaching.

Brendon from Payette, ID

Is all this emphasis on signing and drafting good special teams players the Packers' version of "Moneyball?" With a tight salary cap and a young, likely emotional group of guys, it does make sense that our biggest bang for the buck would be in causing turnovers and getting great field position and keeping the other teams from doing those things to us. Is that the method to our special teams madness this year?

My thought all offseason has been the Packers saw significant improvement from special teams and wanted to keep as many of their special-teams stalwarts around as possible. Green Bay had a lot of ground to make up when Bisaccia arrived. One year later, the core has been established and a new standard has been set for special teams. So, I can't wait to see Eric Wilson, Dallin Leavitt, Rudy Ford, and the other returning veterans work with the incoming rookies.

George from North Mankato, MN

Although it was certainly a possibility after signing a long snapper in free agency, I was a little surprised to see Jack Coco was released today. I know it is a game of constant improvement and the evaluation of his play must have indicated room for an upgrade. Just a little surprised to see a yearlong starter jettisoned so soon in camp. Was he the weakest link?

I was surprised but that's the unfortunate business side of this sport. The Packers clearly liked what they saw from Broughton Hatcher during the rookie minicamp and wanted to keep him around. Hatcher has pelts on the wall. He was one of the top long snappers in the country coming out of high school and enjoyed a productive career at Old Dominion. I enjoyed getting to know Jack and commend him for the effort he put into his craft over the past year. Coco has nothing to hang his head about. He gave the Packers everything he had.

TK from Grafton, WI

Does Rich Bisaccia, as special teams coach, actually coach the kickers and punters on technique? And has the proliferation of the passing game at the college level changed the way quarterbacks, receivers, and DBs are evaluated?

You betcha. Bisaccia tutors the specialists in concert with assistant Byron Storer, who spearheaded Coco's transition to long snapper last year. I agree the expansion of passing offenses at the collegiate level has changed the game. While we've seen plenty of rookie quarterbacks succeed in Year 1, it's becoming increasingly common for receivers and cornerbacks to come in and perform at a Pro Bowl level right out of the gate.

Laurie from Sheboygan, WI

Now that pushing the QB across the line is likely to explode throughout the league, do you foresee that becoming a situation where a running back or backup quarterback takes those snaps, so franchise quarterbacks are protected from injury? It seems incredibly risky to put arguably the most consequential player on the team in between two opposing pushing groups of massive linemen.

Perhaps but the quarterback-center exchange isn't nothing. It isn't always natural for a running back to go under center and take a direct snap when their mind is hellbent on gaining a first down.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

I see that we have both a Ballentine and Valentine in the secondary. This follows a year when GB drafted a Walker, Wyatt, Watson, and signed Watkins. Does the front office and personnel staff secretly like to have some fun with you and the fans? And that's not even getting into the whole Romeo, Love, and Valentine connection. Just some quirky roster composition.

The Packers indeed have a pair of cornerbacks named "Ballentine" and "Valentine," and it's giving me all kinds of fits. We had to reshoot a segment of our "Total Packers" draft report because I kept mispronouncing Valentine's last name. Spoff has called me out on it before.

Monty from Hazen, ND

I read somewhere that Lukas Van Ness was a hockey player. A dude that big on skates would be a scary prospect. Do you think that the balance required to play hockey helps him to play on the edge?

Absolutely. I covered hockey for nearly a decade at the Press-Gazette. Hockey players have my undivided respect. They have to be tough, strong, quick and extremely well-conditioned. I hope to have more on Van Ness' exploits as a hockey player in the not-so-distant future.

Jack from Wauwatosa, WI

Hey Wes, happy Tuesday to you! I've been around a long time having distinct memories of Lombardi Era games. I have sent good vibes for a lot of underdogs over the years. In 2023, I am definitely hoping that Kenneth Odumegwu finds a spot on the roster or practice squad. What a great story he has, so let's keep our fingers crossed for him. GPG!!

I was excited to learn the Packers had been allocated an international player this year. I've read several stories of other International Player Pathway players around the NFL and was hopeful one would eventually make their way to Green Bay. I couldn't have been more impressed with Odumegwu on Saturday. He's a humble giant who has lived an extraordinary life. This transition to pro football won't be easy but Odumegwu has great leaders to work with in Jason Rebrovich, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary.

Evan from Durango, CO

Wes, Kenneth Odumegwu said a fan on social media dubbed him "OD," since he couldn't pronounce his last name. I think KO, KO'd, or simply "Knockout" would have been better nicknames.

Odumegwu might have to wrestle Kirk Olivadotti for the "KO" moniker.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey II, with two players having the same handle as a nickname how do they resolve who gets to keep it? Lukas Van Ness and Kenneth Odumegwu both go by "Hercules." Maybe Odumegwu can become our Nigerian Nightmare?

I guess we'll have to make it a winner-take-all, triple-threat match then.

Jim from Whitmore Lake, MI

Because of his experience in this system and years as a pro, it could really be helpful to the new tight ends if Marcedes Lewis were a part of the team this coming year. Unfortunately, I read that the Packers won't be bringing him back. Would it make any sense to hire him as a tight ends coach if he were interested in doing so?

I think Lewis would make for an incredible coach or player-engagement rep, but I get the sense he fully intends on playing an 18th NFL season, which would be unprecedented for a tight end. Whatever happens, I wish Marcedes well. He'll forever have a place on my Mt. Rushmore for favorite Packers players. If Lewis is not back, I also have one fewer person in the Packers' locker room to talk UFC with.

Patrick from Gulf Breeze, FL

Good morning, with the tight end changeover, I'm very curious about Josiah Deguara. There's no doubt the two drafted TEs are talented, but the position usually takes some time before meaningful production and maturation. With Deguara being the de facto leader of the TE room, I'm really hoping for a jump from him. The fact that he was scouted out of college as someone who could line up at different spots on/behind the line of scrimmage, I believe his versatility will bloom this year. Thoughts?

If Big Dog really isn't back, it's up to Deguara to lead that room in 2023. Deguara has been used as a Swiss Army knife in this offense, but he's listed as a tight end for a reason. That is his natural position and opportunities could be abundant for Deguara this year. As you said, Musgrave and Kraft have much to learn and it's crucial for Deguara to set the tone in the meeting room and practice…just like Lewis and Robert Tonyan did.

Aaron from Phoenix, AZ

Wow...TWO references to Johnny Carson in ONE inbox. My late, great, Grandpa Ben, of Milwaukee, would have been proud. He passed when I was only seven, but my two most vivid memories of him are watching him root for the Pack on Sundays and sitting at his kitchen table with a Sony micro-TV watching "The Tonight Show." He was in WWII so his hands always shook from PTSD, but he gave the best bear hugs. Thanks for bringing back some beautiful memories, II!

That's what we're here for…and really all we're good for.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Weston, you still have cable?

My wife has cable. I just pay for it.

John from Highlands Ranch, CO

II, thanks for all you do! Wes, did you attend the Kentucky Derby? I haven't seen any pictures of you.

I don't use FaceTime.

Steve from Lampson, WI

Hey Wes! My dad and I have talked about this Packers draft ad nauseam, according to our wives, so it got me thinking: What does the Hod Father think of this year's draft class?

I tried to get an answer for you, but Pa Hod left me on read. I'll forgive him, though. It's my mom's 35th…ish birthday today! Happy birthday, Ma Hod!

Markus from Aurora, CO

Good morning. Simple question: what's next?

The 2023 NFL schedule release…possibly, maybe…hopefully. Have a great Tuesday, everyone.

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