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Inbox: Teams will actually run their stuff

The right collection of players can come close

CB Rasul Douglas
CB Rasul Douglas

Chris from Titusville, FL

Half-Off Spoff is a good one. Care to counter? Happy Dead Zone!

Sorry, I got nothin' for ya.

Terri from Williams, AZ

Put pen to paper? Or fingers to keyboard? I find it hard to believe that with all the writing you two do it is ever done with pen and paper.

Back when I was getting started in the newspaper business covering high school sports – without laptops available – I remember starting to scribble down thoughts and paragraph outlines before a game was over, to help make deadline. Then I'd write the rest of the story in my head while driving back to the office.

Monty from Velva, ND

As a former high school coach, one of the questions college recruiters asked was, what other sports does a kid play? I'm not as familiar with hockey as I am wrestling but I always thought wrestlers made great linemen due to their knowledge of leverage. Do you think that Lukas Van Ness' hockey playing translates to football in term of balance?

I would imagine so.

Larry from Birmingham, AL

Hey guys, a short jersey story my own. After college I moved from WI to Alabama where I found out my boss knew Bart Starr. I quickly got a 15 jersey and asked if he could get it signed for my dad. A few days later I got my wish. Gave it to dad (who attended the Ice Bowl) at Christmas and he promptly built a frame and hung in the living room. He was once told the jersey would be worth more if Bart had left off my dad's name. Dad simply said, "I don't think you know what worth really means."

I'm not certain when exactly he began the practice, but Bart made it a point to personalize every autograph so his signature didn't become something sold for profit.

Tom from Hoboken, NJ

Good morning II fellows! Regarding the discussion of all-time placekicker runs, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Adam Vinatieri begin his professional career in Green Bay's training camp in 1996?

I hadn't heard that. I do know he almost signed with the Packers as a free agent in 2006, but instead decided to go with the Colts to kick indoors and prolong his career. If he had chosen the Packers then, Green Bay never would've drafted Mason Crosby in '07.

Andy from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

I think the player mentor thing is a fine line. Established vets I would bet are probably more willing to help incoming rookies, but special-teamers looking to advance the depth chart and/or practice squad holdovers might be more reluctant. I'd like to hope everybody would help each other with the playbook, because they are all on the same team; position specific techniques may be another story.

I tend to agree. It's always dependent on where a veteran player is in his career. The media ask players about mentoring others all the time, and that always strikes me as presumptuous. I let the mentor or mentee bring it up first in the course of a conversation and might follow up, but I never assume. This is a cut-throat business and when someone takes your job, your career might be over. It doesn't compare at all to other workplaces.

Pete from Hillsborough, NC

What is the reasoning for K-balls being unused balls? Is it the kickers' preference or a rule to prevent unfair manipulation of the ball?

The latter.

Matt from Greensboro, NC

Follow-up to K-ball question: If the K-ball is an unbroken-in game ball, how do balls get broken in? Are there parameters to consider it "broken in" (other than PSI… [cough] …)?

I don't know about parameters, but a fresh ball has a slick, shiny surface. Roughing that up a bit, so to speak, helps QBs, backs and receivers, obviously, but it remains a challenge for long snappers, holders and punters.

Darren from Oklahoma City, OK

Could you give a few examples of quirks in a field including Lambeau?

The main quirk with Lambeau is how the winds swirl very unpredictably within the bowl. Kickers have always said that about this place.

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

Vic always said AR12 tilted the field. Do you think a cast of rising young talent can tilt the field to the same degree as Aaron? What player, set of players or position group would you predict or like to see be our Field Tilter? KN25 comes to mind, but I'm looking more at O&D, not so much WE.

Nobody (or bodies) can really tilt the field to the same degree an elite-level quarterback can. The right collection of players can come close, but it has to be a fairly sizable assortment on both sides of the ball. I'm thinking like the 49ers had last year, with a trio of offensive weapons second-to-none in the league (Samuel, Kittle, McCaffrey) plus three first-team All-Pros on defense (Warner, Bosa, Hufanga).

Vic from Livingston, TX

As far as wins and losses this year, I see a possibility of 10-7 for a high and perhaps a 6-11 for a low. If the Packers can split with the NFC North and sweep the NFC South … that is 7-3 right there. Maybe split with the AFC West, because of unknowns with the Raiders and Broncos and you have 9-5. Rams? Steelers? Possibilities abound. A missed kick here, an interception there. Yikes! Who knows?

Nobody knows.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Of course we'll all see how well expectations and performance match. Analyzing the units, barring glaring injuries, I expect their special teams to be better than most of their opponents'. I expect the defense to be better than most of their opponents'. On offense the Packers' running game should be as good, if not better than most of their opponents'. However, I do not expect the team's passing game to be as good as their opponents. Barring turnovers they should be in every game. Thoughts?

See above.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

Do you think joint practices provide a greater benefit to the players or to the coaches/personnel departments? It's evident how everyone involved benefits in myriad ways, but I would argue the coaches get more value than the players. Irrespective of the vanilla playbooks, they get a chance to see how the players react to increased pressure, their level of self-control in heated moments, and how congealed they are as a team. All the while scouting the other team for potential acquisitions.

There is a ton of value on the personnel side in terms of evaluations. I won't disagree there. But part of the added value for the players themselves, contrary to preseason games, is the lack of vanilla playbooks. Teams will actually run their stuff in joint practices – which benefits players and personnel evaluators – because the two sides agree not to share the film.

Cliff from Alexandria, VA

Great "Unscripted" episode. You mentioned that Jordan Love had more interceptions in training camp than we're used to from Rodgers. I was wondering if you remember if that was the case when Rodgers was in his first couple years, too? Did he always avoid picks or did he grow into that?

Rodgers threw plenty of interceptions in training camp over the years. He'd test some things and take some chances more frequently in practice, even as his career progressed. In those early years, Woodson, Harris and Collins all got him from time to time.

Joshua from Bellingham, WA

I know, I know, no math in the Inbox. But since I have nothing better to do at work today, I thought I'd try calculating the speed of the 2010 Rodgers touchdown throw. The ball actually travels about 22.5 yards in just .71 seconds. That puts the speed at an astonishing 65 mph! Roughly. An absolute laser since the record appears to be Tebow's 68 mph toss in 2007 against LSU.

I'd never heard of such a record, but thanks for the input.

Dave from Fairbanks, AK

Greetings, Mike's comment about the "throw that nobody remembers" stimulated a question. At what point in the 2010 season did you become certain the Pack would go to the playoffs? I was at that game (and will never forget THE throw!). Even though we lost by a field goal I commented to my (Falcon fan) bride on the way out, "We're going to see you in the playoffs and it won't even be close!" That was the moment for me. That throw was an absolute laser!

I didn't feel great about their chances of getting in until the blowout of the Giants the day after Christmas. They looked like a playoff team, played like it, and had a home game as their final step. But I felt similarly this past season after the New Year's Day rout of the Vikings, and everything fizzled anyway.

Mike from Lake Villa, IL

Good afternoon, Spoff! Your mention of wishing to score a Brewers World Series game brought back a memory for me. 1982 World Series Game 3 against the Cardinals was my first World Series game I attended in person. I was in the left centerfield bleachers exactly 12 rows behind where Willie McGee's glove came over the fence and robbed Gorman Thomas of a home run. Were you old enough to attend the Series in 1982?

Game 3 took place on my 10th birthday. That is all I remember about my 10th birthday.

Ryan from Mt. Zion, IL

Great work, Insiders! I love the story about the wrong Pitt jersey from Mike. What else can you tell us about the Dan Marino interview? What was he like?

Impressive. To me he looked and talked like he could still play, and he'd been retired for eight years. He didn't have to give me the time of day, yet he did out of respect to my boss at the time, who had worked for the Dolphins in the late '80s and contacted him on my behalf. He also seemed genuinely excited for Favre to break his record. It's crazy to think that after Marino broke Fran Tarkenton's passing TD record, he held it for a dozen years, and now 15 seasons later he ranks seventh on the all-time list.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Mike, was it Pickle Barrel Subs? My brothers are diehard Packer fans and have a printing business on Main St. They refused to adopt a Bear. It made me smile from ear to ear.

It was Pickle Barrel, and there were always some businesses who declined to participate in the Chamber's annual contest. It was understandable.

Sam from Melbourne, IA

Doesn't everyone picking the Packers or Love as being the most overlooked team/player go against the narrative?

Something like that.

Donna from New Auburn, WI

Love reading II. Never miss a day. So Spoff, tell us about the infamous putt.

We were playing a scramble for our department golf outing, and I hadn't made a putt all day. Fortunately my partners had made a few so our group of amateurs (or hacks if you prefer) had managed to stay even par through eight holes. We came to the ninth and last, the toughest on the GBCC course. It's a long par-4 with two cross-cutting creeks and a huge tree near the green. I banged a nice fairway/hybrid wood off the tee between the creeks to put us in good shape. Then one of my teammates, Ben, smoked a low iron over the second creek that perfectly avoided the tree and rolled up onto the front of the green. The pin was way in the back, so I decided to go for it and pulled out that fairway wood I just hit so nicely. Only this time I blocked it out way to the right and it's adios. That required me to pull out a brand-new ball for this monster putt, front to back, of 50-plus feet. I'm last, having seen the line thanks to my teammates, and I knew as soon as I hit it, it had a chance. Once it got within 10 feet we were all hollering for it to go in, and sure enough it did. We finished 1-under, a noteworthy accomplishment for our group, and yesterday at the office I gave the ball to Ben to put in his cube as a token of our achievement. The long putt was, and shall remain, that ball's only shot.

Doug from Woodington, OH

Good morning! So, is it reasonable to refer to those 48 hours of sports blankness following the MLB All-Star game as Bummer Solstice?

I actually laughed rather than groaned, so we can both see ourselves out. Happy Friday.

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