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Inbox: That's how you get the most out of your players

It doesn’t hurt to have a couple 6-6 targets to throw to


Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Wes, ever played softball? I've had a softball break a toe, a finger, and my face (in four places). Who ever thought to call it "soft" ball?

I played rec softball a few years ago, and boy, did I live to regret it. I'll never do that again. Fortunately, I didn't break anything. Good morning!

Rob from Brookfield, WI

I can't help but be blown away every time I listen to Joe Whitt do a press conference. He just seems to get it, and understands it's a no-excuses business. That being said, I found it interesting how he mentioned that he has been trying to learn how to communicate effectively to the crop of players that have been coming into the league. That's a true leader, if you ask me. Despite the adversity and injuries, in your opinion, how much better off has our secondary been having him as a coach?

Whitt is the realest of the real. He knows how to reach people and he's done it with all different types of cornerbacks – Charles Woodson, Sam Shields, Al Harris, Tramon Williams, and the list goes on and on. Effective communication applies to all walks of life. It doesn't matter if you're a football coach, teacher, writer or a manager at a convenience store. If you can't get on the same level with those you supervise, neither you nor the employee will go far. The best managers and editors I've worked for have understood who I am as a person and what I need to succeed at my craft. Whitt does the same with his corners. That's how you get the most out of your players.

Jasper from Potomac, MD

Rob from Buckinghamshire, UK, asked about the best Packer performance in four years. Other than Rodgers and the receivers, what is the best Packer performance in four years?

I'd say the first game Clay Matthews moved to inside linebacker against Chicago in 2014 is high on the list. He was dominant that day. Other honorable mentions include Mike Daniels versus Seattle last year, Richard Rodgers versus Detroit in 2015, Julius Peppers against Oakland in 2015 and Eddie Lacy at Minnesota in 2014.

Jamey from Christiansted, St. Croix

I believe that people who excel at their craft/job "take their work home," in the sense of extra research, experiments, studies, etc. Is it fair to assume that after the playbooks are installed, it's up to the players "to take their work home"? Or does the CBA prohibit them from extra studies?

Players are free to do whatever they deem necessary to improve or learn the scheme when they're away from the facility. They just aren't obligated to do anything under the CBA.

Philipp from Fayetteville, GA

Glad to hear that there are no long-term affects to Clay's injury. If anyone doubts his grit, toughness or manliness, can you guys just respond with a link to the video of him getting hit and then just walking off the field? Such a badass.

Incredible. I would have been down for probably two hours – a few minutes because of the broken nose and another 1:57 or so to stop crying. I know some fans don't have much time for injury, but it's crazy what some of these guys endure. Both Matthews and Nick Perry have played through some gnarly things over the last four, five years.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The coaches always talk about wanting players to take a "second-year leap." Is it reasonable to expect another, albeit smaller leap in Years 3 and 4? And what about Tramon Williams? Can he deliver a 12th-year leap?

Players can improve at any age. Woodson enjoyed a renaissance after signing with the Packers in 2006 and had perhaps the finest year of his career at 33 years old. James Starks made a huge leap in his pass protection near the tail end of his career. If there's any veteran who can make a leap in Year 12, it's Tramon Williams. That's just the kind of player he is.

Russell from Stockholm, Sweden

What would be some of the more probable three-tight-end sets the Packers could run with the Graham/Lewis/Kendricks 1-2-3 punch? It's a bold strategy. Let's see if it pays off for 'em.

The Packers have always had three-TE plays in their playbook, but I could see how the experience of those three could make it more likely for Mike McCarthy to call their numbers. Plus, Lance Kendricks is versatile enough to play the H-back role, which enhances the likelihood of the play getting called. We'll see what happens this fall.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

What effect will Graham and Lewis have on AR's chances of completing a Hail Mary this season?

It doesn't hurt to have a couple 6-6 targets to throw to.

Keith from Dearborn, MI

Wes, how do you prioritize whom to watch at Packers practice?

The offseason program and first couple practices of training camp are easy. I follow the receivers, quarterbacks and defensive backs because you can't take too much away from line play and pass rushers in shells. Once the pads go on, I love to watch one-on-ones and half-line drills.

Jeff from Mandalay Beach, CA

Your suggestion to Gretchen about player speed reminded me of a game I watched down in San Diego. On one play, we saw Grady Jackson coming right at us chasing down a running back and I was stunned at how fast a man that size could run. I remember thinking, "These guys really are superhuman," which leads me to my question: Is it just me or is Davante Adams' release and overall lateral quickness almost in a category of its own?

I've been wowed by Adams' release, footwork and quickness since his rookie year. It separates him from the pack. You pull up the film and you see a truly gifted athlete. Adams may not be the biggest or fastest receiver in the league, but his preparation is off the charts. The guy is a true student of the game and it shows in the receiver he's become.

Bob from Billings, MT

How much interaction and discussion takes place between the coach and GM prior to pursuing a guy like Marcedes Lewis?

The conversations are constant between a GM and head coach. Once the player is in the building on a visit, both the scouting department and coaching staff will have an audience with the player before a decision is made. The front office picks the final roster, but coaches are consulted when a player is signed.

Aaron from Sour Lake, TX

How has DeShone Kizer looked so far? I remember last year in April after the Packers traded out of the first round, we had interest in taking Kizer in the second round.

There's only so much you can glean from practices during the offseason program, but the two things that stood out to me about Kizer are his size and arm strength. You want to talk about a pro-ready frame? Kizer is the definition. He's raw and has a long way to go, but he has NFL talent.

Eric from Fuquay Varina, NC

A little late reading the Aaron Jones story. What struck me as funny was MM's comment, "We've been very fortunate and blessed with the caliber of character that we have..." With the past history of the Packers players, I have to believe that character is a huge factor in whom the Packers select. It's intentional. It's been a long time since I was embarrassed of a player's actions. Proud to be a fan of the green and gold.

Character is one of the most important things the Packers look for in their draft picks. Jones is the embodiment of that approach. He was raised in a certain way and it reflects in the individual he's become. These aren't just nameless, faceless robots. They're people with real emotions. I think Jones gets playing football is a temporary activity. He's Aaron Jones, the man, for the rest of his life.

Garrett from Weston, WI

The injury to Clay on Saturday got me thinking. In players' contracts, is there verbiage that outlines the team isn't liable for a non-football injury and the player could lose out on his salary? Thought this may have come up a few years back when Roethlisberger crashed his motorcycle.

You can release a player with a non-football injury designation if it occurs away from team facilities. I'm not sure where a charity softball game fits into that. This type of injury is kind of unprecedented.

Zach from Amherstburg, Canada

Do you think Aaron will finish his career as a Packer?

I get where these questions come from, but Rodgers isn't Favre. He's been vocal about his desire to play into his 40s and said repeatedly it means a great deal for him to play his entire career with one team. Everyone knows where he stands.

Jorge from Guadalajara, Mexico

I feel like we have been drafting and adding talent through free agency to build a more balanced and well-rounded team. Is it just me, or in past years we did not have this much talent at almost every position? It looks a lot similar to last year's Eagles to me.

The 2014 team is the deepest I've covered because of how much established talent the Packers had on both sides of the ball. This group isn't far off from that, but we have to see it because titles aren't won on paper. Potential has to be realized on the field to become reality.

John from Dublin, Ireland

Just say Packers get the 32nd and 30th pick next draft. Would that parlay into a top 10 pick?

I think it would be good for like the 12th overall pick. So even at worst – or best, depending on your perspective – the Packers could move up two spots from where they were in 2018.

Joe from Richmond, VA

The Chicago Blackhawks players are known to play two-touch soccer as a pregame warm-up. I've head other NHL teams around the league have a similar tradition. Do any of the Packers have similar pregame rituals, particularly any involving playing sports outside of football?

You mean other than ball-spinning?

Randall from Grand Junction, CO

Packers at Raiders, do Aaron and Jordy spin the ball in end zone for old times?

The world will be watching.

Joseph from East Moline, IL

I've always been embarrassed to ask this, and it only gets more embarrassing the older I get. So it's time I figure this out. When you prepay inside for gas, does the pump stop on its own? I always monitor it and stop it on the nose before it goes over my purchase amount.

It's programmed to stop when it reaches the desired the amount. The same rule applies for gift cards. Now, go try it out at your local Cenex #TheMoreYouKnow

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

You mean that there's two "Packers Unscripted" long-lost podcasts floating around in the vault somewhere? That's like old "Doctor Who" episodes being found in some obscure former British colony (that actually happened, btw). Can you find them and post them, maybe during the dead time before training camp? God bless, guys.

I think there's actually four of them – episodes we had to shoot before weekday games and the draft that would be completely outdated if they were posted the following day. I can talk to our online folks, but I'm not sure how entertaining they'd be.

David from Capitol Heights, MD

1. I've been re-watching some 2010 games, and couldn't help but notice how good Dimitri Nance looked when he had the ball. What ever happened to him?

2A. How many viewers come to for I2? Do you find it drives clicks for other parts of the website, or do people come to I2 for other things and just happen to come to the Inbox?

2B. I think you should get a fancy I2 (squared) logo. It would be neat. Keep up the good work! Regards, David

Dimitri Nance. Now that's a blast from the past. I can't say I've followed his career after football closely, but hey, he won a Super Bowl. "I2." Wow. That's quite the abbreviation. I couldn't give you the exact numbers, but it drives a lot of readers to Maybe we'll get graphics to put something together.

Henry from La Crosse, WI

Wes, turkeys are evil. There are about 20 that congregate in front of my house on mornings in the spring, half of them thinking our cars are female turkeys. You haven't felt fear until you've seen 20 turkeys wanting to get with your Rav 4. That's what I have against turkeys.

Oh. I guess I stand corrected…and now have to navigate the day with that image in my head.