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Inbox: That’s how you punch your ticket to the NFL

LB James Crawford
LB James Crawford

Benjamin from Burlington, VT

Mike, some days the even the best of us can get hit with an acute case of obtuse.

Was it deliberate? Good morning!

Ryan from Oshkosh, WI

What’s the best thing to look forward to this season?

The opener in Chicago. The kickoff to the NFL’s 100th season will make for a fun week.

Keith from Chippewa Falls, WI

Long time reader, first time commenting ... Wes, I thought the Nicole (Kenny) Clark story was amazing. So much sacrifice, devotion and caring for children and family. The world could stand for more positive stories and role models like the Clark family.

I’ve wanted to write a Mother’s Day profile for quite a while, but wanted the right subjects. I wanted the story to mean something. Kenny and Nicole were perfect. I also found it compelling that so much has been written about Kenny Sr., but very little on how Nicole raised her children after her husband went to prison. What a life Nicole has led. It’s good to see success hasn’t changed Kenny Jr. He’s the same humble kid he was three years ago when he came into the building – extremely likable and approachable. After researching this story, I can definitely see why.

Bob from Riverside, CA

Wes, best background story yet about Kenny Clark’s mom Nicole. What a journey she and her family has had. By any chance was this story the reason for the travel you did recently?

Thank you, thank you. That wasn’t the story I traveled for, though. That “secret” story is scheduled to run early next month.

Timothy from Foley, AL

Wes, great story on Kenny Clark. Just a connection with Ted retiring and induction into the Packers Hall of Fame. He very rarely ever showed any emotion, but when they selected Kenny Clark, I recall a video of him in the draft room leaning back in his chair and visually showing a big sigh of relief to those around him. Worth finding to remind fans of what talent and potential he saw.

As much as fans want to condemn the 2015 and 2017 drafts, Thompson doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves for how the 2016 class has performed. Clark was one of the few hidden gems in the latter half of the first round.

Hal from Lanesboro, MN

Great article by Wes on Kenny Clark's mom. Clearly she has an incredibly level approach to life, making sure that her husband actively stayed in the picture raising her children, working tirelessly to instill the great sense of responsibility in all her kids, and walking the talk about "giving back.” Will Kenny Jr. be likely to be the Walter Payton Man of the Year again this year? How often do nominees repeat?

There hasn’t been a repeat winner during my time on the beat, but Kenny would be a worthy candidate.

Micah from Corpus Christi, TX

I watched Ty Summers’ interview, and I'll be floored if the intelligence I heard in his replies doesn't translate to the field. I was impressed to the point I watched his tape, and that drove the point home; keep an eye on this guy! He's up there with Tim Boyle for me. Fingers crossed that both get their chance.

Summers is an impressive young man. Spoff got a chance to speak with him and is writing a story that’ll post early next week on Ty’s path to the pros. He has the mind for the position, but first things first, he has to make the roster. His best avenue to that is through special teams. I feel like there will be two or three players who make the 53 based on their third-phase ability alone, similar to James Crawford last year. That’s how you punch your ticket to the NFL.

Rick from Pacifica, CA

I don't share the concerns about Lane Taylor or the need for Elgton Jenkins to take his spot this year. He had offseason ankle injury last year and rehab that limited his preseason and training camp work. He admitted he didn't think it was close to 100 percent until November and then he hurt his foot and knee in December. I say let him get back to form and let Jenkins and the coaches find his best fit.

Taylor could bounce back in a big way and the pick of Jenkins could still pay dividends for the Packers in Year 1. Both can be true. Jenkins has across-the-line versatility and could be plugged in at any of the starting five spots. The Packers were banged up everywhere last year. It’s not a bad thing to have an O-line that runs seven or eight deep.

Jack from Chicago, IL

Do you think Darnell Savage will get a shot at returning punts? I think punt returner is such a difficult position. The awareness, fearlessness, explosiveness, and ball security are all so crucial it’s difficult to possess it all. I feel we never quite had a returner who could do it all last year.

Savage returned only one punt in four years at Maryland, but it went for a 36-yard touchdown. Shawn Mennenga suggested “starters” would be asked to contribute on special teams this year, so you never know.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Winning cures everything, but that must wait until the games start. Until then, is there a noticeable difference in the building following the leadership turnover? Not a fan of the current leadership structure. Over time, function follows form. The chain of command does matter. That said, as Mark Murphy stated it’s more about the people than any structure. Is there any detectable dissonance reverberating in the halls of 1265 currently?

If it is, the noise doesn’t reach my ears. But let’s just make one thing clear – the Packers want to win. Aaron Rodgers wants to win. The front office wants to win. Everyone is rowing in the same direction here. We’ll find out where it takes them starting in September.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Hodkiewicz vs. Bakhtiari, two beers (root and non-root). Who wins the race to the bottom of the second glass?

I can’t drink water that fast.

Jacob from Madison, WI

Regarding Micah Hyde’s sterling success as a returner, I used to think having a defensive player in that role was suspect. If they did return it for a TD, that player would have to sit the next couple plays out or play defense winded. Almost seemed de-incentivizing. Hyde proved me wrong.

Hyde’s simplicity was what made him great. He was thrown into that role out of necessity and never gave it back. It’s a risk putting a starter back there, but we probably stress about it more than what’s warranted.

Alan from Honea Path, SC

I've heard and read that the speed of the pro game is one of the hardest things for rookies to get used to. I assume this is due in part to the quality of players and their experience and quickness. What other factors are involved?

Most draft picks were the best players on the field in college. In the NFL, you’re facing the biggest, fastest and strongest the game has to offer every Sunday. Oh, and those veterans have years of experience on first-year players. The other big challenge is rookies go from their college season to training to the NFL Draft, and right into the offseason program. There’s going to be a slight adrenaline dump somewhere along the way.

Corey from Henderson, NV

The biggest argument against Green Bay hosting a Super Bowl is that the city doesn't have the infrastructure in place to handle it. But how can Green Bay not have the infrastructure to handle the SB if the league has determined it has the infrastructure to host the draft?

Believe it or not, the Super Bowl is a bigger event than the NFL Draft.

Jon from West Des Moines, IA

I've read a few articles that mentioned the team moving on from Mike Daniels after this year. I just can't get myself to agree with this. Obviously this year will be a huge test, and yes he's 30 years old, but he brings an edge to our defense and is definitely a leader. Your thoughts on letting him go?

There have been so many stories written over the years about Team A being ready to move on from Player B only to have that player re-sign somewhere down the road. I saw it happen with Jermichael Finley, Bryan Bulaga and so many more. Daniels is a valued contributor to perhaps the Packers’ deepest position. Leave the future in the future. I have enough to worry about today.

Rubén from Santander, Spain

I guess this has been answered before, but as I was watching Giannis shredding Boston I have this feeling of him being a grown-up boy playing against younger kids, such has been his superiority, particularly so in terms of physicality. Have you ever had the same feeling with any NFL player? Or do the film or books tell about someone like that in the old days?

Reggie White. To this day, that’s still the most impressive player I’ve watched in person.

Joe from Kaukauna, WI

With all the scandals that happen in college sports with teams "paying" for athletes to attend their universities, I was wondering if NFL teams make sly deals to fit under the salary cap. For example, could the Cowboys sign Dak Prescott to a discounted contract, but then have Jerry Jones pay him to be an endorser for his oil company?

No. At least not while Prescott is playing. I believe the only non-contract money teams are allowed to give to players are donations to their charities, which have to be registered with the league.

Patrick from Minneapolis, MN

That college players are declaring for the NFL Draft early in order to get to their second contract sooner is an interesting theory. I have no inside intel, I admit, but I'd propose that for a majority of college players, they want to get paid at any rate as soon as possible. I suspect the risk of career-threatening injury on the college field is too great to not seek to make even a minimum NFL salary. The $480K minimum is 3-4 times most people could hope to comfortably make.

I’ll never fault a kid for wanting to get to the NFL as soon as possible with injuries and everything else involved. If I’m a player, particularly a running back, I’m working towards that second contract ASAP.

Curt from Antioch, IL

Here’s a question for this “slow” news period. Who are the advance scouts the Packers send to scout upcoming opponents during the season? Are the area college scouts used for that purpose, or are there dedicated individuals? With all the film now available, is it even necessary to have “live, in-person” eyes watching upcoming opponents?

The Packers have pro scouts stationed at Lambeau Field who then travel for advance scouting of opponents. There is a lot of film available now, but you can’t beat the view from the press box.

Sean from West Chicago, IL

No mention of Coach McCarthy attending Mr. Thompson’s enshrinement. Seems very appropriate that he should have been there.

From what I understand, McCarthy had good reason for why he was unable to attend the ceremony. No bad intentions by any party. I know he wanted to be there.

Tank from Three Duck River, MT

Guys...Doug Baldwin? If he's healthy seeing him in a Packers uniform wouldn't suck, right?

But he’s not healthy.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Y'all do a lot of videos and I'm pretty positive you don't always get it right on the first take. So where are the bloopers? Please get your video department to put together a blooper reel every now and then.

You’re right. I’m not like “one-take” Tim Van Vooren, but my bloopers are not publishable. I have a potty mouth.

Rachel from Minneapolis, MN

It was actually a clickbait-y article that brought me to the Inbox in the first place. Back in 2014 I saw the Vikings Fansided article headline that took the Packers organization to task for a perceived journalistic cheap shot. I clicked. I read. I didn’t believe and subsequently dug deeper. Turns out the author completely misread one of the responses in an Ask Vic column and fired off a scathing “article” as a result. All I can say is I’ve been a loyal Ask Vic/II reader ever since.

However you end up here, we’re just happy to have you.

Amy from Bayport, MN

Wes, will Ma Hod join you on Mother’s Day watching Rodgers’ cameo in “Game of Thrones”? Or is that just your thing? My hot take: He is a captain in the Golden Company from Essos. So apropos – golden arm, deadly on the field (of battle), though he’s been dropping a few hints and I think he gets killed.

Ma Hod doesn’t approve of GoT. That’s OK. I don’t approve of “The Voice.” My prediction is Rodgers is in the northern army. I mean who wants to be in the Golden Company?

Andy from Thompsontown, PA

Insiders, I bet with all the clickbait, hot takes, and lazy garbage out there you just want to say what the fish said when he ran into a wall. Dam! Have a great weekend!

Joking our way into the weekend. I approve. Happy Mother’s Day to all you well-deserving ladies!

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