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Inbox: That's the most exciting part

The longshot is always the most compelling story of camp


Bruce from Bloomington, IL

Shall we begin?

*Slowly nods in approval* Good morning!

Dave from Germantown, TN

In Mike Pettine's new defense, who is playing the role of Darrelle Revis and who is Antonio Cromartie?

I've watched this defense all summer and could not tell who will wind up being the two starting boundary cornerbacks or the slot corners in nickel and dime. To me, that's the most exciting part. The Packers have worked so many different combinations. Come Sunday, we'll finally get a look into what Pettine has designed for this defense going back to the day he was hired.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

It may be because I played cornerback, but am I the only one that is absolutely giddy about the back end of our defense? If they can stay healthy, Jackson, Alexander, King and Clinton-Dix could quickly develop into one of the best defensive backfields in the league. Plus, we have House and Williams to help them get there.

It's one of the deepest and most versatile collections of cornerbacks during my time covering the team. The 2014 squad was talented, but not this flexible. Those players you mentioned can all play multiple positions. If the defensive backs stay (relatively) healthy, they have all the gifts and upside to put together a special season.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

Wes, that's an excellent and inspiring story about why Mason Crosby still participates in the bike-ride tradition. Thanks for the great work!

As I said on "Unscripted," I have to tip my cap to our fan engagement specialist Haylee Helmle, who brought the idea to me during training camp. It's a small gesture, but it can **make such a huge impact on a young child**. Bike kids and their families remember those moments forever. Hearing Crosby's explanation for why the tradition means so much to him only adds to it. Thanks for checking it out.

Mark from Kronau, Saskatchewan

Here we are all ready for some football. A game played by extremely tough men, hardened men, all determined to crush their opponent. Then, I read Wes's story on why Mason Crosby participates in the bike rides, which of course led me to Evan's best of Packers training-camp bikes. Helping me remember some of these incredible athletes are actually just kids. I mean JK Scott, DeShone Kizer, Trevor Davis and Equanimeous St. Brown all look like they could be waiting for a pro to ride their bikes!

That's what I feel is the most admirable part of Crosby's story. He's 34 and the second-longest tenured player on the Packers roster, but it still means enough to him to participate anyway. A father of five, Crosby gets it.

Sam from Greendale, WI

I love the posting of the final 53 because all the stories of the longshots come out. My favorite to date has to be Efe Obada who made the Panthers' final roster after being trafficked at age 10, started playing American football in the UK at age 22, and finally got a roster spot this year.

This is why I believe it's important to keep four preseason games and give these young men as many opportunities as possible to show what they can do. Do Robert Tonyan, James Crawford or Raven Greene make the roster if not for that fourth game? It's the purest form of drama. It's no surprise the story of the "longshot" is always the most compelling during "Hard Knocks" each season. I mean who wasn't crying when Devon Cajuste got cut Tuesday night?

Nicholas from Lima, OH

How much production do you think Jimmy Graham will have on Sunday? I'm hoping for multiple touchdowns.

If the preseason game was any indication, Rodgers won't have any problem finding No. 80 on the field this season. We saw a lot of packages with two tight ends throughout the preseason. That wasn't by accident.

Take a look at the 2018 best photos of Packers players and kids when they rode bikes to training camp practice.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

What are the Packers looking to teach Darius Jackson to do over the next two weeks?

As has been customary the past two years, running backs coach Ben Sirmans has been pulling some late nights getting Jackson caught up on the game plan and offense. Sirmans has a good track record with getting new guys up to speed if Jackson is needed in a pinch.

Noah from Atlanta, GA

For comparison, was the training-camp throw to Geronimo Allison better than the Chicago non-play to Davante Adams?

Close, but just imagine if Rodgers was on the left side of the field instead of the pocket and threw across his body blindly to Adams in the other corner of the end zone. I hope the footage gets out someday – maybe when Rodgers is retired 15 years down the road. Rob Demovsky had to pick my jaw up off the ground for me afterwards.

Tyler from Goodhue, MN

If and it's a big "if" Le'Veon Bell finds his way on the trading block after he watched Khalil Mack get what he wanted from holding out, should Green Bay make a serious run for him?

I'm not mad. I'm just disappointed.

PJ from Minneapolis, MN

I hear fans' disgruntlement about "players breaking contracts by holding out" and how dishonorable it is often. How the team's front office handles contracts is beside the point. Contracts don't force players to play. Contracts uphold the agreement that if a player meets a certain set of criteria (usually to suit up and play each week), then the team will pay him an agreed upon amount of money. Khalil Mack is contractually allowed to not play. Oakland contractually doesn't have to pay him.

Professional athletes have a small window to earn life-changing money, so I've never had an issue with an athlete holding out. I also respect those who play for what the paycheck says. There isn't a right or wrong answer here. As someone who's never turned down a raise, I'd want to get paid, too, if I were Mack or Bell. Sorry.

Wes from South St Paul, MN

A thought about the waiver wire question. A player on waivers must be signed to the 53-man roster. Once they clear waivers they can be signed to the practice squad, right? Does a player signed to the 53 have to stay on the roster a specific length of time before he can be moved to the practice squad?

If a player is released a day or two after final cuts, he still can be signed to the practice squad as soon as he clears waivers (assuming he's eligible).

Doug from Cape Coral, FL

Who's the front-runner for punt returns? Or is it still a work in progress as the season goes on?

Trevor Davis, the guy who finished third in the NFL in the category last season.

John from Charlottesville, VA

Everyone keeps talking about keeping eight receivers on the roster (now seven). But do you think with the new kickoff rules the team isn't actually considering Davis as a WR? Is it possible they see more value in the return game and have identified him strictly as a returner and no longer a WR?

The Packers still consider Davis a receiver, but as I wrote last week, there's more that goes into selecting a 53 than offensive or defensive position. Special teams are a big consideration, and Davis is proven both as a returner and gunner.

Fearn from Rolling Meadows, IL

I know Spoff is keen to keep a 46-man active roster (and I understand the advantage an uninjured team would have over an injured team if allowed to suit up all 53), but what would your thoughts be on making the practice squad akin to two-way contracts of the NBA? Let them replace any injuries for the 53, pay them game-minimums for the ones they are called up for. It would definitely affect the cap and make a GM's job harder, but may allow certain players to rest their injuries more.

This is what already happens to a certain extent. Players move to injured reserve and practice-squad players get called up. I'm not saying the league is perfect, but I don't have a big problem with the 46-player rule on game days.

Tom from St. Germain, WI

I am interested to see how the Bears' offensive line performs against the Packers' D. Do you have any thoughts in this regard?

I'm curious to see how Eric Kush looks if he starts at guard after missing all of last season. Kyle Long obviously is one of the best of the best, so it's an interesting test for Pettine's front to start the season.

The Packers practiced on Wednesday inside the Don Hutson Center to prepare for the regular season opener against the Bears.

Jay from Land O' Lakes, FL

Is Sunday's game a statement game? Whether the Packers narrowly win, or win by a TD or so, or win big are the three most likely outcomes. A win is a win, sure, but narrowly winning could be an unfavorable sign, given the quality of Da Bears.

I don't believe in statement games in Week 1. Last year should have been a statement game against Seattle, but broken collarbones don't discriminate. You obviously want to win an opener against a division rival, but the true statement games come down the stretch in my measure.

Rick from Alexandria, VA

Would the tackle of Matthew Stafford by Nick Perry used in the opening of "Packers Unscripted" be considered lowering the helmet to initiate contact this year?

I don't think so, especially since it wasn't to the head or neck area. It looks like a good, clean sack to me.

James from Greendale, WI

As much as the Chicago Bears gave up for Mack, I just don't see where one player (who is not a quarterback) could turn a 5-11 team into a Super Bowl contender. Without their draft picks, they won't be able to restock/improve several positions they might need, and will not be able to re-sign some of their own players or pursue free agents.

It's a bold move because even Reggie White needed Brett Favre. The Bears have pushed their chips in the middle with Mitchell Trubisky. They've put weapons around him offensively and given Vic Fangio one of the best young rushers in the game. Let's shuffle up and deal.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

Explaining the newbies on "Packers Unscripted" and their journey to the team helps me connect with them so much more than reading a stat article when signed. Will you continue to dive into players' journeys through the "Packers Unscripted" season?

As long as my badge keeps working to get in the building and my wife is still cool with me being late for dinner. Explaining those journeys is my favorite thing to write about. That's why I got into this business. Those are the stories I'm passionate about.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

I see Damarious Randall on the Browns' depth chart as the starting free safety. Do you see that as a better fit for him or have any thoughts on what that may mean the Browns are doing with their personnel?

Yes. Mike McCarthy said as much earlier this year. The Browns identified Randall as a safety when they traded for him. He has a lot of God-given ability. I hope it works out.

Lucas from Oakdale, CA

We read so much about players' salaries increasing and becoming a certain percentage of the salary cap. I never hear of the owners who are paying the salaries of those athletes. Are their salaries going up astronomically as well?

Salaries go up in lockstep with the cap, which has been increasing roughly $10 million each year since 2012. So I guess the answer to your question is yes.

Mike from Maple Grove, MN

Love reading every day. I wanted to spark a discussion about TV and streaming services. I'm not sure when the contracts are up, but the NFL would be insane not to dive deep into the streaming services. I can't speak any numbers, of course, but I would bet within a few years with a streaming service similar to what NFL Sunday Ticket offers, more people would be streaming than are currently subscribed to Sunday Ticket. Thoughts?

I don't know what the future holds for TV contracts. Those decisions are up to individuals with a lot more zeros on their paychecks. However, streaming is the future and the league understands that based on the deals it's struck with Amazon and Twitter over the past few seasons. Probably the best example remains WWE. Whatever you think of professional wrestling, WWE got out ahead of this streaming thing and is reaping the rewards because of it.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

Vic said if you pay it, you count it towards the cap. Is waived injured the exception?

Nope. There are no exceptions.

Dave from Comer, GA

I really enjoy the Packers Minute videos. Is that going to be a daily addition during the regular season?

You betcha.

Darren from Hollywood, CA

I finally listened to a "Packers Unscripted," and I gotta say, Wes sounds a little bit less like a dweeb than I imagined!

Ma' Hod said the same thing.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

Wes, the video crew killed it with the “Saved by the Bell” video. It brings forth some laughs and nostalgia for this old Millennial.

That was the brilliance of our former video intern, Nicole DeGrandpre, who now works for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Don from Swaledale, IA

I'm going to the Bears game. What's going on for the 100 Seasons on game day? Besides the game, of course.

A lot of festivities. The Steve Miller Band is playing on Saturday night, and there also will be bands playing at the Johnsonville Tailgate Village and Titletown on Sunday.

Joe from Rockaway Beach, OR

OK, Wes. Let's hear the squad.

Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, Alex Collins, Russell Wilson, Evan Engram, Robby Anderson, Jamaal Williams, Will Fuller V, Ty Montgomery, Bilal Powell, Kenny Stills and Rashaad Penny. See y'all in the playoffs.

Roger from Peoria, IL

So the "Packers Minute" is really closer to two minutes. Kind of like a "Happy Hour" that's really 2-3 hours. Love it! Can't get enough Packers, especially with the season brewing.

Two minutes in heaven is better than one minute in heaven.