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Inbox: That was just the beginning

The more competition in camp, the better your team will be in-season 


Mike from Vancouver, Canada

Just imagine Ted Thompson storming into Brian Gutekunst's office the day after the FA deals: "You have MEDDLED with the primal forces of nature Mr. Gute and I won't have it. You think you've merely made some business deals but that is not the case. You have taken millions out of the cap and now you must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity, ECOLOGICAL BALANCE! That is the atomic, and sub-atomic, and galactic order of things today. And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature! And YOU. WILL. ATONE!

We have an early candidate for the 2019 Insider Inbox submission of year. Bravo, Mike. Good morning!

John from Madison, WI

"Bury me upside down, so my critics can kiss my byline." March 19, 2019, the day Wes won the internet.

Hey look, Ma (Hod), I made it!

Brian from Montclair, NJ

Wes, please tell me you threw a chair onto Lambeau after that sign-off.

I tried, but security stopped me before I could push my rolling chair all the way down the tunnel.

Richard from Corpus Christi, TX

While I watched the video of Za'Darius Smith, I noticed that when he was asked about getting to the quarterback, his eyes lit up. I think he is the real deal. Is that the impression you had? His enthusiasm could be very contagious and help raise the play of the defense.

Smith strikes me as a man who knows his best football is ahead of him and wants to live up to his full potential. Remember this guy played with the likes of Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Elvis Dumervil. He aspires to be great. That was just the beginning for him. There's more work to be done and you can tell Smith is excited to get after it.

Jay from Saint Paul, MN

All these free agents have talked in one way or another about accountability. My favorite way to be accountable was Preston Smith's "play on Sunday" mentality. We haven't had a true iron man in a while.

It was funny watching confusion wash over Smith's face when he was straining to recall the last time he missed a game due to injury. You never know what can happen on the next snap, but there's a lot to be said for Smith not having to sit out a game in college or NFL given the contact nature of his position. He comes ready to play every Sunday.

Nate from Kewaskum, WI

Spirit jerseys are all the rage. When will the II Packers spirit jerseys make their debut in the Pro Shop?

*Googles spirit jerseys*

Jake from Shoreview, MN

Will No. 12 be too high for T.J. Hockenson? TEs taken that high do not always seem to have the best track records.

Most draftniks have Hockenson coming off the board somewhere in the teens. If that's where he lands, Hockenson would be in pretty exclusive company. Only five tight ends have been drafted before No. 20 since 2002 – O.J. Howard (No. 19, TB, 2017), Eric Ebron (No. 10, DET, 2014), Vernon Davis (No. 6, SF, 2006), Kellen Winslow Jr. (No. 6, CLE, 2004) and Jeremy Shockey (No. 14, NYG, 2002).

Hal from Lanesboro, MN

Does signing a restricted free agent (e.g. Kentrell Brice) count in the "compensatory picks" conversation?

It does not because the previous team waived its right to the player by either A) not tendering the player a contract or B) not matching another team's offer.

Marcus from Plover, WI

Who will have a breakout 2019?

Equanimeous St. Brown.

Lowell from Tuscola, IL

Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix jerseys are currently clearance priced in the Pro Shop. If he is re-signed, and gets his old number back, do the jerseys go back to full priced?

I ran down to check what Tramon Williams' No. 38 jersey is selling for. I can confirm it goes back to full price.

Paul from Shoreview, MN

Is it too much of a leap of faith to expect a big jump from Oren Burks in his second season?

Not at all. Like I said a couple days ago, I don't think anyone on the beat thought Blake Martinez was going to be an every-down linebacker going into the 2017 regular season. Joe Thomas played dime throughout training camp, but the Packers turned to Martinez in the opener. He's never looked back. Once the game slows down for him, Burks could follow a similar path.

Shaun from Sun Prairie, WI

With the free-agent signings that have been made official, what do you think is the Packers' biggest need as it stands now?

Building depth across the board. More depth means more competition. The more competition you have in training camp, the better your team will be once the regular season begins.

Jack from Chicago, IL

Your answer about the 2013 draft made me look back. We had a really good draft that year. Bahktiari, Tretter, Lacy, Hyde, Barrington - all significant contributors for Green Bay. Johnathan Franklin's injury was unfortunate, and we took Datone Jones one pick ahead of DeAndre Hopkins. Just goes to show how delicate the whole process is.

I've always felt that 2013 draft class was underrated. The Packers also signed Lane Taylor and Chris Banjo as undrafted free agents that year. Yes, Jones didn't work out, but those aforementioned players helped propel the Packers to two NFC title games in a span of three years.

Greg from Knoxville, TN

Let me understand this. The quarterback (unlike any other player on a NFL team) says he wants to play until he is 40, 45 or whatever, and management says, OK, no need find the next quarterback even if the veteran gets hurt or skills decline. Unless the next QB is currently on the roster, it seems you draft for the future just like you would for any position. What am I missing?

I'm cool with drafting a quarterback. I'm not cool with drafting a quarterback in the first three rounds. So many fans complain about the Packers not shifting into "win-now" mode. Using picks to build around Rodgers is how the Packers accomplish that.

John from Denton, TX

Bobby Knight quote from Wes, love it! I keep hearing safety is still a position of need after the signing of Adrian Amos. I have been watching Josh Jones fly around the field on special teams, and when on defense, he seemed to do his job. Do you have any insight on why Jones hasn't locked down that other safety spot? Or is the question more about adding depth to the defensive backfield rather than a true need for another safety?

It goes back to my previous answer on depth. I'd rather draft another safety and have Jones lock down that spot for the next 10 years than be caught shorthanded again in an injury-riddled secondary. Jones has all the ability in the world. He'll be in the conversation again for a starting spot.

Tony from River Falls, WI

I appreciate that you guys wait to release news of new signings until it is official. So many people want sports news now even though mistakes could be made. Do you have any stories of someone announcing NFL news early and then it was found to be wrong? Thank you guys for your great work on Insider Inbox!

Ever hear of a guy named Antonio Brown?

Robert from Salem, WI

Even though the Pack have made some major moves already in free agency, do you see them making any further additions there this offseason? And if so, what positions would you see them looking to focus on?

I don't have an exact position, but I'd love seeing more low-risk, high-reward signings such as Bashaud Breeland and Ibraheim Campbell. While last season didn't turn out how the Packers wanted, I thought Brian Gutekunst's heart was in the right place with those additions. They made the team better.

Tony from Eden Prairie, MN

Wes, have you ever run the 40? If so, what was your time and would you beat Mike?

I unofficially ran a 5.6 over at Titletown last summer…and then pulled my hamstring.

Jason from Austin, TX

I've heard that some owners are thinking about getting rid of the onside kick and replacing it with a fourth-and-15. I would only be OK with that if defensive penalties didn't grant an automatic first down. The penalty yards can count but keep it at fourth-and-15. Forty-yard PI? Now it's fourth-and-15 on their 25-yard line (did I do that math right?). There's less risk in the attempt now, but you're not getting a freebie.

Makes sense. Although I'm not completely sold on the fourth-and-whatever idea, I think we need to find something better than what on-side kicks have become with the rule changes. What were the odds of recovery last season? Like 4 percent or something. While I don't know how realistic it is, I'm in favor of reverting back to the old rule set if teams disclose to the officials and the opposing team they're kicking the on-side.

John from Austin, TX

Free agency (this year) and the pre-draft hype are very interesting, however, I yearn for the NFL schedule to drop. We try and go to a few games each season and truly love the planning stage as soon as that schedule comes out. So, it's usually around The Masters week, any ideas?

The NFL schedule typically comes out the week before the NFL Draft.

Jenn from Peoria, IL

In reading today's II and the response about how "the cream rises to the top" with good quarterbacks, I started wondering about Tom Brady. I know he is the most decorated quarterback of all time, but I always find myself doubting he's the best quarterback of all time. It seems to me that, along with talent, he wound up with the greatest coach of our time. How much do you think the right player/coach combination contributes to a players true talents? Is it nature or nurture, or both?

Folks love to debate the chicken-and-egg theory with Bill Belichick and Brady, but the truth is it took both for the Patriots to have the success they've had. They made each other better. The greatest always do.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

The other side of the 'FA Frenzy' is we have a lot of ex-Packers out there to watch on other rosters (used to take one hand to count them). Is there anyone of those we have lost so far that you think might have a better fit and opportunity where they landed?

I'm rooting for Jake Ryan to get back on track after his second ACL tear. There was going to be a ceiling on Ryan's playing time even if he stayed healthy last season, with how often the Packers use a safety in the box next to Blake Martinez. I think a fresh start will benefit Ryan.

Dave from New Franken, WI

Toughest Packer player you've seen play, and why?

Favre. Nuff said.

Matt from Wauconda, IL

How do you choose who you do a Prospect Primer on?

We ask four questions. Did we get video of them speaking at the combine? Did they say anything interesting? Are they a relevant prospect? Do we have college B-roll?

Tom from Douglassville, PA

There is a lot of talk of the Packers playing the Bears to kick off the season. Would you rather play the Thursday to open the season, or Thanksgiving Day?

I've always liked being a part of the NFL opener. You can't beat that atmosphere. Conversely, I hate covering Thanksgiving Day games, especially on the road. I'd rather be home with my family. So that's easy for me.

Dan from Catonsville, MD

What is your favorite item purchased at the Packers Pro Shop? Mine is the 40th anniversary Ice Bowl hooded sweatshirt that still looks great today!

The Packers Dooney & Bourke purse I picked up for my mom after my first season working here. She lit up when I gave it to her for Christmas.

Jim from Naperville, IL

Do you have a "save the date" for Bo Callahan's birthday party?

I received an invite, but I think I'm busy that evening. I have to return some video tapes.

Keith from Normal, IL

Good morning, I was watching "Ricky Williams: A Football Life" and was curious as to who Washington drafted with all those picks it received in the trade to the Saints?

Washington paired the first- and third-round picks from the Saints, with its fourth- and fifth-round picks, and traded them all to Chicago to move up from No. 12 to seventh. The team used that pick to draft Champ Bailey. I also believe Washington used New Orleans' first-round pick in 2000 to take LaVar Arrington.

Mat from Christchurch, New Zealand

Hi II, I've been a Packers fan since I was a kid and received a Dorsey Levens jersey for my birthday (nobody knew anything about NFL around here then, but I loved the jersey so I made it my duty to find out more). The most recent Packers Super Bowl victory was soured for me somewhat, when a couple of weeks later we were hit by an earthquake that ruined our city. Now our city is facing tragedy again, I just wanted to say I really appreciate II for providing me with refuge at times like this.

I'm glad this small space provides some respite during this difficult time for you and Christchurch. I think I speak for the entire Inbox when I say our thoughts are with you guys.

George from Hutchinson, MN

When you and Mike are eating at a restaurant, does he ever ask, "Are you gonna finish that"? Do you hesitate to be excused to go to the restroom?

Let's just say I always make sure to use the restroom before food is brought to the table. Speaking of which, I have to give a shout out to Keith from Andover, MN, and his daughter, Teagan from Andover, MN, for the shipment of Girl Scout Cookies that arrived at Lambeau Field for us late last week. The digital department appreciated the kind gesture. I'm a huge big fan of the 'Thanks-A-Lot" series, and judging by the pile of Peanut Butter Sandwich, Girl Scout Smores and Shortbread boxes on Spoff's desk, I'd say those are his favorites. Happy Hump Day, folks.