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Inbox: That's often the quickest pathway to the field for any young player

You could feel the energy and enthusiasm for this team inside Lambeau last Saturday


Sam from Harlan, IA

Gentlemen, have you seen (or are you able to see) television ratings of preseason games from last year compared to this year? I know I have been more interested in them this year and have watched nearly cover to cover. With this year's team being young and having a new QB1, there is certainly more intrigue.

I don't know what the ratings were – or if they even exist – but I thought the crowd last Saturday was terrific. And hey, there was only one wave! In all seriousness, there was an announced attendance of more than 70,000 and most of those people stayed until the end. How did the game perform in the key 18-49 demo? Your guess is as good as mine, but I can say that you could feel the energy and enthusiasm for this team inside Lambeau last Saturday. That speaks volumes, especially in the preseason.

Adam from Rapid City, SD

First, I want to thank you both for all your great content as it's always so informative! I've been very intrigued this year with the youth of this team! Do either of you guys think that the youthful energy will help this team to succeed like I do? I know when I am playing sports, be it baseball as a kid or golf now, the more positive energy I have on any given day the better my results!

Teams that bond together build together, and this is a very cohesive football team. I'm not comparing it to last year or any prior season. I just feel this particular squad has rallied around Jordan Love's brand of leadership and wants to see him succeed. Will that energy manifest into victories? That's why the NFL pulls the big-time ratings way above my pay grade.

Roger from McGrath, AK

Kenny Clark's back injury has me wondering if the coaching staff has suggested a time frame when/if he will be able to push full throttle this season. Diesel and Z both had back injuries that lingered so I'm a little on edge.

I mean, judging by practice, Clark was pushing full throttle yesterday. In fact, Clark might have had perhaps his two best practices on Tuesday and Wednesday in my estimation. He'll be ready.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

In my opinion, Malik Heath has been the revelation of camp. He's a lock for the 53 and the 46 on gamedays. His route running, receiver skills and blocking make him a weapon when he's on the field. He's also clearly no better than fourth or fifth on the depth chart. The Packers need to find ways to get him on the field but there's only so many snaps to go around in a talented WR room. I know it's early Wes but how do you see this playing out?

The Packers have had undrafted receivers flash during training camp, but I can't recall anyone during my time on the beat who looked the part straightaway. Heath made plays in the spring and has not stopped. He also seems to be a good blocker, which is vital. Undrafted or not, that's often the quickest pathway to the field for any young player.

Aaron from Lawton, OK

I have really appreciated how much the starting guys have played this preseason. If felt to me as if the Packers were using the opening week as their preseason the last few years and this is particularly detrimental when you have a division game for Week 1. Do you expect a faster start from the team this year given the increased number of reps, or do you feel this change is all just because Love is in his in his first year as a starter at QB?

I favor the latter. It's difficult to predict how a team will start a season, but you just can't waste any days with young players in modern training camps. Love and the young wideouts and tight ends can use every snap they take to improve and develop chemistry with one another. Yes, there is always a risk of injury, but Rich Bisaccia's line at the coordinator press conferences last week really spoke to me: "Are you going to play to your fears or play to your hopes?" Longfellow couldn't have said it better.

Erik from Sisters, OR

So we're looking for a safety you say? Help me identify what we're looking for exactly. Other than speed and a nose for the ball, what makes a solid safety for this Packers' D?

Big plays are always encouraged but being assignment sure is the main thing for a safety. That's where Adrian Amos excelled during most of his run in Green Bay and that's the level of consistency the Packers are currently seeking.

Jason from Austin, TX

So wait, Rashan Gary showed flashes of greatness toward the end of Year 3 and then has been dominant ever sense? Where have we seen that before? It's almost like players with ultra-high upside take a few years to reach that potential sometimes. Imagine if we had a quarterback with ultra-high upside and groomed him for three years. Maybe he would also show flashes of greatness toward the end of Year 3 if he had to go in for a game. It's almost like we've seen that before too!

Patience. Progress. Production. Some players may climb the ladder quicker than others, but that's the key to development in any job. Shoot, if I were a head coach, I'd have that posted above the door on the way out to the field. I'm not saying every incoming player needs a tutorial on Rashan Gary, but it's a good reminder of what's possible when a player with a high ceiling begins to reach his true potential.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Wes, at this point in training camp, how confident are you in the TE room?

I feel pretty good about it, actually. It's a shame Tyler Davis got hurt because I think the Packers' plan was working to build around those young guys. Davis was having a great camp, Josiah Deguara has been steady, and Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft have flashed the skills that made them Day 2 draft picks. Davis leaves a hole, but I have less concern about that group today than a month ago.

Russ from Peosta, IA

With the Bears our Week 1 opponent, will LaFleur have a linebacker be a hawk keeping an eye on Fields to keep him from breaking a big play on his own? Is this too limiting for a young defense, or do you trust the defense you have installed is enough to contain him? Keep up the great work and the bright spot in our day!

That's one way to attack it. Certainly, both De'Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker have the speed and ranginess to do it, but we won't know which direction Joe Barry and his staff go until Sept. 10. The Packers have had success against Fields the past two years. He's completed 61-of-96 passes for 722 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions (70.7 passer rating) in four losses. Fields also has 208 yards and two TDs on 29 runs. So, the Packers will have some decisions to make.

Bill from Madison, WI

Good day, gentlemen. We hear about young DL being "raw" and needing a year or two to mature, developing their own arsenal of pass-rush moves. Do they typically only do bull rushes in college? If so, is it because they are usually relying on sheer physical ability and don't need to develop that part of their game? Serious question and not meant at all as a criticism. Thanks.

I'm sure there are some edge rushers who rely too much on their power to win at the college level, but I think the bigger thing is how rarely they're lining up across from tackles the caliber of David Bakhtiari, Lane Johnson, and Tyron Smith. To win at the NFL level, pass rushers need more than just power. You need options. You have to set blockers up. It's a combination of chess and wrestling, brains meeting brawn.

Jeff from Wauwatosa, WI

Hi guys, after the season ended, the Packers had the 15th pick in the draft so they would have been at 15 on the waiver wire. Did the Rodgers trade move that to 13, and in your experience, is there a chance they could get a player off waivers they like after next week's cutdown?

The waiver wire is a different deal. The Packers still have the 15th claim (for the first three weeks of the season). They haven't claimed too many players after roster cutdowns. They claimed Jacob Schum from Tampa Bay in 2016, and some dude named John Kuhn in 2007. Green Bay also signed Rudy Ford as a free agent after training camp last year.

The Green Bay Packers rode down the DreamDrive with fans for the final public practice of training camp on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Members of the national media have long been negative toward the Jordan Love pick. I'm now reading the same outlets providing optimistic projections about Love's talent and his trajectory to provide continued great QB performance in Green Bay. All this, apparently based on limited preseason action. While it's nice Jordan is finally getting some "Love" it seems like a great example of fickle reporting. With this as a backdrop, thank you for your steady, level-headed reporting!

Like I always say, the true test begins in Week 1. Everything else is conjecture.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

What's the most unusual drill you've ever seen in practice?

When the Rams had players tackling remote-controlled dummies on "Hard Knocks" a few years back.

Fredrick from Bluffton, SC

I asked a question a few days ago about injured players being released. I was wondering about an injured player that is out some portion of the season but stays on the team. Does the player receive a reduced salary, or does he receive his full salary? Is some aspect of this in each player's contract?

Most young players (non-tenured) have split-salary clauses in their contracts that pay different base salaries depending on whether they're on the 53 or injured reserve. Most vested veterans are protected for injury, though.

Mitch from Eagle River, WI

Hey guys! When do roster cutdowns actually occur?

Roster moves are due to the league office by 3 p.m. CT next Tuesday (Aug. 29).

Tim from Olathe, KS

Wes, I get asked every day by non-Packers fans, "Will you be cheering for or against AR this year?" I usually answer that I'm cheering for him to play 65% of the snaps. Good answer?

Nothing wrong with that. Personally, my go-to reply is, "I cover the Green Bay Packers."

Rod from Ephrata, PA

How frequently have kickoffs been fair caught during the preseason games? Do you expect that to change in the regular season? And as a Penn State fan who appreciated him, I'm glad to see Sean Clifford having a good summer.

Unless I missed it, I've yet to see anyone in a Packers uniform wave fair catch on a kickoff yet. I'm not sure about the rest of the NFL. All the best to your Nittany Lion.

Carl from Holmen, WI

I just read the Inbox where Wes wrote, "It's easy to be negative. It creates an easy off-ramp for excuses and softens the blow if you fall short of expectations. But toxicity is quicksand. It drags you down. It's much harder to be positive and stay positive, but that's the true secret to achieving lasting greatness..." I'm the head women's wrestling coach at Holmen High School and I just added that full quote to our mindset training. It's a great one and I had to use it for our team!

That's awesome, Carl. Thank you for sharing that. All the best to your team this winter!

Jim from St Pete Beach, FL

Hello Wes. At the end of last season, you hinted the II may be going away from poems to end the last Inbox prior to games. Can I suggest ending the column with a great historical quote? Perhaps the opener should be from someone well-known by Packers fans.

"In life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don't foul and don't shirk but hit the line hard." – Theodore Roosevelt. Have a good Thursday.

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