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Inbox: The adventure is out there

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

Etienne from Gaspe, Canada

Oh Canada! Welcome to Canada! I suggest Mike to not steal Wes’s lunch before customs. How come there is a running back sporting No. 88 for the Jets?

Hands off my poutine, Spofford. Good morning!

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

What was your "Welcome to the NFL" moment for your careers?

James Campen thinking I was Rob Demovsky’s intern when I joined the Packers beat in 2012.

Ian from Sherman Oaks, CA

We can feel good about Thursday's preseason game if...

…the offense efficiently moves the ball down the field in the first quarter and the starting defense gets a stop/takeaway. The cherry on top would be if the second- and third-team units halved their missed tackles from the Baltimore game.

Meagan from Wausau, WI

Who do you think will be the standout player for the game against Oakland?

Aaron Jones. Unequivocally. Indubitably. Undeniably. The run game is off to a slow start, but Jones could turn that narrative on its head with one big run Thursday night. He’s one of my top breakouts candidate for 2019. Jones has looked explosive throughout the summer and appears to have taken a big step as a pass protector in camp. The most exciting thing about third-year players who have proven their skill is the best is yet to come. The adventure is out there, right? There’s only one way to find out what’s next.

Mike from Madison, WI

You have been given the magical power to ensure that three players on the Packers’ roster remain healthy all season, who do you pick? Obviously Aaron Rodgers is No. 1, but who are your other two choices?

David Bakhtiari and Davante Adams. Both are virtually irreplaceable at this point of their careers. Jones isn’t far behind because he brings such a different dimension to the offense.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

Spoff wrote: "I don’t think the second inside linebacker spot is set in stone...Lancaster and Adams are still battling for the third D-lineman...not sure the Taylor-Jenkins competition has a declared winner, either." Does this mean you feel the WR position has settled in, and if so, who do you see as No. 2 and 3?

I don’t really buy into labels anymore with receivers, but I think Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison have pretty much set themselves apart from the pack. In two-minute drills, it’s Adams, MVS, Allison and Jimmy Graham for the most part on the field. There’s an established level of comfort in the offense with those guys right now.

Jerry from Belmont, NC

How much competition is there at No. 4 wide receiver? Is there an option of Allen Lazard or Darrius Shepherd getting that role over someone like EQ or Jake Kumerow?

Now that’s the million-dollar question.

Dan from Toledo, OH

The first quarter of our schedule looks pretty tough. Three playoff contenders and a Broncos team with Aaron Rodgers’ old nemesis Vic Fangio calling the shots. What would a successful first four games look like? I think I would honestly take 2-2, especially if both those wins were the division games.

You know how I said I’m not really into receiver labels anymore? I’m not really into September records, either. Two of the best teams I covered – the 2012 and 2014 Packers – started the year 1-2. The past two years? 3-1 and 2-1-1. Again, it’s not about the start – it’s how you respond to the start. If the team is healthy and trending in the right direction entering the second quarter of the season, the record takes care of itself.

Bill from Oswego, NY

Good morning and thank you for your III (Insider Inbox Insights). Regarding September games, agreed they aren't a huge indicator of how the team will play in December. But with a third of our division games and a tough out-of-division foe on a short week in September, they are as important to our success as late-season games. Pars made on the first few holes are just as good as those on 17 and 18.

That’s true, but pars made on the last few holes are more important for your confidence in you have to play three or four more playoff holes – which is why nothing is more important than late-season games. Teams build in the first quarter of the season with the goal of peaking in December.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

I read a Demovsky article about Rashan Gary and his performance in the first two preseason games and was taken back by the response of Coach Pettine. To quote, "We knew he was a work in progress.” I was under the impression that a top 15 pick in the draft should be a plug-and-play guy, not a work in progress. Am I wrong in thinking we may have missed out selecting this guy? I understand picks that come later in the draft are "works in progress," but a top 15 pick? What am I missing?

The part of the quote you omitted is Pettine mentioning, “We’re pleased with where (Gary) is.” Gary is only 21 and learning a new position as an outside linebacker/elephant rusher. He’s not expected to be a Day 1 starter – that’s why Za’Darius and Preston Smith are here – but the Packers are using Gary in their dime package already alongside the two veterans. That tells you what the coaches think of Gary’s upside.

Michael from Las Vegas, NV

After reading Chris from Manitoba's question and II's answer: Who was setting those ticket prices for our preseason game in Winnipeg?

The NFL and Canadian-based promoter On Ice Entertainment Ltd., set ticket prices, according to the Canadian media outlets I read.

Amy from Bayport, MN

I thought we would have to say goodbye to “Three Things” with the end of public practices. I’m so glad we’ll continue to get the inside scoop! All four of you have great chemistry together, and Larry’s a hoot. AR12’s infamous no-look TD to G-Mo from last year may well go down in Packers lore as the greatest play never seen (except by those lucky enough to witness it in person). What is the one play that has stuck with you from training camp this year?

There is probably some recency bias here but that deep throw from Tim Boyle to Trevor Davis in practice Monday is up there. Davis used late hands to not tip off the two defensive backs covering him to catch that ball.

Andy from Mesa, AZ

What is more likely: Jake Kumerow catches more than 60 passes, Jimmy Graham surpasses 900 receiving yards or Kevin King plays in 13 or more games?

I’ll go with Graham because I don’t have a clue right now how long King is going to be out with this hamstring injury. Assuming he dodged a bullet with the finger, Graham will have opportunities to make that kind of impact with Rodgers throwing him the ball.

Oscar from Cottage Grove, WI

Has a team ever held closed-door training camp practice for the entire training camp or do league rules require the team to have open public practices?

The Eagles opened one practice to the public during training camp. Count your blessings, Packers fans.

The Green Bay Packers arrived at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Wednesday, Aug. 21. #PackersBusinessTrip, presented by Bose.

Bill from Menominee, MI

I'm sure your plates are full with II, “Three Things,” etc., but have you tracked any preseason progress of free agents the Packers didn't re-sign? Daniels, Perry, Matthews, Cobb, Breeland? Are they all healthy and taking regular snaps for their respective teams?

Nick Perry is a free agent, Mike Daniels and Clay Matthews haven’t played, Randall Cobb has one catch for seven yards, and Bashaud Breeland has a tackle and pass deflection in two preseason starts.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

I was surprised by Wes's answer to Mike from Augusta about teams not stashing players on IR due to expense. Stashing a young player on a league minimum deal is not too expensive, especially if you feel the player has potential and you have a capable veteran who is nearing the end of his current contract. In fact I would have to think this scenario plays out frequently. If our front office thought some of our UFA receivers were better than what we would get in another year, it certainly seems plausible.

You also have to consider if a team settles with an injured player, it can bring him back six weeks after the settlement expires. They did it in the past with Joe Thomas, Joe Kerridge and several others. Don’t get me wrong – the Packers will keep a rookie they like on IR or PUP (e.g. Greg Roberts) if the player is legitimately injured and they like him as a prospect, but they’re not going to go out of their way to stash guys to keep them off another team’s roster or practice squad. That doesn’t help anyone.

Tony from Aurora, CO

“...A well-crafted receiver.” Dang, Davante, I am so ready for the season to start!

Adams’ answer to the Derek Carr question was hands-on my favorite quote of training camp. I laughed so hard. I fully intend to start working “a well-crafted writer” into my repertoire.

LeeAnn from Carefree, IN

I don't remember the Packers ever playing two opponents in the preseason that they are scheduled to play in the regular season. Has it happened before? And do you think it will have any effect on what the Packers do or show against Oakland and Kansas City the next two games?

I don’t think it changes anything. With how often Green Bay has played Oakland in the preseason as of late, it doesn’t surprise me it worked out that way this year. The Packers also close the preseason practically every year against Kansas City. They skipped their exhibition matchup during the last NFC North/AFC West rotation but played twice back in 2011. It’s uncommon but not rare.

Perry from Ishpeming, MI

Do the 11-on-11 team drills practice Nathaniel Hackett's O vs Pettine's D all the time? If so, what is the benefit of practicing against the same if you're not going to see it in the regular season?

It’s no different than sparring with a teammate in boxing or practicing against a friend in chess. Is it a real game or tournament? No, but it simulates the repetition, adjustments and various situations a player/team must prepare for. Jaire Alexander is going to be a much better cornerback Week 1 for all the reps he took against Adams the last three months.

Matthew from Port Clinton, OH

With the antics by AB and the holdouts by Bell and now Zeke, it got me wondering. When was the last time the Packers dealt with something like this? Holdouts? Not showing up to required team activities. Diva drama like anger over a helmet?

You’re honestly asking me the last time the Packers had a comparable situation to an All-Pro player threatening to retire because the league banned the use of his helmet?

Rich from Duluth, MN

More of a statement than a question. I’m guessing Packer Nation is glad we didn’t pick up Antonio Brown.

All I have to say is what I wrote earlier this summer – be thankful for Davante Adams, Packers fans. He’s a superstar receiver with a workmanlike mentality.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

I've already heard more about "juice" than I ever cared to. Is there any chance it could go the way of "what say you?" Please?

I prefer juice to concentrate. Sorry, Dan.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Congrats on getting a passport! Is this trip to Canada your first time outside of the U.S.? Now that you have a passport, maybe you should plan a trip to visit one of the Packers fan clubs. The Costa Rica fan club is having a BBQ on Sunday if you are available.

No. I went to Toronto and Niagara Falls with my parents in 2002 and traveled to Germany in 2005 (where I met my wife, actually). My original passport expired in 2015, though, and I haven’t been out of the country until now.

Mark from West Bend, WI

The microphones are a good idea for the bobbleheads, especially since it took a year to get Wes one. In order for this to take off we need to get the sponsors involved. Maybe Wes's could be holding a microphone and wearing a set of noise-cancelling headphones. Then Spoff's could be holding a cup of Campbell's soup in one hand and one of Wes's sandwiches in the other, or his notepad. I can see them on the desk next to the coffee mugs on “Unscripted” already.

Man, you really put some thought into that one. Thanks for listening and watching, Mark. That’s a super-fan submission if I’ve ever seen one.

Eric from Fuquay Varina, NC

I've noticed a lot of submissions from Brookfield, WI this training camp. While we know Lori is a lock for the II 53-person roster, do you think any of the other Brookfield natives have a chance to make the II team? Which do you think have shown improvement for insight and relevancy? Should they all submit more during preseason to make their case? Should we sit Lori so she doesn't injure her typing fingers and is fresh for the regular season?

Craig still has a chance. He’s had some solid submissions. Looking for a little more consistency, though. Lori is in midseason form. She could shut it down for the next two weeks and be ready for the week of the Bears opener.

Markus from Aurora, CO

Insiders, I appreciate the fact that longtime veterans (like AR) need relatively little in-game practice during preseason, but I also think it always takes some time (how many drives?) to "get back into the groove" for said player(s) if they stay too limited during preseason. Can experienced players become too confident for their own good?

One more week to go, Wes. Just one more week.

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