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Inbox: The arrow continues to only point up

The entire buffet is open, people, not just the salad bar

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CB Jaire Alexander

Daniel from Huntersville, NC

Uh-oh Wes, you may have started something with these "Wes Hod" hats and "Spoff" kazoos....

"Wes Hod" hats will fill some shelves for a few months until they're dusted off and moved to the clearance section. But man, I didn't realize there was such an insatiable hunger for "Spoff" kazoos until yesterday.

Caleb from Monroe, WI

What are the biggest differences between Mike Pettine and Joe Barry schemes and what are you most excited about for this new-look defense?

The schematic changes won't be extreme, but I can tell you this was the most talkative and energetic Packers defense I've witnessed in the spring. Given Barry's linebacker background, I guess that can be expected. I think the Packers will deploy more rushers and play with some heavier defensive fronts, but what excites me most is how Barry utilizes Za'Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander. There's so much talent on this defense and that arrow continues to only point up.

John from Lansdale, PA

That's pretty funny they moved you away from the coaches when they hired Wes.

That wasn't lost on me, either.

Eric from Ellicott City, MD

Upon reading Cliff's article, I started to think of more modern players whose careers were sadly cut short due to injury. I think of Nick Collins, Jermichael Finley and Jonathan Franklin (I was very excited when they drafted him). It's bittersweet because the time they played was so fun to watch, but I'm sure it was harder on the player to give up the game they devoted their personal and professional life to. Who were some other promising players whose careers were cut short?

Those are the top three during my time covering the team. Sean Richardson mounted one heck of a comeback in 2013 after fusion surgery but unfortunately required another. As I wrote last month, I have total respect for how Demetri Goodson attacked his rehab after his gruesome leg injury in Washington in 2016.

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

Assuming Aaron Jones stays healthy and plays a full season, where would you put the over/under for his total rushing yards?

1,200…and I'd still take the over.

Ray from Owensboro

What kind of season do you think AJ Dillon will have?

A strong one. Dillon had a lot working against him last year, including the month-long bout with COVID-19, but he really showed what he brought to the party against Tennessee. I know we're selecting breakout players in next week's Inbox but he's definitely my pick on offense in 2021.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Crystal ball time. Obviously, it helps to have good talent on the field but coaching matters. Who among the Packers coaching staff do you see as significant candidates for taking the next big step, being it coordinator or, eventually, head coach?

As a head coach, I'd say Nathaniel Hackett. He has the perfect personality for it. For NFL offensive coordinator, it's Luke Getsy. He's a QB by trade, has a well-rounded resume and worked under some of the league's best offensive minds. I do hope Ben Sirmans gets elevated at some point, too. His resume as the running backs coach is as impressive as any in the league over the last decade, in my opinion.

Paul from West Allis, WI

Which is a more difficult football game to play in weather-wise: extremely cold, extremely hot, extremely wet (sloppy), or other?

I think most players will say extreme heat. I've never seen a Packers locker room more drained and depleted than after playing in Miami in 2014 and Jacksonville in 2016.

Joe from Ashburn, VA

Who has the best chance of being opposite Davante Adams?

The question keeps getting asked and my reply is the same: Why must it be one guy? Why can't it be Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a play-action deep shot and Allen Lazard on a corner route? Or Amari Rodgers on an end-around and Devin Funchess on a post? If you look at the Packers' offense for the past two years, it's Davante Adams and four other skill-position players on the field. With so much room for creativity, there's no need to put the same five players on the field 65 times a game. The entire buffet is open, people, not just the salad bar.

Ross from Roswell

Gents, having watched De'Vondre Campbell in Atlanta for a few years, I really think he can be that difference-maker in the middle of the defense. Anything you saw make you think the same?

Campbell is different than any other linebacker the Packers have featured inside and I like that. He brings experience to a young room and possesses a skill set that complements those around him. I'm not sure why his market wasn't stronger this offseason but Campbell could turn out to be a bargain for Green Bay at a position of need.

Michael from Chamberlain

Will Aaron Rodgers be our starter QB this year?

I don't know…but remember, Michael. Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies. I'm hoping this answer finds you and finds you well. Your friend, Andy Weston.

Bart from Point Roberts, WA

Thanks for keeping us updated on all things Packers. Any idea how Jordan Love's 40 time compared to Aaron Rodgers', Patrick Mahomes' and Russell Wilson's?

Love's 40 was 4.65, sandwiched among Wilson (4.55), Rodgers (4.71), Mahomes (4.8).

Jeff from Muskego, WI

If Rodgers is a no-show, who do you think will be the starting QB? They do have a couple of vets signed. I don't think Love is ready yet.

But how do you know that, Jeff? How do you know if Love is ready or not? You haven't even seen him throw a pass other than passing drills posted on social media.

Laura from Arlington, VA

Who do you see as the backup to Love, assuming he is the starter?

The Packers will need either a No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback and they cast a wide net with Blake Bortles (credentialed veteran), Kurt Benkert (three seasons in Atlanta with Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub), and Jake Dolegala (a prolific FCS QB with some rare gifts). As Matt LaFleur said, it's going to come down to how guys look in the preseason. Because whether Rodgers reports or not, I don't see Bortles, Benkert or Dolegala getting a ton of snaps in training camp. It's either going to be getting Rodgers ready and working in Love as much as possible, or getting Love as many snaps as he can handle to be QB1.

Austin from Kimberly, WI

In response to Dave from Waterford, OH, regarding Lamar Jackson. Are we talking about the same guy? The NFL MVP Lamar Jackson? Doesn't that fact alone show that he is, at the very least, capable of being a "top-flight quarterback"? The '90s are gone. There are different ways to play the position effectively now.

Thank you. Plus, all Baltimore has done is win with Jackson at quarterback. I'm sorry he doesn't fit your definition of an MVP quarterback but the guy's talent is obvious. The Ravens rode the Joe Flacco train for as long as they could before Jackson infused much-needed excitement into that offense.

Robin from Ashburn, VA

Is any rookie an absolute surprise?

I think so. What Krys Barnes did last year would fall into that category for me. I didn't see that one coming.

Renee from Green Bay, WI

Mason Crosby looks way better conditioned this year than any other. Has he changed his workout routines or diet? I'm happy as a fan to see a "senior" player get in better condition than the previous season. He is a fine example for us all to follow. What senior Packer player have you covered that you would say was in the best shape? And no, you can't claim yourself, lol!

We didn't have a chance to talk with Crosby during the offseason program, but that'll be my first question for him this summer. Crosby looked jacked. All-time, I'd have to say it's Julius Peppers. He was a physical specimen who didn't take a day off in the weight room.

Todd from Brighton, MI

Do you have a "go-to" song when you just need to take a break?

"Last Resort."

Johnny from Madison, WI

How much risk would you say there is in extending Davante for something like five additional years? That would have him turning 35 in the final year of his contract. Off the top of my head, I can think of examples of receivers who remained productive into their mid-30s (Driver, Fitzgerald, TO), but also some who severely dropped off around 30 (Calvin Johnson, Jennings, Jordy). Always tough to let good players walk, but I'd have to say it worked out with Jennings and Jordy.

As much as I love Nelson – both the player and the dude – neither example you provided is applicable to Adams. Adams is coming off his first All-Pro season and will play most of this upcoming season at 28 years old. Other than finding a resolution to the Rodgers situation, extending Adams must be at the top of the Packers' list of goals for this season. The years don't matter to me. Just get it done.

Glenn from Virginia Beach, VA

First-time submission. Always love II. Looking forward to returning to Lambeau for a couple of games this year. Have been to a game every year since 1987. Could you explain the rookie contract rules and what happens when there is an additional year attached to those contracts? How long are they, how does the compensation vary depending on the draft round, and are living expenses or any other extra compensation attached to the basic per-game salary?

Thanks for reading, Glenn, and appreciate you asking a question. Every draft pick's contract is four years, though teams have the right to exercise a fifth-year option on their first-round picks. That decision must be made before the player's fourth NFL seasons (e.g. the Packers exercised Alexander's option this offseason). Since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, all draft-pick contracts are now slotted with salary/bonuses determined by where a player is drafted. I hope that helps.

Jim from Arkdale, WI

Good morning. You've said that if you pay it you cap it. Would you explain Kevin King's contract about if he gets cut, his cap is doubled?

Because his signing bonus, spread out over the voidable years, all accelerates to this season's cap if he's not on the team.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Good morning! How about a creative, fashion-oriented question to mull over? Regarding the throwback uniform, if you could mix and match elements of different uniforms worn over the history of the Packers, what combination would you select as your nomination for best throwback ever?

My personal favorite is the 1935-36 uni. I think that was pretty dang snazzy for the time period.

Mike from Madison, WI

Wes and Mike, I wasn't even aware Wes Hod hats and Spoff kazoos were even available. Seriously, in a normal year, during the time which shall remain nameless, do you have a chance to bump into a player or coach in the halls of 1265 Lombardi? If you do, do these encounters allow you a chance to do a more in-depth piece on that player or coach?

Pre-COVID? Oh yeah, absolutely. I haven't stood in front of a coach in almost 18 months, though.

Randy from Raymond, WA

Wes, somehow, I missed your original story on Mitchell Henry. As a longtime bow hunter myself, I can definitely relate to the peace and solitude that Mitchell found in hunting and fishing. I've always been in awe of God's handywork in the early mornings and late evenings watching the sunrises and sunsets from my tree stand. Getting away from the daily rat-race and enjoying nature is so relaxing. You don't have to harvest a deer to make it a successful hunt. Thank you for reprinting this story!

Thanks for checking it out, Randy, and to everyone who reached out over the past two days. I cannot believe Wednesday marked four years since his passing. I want to mention Madison and the Henrys have since started the Mitchell Henry Foundation. Madison actually just posted T-shirts on her website, with a portion of the proceeds on any shirt purchased on Saturday going to the foundation. I just bought one myself.

Craig from Laramie, WY

Your answer about last year's highs and lows stopped me right in my tracks. No question this time, just a thank you for providing my daily "escape" when I read II. You guys provide that and I'm grateful, COVID-19 or not!

You the person, Craig. It was a fun year…unconventional, but fun.

Larry from Owens Cross Roads, AL

I had a brief conversation with Ted Thompson at the Austin-Straubel Airport baggage claim. I expressed my appreciation for the continued success in keeping the Packers perennial contenders. He quietly acknowledged my statement and asked what I did for a living. When I told him NASA, he was quick to comment on the good things that have come out of NASA for the benefit of the country and the world. That "chat flip" resides in my "memories make us rich" archive and says a lot about the man.

This question was submitted for Outsider Inbox but it seemed like a fitting way to close Insider Inbox before our one-week break. Because this story sums up Ted Thompson perfectly. Thompson was a legendary NFL personnel executive but an even better person. He did things to benefit Green Bay and the surrounding communities that Packers fans don't even know about – and may never know about. Because that's how Ted wanted it. He never looked for credit or adulation. He just wanted to do the right thing. That's a dying trait in society today.

Scott from Hamlin, NY

In 1776, 56 people got together and believed so strongly in their conviction that people were inherently free and government that was beholden to them. They held these beliefs so strongly that they committed their names to an act of treason. The country would go on to fight a war around the strength of these convictions. Their victory would resonate across the globe, toppling monarchies and bringing liberty throughout the world. This isn't just a U.S. holiday; this is a global Independence Day.

And with that, I wish you all a safe and happy Fourth of July. Once again, Outsider Inbox begins Monday and runs through all next week. Be good to one another.

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