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Inbox: The competitive level is through the roof

It’s bound to have an impact, but it’s impossible to say how much

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CB Jaire Alexander

Pete from Chippewa Falls, WI

So what was the biggest story to come out of Day 1 of Packers mandatory minicamp?

I'll give you three. You might even call them Three Things.

Ed from Geneva, NY

I have nothing to say about Aaron Rodgers.

Well, Davante Adams and David Bakhtiari did, and I appreciated their candor. If you missed it, here's the gist.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

Mike, I am sorry but I had to jump on your answer to the most accurate kicker outside. I believe you forgot about Justin Tucker. He is the most accurate kicker and Baltimore plays outside.

I guess my mind was focused on cold-weather kickers, not just outdoors, but your point is plenty valid. Stenerud in Kansas City is a borderline fit for the topic, and Tucker feels the same to me, playing the majority of his games in AFC North stadiums. I do think guys like Mason Crosby, along Vinatieri when he was in New England and Gould when he was with Chicago, have faced more weather challenges overall.

Dale from Owatonna, MN

Wes noted that Jaire Alexander was doing Jaire things, which led me to think first-round investment in your secondary doesn't just improve the secondary or even just the defense. Having to throw and catch against that talent on the practice field might make games feel easier than practice for the offense?

Games are never easier than practice, no matter what anybody says. In games, the pressure is on, and the competitive level is through the roof. But to your point, in practice, it's hard to get better by practicing against schlubs.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning. Preston Smith's new contract apparently has sack-based incentives...the more sacks he records, the more he gets paid. There's nothing like a good third-down sack. But isn't there also a risk that his sole mission on every snap will be to get upfield while ignoring his other responsibilities such as setting the edge on run plays? Thank you.

Not if he wants to be on the field enough to get the sacks and hit his incentives. If he's ignoring other responsibilities, such as against the run, the coaches will see that and put somebody else in. He still has to be a complete player.

Barbara from Duluth, MN

How can the NFL defend its "race-norming practice" in relation to brain injuries? To require a lawsuit to correct this seems unconscionable.

I would agree, and the league took too long to come around on this one and see the whole picture. Better late than never, I guess.

Levi from St. Paul, MN

This team looks to be extremely deep and talented making the AR situation even more frustrating. I really hope they can work things out because this team has the potential to be great with AR under center. Is it as frustrating for you both to have to answer so many questions about the situation as it is for us fans to have to ask about it? I'll cheer for whoever is QB and will try not to dwell on what could be, but I'm upset with the whole thing. What percentage of posts are for/against AR?

I'm not keeping a tally.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

Michael, if it wasn't for the elephant in the room, what would be the No. 1 thing we'd be grumbling about?

Probably that over the past three years, the Packers have drafted only two defensive linemen, and none earlier than the fifth round. It is a tad startling, even as much as the run defense improved last year from late November on.

Caleb from Milwaukee, WI

Could you please expound on why you believe JK Scott will be the most improved player this year?

I thought that was a good call by Wes. Scott has all the talent anyone could ask for, and he's had really good stretches in his young career. He just hasn't put it all together for a whole season. All the ups and downs he's been through to this point, combined with the change in coordinators, might point to this being the time.

Keith from Yorktown, VA

No offense to JK Scott, but is him being the most improved player enough for the Packers to make the next step?

Probably not, because as much as the special teams struggled last season, the Packers were still the NFC's No. 1 seed and that phase did not cost them the final game. But Scott, much like Amari Rodgers as a returner, can have a huge impact on the special teams getting where they need to be.

Jeff from Sioux Falls, SD

Last year, the limited practices and no preseason games were deemed a success by the NFLPA and will surely be bargained for in the next contract. What else do you see the players union trying to get included into their next contract? Conversely, what "chips" will the owners deem necessary to keep them satisfied?

The current CBA goes through this decade, so it's not even on my radar. A lot is going to change between now and when negotiations on the next CBA begin in earnest.

Brian from Rochester, NY

To piggyback off the Kylin Hill idea of playing that jet sweep role…when Tyler Ervin missed time in the past, it was clear we were missing something. I think it would also be beneficial to have depth for that role so we don't have to throw someone out there that isn't well suited for it. It still makes me cringe when Geronimo Allison was taking on jet sweeps and WR screens.

It's been an ongoing process of exploration in LaFleur's first two seasons to find guys who truly fit the role and can make a difference in the offense. I could see Hill getting a try there in training camp and the preseason as another option behind Amari Rodgers. With both players, though, there's a lot of playbook to absorb and they'll have to prove they can handle it.

Take a look at the Packers' first practice of minicamp at Clarke Hinkle Field on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

I'm excited for Kylin Hill. If he only gets 3-4 touches a game, they will be meaningful. And I think he could be complementary with Dillon if the worst were to happen to Aaron Jones. Hopefully he can prove himself as a pass blocker and make a name in the trenches but I love that pick. He should have been a Day 2 pick in my opinion.

Perhaps, but I'll also say this about the No. 3 running back competition: Don't sleep on Patrick Taylor.

James from Easton, MD

One issue related to the ongoing Rodgers-Packers saga that I have not seen broadly discussed is the impact on the team in regards to morale and chemistry. Rodgers' dissatisfaction with Gutey is bound to have repercussions within the locker room. Davante Adams expressing sympathy for Rodgers' situation to me was indicative that others harbor similar attitudes towards Gutey and that cannot be good for team morale and chemistry. Your thoughts appreciated.

It's bound to have an impact, but it's impossible to say how much. At the end of the day, these guys are professionals with livelihoods to protect via their performance, and day to day they're not really interacting with the front office. Chemistry can be that extra ingredient of course, and it's what helps overcome adversity when it inevitably hits. Sometimes, the same thing that might cause a problem can bring a team together in the long run. You never really know.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Are you guys back to your normal schedule? I like to know who I'm talking to when asking a question.

For now, yes, but soon enough we'll be trading off vacation time leading up to training camp.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

I conducted a Google search and learned there are 295 shades of green. I hope Murphy doesn't selected dill or celery for the throwback uniforms. I also learned that green is a cool, passive color that promotes peace and calm.

So we've got that going for us, which is nice.

James from Appleton, WI

Clearly, the past two drafts have been based on Matt LaFleur's idea of an offense – including Jordan Love. Aaron Rodgers is no dummy. He can see how the pieces fit around a QB more willing and able to run than he is at this point in his career. Obviously, Rodgers can still run the offense very well, but no doubt his idea of the ultimate offense for him is different. What situation could he step into, though, that would be a better chance to win a Super Bowl?

I agree with your last thought, but you couldn't be more wrong about your take on the offense. I don't think that has anything to do with his disgruntlement. Rodgers won an MVP in his second year in the system. He led the league in TD passes, completion percentage and passer rating, and set franchise records in the first two categories and fell one rating point shy of his NFL record in the third. He's thriving in this offense and last year might not have been his peak performance in it. We don't know. I hope we get to find out.

Kerry from South Range, WI

Do the players and coaching staff have to be tested for COVID if they have been vaccinated?

Yes, but only once per week.

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

Hi Mike. What is your preferred summer BBQ/tailgate activity? Personally I am a bags guy (I also am a "bags" vs. "cornhole" guy), but have also been known to play some beersbie, washer toss, and Kubb.

In the backyard, I'm always up for washers. At a tailgate, definitely bags.

Josh from Seattle, WA

As a former employee within an athletic department, and a member of the media that would cover the teams, it's not hard to understand the unemotional work habit that regardless of who shows up at QB1, you have a job to do when kickoff happens. However, I also know that winning cures a lot, which is why you say "enjoy it." Because covering an exciting player and winning team beats covering a losing team who lacks talent every day. Why do you think fans struggle to understand this dynamic?

I think because there's a difference between enjoyment of one's job being somewhat tied to winning and losing, and one's personal emotions and fulfillment being tied to them. It's admittedly hard to explain.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

Do you think the Packers changed their position on paying a premium to bring Aaron Jones back because of the Rodgers situation? They may not have wanted two second-year players to be the primary weapons in the backfield. Connecting the dots, if they had been meeting with Rodgers for months leading up to the report on draft night, they would have likely realized the seriousness of the issue just before the start of free agency – right when they appear to have changed their direction and paid up.

I don't think so. I think, as I stated many times last winter, the Packers saw Aaron Jones as a great fit for LaFleur's offense and therefore prioritized him amongst their pending free agents. I don't think that decision had anything to do with Rodgers.

Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, we made it through 2020 and things are returning to normal. I can already hear the thunder of 81,441 Packer fans returning for the Lambeau Field home opener. What is the loudest game you remember at Lambeau?

It's hard for me to distinguish in a general sense, having watched all the games from the press box. But off the top of my head, the two loudest moments from recent years I can recall both involved Randall Cobb – the Hail Mary to close the first half of the 2016 wild-card game, and the catch-and-run to beat the Bears in the 2018 opener.

Gabriel from Boston, MA

I personally love the excitement of the offseason and what could be. I'm dying to watch Packers training camp. I'm really struggling to get a sense of the actual dates Packers will have training camp sessions that are open to the public. Do you have any sense when will the public find out about these dates?

I believe news is coming soon.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

Spoff, any special plans for June 16th on the website given the number of days until kickoff that day?

I think I'll take a vacation day. Happy Wednesday.

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