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Inbox: The nickname suits him

Jordan Love is doing what leaders do right now

LB Lukas Van Ness
LB Lukas Van Ness

Thomas from West Palm Beach, FL

I can't ever remember being this curious/excited for a schedule release before. In a league that loves storylines, how about starting the season off with Detroit at Lambeau? A new beginning where the last chapter ended vs. the preseason NFC North darlings.

I would be just fine with that.

TK from Grafton, WI

Which is a bigger adjustment for NFL rookies: mental (much more complex plays/schemes) or physical (bigger, stronger, faster opponents)? After careful consideration, I have decided the answer is "yes." And yet some rookies are able to contribute almost immediately! That is some weird, wild, wacky stuff!

Mental on Day 1. Physical on Week 1.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

I will assume every person who reads this column has seen tape of first-round selection Lukas Van Ness. By watching it multiple times, I determined that the way he moves and his suddenness, reminds me of Clay Matthews. A slightly bigger Clay Matthews. We can only dream he will be that quality of player. I will let you know in about three years!

It was only two minicamp practices, but I left the Hutson Center on Saturday convinced of one fact about Lukas Van Ness: the nickname suits him.

Chris from Chesterfield, United Kingdom

Greeting from the UK. We crowned our new king today, who do you think we will crown as the best rookie at the end of the season?

I'm never one to put the carriage before the horse but I think Van Ness is a good bet. He is going to play a lot this season at a position where several rookies have made an immediate impact in Green Bay, including Matthews.

Rudy from Tempe, AZ

When the Packers took LVN with the 13th pick, do you think Gutey envisioned the 2019 and 2020 seasons of Za'Darius Smith? Seems to me LVN offers the same kind of skillset and versatility. Ideally, on third down, I seem him rushing over the guard/center while letting Rashan Gary and Preston Smith handle duties on the outside. A pass rush of LVN, Gary, Smith, Devonte Wyatt, and Kenny Clark is already getting my blood flowing! GO PACK GO.

Van Ness' college versatility is a plus, but I think the decision to draft him was as simple as adding another elite edge rusher to the defense. You need four solid edge rushers to survive an NFL season. Van Ness is a young guy who not only can assist the edge rotation early on while Gary is on the mend but also expand the pass rush later in the year as his game develops.

Curt from Pine Island, MN

From the brief look we got this week, some of those new guys really pass the eye test, dontcha think?

I think so. Scouting prospects is such a difficult thing to discern, but the list only runs so long of humans with elite size, quickness, and athleticism. It's not just the first- and second-rounders, either. Even Day 3 picks like Colby Wooden are top 1% athletes.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey II, with rookie minicamp in the rear view mirror, which player caught your eye more often and why?

Jayden Reed's speed and explosiveness are for real. The guy cuts on a dime. Anders Carlson is also the largest kicker I've ever seen.

Ted from Findlay, OH

I don't know much about the International Player Pathway program. Are there many (any) people who have come through the program and made the roster of a team? Any impact players? Thanks.

For the short time the IPP has been around, the program has had quite a bit of success. There are several active players who participated in either NFL Undiscovered or IPP. Philadelphia starting left tackle Jordan Mailata (Australia) is probably the biggest success story. It's an important step for the NFL to make. Kenneth Odumegwu told reporters Saturday he's excited for the opportunity to not only play in the NFL but also help grow the sport in Nigeria.

Rick from Bluffton, SC

I was wondering did anything ever come from changing the rules on pushing a QB from the back to advance the ball. I thought there was a change that was going to the rules committee on this with a subsequent owner's vote. I think someone said there already is a rule on the books but was never really enforced. If so, are the refs going to enforce it this year? Thanks.

Nope…and I fully expect to see plenty of franchise QBs being pushed around like shopping carts this season. It'll stay that way until someone gets hurt.

Arnie from Kirkwood, MO

I am really looking forward to watching Jordan Love using his wide array of young receivers and tight ends. I felt Aaron Rodgers was locked in on Davante Adams when other receivers were open, thus forcing the pass and hurting our chances. With DA gone last year, AR was unimpressive. I'm hoping the young receivers and Love bond to create a special experience.

I think the criticism is a tad harsh there, Arnie, but I, too, am looking forward to watching the receiver competition this summer. It's not often you have a receiver room where all 10 guys are between the ages of 21 (Dontayvion Wicks) and 26 (Jeff Cotton). Maturation doesn't happen overnight, but I'd expect to see significant progress between Love and the wideouts from OTAs to Week 1. It's also worth mentioning Love contacted all three of his rookie wideouts after they were drafted. He's doing what leaders do right now.

John from Civano, AZ

I don't know if you follow other websites, but I enjoy as they have logic and stats on how they grade players. They listed Anthony Johnson Jr. as their Round 7 steal, with their rank on him being 90, compared to picking him at 242. I would be excited to see another Round 7 starter in the vein of the outstanding players the Packers have found late. GPG!

Anthony Johnson Jr. is my Day 3 pick to watch this year. He is the textbook definition of a football player. Johnson could have gone out for the draft last year and tried to catch on with an NFL team as a cornerback but instead understood his best shot at playing at the next level might be at safety. So, Johnson went back to school for a fifth year, earned All-Big 12 honors on the back end and now is positioned to compete for a job.

David from Rainier, OR

Are we now the youngest team in the NFL?

Every team is young right now. The true barometer of that comes in September, but the Packers currently have only three players 30 or older.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Carnac (Wes) the Magnificent, where will our offense mainly come from early this next season? The running game behind an OL we ignored in the draft, and we failed to use for the most part last season? The passing game with receivers so green they haven't earned the gold stripes on their uniforms yet? Or maybe our TEs who we have utilized for years as nothing more than blockers? We have the potential if we game plan accordingly! GPG!

I'm gonna sound like a broken Spofford here, but the Packers will have to rely on their run game early. Not only is that the biggest certainty about the current makeup of the 2023 offense but that's also where the proven, sustained production comes from in the NFL. Furthermore, I take no issue with Brian Gutekunst's approach to offensive line. I've said 12 times in this column – draft a generational O-lineman in Round 1 or leave the position alone. The Packers return more than a dozen O-linemen from last season. I say let 'em fight it out and forge the best starting five possible.

Richard from Caledonia, WI

Good afternoon! What additional details are you able to share about Kevin Kings announcement that he had be attempting to return to Green Bay but had suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Very disappointing news about all he had been dealing with since his departure from the Packers!

My heart goes out to Kevin. For all the flack King takes from a portion of the fanbase, I very much enjoyed covering his five seasons with the Packers. King is a very thoughtful and introspective dude who never took outside criticism personally. He enjoyed interacting with the media and gaining a deeper perspective on what we all do. Like I tweeted in response to Kevin's post, I'll forever pull for No. 20. I'm wishing King a fast and full recovery. I'd love nothing more than to see him go out on his own terms in the NFL.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Julius from Providence's comment really caught my eye. Specifically, that Matthew Slater has played 16 years?! Talk about making an impact on special teams.

Ten Pro Bowls, five All-Pro teams and three Super Bowl rings. In terms of a pure coverage player, I think Matthew Slater has to be in the conversation for the greatest of all time. Since 2012, Slater has played 236 offensive snaps…and taken 3,191 reps on special teams.

Sam from Harlan, IA

We all know NFL facilities for players are very nice, and I'm assuming they're fed really well at the team sites for OTAs, training camp, in-season, road trips, etc. With the rookies coming in, it made me wonder if you've ever talked to them about how their college experience of food and facilities compares to the NFL life. It sounds like some of the larger Power 5 schools really have it together, as well.

I've never asked, but rookie receiver Grant DuBose, a former DoorDash driver, was very complimentary of the food at Lambeau on Saturday. The staff in team dining do an unreal job down there.

Thomas from New Berlin, WI

With all the questions about why we cannot retain players and answers about the cap. My question is why can't the league establish a cap that allows teams enough money to re-sign players they require?

The same reason I'm always calling to lower my cable bill – money doesn't grow on trees, even in the NFL.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

How's it feel to be with us on Monday Wes? Any jitters? I was very impressed by the sound of the rookies in their interviews. If they play as good as they sound, we are on to something. Anyone of the group that you really want to dig into their story?

We're working on that as we speak, Margeaux. If I can sit down and focus for 10 interrupted minutes, I hope to begin working on a couple this week.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

Well, at least you'll be busy this offseason having to cover 13 draft picks and almost a dozen more undrafted free agents, you won't be short on articles or topics to cover!

That's certainly one way to look at it, Vinny.

Doug from Neenah, WI

My new favorite player is rookie tight end Luke Musgrave because he's an avid fisherman. Have you ever had the opportunity to go fishing with a Packers player? Seems like it would be a quiet, relaxed setting for an in-depth (pun intended) interview, whether it's trolling for salmon and lake trout off Algoma or chasing trophy walleyes and muskies on the bay. Thanks.

I enjoyed my time fishing with Mitchell Henry's father and brother in Kentucky four years ago. I'm not sure whether Spoff has ever gone fishing for a story…but he did have Jeff Janis spray pee on him, so he has that going for him…which is, um, nice. Have a great Monday.

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