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Inbox: The opportunity might never be better

It’s only the beginning

Former Packers CB/S LeRoy Butler

Ralph from Elkhart Lake, WI

Happy Wednesday Insiders! What am I missing? How can people be excited about the net? It has the worst catch radius I've ever seen. How many balls bounced off that stone rim, and it looked like its feet were stuck in a bucket of sand. It won't survive the first cut.

This has officially gotten out of hand. There were at least three dozen submissions about the net in the last 24 hours. I know, I know. I started it by posting one quip. My bad. I'd see myself out but I have a whole column to write.

Mark from Grand Rapids, MI

Mike made an observation that most of us probably wouldn't have noticed. It would be great if one of you could ask someone on the defense if that 57-yard run in Week 12 last year spurred a reaction by anyone. Maybe a few choice words in the huddle.

I tried last year and never got a really solid answer, other than guys saying that play prompted a heightened focus on the run defense the rest of the way, and when the run defense shored up, other elements picked up, too. Funny how that works.

Vincent from Lindenhurst, NY

Are the Packers deep enough to resist key injuries should they occur?

You never know for sure until the games are real and the adversity strikes. A 53-man roster doesn't allow for sufficient depth everywhere, but I feel this team is in pretty good shape.

Alyssa from Plover, WI

When will the new jersey be released?

Mark Murphy said in last weekend's MT5 that it's coming Aug. 19.

Derek from La Crosse, WI

When is Cliff Christi's book coming out on the official 100-year history of the Packers? I can't wait!

The last I heard, the hope is it'll be available for the holidays.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

To build off George's question from North Mankato, MN, would a GM choose to keep, say, a sixth- or seventh-round pick over a free agent signing or UDFA player who has spent the same amount of time at camp and outperformed the draft pick, because one is a draft pick and the other a free agent?

The investment of a signing bonus in a draft pick can have that influence on occasion, but the player still has to show that investment has a realistic chance of paying off down the road. Most of the time, it still comes down to weighing the chances of the different players getting claimed on waivers.

Gary from Hot Springs Village, AR

Are you going to do your play-by-play blogs for the preseason games? I hope so. I look forward to your commentary on the down-roster players fighting for inclusion in the 53.

We haven't finalized all of our coverage plans for the preseason games yet, but I believe I will be live-blogging the games, yes.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

I understand there are four different players the Packers like for the star position on defense. Doesn't this remind you of that old John Madden quote that goes something like if you have four, you have none? Sure, you could put Darnell Savage or Jaire Alexander in the star, but for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. Who can replace either of those two players at their regular positions on any given play?

I firmly believe if Alexander steps into the star, it'll be matchup-based due to how the opposing offense is lining up. Same with Savage to a certain extent. When it counts, they won't be putting different guys there just for the sake of variety. It'll depend on who's across from them.

Daniel from Vienna, Austria

My question relates to Mike Smith's comments on Tipa Galeai: He said that if Tipa does not get better with his power, the O-line will "short set" him. Could you explain what "setting short" means? In the bigger picture, how would an offensive lineman ideally counter a pure speed rusher and how a pure power rusher?

That quote may have been mis-transcribed. I think Smith was referring to "soft setting," which is where an offensive lineman gives cushion and waits for the speed rusher to come to him, because he's not worried about being overpowered. Engaging a power rusher at the point of attack can help neutralize said power, while allowing some cushion helps react to speed.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Mike, I feel like a kid at Christmas. I will be sitting in the stands on Saturday watching my present, Jordan Love, get unwrapped. I'm excited to see where he is in his development while at the same time hopeful that the only real playing time he gets this year is the next three games. Do you think the anticipation for this game is greater than for preseasons past?

I don't know if I'd say that, but it's been a while since the top storyline of a preseason game has been so obvious and all-consuming in advance. For fans and media alike, this preseason opener is all about Jordan Love. But good, bad or wherever in between, this performance won't define him. It's only the beginning.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Which is the bigger challenge for Jordan Love: Learning the offense and all the opportunities it presents, or being able to walk up to the line of scrimmage and figure out what the defense is trying to do to him?

At this point I'd say the latter, but Job 1 in Game 1 for Love is to protect the football after not handling the conditions well on Family Night.

The Green Bay Packers continued training-camp practice on Ray Nitschke Field on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.

Terry from Junction City, WI

Mike said, "Of the Packers' now 27 individuals enshrined in Canton, only two were not a member of one of Green Bay's 13 championship teams – James Lofton and Bobby Dillon." That's confusing. If Charles Woodson is a Packer in the HOF, isn't Jan Stenerud, or Ted Hendricks, or Emlen Tunnell? Will Julius Peppers? Stenerud, Hendricks, and soon Peppers weren't on championship teams. That would make at least five. I'm confused. Is there a specific rule?

Not a specific one, but those guys you mentioned who played only a small portion of their careers in Green Bay aren't Hall of Famers the Packers consider "theirs," and aren't included in the 27. Tunnell played three years here (out of 14), Stenerud four (of 19), so I don't see the Packers "claiming" Peppers (three years out of 17) when he goes into Canton.

George from North Mankato, MN

Wes, we all know how excited you are to see LeRoy Butler finally get his gold jacket. Who do you think he chooses to introduce him for enshrinement? I hope Spoff lets you go to the Hall to be witness to that special moment. Do you think any of the first-year eligible candidates in next year's Hall of Fame class will get in on the first try?

Butler's induction absolutely will be Wes's assignment. We talked about it a couple of years ago when Butler first became a finalist. I was blessed to be able to cover Favre's and Kramer's enshrinements, and I was bummed I couldn't go to Canton last weekend for Woodson's. But Butler is all for Wes. As for next year, I don't see any slam-dunk first-ballot guys. DeMarcus Ware is the most accomplished first-year-eligible player in my opinion, and while I believe he'll get in at some point, it may not be right away. The opportunity might never be better for Butler in 2022 if all five modern-era spots are open.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

Woodson's emotional speech was a beautiful thing to see expressed, especially in his love for his family and ALL of his teams. He didn't make it about "a team" but rather the whole picture and how each played their part. Even in the end, going into Canton, he is a team player. It's no wonder Aaron admires and respects him so much. What similarities do you see between them as men and as players?

I don't have enough space here to expound on that, but I really appreciate your perspective on Woodson's speech, which was a treat. I tried my best to do it justice in my story. He's a one-of-a-kind individual who exudes greatness in everything he does. I could listen to him talk about life, or football, or anything he's passionate about, anytime.

Chris from St. Louis, MO

The HOF ceremonies over the weekend made me think of SB 45 and that two of the best DBs of the modern era were on that field. Aside from the QBs that'll be in Canton one day, do you think there were any other HOF players on the field that day?

As we've discussed in this forum in the past, Nick Collins was on that trajectory but no one knew his career sadly would last only two more games. Maurkice Pouncey was a rookie center for Pittsburgh, and he went on to earn nine Pro Bowl and two first-team All-Pro selections, so he'll be discussed someday. Same with James Harrison (five Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro, one DPOY and a highlight for the ages in his other Super Bowl).

Mark from Canton, GA

I agree and also cannot believe LeRoy Butler is not in the HOF yet. Is there any one player from another team that you cannot believe has not made it into the HOF yet? IMHO Tommy Nobis is way past due, especially since he is no longer with us.

Raiders: Cliff Branch. Vikings: Jim Marshall. Browns: Clay Matthews Jr.

Josh from Nicholasville, KY

The mention of the Montgomery Biscuits in the Inbox made me smile. I grew up in a small town near Montgomery and I remember when they announced a minor league team was coming. They held a contest to name the team and somehow "Biscuits" won. What's the craziest sports team name you've heard?

Ranking up there for me are the Banana Slugs (UC-Santa Cruz), the Beetdiggers (Jordan High, Utah), and the Gorloks (Webster University).

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

That Packers-Patriots game from 2014 always stands out as a great game to me.

For a regular-season game that realistically didn't really have a whole lot at stake in the moment, it might be the best one I've ever covered.

Tom from Walker, MN

Does Ben Braden make this team?

When you're still rotating in with the No. 1 offensive line two weeks into camp, that's a good sign.

Derek from Norton, KS

Do you expect the star/nickel package to be primarily used on second-and-8 or greater and third-and-5 or greater? Or is it something that will be mixed in more randomly?

Nickel is base and has been for several years now. Offenses line up with (at least) three wide receivers around three-quarters of all snaps, so that third corner is going to be on the field that much, too.

Dennis from Appleton, WI

There haven't been any updates coming from the specialist team units other than the recent release of the long snapper. How have the kicking and punting units been looking?

Live action starts for them Saturday night. There've been no updates because there's been nothing to say.

Renee from Black Creek, WI

Is Aaron playing Saturday?

Aaron Rodgers? No. Aaron Jones? Also no. And it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if neither played any Saturdays this month.

Keith from La Pine, OR

Mike, am I remembering correctly that you were a middle infielder? What was your best double-play story?

I played everywhere in Little League, including middle infield, before shifting to outfield full time in high school and college. But one Little League game, we only had seven players, so we had just a three-man infield (I was the middle guy), and we actually turned an around-the-horn DP.

Brian from Twain Harte, CA

For next year's Outsider Inbox, have the readers state what slogan they would put on an official II T-shirt.

Wes, make a note.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

So I went to the Cenex today and they were almost out of pistachios.

The local Dennis coming strong with that one. Happy Wednesday.