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Inbox: The Packers have a highly motivated playmaker who's somehow grown even hungrier

Championships are the intended destination, but the journey is the memories we make along the way

LB Rashan Gary
LB Rashan Gary

Max from Roscoe, IL

What was the guy's name who used to answer all of the questions in the chats? Very quick-witted responses? He was an older gentleman.

Come on, guys. Spoff hasn't been gone that long.

Kent from Howard Lake, MN

Question 1 brought me to tears! I wonder if the players ever realize the impact their small kind acts make on people! David from Janesville hit it right on the nose: "It's not a physical thing but a memory!" Reading all those great submissions emphasized that oh so much! It truly is the memories those knickknacks and paraphernalia hold with them that gives their value! How privileged I feel to be able to share in those impactful moments of their lives! Thanks Mike and Wes for II/OI!

At some point in the past, all these players were on the fan side of the fence, and I think most understand what a small act of goodwill can do. The coolest part for me about that first question of Outsider Inbox is reading all the quick interactions with classic Packers. I'm sure Bart Starr had more of those one-on-one experiences than a human memory bank could store…but I promise you each one left an indelible imprint on the recipient. I've talked about Tony Fisher a few times the past couple weeks. Because Fish, much like LeRoy Butler, was one of those Packers players I looked up to as a child and teenager. When you see how genuine those players are in real life, it drives home for me why football is so important. Because at its core, sports bring out the best in people and make society better.

Bil from Stateline, NV

Wes, in reading your piece on Lukas Van Ness I find this: "He had all the physical abilities – physical, strong, swoll." I consider myself to have a pretty wide vocabulary but have never encountered "swoll." Judging from all the squiggly red lines on my screen, spell check hasn't either. What on earth are we talking about here?

Although I've heard the word before, that was my first time actually writing "swoll" in a story…So, give Tyler Goodson credit for expanding my lexicon. I've since learned you can spell it either "swoll" or "swole." Either way, it's a derivation of the word "swollen." It means the individual has a well-defined/extremely muscular physique. I'd say that's a pretty accurate description of the Packers' first-round pick.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

How good will the running game be this year?

I think Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will meet the high expectations we all have for the position, and I wouldn't be surprised if the No. 3 running back also gets in on the fun this season. Since the beginning, Matt LaFleur has talked about the value of having three running backs with varying strengths. Patrick Taylor, Goodson, and Lew Nichols each possess unique gifts to help elevate Green Bay's run game.

Steve from Carmel, IN

This is a young, talented team. What specific changes will you make to the offense and defense to take advantage of this youth and athleticism?

Scheme variation and player-specific packages. Offensively, it's not going to be five primary skill-position players. There are going to be specific plays for specific playmakers. Even on defense, I think Green Bay would love to get more pass rushers, defensive linemen and even DBs involved. Let's say Tariq Carpenter makes the roster. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, the former Georgia Tech safety has unquantifiable traits. There are ways to use a player like that, even if Carpenter doesn't have a set responsibility like many of his peers.

Richard from Caledonia, WI

Good morning! Any additional updates on how well recovery is progressing for Rashan Gary? The early reporting was encouraging!

Over the Fourth of July, Gary tweeted "Comeback szn loading" and I felt like that aptly describes the 25-year-old's rehab. Since Detroit, Gary attacked his recovery the right way. Now, the Packers have a highly motivated playmaker who's somehow grown even hungrier through this process. While it's unclear when Gary will be back, that ticket for his return game is going to be worth every penny. He's champing at the bit to get after the quarterback again.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Who do you think will earn the starting safety position, or will that be more of a rotational position this year?

I don't have a name. I have a purpose. The Packers need to start the safety who best complements Darnell Savage. Once they identify that person, I think it's important to stick with him, and allow those two to grow together on the back end. Last year was a rollercoaster for Savage, but he took everything in stride. Still only 25, Savage has all the tools to be an elite safety in this league. The talent is there. We've seen it. In 2023, hopefully Savage can put it all together. I think that all starts with stability next to him once September rolls around.

Ronald from Edison, NJ

Will we be making any changes in the offensive line from last year?

Assuming David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins stay on the left side, this year's starting five could look similar to how Green Bay finished last year. I see Josh Myers and Jon Runyan as strong incumbents at their respective positions. The biggest question mark is who prevails at right tackle: Yosh Nijman, Zach Tom or one of the other returning O-linemen.

Chris from Daytona Beach, FL

Could you please contrast and compare the early performance of Josh Myers vs. Creed Humphrey? I believe Brian Gutekunst selected Myers over Humphrey and it looks early on that Humphrey might have been the better choice?

That's football, Chris. David Bakhtiari was the best left tackle in a 2013 draft class that saw his position selected first (Eric Fisher) and second overall (Luke Joeckel). Humphrey might be the best center in the game right now, but it's a fool's errand to start drawing comparisons with Myers. The Packers' main concern is developing the center they drafted into the centerpiece of the offensive line for the next 3-5 years like they did with Corey Linsley.

Jack from Wauwatosa, WI

Hey Wes, great job putting Outsider Inbox together again and I hope to participate someday. Anyway, in reply to Gordon from Newport Beach, CA, I was actually at that game and he's correct, it was a doozy! It was like watching a tennis match back and forth. Mid-October in Wisconsin can be hit or miss, but that night it was beautiful, and the Packers won. We were on the 50-yard line but also in the 50th row. It was awesome…lots of games under my belt but that was a great night! Cheers, Jack.

I can't imagine what attending that game between Green Bay and Washington must have been like. There weren't many bright spots during the 1980s for the Packers, but that 48-47 win over Washington forever will be one of this franchise's most memorable regular-season triumphs.

Benjamin from Holly Springs, NC

Can you recall a better beer chugger in the NFL than David Bakhtiari?

Bakhtiari stands at the head of the class during my time on the Packers beat, but I also wasn't walking the earth when Larry McCarren, Paul Coffman and the boys were ruling Green Bay. I'm sure those classic Green Bay offensive lines more than held their own.

Richard from Madison, WI

Just doing a little statistical analysis here. In response to your question about the Packers' all-time greatest ambassador, what was the ratio of "Bart Starr" to all other humans who have ever lived?

Probably 10:1. It wasn't really a competition but still neat to read more Bart Starr stories I've never heard.


Follow @packers on Threads!

Follow along with the Packers in a new way on Threads

Phillip from Wonder Lake, IL

When the Packers are training with other teams, you would think they are giving away some of their secrets?

Yes, but I also kind of view it like sparring in boxing or MMA. Your veterans need to get those rounds in, especially if they're not going to play in the preseason. What's going to be most interesting is practicing against two different NFL teams in back-to-back weeks. That may be unprecedented for the Packers.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

If you set over/under for Packers at 7½, would you take the over or under and why?

Well, gambling is illegal at Bushwood, sir, but assuming the rules are made up and the points don't matter…I would say over. I think the Packers will surprise the critics. For all the questions at quarterback, I also feel like Green Bay's current roster is stronger than most teams it'll face. Last year proved how quickly things can change in the NFL, but the Packers will not play a returning playoff team until Week 8 (Minnesota).

Howie from Mayer, MN

Thanks, gentlemen, for the great column. Longtime daily reader back to the Ask Vic beginning. I'm a transplant living in the purple state, and I'm amazed at the difference between the two fandoms. Packers Nation feels cautiously optimistic about the squad's future while here they feel skepticism. That's the difference between our history. My question is do we really appreciate what we have lived through for the past 20-30 years?

I hope so because this has been a special run (and it's far from over). Many of the recollections shared last week are stories I'll tell my son about someday. Championships are the intended destination – and the Packers reached the mountaintop twice in my lifetime – but the journey is the memories we make along the way. When it comes to that, my cup runneth over. So, I can't wait to see what the future holds as we move into the Jordan Love era in Titletown.

Mike from Hammond, IN

Does Sean Clifford make the team as the backup?

The battle between Clifford and Danny Etling for the No. 2 job behind Jordan Love is one of the more intriguing competitions that we've yet to discuss (our "Countdown to Camp" position-by-position series starts with the QBs later this morning, by the way). While Etling has never played in an NFL regular-season game, this will be his sixth training camp. He's now spent a year with Love after serving as the understudy to three former NFL MVPs (Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers). Clifford did a nice job during the offseason program and should be a formidable challenge for Etling.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

Which game are you most looking forward to this year?

Vegas, baby. Vegas.

Stan from Jupiter, FL

Wes: The other day you used the term "avoidable mistakes." Isn't that redundant? I believe all mistakes are avoidable, or they wouldn't be considered mistakes. What am I missing?

Possibly, but my point was there is a difference between a QB making a poor decision and taking a worthwhile chance. Sometimes it's OK to go all-in on a play if the situation calls for it. As a QB, you just want to be sure you have a live hand when the cards are shown, and are not drawing dead.

Steve from Hurricane, UTs

Wes answered about "Hard Knocks" on July 1: "The ghost of Curly Lambeau could be making a guest spot and you couldn't get me to turn it on." I know he's young but, come on! I've not watched "Hard Knocks" either but as lifelong Packer fan I'd watch anything about the Packers. Wasn't that little harsh?

Don't get it twisted, Steve. For years, I was a huge fan of "Hard Knocks." It was must-see TV, but it's just not the same show anymore. It's like playing "Madden" video games every summer as a teenager. One day, I finally realized I was paying $60 for the same game. I just don't get anything out of "Hard Knocks" anymore. Maybe Rodgers and the Jets would change that.

Dave from River Falls, WI

With respect to "Hard Knocks," I'm wondering what you'd do if it was being filmed in your backyard?

Avoid picking my nose.

Mary from Pewaukee, WI

How do they get the Packers uniforms so clean after a game, especially the white jerseys?

Red Batty and his crew do not mess around. Best equipment department in the NFL.

John from Livermore, CA

I was wondering what the favorite part of your job is. Is there something you look forward to (other than kickoff)?

My two favorite parts of my job are gamedays and working with people like Red Batty. The Green Bay Packers are the fourth company I've collected a regular paycheck from, following McDonald's (2004-05), Maplewood Meats (2005-06) and the Green Bay Press Gazette (2006-16). What I learned at all four spots is you won't always love your job, but the people who bring a smile to your face are what make it all worth it. A building is just a building without the people who make those bricks meaningful.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

A sweepstakes to have lunch with you two. If I win, can I steal Wes's lunch?

You? Stealing my lunch before Spoff does? Admirable, but mistaken. You merely adopted the art of the stolen lunch. Spoff was born into it, molded by it.

Dan from Waupun, WI

This is not the dead zone. This is great reading. The NFL world should be jealous.

May you live forever, Dan. Thanks for the laughter.

Dennis from Appleton, WI

If you were an NFL player and had your choice of any jersey number, no matter the position, what would choose?

And we have our first question for Outsider Inbox 2024.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

Wes, the memorabilia responses had me tear up in my office. I was hoping no coworkers would walk by and see. Nicely done!

I think we'll make this a permanent question every year. It was emotional reading stories of how people bonded over the Packers with departed friends and family. It made me think of my own grandfather, who was the biggest Packers fan I've ever known. He had the foresight to feverishly support the Lambeau Field referendum. While that seems like a no-brainer today, we quickly forget how much debate there was over the proposal nearly a quarter century ago. I remember Grandpa Hank saying, "Wessy, it's important to Green Bay's future to get that referendum passed." Lo and behold, who would've thought that place would employ his own grandson someday? My family owes Bob Harlan a big thank you for that.

Alvin from Arlington, VA

I've got nothing for Outbox that will come close to the responses and answers you've likely been flooded with. So I'll just sit this one out, sit back, and take in all the responses...

We appreciate you, too, Alvin.

Mickey from Tepexi de Rodriguez, Mexico

"The love for this team continues to be passed down" comments made me proud to be a Packer fan. I have lived all over the world and have shared the Packers and the community it involves everywhere I have been from Ethiopia to Thailand to Turkey to Côte d'Ivoire to Mexico, where I am currently now serving in my second tour with Peace Corps at age 57. Some people might think football is just a game, but I have learned time and time again that it is more than that. It is an opportunity to share.

Mickey, you are everything that is good about this column and Packers fandom. God bless you. I'm out for a bit, but Spoff will be back at the wheel tomorrow. Again, my thanks and gratitude to everyone who participated in Outsider Inbox V.

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