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Inbox: The possibilities are exciting to ponder

Lucas Patrick is a self-made man who’s earned every NFL snap he’s taken

LB Za'Darius Smith
LB Za'Darius Smith

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

Is this where I order my happy hour beer?

Unfortunately, Spoff doesn't tend Inbox Bar on Tuesdays.

Derek from Norton, KS

Do you expect that Krys Barnes will once again be the play-caller on defense? Are there any new responsibilities that would be required for the play-caller in Joe Barry's defense?

Barnes is a smart, instinctive player and a sound communicator, and is the leader in the ILB clubhouse going into training camp. However, the Packers have made it clear it's a wide-open competition with Kamal Martin, Ty Summers, Oren Burks and rookie sixth-round pick Isaiah McDuffie in the mix. Martin and Summers were both rotating with the "first-team" defense during last week's open OTA practice.

Blake from Itasca, IL

Good to hear AJ Dillon can catch the ball. How much of his day is spent on pass blocking? I will miss the insurance Jamaal Williams brought to the backfield on third down.

These are non-contact practices so the pass-blocking drills occur during the individual portion of practice. And that's all above the shoulders, with running backs coach Ben Sirmans emphasizing proper technique and application.

Kevin from Oconomowoc, WI

With Elgton Jenkins seemingly being able to play all five positions equally well, can we expect him to ask for left tackle-type money when he reaches free agency, and could he possibly be the first non-tackle to be the highest-paid lineman in NFL history?

We still have two more years to go before Spoff or I can answer that. And if a bulk of that time is spent with Jenkins at guard, I'd imagine that's where his franchise-tag value will be assigned. As far as free agency is concerned, that market always figures itself out. While guards and centers haven't cracked $20 million-per-year like their left-tackle brethren, their contracts have steadily risen over the past 10 years.

DT from Bozeman, MT

When I see the recent Lucas Patrick interview clips, he comes across as a unique mix of player, teammate and future coach in his observations and comments. Am I reading too much into this?

I think Patrick would make a great coach someday. For the time being, Patrick's a darn good NFL interior offensive lineman and a self-made man who's earned every snap he's taken in the NFL. He's hard-working, versatile, and not afraid to mix it up. You can never have enough of those guys. But Patrick is also one of those individuals who's gonna be successful in anything he does.

Katherine from Milwaukee, WI

Who will be most improved player this year?

JK Scott.

Kyle from Appleton, WI

With Kylin Hill having similar measurables as Amari Rodgers, is it possible we see him as the understudy for that motion guy? I know he has a lot to prove just coming in, but it seems like a good fit on paper. Does he have the skill set to at least give it a go? Thanks.

I wouldn't rule it out. Heck, the Packers have used Aaron Jones in that role in a pinch. Hill only played in three games last season at Mississippi State but it was more than enough to show scouts what he could do as a pass-catcher. He has a lot of traits (ball security, willingness to draw contact and hands) that translate to this level. What I want to see is which of those reveal themselves right away this summer.

Jeff from Dorr, MI

Reading the story on Kylin Hill and how he carries the ball away from his body reminds me of James Starks. I had to hold my breath when he was running in the open field. Seems like he rarely fumbled.

Yeah, and I feel confident that's an area of Hill's game Sirmans could shore up. As I wrote in the story, you gotta remember Hill had a different running backs coach in each of his four seasons in Starkville. That stuff matters. In Green Bay, Hill gets to learn from one of the best RB coaches in the game who also happens to be the second-longest tenured coach on staff.

Chad from Danville, IL

I'm a huge fan of the underdogs, so is there an undrafted free agent that you will be watching closely during the OTAs? Which ones have the best opportunity to compete for a roster spot?

Christian Uphoff is still my guy but I gotta throw in a plug for Bailey Gaither, the undrafted rookie receiver out of San Jose State. I'm not putting him on the 53 or anything but talk about an under-the-radar guy making the most of his spring opportunities. Gaither balled out in last Wednesday's OTA practice. He had a couple nice underneath grabs in 7-on-7s and made the biggest play of practice, diving to catch a deep ball from Blake Bortles. That's how you get yourself noticed.

Viv from Yuma, AZ

Do you think any Packers will be at the Bucks game? I just love to see players supporting the in-state teams.

I could see a few guys heading down. I believe Dillon and Jordan Love went to Game 1 against Miami last month.

With 97 days until the regular-season opener, looks back at those who have worn No. 97 in Green Bay.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Over the weekend, Julio Jones was traded from ATL for just second- and fourth-rounders in 2022. In return the Titans got Jones with three years left on his contract at a cap number of $15 million per season. This seems like a very small price for an elite WR. Are there any ideas why the price was so low?

That salary and cap number aren't nothing, especially with most teams tight against the cap. Jones is also 32 and coming off an injury-riddled 2020. It's undoubtedly a palatable deal for Tennessee, and one the Titans feel will put them over the top, but it's a gamble nevertheless.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Mr. Murphy's response to Duane was epic. I fail to understand common fans believing they know better than BG who has experience and a staff of scouts who are paid to research and determine who the best personnel is for the Packers. I always wonder how many GM jobs they have turned down. My question today is how is does JK Scott look so far in OTAs?

I loved Mark's retort. Seriously, there are so many Duanes in the submissions that never see the light of day – just ranting, raving, and never asking anything that resembles a question. Scott has only punted once during the first OTAs we've seen but he's looked fine thus far. And that's to be expected, as Scott has always punted well in camp.

Bill from Whiting, IN

Does it not irk you, as journalists, that neither of you are in a position to express your personal critiques of the Packers v. Aaron Rodgers situation in the Inbox? I understand the laissez-faire position taken, but I would have difficulty believing neither of you have formed opinions that many of us would be interested to learn.

I swear to you, Bill, on everything I hold dear…I don't have an opinion or critique of the Packers/Rodgers situation. That may not generate clicks or lead to enticing headlines, but I'm fully prepared to cover whichever QB jogs onto the field today, tomorrow and whenever the first practice of training camp rolls around at the end of July.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Maybe you guys are too young, but I can remember the good old days when sports reporters wrote stories about sports and if you wanted to read some far-fetched nonsense and fact-less drama you bought a National Enquirer at the grocery store. But I digress, are we seeing the early makings of a dominant defense forming at 1265? Because I can see some missing puzzle pieces coming together this year.

This may be the Packers' best shot at boasting a dominant defense since I started covering the team full-time in 2012. The 2014 squad surged in the second half of the year, but only after a slow start. Last year, the defense performed well in spurts but the consistency wasn't quite there. This 2021 unit is deep and talented – and not just talented but All-Pro/Pro Bowl-level of talented. If that group can stay healthy, the possibilities are exciting to ponder.

Doug from Lafayette, OH

I'm impressed by Adrian Amos' assessment of the defense needing to be great regardless of who's behind center. I think it's an attitude the entire team needs to have right now. These times are what make individuals grow. What did you take from what "31" had to say?

You could take Amos and put him on any Packers team over the past 60 years and he'd fit right in. I know he was drafted by the Bears but he's a "Green Bay guy" through and through. He's a confident player and good communicator but lets his play speak for him.

Al from Green Bay, WI

"June 8 is circled on my calendar." This Inbox quote from Wes a while ago is in reference to the Aaron Rodgers situation. It's June 8. What have we learned?

Kurt Benkert has a luscious mane.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Well, Wes, today's the day.

Well, it was…until it wasn't. Based on Adam Schefter's report Monday, teams can "excuse" players and not levy a fine for missing mandatory minicamp. That was news to me. I thought fines were unavoidable and irrevocable under the new CBA. Rodgers will be out there today…or he won't be. Either way, I'll be listening closely to what Matt LaFleur has to say about the situation.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Hi II, I thought AR was under contract for three years? I'm also hearing if he sits out this year, he is free to go anywhere. Can you please square this away for me?

Yeah, that's not a thing. Rodgers is under contract for three more seasons. If Rodgers would sit out this year, his contract tolls and he'd still be under contract for three seasons.

Craig from Williamstown, Victoria, Australia

Hey guys, looking at your countdown number until the start of the season and No. 97 came up recently and I saw Johnny Jolly's name and remembered he was a good player, and from where I was he looked a good teammate. Sadly for him off-field issues derailed his life. I hope he has gotten his life back on track.

I haven't heard much about Jolly but hope he's doing well. Unfortunately, it wasn't the off-field issues that ended his career – it was that neck injury he suffered late in the 2013 season. It still says a lot about him that Jolly was able to complete that comeback after missing three seasons.

Perry from Ishpeming, MI

Which player or players over the years have come in after the offseason and made you do a double-take and wonder what they did to change their appearance? For example, a D-lineman shows up 20 pounds lighter and bulked up. Or vice versa, a la Eddie Lacy.

I did a quadruple-take the first time I saw Mike Neal during the 2013 offseason program. It was like looking at a different person. There have been noticeable changes in guys over the years but nothing that quite compares to that.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Wes, can you please change out your picture at the top of the Inbox with a new one sporting that beard? I love the look!

I'm sorry to report the beard is gone. Ma Hod finally relented and complimented me on it, so I lived up to my end of the bargain to shave it. I truly despise shaving, though, so the scruff will be back sooner than later, especially in the offseason.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Dar almost pulled off the hat trick in one day. Even without counting both of Dar's submissions, the DFW area had more submissions posted than Wisconsinites. Even the international submissions beat Wisconsinites on Monday! I'm still amazed by the global draw of the Packers.

Dar, so hot right now. Dar.