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Inbox: The standard has been set and the goal is clear

It’s time to talk real football again

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TE Robert Tonyan and G Elgton Jenkins

Ryan from Carmel, IN

Is there a fake Super Bowl? Been reading II since Ask Vic, and this was the best opening I've ever read! Took the opening kickoff 109 yards to paydirt!

Spoff is in midseason form. Good morning!

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning Wes! What all of us have been waiting for is just one day away. Are you ready? (If not, you never will be!)

I am ready. The deli is closed. It's time to talk real football again.

John from the Brooklyn Park

What should we watch for in Jacksonville?

If there was ever a game to watch the Packers' offensive line intently, this is probably the one. As long as Green Bay protects the football, I think it wins this game but seeing how the starting five handles New Orleans' front will be telling. People keep talking about the inexperience in the Packers' interior O-line but the Saints' defensive tackles have questions to answer, too. This also will be a good test for Elgton Jenkins going against Marcus Davenport.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi II, I just watched 2020 highlights of Deonte Harris. Boy, are we going find out how good our kickoff coverage, punt coverage, and defense is in Week 1! I'll be holding my breath when he touches the ball.

Speaking of tests, they don't come much harder out of the gate for a special-teams unit than Deonte Harris. He's one of those rare game-breakers on both kickoff and punt returns. Everyone has to be on their A-game.

Tom from Douglassville, PA

Other than getting the win, what's the most important thing you want to see happen in the game on Sunday?

I think it would be huge for this team if the defense came out strong and really set the tone for how it wants to play this season. The Packers have invested a lot of time, money and effort into that side of the ball. The D-Train was a top 10 unit last year and it's looking for even more in 2021.

Dano from Seal Beach, CA

What is your viewpoint on having more rotation than usual on the offensive and defensive lines on Sunday due to the heat and humidity? It seems to me giving our starters a bit more rest and getting fresh bodies on the lines will pay off. It just might be quite interesting to see a player like Jack Heflin in there.

Offensive line – no. Defensive line – yes. Whoever is up behind Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry and Kingsley Keke is going to play minutes against the Saints. In 2016, Mike Daniels led the D-line while playing only 43 of the 72 defensive snaps (60%) vs. the Jaguars. I'd expect the Packers to be mindful of how much Clark and the vets are on the field.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Your choice for defensive player of the game is?

Rashan Gary. Jermichael Finley had the year of the takeover. I'm calling this Gary's year of the wrecking ball. He's the type of dual-threat rusher who could make the afternoon long for Jameis Winston – and I think he'll play quite a bit regardless of whether Za'Darius Smith is available.

Sebastian from Slinger, WI

Just want these predictions on record. Preston Smith will get the first sack of the season and put up 11 or more sacks this year. Jaire Alexander will be first-team All-Pro. Darnell Savage or Adrian Amos makes the Pro Bowl. Aaron Rodgers throws 42 TDs and only three INTs. Packers over Chiefs in the Super Bowl, 42-36. Jordan Love plays majority if not all the last game of the season with the No. 1 seed locked up.

And if you're still feeling froggy, be sure to check out Packers Predict. You could even win some cash or swag.

Douglas from Bemidji, MN

Is it common practice for teams to give their players a gold captain's "C" if they were a captain on their previous team like they are doing with Big Dog?

Players who have been captains four or more times (indicated by the stars under the "C") get a special gold patch instead of the white one. I apologize for not being clear on that.

Terry from Sun Prairie, WI

What defensive player will have the most sacks this year?

If he's healthy and out there, I see no reason to deboard the Z train. He doesn't just apply pressure to the QB – he knows how to finish sacks.

Tyler from Medford, WI

Is there anything to take away from Za'Darius Smith not being voted a captain by his peers? Z has shown that being slighted has fueled him in the past. Of course, that is not something his teammates likely planned when they voted. Is that more about how Alexander, Clark, and Amos carry themselves this season? Or Z's absence with injury? Either way I am hoping to see Z make a big statement this season!

I don't read much into it. Za'Darius is a huge leader on this team. I think it had more to do with the Packers having more captains than available "C" patches. Can you really argue with Adrian Amos, Kenny Clark and Jaire Alexander getting those honors? Amos has been a leader on and off the field since he got to Green Bay, Alexander is one of the team's NFLPA reps and Clark is the Packers' longest-tenured defensive player. All three are worthy and so was Z.

Ryan from Sun Prairie, WI

I know the game is not played on paper, but is this the best defense since 2010 on paper?

It's up there; probably a toss-up between this unit and 2014.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Davante Adams said he doesn't want to "leave the game without a ring – hopefully a couple of them." He is certainly motivated in this pivotal year. If he stays healthy, do you put his receiving yards over or under 1,500 on the year?

Over, for sure. Adams finished with 133 catches, 1,507 yards and 20 touchdowns in 16 games last year, including postseason. If Adams is healthy, it's a good bet he surpasses that total during a 17-game regular season in 2021.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

With the upcoming season approaching, can we expect an II PSA (Packers Service Announcement) regarding Packer fans' usage of the wave and timing of noise to coincide when the team is on defense not offense? I think an educational video may be in order to properly inform fans.

Yes, next week.

Brian from Troy, MI

Mason Crosby has over 200 consecutive games played, but not consecutive "starts." Do you know why that is?

Starts are only measured on offense and defense, not special teams. So, unless Mason Crosby lines up at receiver one of these years, he's unlikely to ever achieve a career "start."

Doug from Savage, MN

Mike, Wes, if you were a DC where would you coach, from the sideline or the booth and why, thanks.

Everyone has a different philosophy but I'd prefer to coach from above. I think there's a benefit to getting that perspective. The tough thing about doing that in Green Bay is how far away the coaches' box (seventh floor on the west side of the stadium) is from the locker room (east side).

Cody from Round Lake, IL

As excited as I am for the season to begin, looking at the interactive schedule just provided a reminder. Our schedule is absolutely brutal. The four games out of the gate, and then there is a seven-game stretch in the middle of the season that includes all playoff hopefuls and division rivals! Should I maybe take a few wins off my 17-0 regular-season prediction?

It's a challenge and opportunity. The challenge is through all these playoff teams and not having a bye until the first week of December. The opportunity is how the final month of the season could potentially line up for the Packers with four of their last six at home and a break in between.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Good morning Wes. Almost there. I think the Ravens' current situation at RB shows how fickle the NFL can be and why the health of a team is every bit as important as how the team is playing come December/January. With us only keeping four safeties and with Scott not being available, do you think Innis Gaines might be elevated from the PS prior to the game to give us more depth in the position against the Saints?

We'll find out this afternoon. The Packers used their fair share of practice-squad elevations last year, beginning Week 1 against Minnesota. But yes, Innis Gaines would make a lot of sense given the Packers have only three safeties on the active roster available Sunday.

Richard from Eau Claire, WI

Did you start using "frankly" after a few years listening to Mike McCarthy's press conferences?

Yes. Every time, I say "quite frankly" or "frankly," that's 100% a hat tip to McCarthy.

Margeaux from Tallahassee , FL

If Thursday night's game showed us anything, it is how "razor thin" the difference between winning and losing is in any sport at the highest level. Let's hope that this year's razor thinness goes our way. Go Pack Go!

May the odds – and well-timed push-offs – be ever in your favor.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Are we in for yet another season of questioning the emphasis on certain penalties? The taunting seemed an extremely minor offense, yet the obvious offensive PI at the end of the game that possibly changed the outcome was not called (Cris Collingsworth's lame excuse notwithstanding). I don't know if there is an answer but I tire of the yearly tinkering and still never getting it right.

B-I-N-G-O!

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

We found the next II t-shirt! "Oh, it's real, and it's spectacular."

I like the enthusiasm but we might run into some copyright issues on that one.

Dan from Allen, TX

Hey Wes, I was wondering with Spoff being such an old guy (younger than me though), if he ever throws out a reference you don't get, like "Sounds like a plan, Stan"?

Quite honestly, I might be more guilty than Mike of throwing out outdated references. A few of his "Seinfeld" quotes go over my head – I liked "Seinfeld" growing up – but that's about it.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

Good morning! What's the routine going to be for you guys on afternoon away games? Enjoy a late breakfast and mosey on over to the field or do you get to cover it from home?

I'm going to enjoy a late breakfast and mosey on over to Lambeau Field.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

I just learned that somehow the WFT is still considering Presidents for their new name. I suggest they get 46 helmets made to look like the heads of the 46 U.S. Presidents. Before each game, when the team announces the gameday active roster, the 46 players could draft which commander-in-chief's visage they want to wear that day. Ratings gold! Hopefully the NFL would continue to expand roster sizes every four-ish years. Don't ask me what happens with practice-squad elevations...

Except it's 48 players on the gameday roster now. My vote would be to either keep Washington Football Team or go with Redwolves. Have you seen that logo mock-up? Perfect.

Darren from Alice Springs, Australia

II friends, the 2021 season is upon us and it looks promising. Let us have hope without expectations and savor we have another year of this organization's promise. 2022 and the roster changes which inevitably arrive with it will occur whether we think on it or not…but let us not miss this one thinking about the next. The joy is now.

What do I tell you guys every year? Don't wish away the present thinking about the future. The future is going to happen. You're never going to get back today.

Chris from Sioux Falls, SD

Hi Wes, last year you give me the next to last word in Insider Inbox prior to the first game. I said, "I want to thank you for providing balance and sanity during the last several months." It seems this statement also covers this most unusual offseason and its high drama which was left behind in July. I appreciate your leadership. You and Mike have led us through an often-unsettling journey. Now the season is here, the team seems laser-focused, and it's time for Go Pack Go!

Boy, that really was one for the ages. We made it. I'm glad we arrived at the right destination.

Shannon from Ovilla , TX

Dean? Are you here today Dean? Is Derek here too?

Hold on. Let me check the door.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

The journey begins,

The neutral site sun beats down,

Savor each moment.

OK, now the big reveal. A drumroll please…will Dean make his highly anticipated return?

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

The new season dawns

Dark clouds have parted; the sky clears

Our long wait is over

Some wounds have healed; some have not

Past and future put aside to focus as one and focus on now

Fifty-three united behind their seven leaders

Beware enemies seen and unseen that wait to test your resolve

Rise warriors of Green Bay for new challenges await you

The world watches

The season begins

Hey, Dean's back! That must mean the preseason is over and it's time for some real football. The standard has been set and the goal is clear. Enjoy the game everybody.

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