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Inbox: The story isn’t finished until the last page is written

LB Kyler Fackrell
LB Kyler Fackrell

Deborah from Myersville, MD

Not a question, but an expression of gratitude. We just returned from a trip overseas that fulfilled a longtime dream. And even in the midst of new experiences and great memory-making, I still enjoyed keeping up with Packers news and Inbox answers. You're both good writers who improve the lives of those who read your work. Many thanks!

Geez, that might be the nicest thing someone has ever said to me. Thank you, Deborah. It’s been a long winter, but I appreciate you for bringing us along on vacation. I hope it was a memorable trip. Good morning!

Donna from Darien, WI

One never knows what someone else is going through. Best wishes to Ted Thompson and his family.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, Donna.

Rick from Alexandria, VA

As the father of a 14-year-old girl dealing with an autonomic disorder (POTS in her case), we sympathize with Ted's plight. Ted has done so much for the Packer community that I am sure we all stand by to help Ted in manner he needs. In Ted We Trust.

I’ll let Ted’s words speak for themselves, but I want to acknowledge the strength it must have taken for him to go public with this battle. He’s not a public person and certainly isn’t asking for anyone’s sympathy, but it is good the fan base understands the challenges he’s faced and will continue to face head-on. He’s doing what he needs to do. Hopefully, he’ll be recovering and having a healthy lifestyle in the future. We wish him well.

William from Scranton, PA

Insiders, it seems that many of the current NFL defenses have gotten smaller in an attempt to be more athletic covering dynamic spread offenses. Has this shift reached the tipping point where the rosters are noticeably different? Do you see a point where an organization will choose to zig on offense when all the other defensive teams are zagging? That is to have a large road-grading OL, TEs and FBs that beat up on a smaller team on the short side of the field?

That’s why defensive linemen like Kenny Clark are so important in today’s NFL. He’s big enough to take on double teams, but also explosive as a pass rusher. While the league is getting smaller and faster, the big guys in the front seven still need to keep up.

Craig from Laramie, WY

Interesting pickup: Jawill Davis. Do you think his return capabilities or competition/depth at receiver position were the priority? The stage is being set for summer drama!

I stand by what I said about it being Trevor Davis’ job to lose, but it’s good to have options – particularly when it comes to punt returns. You can’t just stick anyone back there for those. They have to be able to handle the heat. Jawill Davis has experience doing both. It’s been a long time since the Packers had a true competition for returns in camp, with jobs on the line. I like the battle that’s brewing.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

If you could clone one of the Packers and use them twice on the field at once, who would you clone? 

I’ll go with Jaire Alexander on defense and Davante Adams on offense. Not just because of their ability – that’s a given, but how they carry themselves. You can’t have enough of those type of players on your roster.

Marty from Rexford, MT

Occasionally fans suggest a good player to return punts and another who would be good at returning kickoffs. Why wouldn't a good punt returner also be good at returning kickoffs, and vice versa?

To steal a phrase from Brad Jones, it’s like learning violin and viola. You want speed and explosiveness in kickoff returners, whereas finesse and courage are paramount in punt returners. Sure, speed helps if a player gets into open space, but that’s not what made Micah Hyde so effective. Vision made him special.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

I read on II that Savage’s and Martinez’s lockers are just a few stalls apart. I was wondering if there is a certain strategy that goes into the locker layout like position groups nearby, or do they spread players around? Who makes those decisions?

I don’t know whether it’s football ops or equipment that makes that call, but the process isn’t as dramatic as it might sound. Savage and Martinez are in close proximity because the lockers for inside linebackers are next to the DBs.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Do the so-called draft experts help the game or hurt it? On one hand, they create more interest in the draft and bring more exposure to the league. On the other hand, most of the people unhappy with the Rashan Gary pick wouldn't be unhappy if they didn't hear a draft expert raise concerns on the pick as most of them haven't watched him play. It is a great disservice to the players in the name of making headlines.

It’s obviously fodder for fans who get enamored with the draft, but I don’t think they hurt anything. Personally, I don’t find pre-draft talk to be compelling, but some fans love it. Either way, it’s not like they’re purposely trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. They’re doing the best they can. If a player has a problem with something draftniks are saying, he’ll get his chance to shove it down their throats soon enough. Aaron Rodgers sure did. Pundits are there to drum up interest and keep the league relevant during a dead time in the offseason. I take no issue with their existence.

John from Sussex, WI

I am amazed with your patience with some of the questions received from Insider readers regarding drafts and their quality the day after the draft. My question is have you seen the video of the commentary from Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay on ESPN after the Packers picked Brian Brohm in the 2008 draft? To me it shows what “the experts” don't know. Thanks.

Hence why I have never been one to be declarative in any of my statements about a player’s future. Imagine if we just sat here and bashed Kyler Fackrell for the last two years. We’d look awfully foolish now, wouldn’t we? Nobody knows anything until we see it on Sundays. The NFL is a never-ending story. It’s not finished until the last page is written.

Josh from Melbourne, Australia

With all the added pass rushers recruited and the excitement that brings, Kyler Fackrell seems to have been forgotten about. Is he the biggest loser this offseason, losing snaps in a contract year?

I’m glad you asked this question. It’s not like Fackrell played 1,000 snaps last year. He was one of the league’s most efficient rushers with 10½ sacks on 623 snaps (58.6 percent). A deep, healthy rotation helps everyone in the trenches.

Ross from Hudson, WI

Nobody, and I mean nobody in the press is even breathing the name Packers as a team expected to do anything this year. How many games won will it take before somebody starts talking about them? Should we as fans even care if nobody is talking about the team we love?

Two wins. Win those first two games against division rivals and then suddenly nobody cares what happened in 2018. Winning is the mouthwash every team needs to rinse away past failure.

Monty from Hazen, ND

When do you expect the location of the Raider preseason game to be announced? I’m thinking it might be a fun little trip to Winnipeg!

I’m hopeful we’ll get that final answer in the next few weeks. I just caution not to get your hopes too high quite yet. It is possible that game still winds up in Green Bay. Stay tuned.

Damon from Washington, D.C.

Why is Javon Walker never mentioned as one of the greats? I thought he was the most talented receiver since Sterling Sharpe. No slight to Jordy.

Walker may be one of the more talented receivers the Packers have had in the last 30 years, but he’s not a great. No slight to Walker, but I’d put Nelson, Davante Adams, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb well ahead of him in overall career production.

Blake from Orlando, FL

What role does the offensive coordinator have if the head coach is calling the plays?

In the simplest terms, I’d say think of Nathaniel Hackett like a sous chef. It’s Matt LaFleur’s kitchen, but Hackett is there to help prepare the meal.

John from Crivitz, WI

Does the agent or agency that represents a player affect how he is viewed by teams and potentially affect his draft status?

No. NFL teams find players regardless of who represents them. One of my best friends in the business, who runs a small agency, just had a player drafted in the second round this year. Meanwhile, the conglomerate agencies also represent players who go undrafted every year.

Craig from Cedar Rapids, IA

During the Ted years we were always among the youngest teams in the NFL. Has that changed any?

The Packers are still one of the youngest in the league. I believe they were the third or fourth youngest in 2018.

James from Asheville, NC

All the chatter – warranted or not – about bringing in Michael Crabtree has me asking: Does Gute consider how the bringing in of a free agent impacts the development and playing time of younger players? One more body means less reps and potentially stalling the growth of the player on board, does it not?

Yes. But every GM does that. If a team is going to sign a free agent and guarantee him money, it better be certain that player is going to be on the 53 – and have a role once he gets there.

Steve from Cottage Grove, WI

What are the rules for claimed players and roster at this time of year? In season, they have to be added to the 53 and not just practice squad, correct? Are claimed players claimed in May guaranteed a spot on the 53?

The waiver wire uses the same protocol as the draft – the team with the worst record from last season (Arizona) receives the first waiver claim. A claim doesn’t ensure a place on the eventual 53, though. Waiver claims simply receive a spot on the offseason 90.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

When is the offseason for scouts?

Right now. Contracts for scouts typically run through the draft, so you’ll start to notice a little movement here and there over the next few weeks.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

I have a question about one of the Packer traditions that makes me the proudest – the players riding the kids’ bikes back to the stadium after practice. Does that go on throughout the entire preseason, or is it limited to certain times before the season starts? Thank you!

It occurs during every public practice of training camp (weather permitting) besides Family Night.

Tyler from Green Bay, WI

Could a Washington Nationals travel situation happen in the NFL in 2019? Has it ever happened before? Would the league intervene?

I don’t follow baseball…and tired quickly after trying to Google what you were asking about. So I’m just going to go with “OK.”

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Did Wes just call Spoff “Michael” instead of “Mike”? So which is it, Mike or Michael? Should we start our questions with Mike or Michael?

I rarely, if ever, call him Mike. It’s either Michael or Spoff. That’s partly due to us employing approximately 234 “Mikes” on our floor.

Orv from Clarksville, VA

Spoff. Not a question just a comment. Your answer to Trevel from NY, "the public seems to draw fewer and fewer distinctions amongst the products it consumes from the profession," belied that you are wise for your young age. I am so thankful that you and Wes try to give answers based on history and facts. Vic is pleased.

That was such a solid line from Mike. Spoff did a great job in that reply. I hope Michael was proud.

Bob from Bement, IL

Re: Dexter Williams' green tips. Q. Was this done before or after the draft? A. Yes… Huh?

Imagine if you would have kept reading the answer, Bob. You might have actually received the answer you were looking for. If Williams needs to “touch them up,” then one might conclude tips were dyed BEFORE the draft. Brilliant!

Bob from Sydney, Australia

Wes, love it when you go on a rant every now and again. But please don't take it out on junk food, a quick tasty treat for special occasions. Almost like a fake punt pass.

I’m a rant and rolla’.

Jack from Chicago, IL

This offseason has irked me with how "fans" treat Packers staff. Opinions on how things should be done may differ, but there is no doubt in my mind Thompson and McCarthy cared deeply about the organization and always put it first. The same seems to be true of Gutekunst and LaFleur. People are too quick to bash these days on the internet. Thanks for keeping it real.

Wes Hodkiewicz, keeping it real since 1987. Speaking of real, I want to give out a real birthday shout-out to Ma Hod. I couldn’t ask for a better ma. Thank you for always being there. I love you. Have a good day, folks.

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