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Inbox: There are guys who just make it look easy

The key will be to see progress as situations arise and recur

WR Jayden Reed
WR Jayden Reed

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

Family Night is a great event! What was your biggest takeaway from what you saw on the field?

Jasper from Heerlen, Netherlands

Hi II! With the release of Danny, who do you think has the inside track to being No. 2 and who (if the Pack goes this route) are they going to sneak through the practice squad, Alex McGough or Sean Clifford? I know Brian said a lot will hinge on the preseason performance of the backups, but what is your perspective from camp?

Etling's release points toward Sean Clifford being Jordan Love's primary backup at this stage, and I suspect we're going to see a lot of Clifford in the preseason games. The Packers invested a fifth-round draft pick in Clifford and will be committed to seeing if they can develop him.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

Congrats to Packer Backer, and wife of Packers safety Jonathan Owens, Simone Biles on winning her first competition back after a two-year hiatus! I read the live blog this morning (I guess that makes it a dead blog?) and saw that Owens started with the ones at Family Night. Is he the one to beat to succeed Amos, or is it still too early to tell? What separates him from the other safeties in that competition?

Ford got the bulk of the reps with the first unit during the opening week of camp, but the last couple of days now it's been Owens. What I don't know is if Owens has truly moved ahead of Rudy Ford, or if this is Owens' trial run, so to speak, as the evaluations continue. As usual, stay tuned.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Sounds like Anders Carlson had a night.

Sure did. I felt there was more pressure on him than anyone else Saturday night and he delivered.

Bubba from Kenosha, WI

Whelan's providing strong competition in the punting. But how's he doing in holding for FGs? Can you tell us who was holding for Carlson's misses?

They've been alternating pretty regularly with Pat O'Donnell and Daniel Whelan as holders. I can't say any issues in that regard have jumped out at me, from either holder. Carlson's one miss on Saturday night was entirely due to a bad snap. I recall at least one other in practice that was the same.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

We all know 40-yard dash times at the combine can be deceiving. Just see Ahman Green and Jordy Nelson. Does Malik Heath seem like a 4.64 guy to you?

He may be a tick faster than that, but what's impressive about Heath physically is his size. He's 6-2, 213, and honestly looks thicker than that. He's not a speedburner but my initial impression is he has a body type that's tough to guard.

Kurt from Long Lake, WI

Wonderful atmosphere Saturday night. It feels concerning David Bakhtiari is missing so much practice. Is there still enough runway for the offensive line to build cohesiveness?

That's for LaFleur to decide, balancing the desire to get Bakhtiari to Week 1 as healthy as possible yet have him work enough alongside Elgton Jenkins for the cohesiveness you mention. Working in their favor is those played side by side for close to two whole seasons (2019-20) before Bakhtiari's initial injury.

CJ from Kinderhook, NY

Hey II, has Jayden Reed been out with the punt return team? How comfortable does he look out there?

I mentioned in the live blog, and I whisper to Wes almost every day at practice we see him, how natural Reed looks fielding punts. There are guys who just make it look easy, and he's one of them.

Dave from Comer, GA

Mike, thanks for the Family Night live blog. I appreciate you answering a couple of my questions. It was nice to get a feel for how a practice is run. My question to you is this: With such a youth movement this year in all three phases, I believe hopes are high but expectations are not as high. First home game is Week 3. Do you think it's harder for a young offense to gel playing on the road, or harder at home where the fans can voice their displeasure if things go poorly?

I honestly don't think anybody's concerned about home vs. road. This is a young offense with a first-time starting QB that will have to learn how to overcome the inevitable bumps in the road, which will happen at Lambeau and everywhere else. The key will be to see progress as situations arise and recur.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

This isn't a pessimistic question and I don't expect you to give any specific name(s). Have you ever watched camp practice and thought, wow, that player hasn't progressed like I thought he would or even regressed? Not just this season but in any of your years covering the team? We usually only hear about the guys doing better than expected.

I don't know if I've ever seen a player truly regress. But players plateau all the time. They show a ton of progress and then they've reached what they're going to be, whether that's due to the physical tools they have, work ethic and other intangibles, or some combination thereof. That's why scouting and the draft is such a crystal ball business. Anybody can watch college game film and figure out who the better players are. It's about figuring out who the best players are going to be.

Paul from Hewitt, WI

II, since you are able to watch multiple practices that will include joint practices with the Bengals you will have an opinion midway through camp of how the team is performing. Based upon your experience is the midway point a good indicator of how the team will play earlier in the season or is there significant improvement in the second half of camp?

I look at more the individual than the group at this stage. In my opinion, the younger the player, the more improvement is possible as camp goes on. Everything keeps ramping up, from pads going on to Family Night to joint practices to preseason games. If you'll be counting on a lot of young players, you're counting on steady growth from them that will help the collective.

H.R. from Wausaukee, WI

Players watch film of their upcoming opponents, and of themselves, to get better and know what is coming and such. But when is film from a game made available? And who is responsible for chopping it up into specific pieces (third and long, or focused on specific guys)?

Teams have their own game film available immediately after the game is over. Other games are generally available the next day. A team's video department does the cataloguing.

Joe from Pittsburgh, PA

With all the Sean Payton classless comments lately, I was wondering did he ever publicly apologize for his bounty gate game mugging of Brett Favre? I have never seen a quarterback take such a pounding in a game, and the goon football was endorsed by their pompous head coach. That game essentially ended Favre's career, his knees were shot after that. I just hope that Sean Payton never sees Canton, Ohio, someday.

I concur. As much as I had no interest in seeing the Vikings go to the Super Bowl, historically it's a shame that game's remembered for Favre's ill-advised INT rather than as one of the most courageous and valiant performances of his career.

Patrick from Fond du Lac, WI

Looking at joint practices coming up, what are you most excited to see? I am most excited O-line vs. D-line in drills. See how far our linemen have come and see them go against another team.

I'll be honest, Chase vs. Alexander and Awuzie vs. Watson will have more of my attention.

Jake from Regina, Canada

Morning fellas, I'm curious how you view the ensuing offensive line battle. Part of me finds it a shame that high draft picks like Josh Myers (62) and Sean Rhyan (92) aren't locks as starters since it feels like their draft capital could've been used elsewhere. The other part of me is excited that our OL may be so strong that those caliber of picks are our sixth and seventh men up. Really impressed with Zach Tom and Yosh Nijman , and I've still got high hopes Walker lives up to his projected upside.

Quality depth is a must, and development is rarely in a straight line, nor is it guaranteed. I'll never fault a GM for using draft capital on big guys.

Bill from Mediapolis, IA

It's been awhile since I have written into II. But I'm always watching and learning what's going on with Packer news. My question for today is what do you think of the Big Ten expanding from the East Coast to the West Coast? And when do you think too many teams into one conference is enough?

Major college sports has been heading toward two, or maybe three, monster leagues – the SEC, Big Ten, possibly one more – and then everybody else, for a while now. It's only a matter of time. They won't be able to call them conferences anymore, but rather conglomerates. College sports did this to itself. It chased so much money the athletes understandably wanted a cut. Now they deservedly get one, creating greater inequities across the landscape, and all the movement for – depending on the school – maximizing or surviving.

Gary from Hope Mills, NC

Did Rich Bisaccia receive a raise with the promotion of assistant head coach or was it in name only?

I'm not privy to coaches' contracts, but generally a promotion of that type comes with a salary bump as well.

Curt from Locust Grove, GA

How does a guy stand out in practice as a willing tackler but also limiting contact as to not hurt teammates?

They can show they're in tune with the fundamentals in practice. Then they can prove they know how to apply them in the preseason games.

Sam from Madison, WI

After seeing that Marcedes Lewis is reportedly finalizing a deal with the Bears, I'm immensely disappointed that it seems it will happen south of the border, but am happy that he'll get his chance to break the TE seasons record. Well-deserved in a remarkable career. I'm sure it's been asked before, but other than Big Dog who is your favorite "niche" or dirty-work player? John Kuhn comes to mind for me.

Of players I've covered, my top five (in no particular order) would probably be Lewis, Kuhn, Jarrett Bush, Ryan Pickett and Tom Crabtree.

Scott from Fort Dodge, IA

In reading Frederick from Bluffton, SC's question about player movement – subtracting and adding players – it occurred to me that this is comparable to a fishing procedure that the Wisconsin DNR has declared illegal. Sorting is when you catch a fish that is bigger than many already on your stringer, and so you throw one of the smaller ones back and keep the larger one. Could we say Gutey is constantly "sorting" the roster?

Of course. A GM who doesn't isn't doing his job. Speaking of fishing, and I'm the most casual of casual anglers, but I've been reading about these super competitive walleye tournaments where competitors are cheating by stuffing smaller fish down the throats of their biggest ones before the weigh-in. I was thinking I could make money in retirement being hired to catch the little ones. I'm good at that.

Dan from Richmond, VA

Not sure if there's a question in here, but I've always been intrigued by the comparison and discussion of NFL fan bases, like the one we've had in II lately. Why are some fans (GB, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, etc.) so welcoming or at least tolerant of opposing teams' fans, while others (e.g., those in the City of Brotherly Love, ironically) are so hateful and even violent on game day? Is it an engrained inferiority complex? Something in the local water supply? We humans can be a strange bunch.

Your last seven words are the answer.

Bob from Emmaus, PA

Thanks for the great coverage of the Packers and looking forward to another exciting year. What aspect of your coverage of the team do you enjoy most?

Gameday. The real gameday. T-minus 34 days and counting. Happy Monday.

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