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Inbox: There's a buildup and anticipation

He just didn’t rely on it

Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field

Ryan from Bloomer, WI

What are you most looking forward to during the dead zone? Me personally, craft beer festivals and bonfires.

I prefer campfires to bonfires, but no hesitation on craft beers, for sure. Hope all the dads out there had a great Father's Day.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Mike's comments on the excitement of gameday made me think – it's funny to me that we (football fans in general) put so much interest and energy into being fans of the game for what ends up as only 17 days (hopefully more) of actual meaningful action throughout the year.

But that's what makes NFL gamedays unlike those in any other major sport. There's a buildup and anticipation to each and every single one.

Paul from Winnebago, IL

Is Christian Watson or Romeo Doubs going to be WR1?

Outside of fantasy football concerns, does it matter?

Ross from Hudson, WI

Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks, both a "sneaky-good steal of a pick," have been reported to be progressing nicely through the installs. A lot of people forget this D-line lost two starters this off season…this in a defense that struggled to both stop the run and pressure the passer. Could these end up being the two most important additions to the roster this season?

I don't know if I'd go that far, but they're a pair of third-day draft picks who have a chance to see a decent number of snaps as rookies. That's somewhat rare.

TK from Grafton, WI

For years I have assumed that rookie D-linemen initially struggle in the NFL due to the physical advantages they enjoyed in college are greatly decreased because of the much higher level of competition. Am I on the right track here? Or do I need a tinfoil hat?

Pure strength advantages are neutralized, which puts greater importance on technique. How well-schooled a prospect is in technique and/or how quickly he can learn it at this level determine the impact curve.

William from West Covina, CA

Do you believe that the Packers are reserving what cap space money they still have for an unexpected injury or mediocre play from a position group?

Some cap space is required for in-season flexibility. I'm not sure how a club arrives at the amount needed, but every team sets aside space for potential in-season moves.

Jeff from Foothill Ranch, CA

A couple queries recently about contract status and offset language/injury while unsigned, and then yesterday about TE University, so I'll combine those. What happens if a player is injured at a function like that? Would a team ever prevent or try to dissuade participation for that reason?

I've never heard of a team discouraging an activity like that, but players don't have the same CBA protections at non-team-sanctioned events.

Nate from Cedar Falls, IA

Writing from the home of the University of Northern Iowa, alma mater for UDFA safety Benny Sapp III. I haven't heard much about how he's doing during OTAs and minicamp. What are the odds that he is able to break through and make the team, even as a member of the practice squad? A side note, I had the pleasure of watching his father play for UNI in the early '00s as a member of the marching band. It was quite a feeling of deja vu hearing TV announcers talk about Benny Sapp making a play in 2022.

I have to admit my focus at safety has been directed toward the competition and rotation with the vets (Ford, Jonathan Owens, Tarvarius Moore) on the first unit, so I didn't watch Sapp much this spring. I'll make a point to glance his way more in the summer. There's a lot of traffic in front of him at safety, so a lot for him will hinge on special teams, and balling out in that phase in the preseason games.

William from Scranton, PA

Hello Insiders, glancing through the roster made me realize how much draft capital has been spent on the offensive line over the last few years and everyone knows that some players take more time to develop. Recently there has been considerable ink spilled on right tackle battle between Zach Tom and Yosh Nijman or a battle at center between the aforementioned Tom and Josh Myers. Is another dark horse contender on the roster for a starting job by anyone not named Tom, Myers or Nijman?

During OTAs and minicamp, the linemen we saw most often taking first-team reps were David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Myers, Jon Runyan, Tom and Nijman. When Jenkins took a break, Newman filled in. If Bakhtiari rested, Nijman or Caleb Jones took his spot. Tom and Sean Rhyan took second-team center reps. Jake Hanson was rehabbing an undisclosed injury all spring. Those would be my primary observations of that unit to date.

David from Janesville, WI

In reviewing Spoff's answer about positions of most and least depth on the team, I agreed with OL being most and QB being least but was ready to disagree with OLB as the other least. Assuming Rashan Gary is back sometime this season him, Preston Smith, Justin Hollins, Kingsley Enagbare and Lukas Van Ness seem like solid depth. Then I tried to find a different position that was thinner and there was no obvious choice. My takeaway is that despite significant changes, this team is still deep. Talent will develop. Renew is the correct word.

I picked OLB primarily because of the uncertainty of the timing of Gary's return, which leaves the unit one injury away from elevating someone unproven into the two-deep. I'm admittedly intrigued by undrafted rookie Brenton Cox Jr.. While I was impressed with what Hollins brought to the team on short notice late last season, he's played only six games with the Packers. There are more question marks than reliable checkmarks in that group right now, though the picture does change as soon as Gary is standing at the front of the line again.

Mike from Hammond, IN

Who is the best team in the North division?

Your guess is as good as mine.

James from Appleton, WI

In terms of arm strength, Aaron Rodgers showed great accuracy, ability to throw on the run and to all parts of the field. His highlight play for arm strength likely would be the soaring Hail Mary. But if you go back to look at the early Brett Favre, the speed on some of his throws is amazing. His career was so long that you forget how otherworldly he was at the start. It's no contest.

While I noted I'd give the nod to Favre, I disagree "it's no contest." I believe we certainly saw Favre's arm strength on display more often. He threw with maximum effort and velocity more frequently than Rodgers did. But I don't think Rodgers' capabilities were far behind. I've mentioned before my favorite throw of his that nobody remembers – 2010 regular season at Atlanta, down by seven, fourth-and-goal from the 10 with about a minute left. He fired an absolute rocket to Nelson to tie the game, and I'll forever want to know what a radar gun would've read on that throw. In my opinion, his hardest fastball left nothing to be desired. He just didn't rely on it.

Larry from Carney, MI

Hello. When Rodgers sat behind Favre for three years, one of the greatest lessons he learned was don't throw interceptions. What lesson can Love benefit from Rodgers by not doing something he repeatedly did?

The easy answer is to preserve timeouts better.

Jack from Black Mountain, NC

The early reports about Anders Carlson are encouraging. But consistency in field goals requires a well-oiled machine including the long snapper, holder and kicker. This year two of those three positions are new players to the Packers. What are you seeing in the cohesiveness (or not) between all three of these key players in making field goals?

The Packers are working two long snappers and two holders right now. I suspect at some point during training camp they'll pare down to one each and get that trio working together consistently.

Tom from Woodbury, MN

Attempting a critical field goal has a lot of pressure with 75,000 people cheering. It is double pressure for a rookie kicker. While it is not possible replicate those conditions in practice, what do the Packers do in practice to put a high level of pressure on a kicker?

For a young kicker, the pressure to prove himself to his coaches and teammates in practice is where it starts. Then the next step is kicking under the lights in front of the crowd on Family Night. Then it's the preseason games, and then the regular season. There's an obvious and intentional progression.

Pete from Hillsborough, NC

Dead zone thought (scary, isn't it?). Opening the season on the road may be a blessing in disguise. If Love starts slow, he and the team have two games to work out the kinks before his Lambeau debut. If he starts fast, it will be one heck of a reception at Lambeau.

Whether a slow or fast start, a trepidatious or raucous reception for the home opener, Week 3 will still be very, very, very early in this journey.

Anthony from Sturgeon Bay, WI

II guys, you often reference first-team reps when discussing a new player. What initially determines which player is placed with the first team considering not much is known about performance potential? Does the coach just shout out, "Hey you, get in there and show us what you can do," or is there an established pecking order from Day 1?

Players are informed of the depth chart in pre-practice meetings, so they know with which group they'll be getting their reps. They're also informed in advance if a rotation is on tap within a given practice, or day by day. Whatever the case, it's on the player to know when groups are called out during practice where he belongs.

Greg from Proctorville, OH

When the Packers practice with teams that have seven players on a side what positions generally comprise the offensive and defensive positions?

In 7-on-7, the offense has a QB, center and five perimeter players. No guards or tackles. The defense has some combination of seven linebackers and DBs. It's in essence 5-on-7 in terms of routes vs. coverages, but I always feel like the offense has the advantage because with no pass rush, any throwing lane the QB wants is available.

Robert from Corpus Christi, TX

Where will the leadership come from with such a young team?

The Packers have seven players who have earned either All-Pro or Pro Bowl honors in their careers and three other entrenched regulars with at least six years of service time in the pros. There's no shortage of potential leaders in that locker room.

Dan from Kewanee, IL

After attending training camp for decades, I can wholeheartedly echo your sentiments about Mr. Bryan Nehring! If every player put in as much hustle and effort as he does, the Packers would never lose another game.

Several years ago, Ted Thompson honored Bryan's dedication by asking him to be one of the two team employees sitting at the Packers' table during the draft to relay information and turn in the team's picks. He's executed that duty for a number of drafts now. That says a lot about what people in this building think of Bryan.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

What's the biggest football news you can remember breaking during the very dead zone?

Brett Favre requesting reinstatement from the reserve/retired list. I was at Cub Scout camp with my son.

Lynn from Crandon, WI

Do fans get to walk on Lambeau Field during stadium tours or do they remain on the walkway around the field?

On the walkway. There's a little yard sign in the corner of the end zone where the tunnel leads to the field that politely requests everyone stay off the grass.

Mike from Cottage Grove, MN

I think that II is the gateway drug to all the other content on the site. Way too easy to click on the links and OD on Packer information.

That's pretty much the idea, only in not such medically depressing terms.

John from Del Mar, CA

Long days and pleasant nights to you, Mike. While we're in the dead zone, what are your thoughts on the Brewers and the NL Central? There seems to be a lot of inconsistent and frustrating baseball this early summer. Could we see a three- or four-team scramble in late September for one playoff spot?

Sure seems that way. All the clubs are going through hot and cold streaks, which is keeping the division bunched together.

Jim from Bowie, TX

Is there any truth to the rumor that the Jets are trying to sign Wes and/or Spoff to start their own Insider Inbox?

Of all the attempted cracks at the topic, this one actually made me laugh.

Sam from Greendale, WI

What's your offseason program look like? Typing with weighted gloves? Writing an editorial while riding on the back of an ATV to simulate turbulence? Doing weighted lunch box grabs?

Happy Monday.

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