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Inbox: There's a whole bunch of guys fighting for it

These are unusual circumstances all their own

Packers wide receivers huddle up on July 28, 2021
Packers wide receivers huddle up on July 28, 2021

Kyle from Osceola, WI

Does No. 12 showing up to training camp on time qualify as "Big News Spoff Missed"? Does Cobb? Or maybe both together?

Sure. While my long-ago planned vacation kept me away from Day 1 of camp for the first time in 16 years, at least big stuff happening while I'm away didn't change. And I got back in time to break Wes's exhausting Inbox run after his monster Wednesday of solo news coverage.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

Mike, please come home. I couldn't take any more big news, and we all need you to rescue Wes.

No worries. I'm back, and I'm all-in, too. In case you were wondering.

Clayton from Wauwatosa, WI

The nice thing about a Cobb salad is that it never goes out of style. It's familiar, performs in a pinch and gives you all the right feels.

Spoken like a chef who's excited about a dropped item reappearing on the menu.

Brad from Marion, IA

Well, WR5 just got way more interesting!

Barring injury, I think the first five making the roster appear rather clear-cut. It's the sixth spot that's up for grabs, and there's a whole bunch of guys fighting for it.

Casey from Frisco, TX

The trade to bring back Cobb is brilliant on so many levels. Amari Rodgers now has as a mentor for his rookie season, a man he has known/looked up to his entire life and who knows what the other A. Rodgers expects. That other A. Rodgers gets a nod to his request, helping his mental state of mind. The locker room adds a proven leader. And on the field, Cobb can split time with his mentee, lessening his injury risk. All for the "extra" sixth-rounder the Packers had. What's not to like?

I have little doubt Cobb will like this offense, and that he'll learn it very quickly.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

If Aaron just read II he would understand you can't pay them all.

He understands that. I think he made it pretty clear he was talking about situations where veteran guys were willing to take substantial pay cuts to stay, but the organization didn't entertain the notion and simply moved on. In certain cases, he'd like to see decisions involve more than just a distant thumbs up or thumbs down. I can respect that. But I can also understand management's traditional approach that letting a guy go a year too early does less damage than a year too late. This business is vicious and sentimentality doesn't win games. Perhaps some softening of the edges can produce a middle ground – with particular players, in specific situations. That's what I gathered he's after.

Jeremy from Wausau, WI

Was there anything that Rodgers said or hinted at in his press conference that surprised you guys?

That he actually pondered retirement, and tried to process it mentally, was a bit of a surprise to me. I felt all offseason he's way too darn competitive to walk away from the game now, and while that competitiveness is ultimately why he's still playing, I figured it would've stopped him from even considering anything else.

Tom from Iron River, WI

Is Aaron Rodgers trying to lead the charge to change the NFL into a players-run league similar to what LeBron James did to the NBA?

No, this isn't a league thing for Rodgers, it's a 1265 Lombardi thing. Again, in certain situations, including with himself, he'd like to see some changes to the normal, cut-and-dried processes. That said, I thought Gutekunst stated strongly the team, in the midst of the shrinking cap, has pushed boundaries and gone outside its comfort zone over this past offseason in order to keep the bulk of this squad intact for another run at a title.

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

Aaron Rodgers made comments that implied he had ideas about player character/leadership that would help the organization. Of all of the areas to criticize, I think the character of the locker room is NOT one of them. The fact that Marcedes Lewis is still on the team contradicts his criticism about keeping experienced players for their leadership presence (not that Big Dog can't still play). I hope we can move on and start talking about football soon.

That, too. See above.

Herb from Palm Desert, CA

Hi guys, although I don't agree with everything 12 said, I can't help but be impressed with his complete openness and honesty. I didn't expect it because of the sensitive nature of the subject. Is there any chance Mr. Murphy or Mr. Gutekunst will be so forthcoming?

I wouldn't bet on it. Management has a lot of other considerations when it comes to deciding on a level of public openness. I can appreciate that.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

I understand Aaron's desire to be involved in conversations, but I can't escape the feeling that he shouldn't have much of a say in that arena. I also can't help but wonder if just being in the conversations would be enough, if over time he didn't see his input directly influencing the organization. Do you think he could be happy simply being involved, or would he need to see some things fall the way he wants them to feel heard? This seems like a really tough spot.

I agree. These aren't easy waters to navigate. But it all goes back to communication and trust. If both are present to the level required, the relationship can be strengthened even when moments of unhappiness arise, which is inevitable.

Phil from Madison, WI

Regarding the question of Rodgers' playing time in preseason games, it seems in a normal year there is little to be gained, and exposing your star player to potential injury is never wise. However, does the possibility of Rodgers having a new, rookie center to work with change that at all? Is there anything to be gained in communication in a game situation that might be harder to achieve in practice?

In a word, no. The offense is going to get more exotic looks and have more challenges to react to from Joe Barry's defense in practice than from an opponent's vanilla plan for a preseason game.

Mike from Novato, CA

Hey guys, quick question about attending practices. I know only some practices are open to the media, but are guys, as employees, ever allowed to attend others with the understanding that you won't report on anything? Would be a cool perk of the job, no?

Larry has that access and privilege, and has for years as the radio analyst. Wes and I don't attend any practices other media aren't allowed to view.

Keith from Andover, MN

Everybody feel a little better now?

No. I have to re-engage on social media again, or at least pay attention. It was so refreshing to tune it out for a week and a half.

Shannon from Carthage, NY

Displaced Packer fan living in NY here. I am overjoyed that I am able to go to the Packers vs. Bills preseason game. I have been told that Bills fans are notoriously bad to other teams' fans. Is it bad to the point that I shouldn't wear my Packer gear to the game?

For a preseason game, I sure hope not. I would hope not regardless, but plenty of bad stories are real depending on the city. I'm not as familiar with Buffalo because the Packers have played there (in the regular season) only once every eight years.

Jason from Central Valley, UT

Good morning Wes! You were on fire with the humor yesterday! Non-stop laughs. And we got our first good morning from you in quite a while. The offseason may have turned out just fine in the end. Thanks for all you guys do and the community you've built here for us.

I must give my compatriot a hearty shout-out for holding down the fort in my extended absence. He's never met a challenge he couldn't stare down with his keyboard. I'm thankful to work with him, and glad to be back.

Dennis from Parrish, FL

It's time to take the crown off of any underwear league champion and get to smacking and cracking!

Not yet, but the pads are coming on soon.

Scott from Palos Park, IL

The attention of camp will naturally be focused on the often repeated and reported items. When you have the chance to divert your glance from the headline grabbers, who will be the focus of your early gaze? Who do you want to see most with the pads on?

T.J. Slaton vs. Jon Runyan in the one-on-one drill.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Who are your favorites to return to the playoffs again this year, and who might show up new to the list with chance to make a deep run?

I'm not going to go that far this early, but it is interesting how many playoff teams from last season are undergoing QB changes – Indy, New Orleans, Washington, Chicago, and the L.A. Rams. Turnover in the playoff field is the norm, but these are unusual circumstances all their own.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I hate to be a buzzkill, but baloney will continue to be served until Mason lifts his arm in the Superdome. Just remember, you don't actually say "baloney." Great to have Day 1 in the books!

Glad we got that all clarified.

Jamie from Fertile, IA

Alright, alright. I'm in. Let's do this!

With this tumultuous offseason officially (and mercifully) over, those are my sentiments exactly. In times like these, I prefer to keep my thoughts simple, just as you stated. It reminds me of that legend about the Harvard philosophy professor who, for the final exam, wrote "Why?" on the blackboard and left the room. One student wrote "Because" in his exam book and got an A. Another wrote "Why not?" and received an A-minus. Let's not overcomplicate things. Let's go.

Scott from Salem, OR

"...Caveman Wes threw Caveman Mike at the cave bear before running away." Or as Spoff's account might read, "Caveman Mike put a solid block on the cave bear, freeing Caveman Wes for a life-saving first down."

Happy Thursday.