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Inbox: There’s no shortage of players who need to prove themselves

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Pat from Fayetteville, GA

My son is an avid reader of Inbox. He follows you and Mike religiously. My son never misses a column. He reads it to me aloud. Before, I was the one teaching him based on a lifetime worth of experience following the Packers. Now, he is the one schooling me. He is absorbing information like a sponge and has surpassed me in knowledge about the team. He even quotes you guys at the dinner table. He injects the word “indubitably” into sentences. What do you recommend? Is there counseling available?

Maybe he should apply to journalism school at Northwestern.

Rich from De Pere, WI

Maybe I'm just too optimistic, but I don't see why the Packers can't (shouldn't) make the playoffs this year. Barring injury to key players, I believe they might have more talent than they did three years ago when they last made the playoffs. I don't think all the changes were made to get us back challenging for a Super Bowl in three years. Even with a new coach and system, do you agree that it is a realistic goal is to challenge for the title this year?

I will repeat my mantra for 2019: Optimism without expectations.

Mike from Madison, WI

"Davante is a top-three receiver in the league...minimum" – Aaron Rodgers. I love to hear the confidence Aaron has in Davante. That is some high praise from the most talented QB in the league.

For one of my Packers Yearbook pieces this year, I had a great sit-down with Rodgers and Adams, together, talking about how their relationship has developed over the last five years. Some fascinating stuff (shameless plug, I know), but I bring it up here to show you the Rodgers quote from my interview that concludes the story and speaks volumes about his feelings toward Adams: “He’s a good teammate, and there’s a lot to that. He’s a leader in his room, he’s a great communicator, and he practices the right way. He shows the young guys how to do it, and then he sets the bar so damn high. As a quarterback, that’s a dream. We’ve had a couple guys like that, who embodied that, but with all due respect to everyone who’s ever played here with me, we’ve never had a guy who did all those things and was as talented as ‘17.’”

Corey from Bethlehem, PA

Are all the players required to stay at St. Norbert for training camp or can they opt to stay at home if they are already living the area?

It’s the dorms or bust.

Adam from Chicago, IL

Sorry if this has been asked and answered before or if it's common knowledge, but how do the players get from the dorms to Lambeau? Are there buses that shuttle them? Are players allowed to drive themselves if they so choose to?

Both.

John from Superior, WI

I would give anything to take my two boys to a Packers game and have them experience the aura that is Lambeau Field on a Sunday morning. However, between the cost of tickets on the secondary market and a hotel room with inflated prices, that is just not in the cards. Those memories I cannot afford, so we watch from home. I imagine I'm not the only one.

No, I imagine you’re not. While I agree with the sentiment nothing equals being there, the cost of attendance is nothing to sneeze at, and why I believe the NFL will keep its product on broadcast TV. Roughly 600,000 people attend games at Lambeau Field every year, but millions upon millions are watching at home. Fans aren’t ranked based on where and how they watch. I do hope you and your boys are able to make it to a game someday.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

We all can see the running back position has been devalued in the NFL. The money is going to other positions. Are the holdouts by RBs Gordon and Elliott signaling to the league’s GMs to never draft a RB in the first round?

Not at all, but they’re a signal that it’s wise to keep the position stocked with young talent.

John from Austin, TX

Any clue which game will have the Wisconsin Badgers marching band?

The Raiders game on Oct. 20.

Jeff from Chandler, AZ

As a self-proclaimed II addict, today was like being a kid in a candy store. First day of training camp, the return of “Three Things” and “Packers Unscripted,” and great content on the website to absorb. I hope to see more interviews by James Jones posted. His rapport with AR12 was funny and very natural. Did you see any special moments or big surprises that you would like to share from Day 1?

Sorry, but I’m just focused on my job as a beat reporter, so my main notes from Day 1 are these, which are depth-chart related: With Darnell Savage not practicing, Raven Greene was at safety with the No. 1 defense alongside Adrian Amos, and in Mike Daniels’ absence, Montravius Adams was the third defensive lineman in base next to Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

With the release of Daniels and Adams now starting TC with the 1's, is Adams the player quietly poised for a big jump on defense?

His development is one reason Gutekunst felt comfortable letting Daniels go.

Benjamin from Albuquerque, NM

So...more or less surprising than Josh Sitton?

A popular question. Less. With Sitton, he had practiced with the first-team offensive line all through training camp, and they made the move at the 11th hour as far as the start of the regular season is concerned. But I won’t say I wasn’t surprised with Wednesday’s news. On the pre-recorded episode of “Unscripted,” which posted that morning, I commented on a tough cut coming on the defensive line, if everyone stayed healthy. I didn’t anticipate pre-empting a difficult Sept. 1 decision, but the cap ramifications in the wake of Lowry’s extension and other players they may want to lock up sooner than later can’t be ignored.

A.C. from Jasper, MO

What is the purpose of having a non-football injury list? Does this affect the team/player any different than the regular injury list?

There are complications and exceptions, but the team may not be obligated to pay a player if an injury that prevents participation in regular-season games is not football-related.

Mark from Marxville, WI

Me and the boy are coming to see the Packers-Texans practice on Monday, Aug. 5, both very excited. Can you tell me how that works with seating, is it first-come? And what time do you have to arrive to guarantee a spot? Do they turn people away? Thanks for your help.

It is first-come, first-served for seating at Nitschke Field, and the bleachers fill up fast. They open about 75-90 minutes before practice is scheduled to start. When they’re full, ushers at each section will take people in as others leave and seats open up. I don’t know how the practices with the Texans will be run – J.J. Watt came off PUP yesterday, by the way – but generally speaking, there’s more of the competitive, 11-on-11 work in the second hour of practice compared to the first, if you don’t want to commit to the whole practice. Toward the end, a lot of people have bailed out and there are usually plenty of seats.

Curt from Oronoco, MN

OK, does Gute ever stick his head in the door during a critical moment of writing an article and say, "Just wanted to tell you both, good luck, we're all counting on you"?

Surely you can’t be serious.

Patrick from Inver Grove Heights, MN

If we're talking Packers-Lions rivalry best moments we have to include two playoff games: the Favre-to-Sharpe 40-yard TD with 55 seconds left and then the next year the Packers’ defense led by the Minister of Defense holding (HOFer) Barry Sanders to minus-1 yard rushing for the entire game (minus-4 total rushing yards for the team). Then you've got the Rodgers-to-Rodgers Miracle in Motown play. So many great memories!

Several readers brought up the Barry Sanders game. I remember watching that one on TV. This New Year’s Eve will be the 25th anniversary of that game, which is why there’s a retrospective on it in the Yearbook (yes, another plug, but not my story this time, just so we’re clear).

K.J. from Louisville, KY

Yes Wes, I did catch your use of the word "whilst" in your response to Matt from Waunakee in Thursday's Inbox. Subtle, very subtle. I know that my brother has pushed for either the word or me to be banned for using it in a published submission recently. Thank you.

It’s good to know Wes reads the Inbox while on vacation.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

After pondering for all offseason, I say our linebacker group is finally our strongest position group of any on the roster going into next year and we finally have an area that can tilt the field. I'm looking forward to them paving the way for our younger and less-proven DB and DL groups to step it up. At the end of the year, that dynamic is my prediction for season success or failure. The new team GM and coach have made their bet.

An interesting perspective. I guess I don’t look at it as position-focused so much as body types. Gutekunst referenced his “bigger, longer” mindset on defense again Wednesday. In the front seven, the Smiths and Gary are a pair of 6-5s and a 6-4 replacing, in a manner of speaking, two 6-3s in Matthews and Perry and a 6-foot in Daniels. Weight-wise, the outside linebackers are larger than their predecessors, and the younger guys on the D-line (Adams, Lancaster) are also in Daniels’ 310 range with more height. As Mark from Menasha, WI, mentioned in another post, I think the turnover has been partly about getting the body types up front that make Pettine’s defense work best.

Eric from Stramproy, Netherlands

It’s still and always will be a game of replacement.

Don’t look past Gutekunst’s quote calling Clark “a dominant player in the NFL.” With the fifth-year option, the Packers have him under contract through 2020, but time and readily available cap space could give them an opportunity to save some money on Clark over the long term. The more time goes by, the more his price tag could rise.

Casey from Frisco, TX

Would the Packers not have received the cap relief if they had traded Daniels rather than cutting him? Just trying to figure out if they tried to trade him but couldn’t find any takers or if there is some league rule on trades that impacts how the cap is impacted.

Trading him would have gotten the contract off the books, cap-wise, the same as releasing him. But I don’t believe in the NFL teams can absorb any part of a player’s unpaid salary in a trade (like they can in MLB) so Daniels’ contract likely was the biggest obstacle to a trade. For those questioning the timing of the move, Daniels didn’t practice all offseason while recovering from his foot injury, so he needed to pass a physical for a no-strings release.

Paul from Beaver Dam, WI

Hey guys, this time last year right before training camp, the perceived starters on defense had quite a different look. Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice, Matthews, Perry, Mo Wilkerson, Mike Daniels and Jake Ryan (starting next to Boar). That's seven of the 11 starters that are now gone. A lot has been said about going into Year 2 of Pettine's system but a lot of these guys are only in Year 1. Is there so much change that it would be impossible to even tell if the defense makes progress in Pettine 2.0?

If you’re trying to draw a distinction between progress within the scheme and progress with changed personnel, don’t bother. Progress is progress. Also, three of those starters you mentioned are being replaced by players who were here last year, while Clark, Martinez, Alexander, King, etc., are key returning pieces, so progress within the scheme should occur regardless of surrounding change. I don’t discount the adjustments and acclimation period for all the newcomers at safety and outside linebacker, but in that quartet, only Savage is a young, unproven player in the NFL. I think this defense can get where it needs to be fairly quickly.

Amy from Bayport, MN

Everybody better keep an eye on their Cheerios. Some lucky team is going to get Mike Daniels with an even bigger chip on his shoulder. Scary thought. Great player, great personality. Thank you Diesel for an intense and entertaining seven years!

A final Cheerios reference was a must here. Now we can carry on.

Mike from Franksville, WI

Who are the top five most deserving Packers that are currently not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

LeRoy Butler and Sterling Sharpe are the first two on the list for me. I’ve heard plenty about Bob Skoronski and Gale Gillingham, too, but as I’ve said before, I think Kramer’s induction closed the door for good on the Lombardi-era Packers (though the bulk of Gillingham’s career was post-Lombardi). If I had to pick a fifth Hall-eligible individual, I’d probably say Mike Holmgren, but the lack of a second Super Bowl victory in his other two attempts really hurts him.

Sam from Sioux Falls, SD

Happy training camp! Who is one player or players that have the most to prove this camp?

Take your pick amongst all the young receivers, defensive backs and backup offensive linemen and quarterbacks. There’s no shortage of players who need to prove themselves, but that’s every training camp.

Todd from Owasso, OK

Regarding second and third contracts, if I never let my mug get empty, I'm still on my first mug of beer.

Can’t argue with that approach. Happy Friday.

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