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Inbox: There's some fluidity as the season progresses

It’s a combination without an exact formula

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QB Aaron Rodgers

Eric from Durham, NC

What a week! Aaron Rodgers returns, Randall Cobb comes home, and I got to hold my newborn son. I think it's safe to say the boring offseason is over and the rest of the year is going to be a blast. Does anyone know if reading the Inbox counts as a bedtime story?

It absolutely should, and congrats.

Denny from Lebanon, PA

I don't have a question. I just want to say, I'm glad to hear Josh Myers is doing well. I watched a couple of his interviews and I think he has a great and very likeable personality.

I get the sense he's a keeper in multiple senses of the word.

Mark from Madison, WI

Last year proved was we don't need preseason games to win. That being said will any of the established starters play in the preseason and if so why?

I would expect almost all veteran starters to sit out the three preseason games except for maybe a couple of series. Younger starters with less experience (like Krys Barnes) or less time in Green Bay (De'Vondre Campbell) might play a little more.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Mike, what does putting Simon Stepaniak on reserve/retired mean? Is he done for the year? I liked some of the nastiness he showed at Indiana, I'm disappointed.

It means he's retired from football for the time being, but should he want to play again, the Packers own his contractual rights. Beyond that, all I know is his absence from the last two practices was for personal reasons, not injury-related.

Larry from Chubbuck, ID

Wes, I'm not sure I've ever been this excited to watch preseason games. I really missed them last year. I enjoy watching all the young guys trying to make the team. I think this year everyone wants to see how Love performs, and now by what you have said how Hill looks at running back. Besides those two what one or two other players are you looking forward to see take the field?

Stanford Samuels, Ben Braden and T.J. Slaton.

Jack from New York, NY

I know it's only training camp and we haven't played a game yet. But with Drew Brees retired, Tampa will most likely win that division and be in a good position to contend for another Super Bowl. Has this Packer team improved enough personnel-wise in the offseason to take down the Bucs if it gets to that point in a possible postseason showdown?

First, the Packers were good enough to beat them last winter. They just didn't get it done. Second, today is the first practice of August. That game would be 5½ months away, and the team the Packers will be 1½ months from now when Week 1 arrives inevitably won't be the same come January. The Bucs aren't/won't be the same team either. Those who think they can make a valid assessment now are kidding themselves and everyone else.

Bob from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

With this being Aaron Rodgers' 17th season as a Packer, how many other players have played for the Packers more than 17 years, and who are they?

He's it. He's the list. Starr and Favre played 16 years, Nitschke 15, with Mason Crosby tying Nitschke this year.

With 42 days until the regular-season opener, packers.com looks back at those who have worn No. 42 in Green Bay.

Tinger from Red Wing, MN

Greetings Insiders, now that the Rodgers drama is over and Cobb is back in the fold, is the gigantic exhale visible among those watching training camp? How long until you think the exhale turns into pressure to perform?

Sept. 12.

Gary from Benevides, Brazil

I completely agree with your caution about a championship-or-bust mentality to 2021. I think we have a great roster this year, but many factors go into a championship including a little luck. Is injuries or simply getting hot at the right time the biggest factor to winning a championship?

It's a combination without an exact formula. You need enough talent, health, timely mojo and good fortune. Nobody can cook it up in a lab.

Taylor from Eagan, MN

Will AJ Dillon have more yards than Jamaal Williams did last year?

Williams had 505 rushing yards last year. I'm going to say yes.

Jeff from Muskego, WI

Where does the addition of Cobb leave Davante Adams?

I'm pretty sure he's still the top receiver on the team and one of the best, if not the best, in the league.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

How much does Matt LaFleur's playbook change from year to year? Does Rodgers get input into what he liked and disliked from last year?

There are always tweaks and adjustments. Rodgers was a big part of that process last year during the virtual offseason. He wasn't part of those conversations this year and has simply been updated on the latest changes, but there's some fluidity as the season progresses, too.

Matt from La Crosse, WI

Hey Mike/Wes, if you could pick just one thing for the Packers to improve on this season from last, what would it be?

More turnovers on defense.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

Do you think the "Last Dance" scenario could just prove to be too much pressure on a team?

It could, but there's no point in worrying about it until the playoffs, and the team has to make the playoffs first.

Kristian from Aarhus, Denmark

Dear Insiders, I have felt the same kind of angst lately related to the expectative energy surrounding the team that Mike spoke about in a previous II. It is rooted in quotes like Cobb's "I'm here to win a championship." The stakes this year seem as high as I can remember, and "glory or bust" could be true. But. Then I listened to Mr. Jaire Alexander and was blown away by the driven nature of these pros and found consolation in how strong a vision of success we have on this team. All in! Thoughts?

Every individual will process/react/handle the external factors or forces in his own way, and some will be impervious to them. But I still say the leadership of the coaching staff and the most veteran, respected players will be tested at various times.

Jeremy from Prince George, BC

Mike's answer about the Super Bowl-or-bust aura is making me wonder of it's too late to go back to optimism without expectations. I've gleaned plenty of wisdom from the II, but that's still tops in my books.

This team has moved beyond that. Consecutive 13-3 seasons and trips to the NFC title game would have placed unavoidable expectations on these Packers even if the offseason had been uneventful. Expectations aren't necessarily bad when they're deserved. It still comes down to managing and handling them effectively.

Ryan from Ripon, WI

Why are teams doing these combined practices? Before the season, I would want my players focused on us and not others.

LaFleur explained his rationale well on Saturday. Here are the relevant portions: "I just like to change the monotony of camp. These guys kind of get sick of going against each other … As a coach, you want to keep it fresh. It also affords you the ability to rest some of your veteran players (in the) preseason games … by not exposing them in a game situation (but doing so instead) where it's a little bit more controlled in practice."

Matt from Burlington, WI

II, how do you think the fans will react to Rodgers at the first home game this year?

With cheers. I don't know why fans who spend their money to attend would exert any energy during a game focused on anything but winning.

Eric from De Pere, WI

Mike, in a recent "Three Things" video segment, said that the addition of Randall Cobb left the other receivers battling for one less roster spot. There is no way for this to be true other than Cobb has a guarantee of making roster. Can you explain why you think this is the case?

Because Cobb brought with him a hefty guaranteed salary for 2021 (a portion of which is being paid by the Texans, with most of the rest now converted to signing bonus, so he's collected a large chunk of it already). The Packers wouldn't have acquired him and taken on the financial obligation if his roster spot were in question.

Brannon from Greenville, SC

I'm going to enjoy 2021 for all it's worth, Super Bowl or not, because we now have the "all in" that so many have wanted by signing everybody and kicking the cap can down the road. The Packers appear to be in a tunnel with a light coming straight at them for 2022, the very situation Vic lo those many years ago warned us about. How do the Packers avoid a "salary cap heck"?

Tough decisions will have to be made, and many will be based on players' performances in 2021. That's why there's no point in trying to figure it out now. Much more information than is currently available will shape the decision-making process.

Paula from Apple Valley, MN

Do you think Saturday's quarantine of three Vikings QBs will prompt more vaccinations in the Packers' locker room?

I would imagine it'll be mentioned in a team meeting.

Andy from Verona, WI

With Josh Jackson filling in for Jaire Alexander with the starting defense, are there any other players higher on the depth chart than originally projected?

The substitutions in that vein have been pretty much as anticipated. Tyler Lancaster is taking the snaps with the No. 1 defense that were Kingsley Keke's in the spring. Za'Darius Smith's absence just means the top two outside 'backers are Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. The offensive line has seen the most movement of players with David Bakhtiari out, but nothing I would consider surprising.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

What are the most intriguing position battles that are shaping up in training camp?

The two most interesting to me haven't yet materialized. For No. 2 cornerback, Kevin King hasn't practiced, and at No. 3 running back, Patrick Taylor remains out. The latter competition doesn't really begin until the preseason games anyway.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Beyond having good players what makes a defensive coordinator successful? Scheme? Game plan development skills? In-game defensive play calls? In-game adjustment ability? Personality? Everybody seems to be laser focused on this "star" position thing and I know that's not the answer.

I think it's everything you mentioned, with scheme the least important.

Bob from Sydney, Australia

Gents, after my first ever extended layoff from Inbox since Day 1 of Vic, I'm pumped for camp. Did I miss anything? But for real, you could hear the Rodgers stuff from lockdown an ocean away. Equally noticeable is the rage in Spoff's eyes when Wes beats him to "anything for the good of the whole." Classic stuff.

It gets a little awkward when we don't communicate in advance.

Sean from Suamico, WI

With this season looking like the Packers are going all-in to win a Super Bowl, what other type of all-in moves do you predict?

I'm not sure what's left. They've pushed enough money into future years to give themselves some maneuverability still for 2021. What I don't know is if they want that room to react to something that might come up, or to make another push for an Adams extension.

Matthew from Roseville, MN

After a healthy hiatus from the summer drama, it's great to start getting excited about the Pack again. While a lot of focus is on the offense, I see the defense as continuing to improve. All the big names are back. Whom are you excited to see step into their prime?

Yes, I edited the last line. Darnell Savage, Gary and Chandon Sullivan.

Kyle from St. Charles, MO

I for one don't intend to think about the '22 season until we've officially concluded the '21 season, whenever that may be. Either the front office and AR make amends or they don't. Either the front office makes Davante the highest-paid WR or they don't. I would love to see both finish their careers in Green and Gold, but the opportunity to further their and the Packers' legacy is now. This is a team built to win now. That's where the focus should be.

Amen.

Dave from Minocqua, WI

Does the Packers Pro Shop carry Larry's hat? Do you get bowl of soup with it?

Happy Monday.

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