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Inbox: There's a lot of young talent to be excited about

T.J. Slaton might be one of the most improved players on the entire roster


Jeff from Waterford, WI

What is your take on what we saw from the Packers-Bengals game?

There's a lot of young talent to be excited about.

Rudy from Tempe, AZ

Can you make an argument that defensively, the Packers have a top-five front seven? I think if they go further than most fans expect this year, this will be a big reason why. Incredible talent, and DEPTH.

Again, I offer no predictions on how the Packers will perform defensively this year, but I will say the potential for the collective growth is there. A big reason for that is the front seven. Not only do the Packers have two athletic inside linebackers and a deep reservoir of edge rushers but also a young and hungry defensive line has emerged. That whole position has impressed me this summer. T.J. Slaton might be one of the most improved players on the entire roster, Devonte Wyatt has made progress, Jonathan Ford has had a good camp, and Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks look like they belong. Oh, and then there's Kenny Clark.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Wes. I don't know their official stats, but it looked like Karl Brooks and Colby Wooden both had impactful games against the Bengals' second-stringers. Did you see this same disruption in person?

They're the smash bros. The 2023 defensive line will start with Clark, Slaton and Wyatt, but Brooks and Wooden look like rookies who can come in for 15-20 snaps a game and pester the offensive line. I thought both played well Friday night, like they have all through camp. Again, don't forget about Ford, either. He's a massive dude who's much improved.

Jerome from Omaha, NE

I know it was just a preseason game, but the offense looked really good. It seemed to be on the same page and have an energy throughout the entire game that I did not routinely see last season. What was your take on the offense's performance and its sustainability going forward?

It was just two drives, but it showed me everything I need to see from Jordan Love and Co. Romeo Doubs was making plays. Christian Watson drew in the safety on the touchdown. AJ Dillon had some nice runs. Shoot, we even got a Jayden Reed push pass off a misdirection handoff.

Benjamin from Evergreen Park, IL

What's missing to me amid all the criticism over every missed throw or questionable decision in the preseason vacuum is that Jordan our new QB1 wants to be great...not just pretty good. He wants to be great. Two years ago, he hit Sternberger on that same route he hit Musgrave on, but this time he was moving the defenders with his eyes and feet. It's like being able to hit the mid-range jumper with ease squared up but now he's adding the off-balance element and trying to square it back up.

Dan Orlovsky's breakdown of the play got me excited because you can clearly see Love playing chess, not checkers. He's not worrying about the pocket or pass rushers. He's keeping his eyes downfield and trying to make a play. The intent was there and so, too, will come the completions.

Scott from Lake Greenwood, SC

It was just one game against Philly. It's just camp, no pads, and a red jersey. It's just one preseason game. At some point, it's fair to say that Love has chops. No guarantees – there never are – but it is absolutely reasonable to be optimistic. Right?

That was my No. 1 takeaway. Not the touchdown pass-and-run to Christian Watson. Not the deep ball to Aaron Jones. It was how confident Love looked and how tall he stood in the pocket.

Jeff from Dorr, MI

Vic taught me to pay attention to throwing motion. Sean Clifford has a quick throwing motion and strong arm with room to grow. Potential?

Potential. I can't say it any better than Spoff did on Saturday. Clifford played fearless. He didn't overthink things. Yes, some mistakes were made, but Clifford gave Matt LaFleur, Tom Clements, and Connor Lewis plenty of film to coach off. He didn't waste a single snap and that pass to Dontayvion Wicks could not have been thrown any better.

Riley from Nasewaupee, WI

Where will Tyler Davis be missed the most? Hate to see those season-ending injuries anytime but especially in the preseason.

Yeah, it sucks to see a player like Davis go down – especially after catching that touchdown from Clifford in the two-minute before halftime. Unfortunately, that's the risk factor associated with the preseason games. Davis played on most of the Packers' special teams, leading the unit in snaps last season, but he also was putting together a good camp on offense. His blocking, in particular, seemed to be much improved.

The Green Bay Packers held training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023.

Jerome from Midland, MI

I've been a Tyler Davis fan, sounded like he was having a good bounce-back camp from last year, now out with an ACL injury. Besides IR, do you think he will get an injury settlement? What, if any, are the rules for an injury settlement? Are there certain injuries that apply?

That was tough to watch, but seriously how tough is Tyler Davis? The guy ran, as best he could, to the sideline after the play. To your question, there are no settlements when it comes to season-ending injuries. Settlements only occur when a team and a player agree on compensation for how long an injury will keep the player sidelined. For example, Spoff tears his medial collateral ligament and it's estimated he'll miss six weeks.

Jasper from Heerlen, Netherlands

Hi II! Terrible news about Tyler, and I wish him all the best in his recovery! One of my first thoughts was, "Shoot, the Big Dog is now a Big Bear" (probably a popular sentiment). Do you feel there is a veteran out there worth exploring or is the next man up already on our roster? What can you tell us about the tight end not named Josiah, Luke, or Tucker?

You have one tight end (Austin Allen) and one fullback (Henry Pearson). Allen is a massive dude at 6-foot-8, 253 pounds. Prior to signing with the New York Giants as a college free agent last year, Allen played in 44 games at Nebraska, catching 65 passes for 975 yards and three touchdowns. Pearson (6-2, 249) was listed as a tight end at Appalachian State, but the Packers tabbed him a fullback after signing as a UDFA in May. He played five years at App State, starting 43 games. Pearson had 74 receptions for 897 yards and 11 TDs and has flashed his hands out of the backfield in Green Bay. I'm guessing the Packers sign another tight end to get through the preseason, but I'd be very surprised if it's an established veteran.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

How in the world did Carrington Valentine last until the seventh round? What was the knock on him coming out?

I think too many people looked at Valentine's single interception in college and moved on. There's so much more to his game and you're seeing it. He came out of school early but is incredibly athletic (39-inch vertical).

Dennis from Parrish, FL

More of Samori Toure returning kickoffs? Yes please!

I like how he bounced back after the early muff, too. Like Reed on punts, Toure gives the Packers another option on kickoff returns behind Keisean Nixon.

Erik from Mansfield, TX

I know it's early for this comparison, but the way Malik Heath plays reminds me of Donald Driver: the way he snatches the ball out of the air, and then immediately runs aggressively, almost violently. It's not smooth, but it sure is effective. He's won me over, but I have no power here. Do you think he's in the top six WR right now, and do you think we keep six?

The Packers have enough talent at receiver to keep six, for sure. Heath has made a lot of plays this summer, but that block on Clifford's read-option was the coup de grâce for me. That's going the extra mile for your teammates. I gotta imagine Jason Vrable loved to see that.

Gordy from Plymouth, WI

Regarding Anders Carlson's missing two extra points, I noticed what I thought could have been a problem. As he was waiting for the snap, Carlson started to shuffle his feet a little which I would think could throw him off as the snap then came. Is that something he does all the time?

I know as much as you do about Carlson's process. I have noticed he has a short step back, an indication of how much leg talent Carlson possesses. He's missed some kicks, but Carlson has the right mindset and approach. He's not pressing or anything. One miss isn't leading to another. It seems more mechanical and something I'm sure he's working through with Rich Bisaccia and the special-teams coaches in the film room.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

I thought Coach LaFleur throwing that challenge flag was a great display of leadership. If I were one of those guys on the field during the fourth quarter trying to somehow stick around past cuts, I would certainly appreciate it.

I tweeted the same exact thing. That's a big deal for an undrafted rookie like Benny Sapp III who's trying to earn a job in the NFL. He made a great play on the ball, too. Just ran out of real estate.

Ross from Summerville, SC

Gents, nice performance by Emanuel Wilson on a significant day from his past. His running style reminded me of Gary Ellerson.

I'll mention that to Gary and see what he says. Like I wrote on Friday night, it was an inspired performance by Wilson. A Division II standout at Fort Valley State, Wilson has a good blend of size and burst. He did his entire family proud and has 2½ more weeks to compete for that wide-open RB3.

Scott from Tukwila, WA

In regard to Emanuel Wilson and his performance in preseason Game 1 vs. how he's performed in practice. Does the game performance significantly outweigh the performance during practice? Would a player be able to make the team through consistent game play but mediocre practice production?

The first thing I thought after Wilson's 80-yard touchdown was the long run he broke during the first live-tackling period a couple weeks ago. In a normal practice, the defenders would've thudded up and the play would've ended. On this occasion, however, Wilson shook free of two defenders and moved the ball downfield. That was the first time I really noticed Wilson. So, the signs were there even before his breakout performance in Cincinnati.

Anthony from Southington, CT

Is there a time allowance made for players who wish to worship on Saturday/Sunday?

Yep. There's morning mass on gamedays.

Philip from Hobart, WI

Why was Jaire Alexander held out of the Bengals game?

Groin. It's not considered serious, though. He still did individual drills last week.

Scott from Eau Claire, WI

Why is the game highlights video accompanied by the Bengals' announcers?

NFL Network uses the home announcers for its broadcast/highlights.

Dan from San Antonio, TX

What was your assessment of Sean Rhyan's performance at RG? I thought he had a solid game overall, particularly on the pull and kick-out block on Wilson's 11-yard TD run.

Rhyan's two best plays might have been on both of Wilson's TD runs. He can move people at guard. It's more getting comfortable in his pass set from that position. He got caught flat-footed when Domenique Davis helped force Clifford's pick-six. It's a process but I think he's shown potential.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Hi Mike, just want to say I have no idea how you're able to watch the game, provide play-by-play commentary, while also reading and reacting to blog postings by fans during the live blog. I'm guessing you have elite Wonderlic, typing, and mental processing skills. It's mighty impressive. For you, I'm guessing the commercials are a nice mental break.

The man also has a titanium bladder.

Colin from Montague, Canada

What dish or establishment is the Green Bay equivalent to Cincinnati's Skyline Chili?

I would say Chili John's, but unfortunately there's no longer one in Green Bay.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, what was the biggest challenge you faced during the first preseason game coverage?

Just getting to gameday. It was a long week in Cincinnati. Now, we're onto New England. Have a great Monday.

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