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Inbox: These rookies can answer that call

S Darnell Savage
S Darnell Savage

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

Jessica from Tucson, my name is Jordan. I don’t believe in online dating but I bleed cheese and would love to meet up with you at a Packers game this season and see where things go. Maybe the Insiders can help us link up?

I’m not going there. My name isn’t Wes Woolery. This isn’t Love Connection. I’m a staff writer – nothing more, nothing less. I wish you all well in your personal endeavors. Good morning!

Tom from Rochester, NY

Lots of angst over a full-time slot receiver but since the Matt LaFleur-style offense features the bunch formation in tight, which one is considered the slot guy? Isn't that why they want similar style receivers who can "do it all"? That makes the bunch formation so much harder to defend in my opinion. I say we have six slot receivers right now. Let the defenses figure which is the real one!

That’s a great point. If you have two or three receivers who can handle that role, it’s more the secondary must account for and keeps the offense in a good position when injuries pop up.

John from Denver, CO

A lot has been said about the Packers getting faster on defense, how does their young crop of receivers compare when it comes to straight-up speed?

The Packers have gotten much faster on both sides of the ball. Now, there’s more to playing in the NFL than your 40 time, but you can’t coach speed. Players either have it or they don’t. After these last three drafts, the Packers have plenty of it. There’s a need for speed in today’s NFL and these rookies can answer that call, especially those receivers.

Isaac from Fargo, ND

As a NDSU alumni, I am really excited about Darrius Shepherd being offered a contract and having a chance to prove himself. He is a great route runner and was a dynamic big-play receiver whenever we needed a spark on offense. What are the chances he can make the team in a WR room with a lot of question marks in it?

I’m not ruling anyone out, especially after Jake Kumerow came out of nowhere to make the 53-man roster. The odds are against tryout players making the active roster, but it has happened before. Just ask Lucas Patrick. Shepherd has earned this shot. He’ll get his chance to show his skills can translate to the pros.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

With the signing of Shepherd at only 5-foot-11, do you think he could be a good candidate to try at the slot position? I don't rule him out of an outside receiver position because of his height but his size does fit most NFL teams’ criteria for a shifty, smaller target out of the slot.

Yes, but height isn’t the only indicator of a slot receiver. If you recall, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams played well inside when asked to do so in the past.

Chad from Montgomery, IL

What are the chances, if any, that the Packers make any big moves for the roster before the season begins?

They signed Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner. They drafted Rashan Gary with the 12th overall pick and traded up to take Darnell Savage at No. 21. I’d say any and all of those transactions constitute a “big move.”

Al from Chicago, IL

Have you seen any standouts at the rookie minicamp?

I wasn’t in the Hutson Center long enough to draw any overarching conclusions but Matthew Eaton, the Iowa state receiver Spoff profiled last week, caught my attention. At first glance, Eaton reminds me a lot of Geronimo Allison. He’s a tall, lean receiver who took the long way to the NFL.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

I was in Denver at a conference when people came up to me in the hall asking what was going on in GB with Favre. I hadn't heard anything but when briefed, I said if anyone will do the right thing by the organization, it was TT. The guy has no ego and was not afraid of taking the heat. Not many, if any, other GMs would have made the same decision Ted did that month.

History will judge Ted Thompson’s tenure as GM favorably because of how he handled adversity and the summer of Favre. The tragedy is I don’t think he ever received proper credit for it. Thompson is the last person to ever seek attention and adulation, but it should not be forgotten how he guided the organization through that tumultuous time. Because we would have never heard the end of it if Aaron Rodgers didn’t work out.

James from Spooner, WI

I love Ted Thompson but I was assuming there was a break of five years after someone retired? Is that a thing with just players and not executives?

Correct. Non-players can go into the Packers Hall of Fame immediately. It’s also only a four-year break for players to be enshrined.

John from Clive, IA

Please remind the fan who spouted off to Mark about Rashan Gary, Clay Matthews had 5½ sacks over four years at USC. Gary had 9½ over three at Michigan. It matters most what they have when they get here. Let him show us.

You could easily make an argument Thompson was taking a bigger risk in trading back into the first round to draft Matthews in 2009 than Gutekunst taking Gary at No. 12. There are no crystal balls with any of these prospects. Scouts have to trust their eyes. That’s why they make the big bucks. There’s no reason to rush to conclusions on Gary. We’re going to find out what he can do soon enough.

Michael from Manitowoc, WI

Now that Ted Thompson is in the Packers HOF, do you think they'll name a street after him given his success as a GM?

He certainly deserves it, though Green Bay already has a Thompson Court.

Wayne from Green Bay, WI

Congrats to TT on his induction! Every successful GM has a bold move which defines his career. Obviously, Wolf's was trading for Favre and TT's was drafting Rodgers and backing him in 2008. What do you think has been Gute's boldest move so far?

I’d say it was trading out of the 14th pick last year with the board looking the way it did. Gutekunst needed to have a lot of faith in his ability to move back up without sacrificing the draft capital he just gained. Fortune favors the bold, am I right?

Chun from El Monte, CA

Versatility seems to be the theme. How difficult is it for players to learn and play in multiple positions on offense and defense? Wouldn't this make the learning curve more difficult for rookies and new players to the scheme?

They’re not looking to change their positions – it’s getting the most out of them at their specified position. It’s not uncommon for the Packers to cross-train players each summer, but they’re not going to ask any of these rookies to do anything foreign. When Micah Hyde was drafted in 2013, it was a full year before they started playing him at safety.

Josh from El Sobrante, CA

Apparently the Pack drafting Jace Sternberger equates to tossing Jimmy off the boat. How can "analysts" cite his dip in form from 10 TDs without actually looking into how eerily similar his first year with Seattle and first year with the Pack were? If anything, I'm excited to see how well he does in Year 2 with a new offensive scheme!

Nobody is getting tossed off any boats. The Packers made it work with three veteran tight ends last year and certainly could do it again with Sternberger jumping on board. Like I said, every rookie tight end faces a steep learning curve. He has two great guys to learn from in Graham and Marcedes Lewis.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

What are your thoughts regarding the Packers bringing in a veteran like Michael Crabtree, on a team-friendly contract, to add additional veteran presence to an exciting stable of young receivers?

I have a few thoughts, but not on Crabtree. My thoughts are on websites that put out these “prediction” stories that assign free agents to certain teams – they’re clickbait. It ticks me off because most casual fans aren’t educated enough to decipher the difference between the Packers visiting/signing a free agent and Joe Schmo saying it “makes sense.” It’s frustrating for folks like me who then have to explain to readers who wonder why the team didn’t sign that player. It’s not journalism. It’s lazy. It’s junk food.

Caroline from La Crosse, WI

Are Sternberger and Elgton Jenkins still unsigned? What could/should we read into this?

Yes…and nothing.

George from Olympia, WA

Why did we pass on DK Metcalf?

Why? I don’t know, but the Packers weren’t the only one.

Kyle from Osceola, WI

Hey guys, nice feature on Manny Wilkins. What other names, if any, on the UDFA list are you curious to see on the field with the veterans?

I tossed out a couple names over the weekend, but one more guy I like is Yosh Nijman. As I stated, he’s a big man at 6-7, 315. He started at both left and right tackle at Virginia Tech. I’ll have my eye on Nijman this August.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

Love reading about these longshots and UDFAs. What would you say is the main reason that guys with productive college careers go undrafted? Is it level of competition, poor measurables, bad showings at the combine or pro days, questionable reputations, or something else?

It can happen for any number of reasons – poor college competition, a late position switch or off-the-field red flag. Generally, I think the biggest reason players go undrafted is due to times/measureables.

Ren from Chicago, IL

Was there anyone you thought should have been drafted but wasn't?

Alec Ingold.

Mike from Chamberlain, SD

Who has been the youngest player to make the team?

In the modern era, maybe Kenny Clark? He didn’t turn 21 until October of his rookie season.

Dennis from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

I realize it will be different for everyone, but on average, which is the tougher transition from college to the pros: the physical rigors or the mental aspects of starting a career as a football player?

Mental. One hundred percent. Rookies are in peak condition after the NFL Draft, but the transition is real. It takes time to mentally catch up to the speed of the pro game.

Markus from Aurora, CO

The shareholder meeting date has been announced. When can we expect the Packers 5K date announcement?

It’s set for July 20. You can find more information here.

Eric from Reedsburg, WI

Did any of the other NFC North team's draft picks surprise you?

The Lions’ second-round pick. I wish the young man well, but honestly didn’t know who he was. Also, the Bears made a pretty bold move in trading up to get David Montgomery in the third round despite not having a first- or second-round selection.

Cindy from Los Angeles, CA

In the rookie orientation photos, it looks like Dexter Williams has green tips in his hair. Was this done before or after the draft?

Yes, but Williams has previously done it in the past at Notre Dame. Williams said he plans to touch it up a little to match the Packers’ green.

Taylor from Story City, IA

Would you rather have a defense that leads the league in turnovers and sacks or a defense that leads the league in third-down stops and overall points given up? I'd prefer the latter since I feel it would be a more complete and consistent defense but the turnovers and sacks are more exciting to see.

The latter. You can go on and on about sacks, takeaways and everything in-between, but ultimately there’s only one statistic that matters. The fewer points your opponent scores, the better chance you have to win.

Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

Loved the story of you and Ted at Super Bowl XLV. But, why was he in the press box?

On most road trips, we sit next to Mark Murphy, Brian Gutekunst and the Packers’ front office. They are men of the (media) people.

Jack from Racine, WI

Is there a city with more statues of sports figures than there are in Green Bay?

Canton?

Lori from Brookfield, WI

What are your thoughts on the Kentucky Derby controversy?

He didn't slam you, he didn't bump you, he didn't nudge you...he rubbed you. And rubbin’, horse, is racin'.

Bob from Rome, NY

Not a question but a recommendation. Heard John Tortarella's postgame interview after Game 5 against the Bruins. After hearing the same questions over and over from postgame conference to postgame conference, his response was, "Stop asking stupid questions you already know the answer to." Not a bad idea for II submissions!

Gotta love Torts. Welcome back to the work week, everyone.

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