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Inbox: They are what this game is all about

Jacksonville will be a different kind of challenge for the Packers

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DL Jack Heflin

Andrew from Tilleda, WI

What are we going to do with the NFL Preseason Champion shirts now that they're no good? Donate them to the kids in Minnesota?

That's very considerate of you, Andrew.

Sreedharan from Pewaukee, WI

Hey Wes! You missed out big-time in your article on Jack Heflin. The scout's report on him "trash can full of dirt" is a great one (some people think it was an insult... but looking at the scout's full report, it is a big compliment). We now have the nickname for Heflin: "Trash can." Not only is he immovable, but also the runners will be trashed into his can. Looking forward to your update on the article. Can we depend upon Inbox to push this nickname?

Every NFL team needs guys who do the dirty work. That's Jack Heflin. There were so many Packers players who reacted to our tweet on Tuesday night about him making the team, including Kenny Clark. You can tell this young man made an impression on his teammates over the past month. It's quite an accomplishment for a kid who didn't have any Division I scholarship offers coming out of high school.

Sean from Chicago, IL

Good morning Mike! For any Inboxer who wants to see what life is like for a "fringe" player, check out A.J. Greene's (with the "E" at the end, not the Cardinals WR) social media. He's a WR who documents his life as he tries to make a roster and it really gives perspective as to how hard these players work just for a chance at their dreams.

It's swimming upstream for most of these undrafted rookies. For every college free agent who succeeds, a dozen fail. That's why you have to appreciate the Heflins and Chauncey Rivers of the football world. Those two had some of the longest odds to make the 53 of anyone on the entire roster. Yet, here they are. They are what this game is all about.

Martin from Evansville, IL

Were there any cuts that surprised you? I didn't completely expect them to keep Jake Hanson over Ben Braden on the O-line.

Nothing surprised me too much, outside of the Packers cutting JK Scott. I understand why, but that was the only real curveball. I think I got 50 of the 52 correct.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Jake Hanson was a surprise. I don't remember much talk about him in the preseason. What say you?

You probably know as much as I know, Margeaux. But Brian Gutekunst offered an interesting nugget about Hanson having an injury coming out of Oregon that kind of held him back last year. Hanson got that cleaned up and the Packers felt they got a more accurate read on him as a prospect. He's also a natural center, which was a plus.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, how long before a team can start building their practice squad? Twenty-four hours after cutdown?

It's 24 hours, other than the day after final cuts. In this case, waivers ended at 11 a.m. CT Wednesday. After that time, teams were free to begin building their practice squads.

The Green Bay Packers continued practice on Ray Nitschke Field on Monday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Myles from Las Vegas, NV

Does it matter to a team if their punter is left- or right-footed? Along with that, what kind change will the Packers' special teams need to make with their new punter being left-footed with blocking for him? How many NFL teams have a left-footed punter?

I don't think it matters that much when the left-footed punter is a right-handed holder, like Corey Bojorquez. That reminds me, didn't Bill Belichick go on a tangent for like 10 minutes on left-footed punters a few years ago?

Michael from Winfield, IL

Jacksonville is a tough venue in the heat of September. I would have preferred Dallas. How does the change in venue from New Orleans to Dallas to Jacksonville impact game prep? Fortunately, the decision was made early so no time wasted.

It's a game of adjustments, am I right? Jacksonville will be a different kind of challenge, but the Packers will be ready for it. They're just trading in the noise pollution of the Superdome for what likely will be the hottest game they'll play all season. Hydration will be key.

Dean from Sandusky, OH

Thanks for the daily dose of info and entertainment. I know Corey Linsley was considered to be the strongest player on the roster, but since he has moved on, in your opinion, who now is the weight room champ? Who do you believe is the fastest player on the team?

I think Tyler Lancaster has the most pro-day bench reps (35) of any on the roster at the moment. Not that that's the only way to measure strength, but that's the only objective statistic I have to go off.

Sam from La Mesa, CA

Of all the tight ends, which one do you foresee as the most capable of lining up as lead fullback? If fully healthy, I'm very excited to see how Josiah Deguara is incorporated into the offense. He could be a real headache for opposing defenses.

Deguara is the featured guy in that H-back role. He's perfect for it. I'm excited to watch him this season. But yeah, Dominique Dafney and Robert Tonyan can all play there, too.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

What's more difficult to prepare for and play in, Superdome noise levels or the heat in Jacksonville?

I'd still go with Superdome. It's the second noisiest NFL stadium, second only to Seattle. In Jacksonville, both teams are going to have to deal with the heat, not just the Packers.

Tony from Bronxville, NY

Hey guys, what are the chances the Packers wear their home uniforms for the game in Jacksonville? If I were NO, I would wear the white uniforms due to the heat. Also, I think the Cowboys' stadium was free, why not move them there?

Wasn't there a concert there or something? Either way, that's not the direction the league went. As the home team, the Saints will have the option to wear their whites. So, I'm guessing the Packers will have to wear their "home" greens.

Luiz from Americana, Brazil

I'm sure it'll most likely get answered at some point, but do you think Aaron Rodgers was in the conversations for any of the roster cutdowns this year?

Gutekunst was asked this on Wednesday and said he's had great conversations with Rodgers throughout training camp, adding: "All the people who were kind of involved with that were very aware of what was going on, why we were doing what we were doing. I feel really good about that. The conversations that I've had with Aaron were excellent."

Ken from Ottawa, Canada

What will having Joe Barry as DC mean for the linebackers this year, especially Preston Smith?

That's hard to say until we see the Packers play a regular-season game or two, but Preston Smith came to play this summer. He had a great camp and looks dialed in.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

I understand Aaron Jones is RB1, and you do (health permitting) want your superstars to touch the ball as much as possible. I wouldn't be opposed to Kylin Hill getting more snaps than AJ Dillon did last year. Two years back, I feel like SF's full use of their stable allowed them to score on offense. Lot more ways our offense can go and still be super productive.

I wouldn't be opposed to that. I think Dillon would have touched the ball more last year had it not been for the weird offseason and then his month-long bout with COVID-19.

Jordan from Osterdock, IA

Do you guys know if any players we cut were picked up by other teams?

Nobody was claimed on waivers. Dexter Williams signed to the New York Giants' practice squad. I think that was it.

Cody from Round Lake, IL

With all the talk about depth, I was expecting to see multiple players land elsewhere. Equanimeous St. Brown surprises me a little bit. He has flashed ability in the past but has injury concerns. I'm happy to have him on the practice squad! Keeping six receivers healthy is no easy feat! I'm sure at some point this season we'll find out where he stacks up against Juwann Winfree. Who are you most surprised made it through??

Probably E.Q. Winfree had a great spring but missed all three preseason games with injury. The Packers have a formidable practice squad. I felt like Innis Gaines, Ben Braden, Bronson Kaufusi and Kurt Benkert all made a case for a spot on the 53.

Izzi from Raleigh, NC

Were you surprised that Stephen Denmark wasn't signed to the PS? I realize he was a late addition to camp, but he has great size and I thought he showed good cover skills against the Bills.

I was. I thought he played well against Buffalo. While I expected Gaines to be on the practice squad, I thought Christian Uphoff might make it, as well.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

I keep reading about veterans/starters not needing preseason games. Is there a certain cutoff of year(s) played or started or snap counts that are kind of a "rule of thumb" to base whether they need to participate in those games?

It's a matter of who are you willing to risk for such a limited reward. Nobody takes out their Porsche for spin in a snowstorm, right? The car is ready. As sure as Sunday, the pistons will fire Sept. 12.

Robert from Verona, WI

Which roster move is generating the most noise (good or bad) in the Inbox submissions? I love the underdog story of Jack Heflin making the team, but for some reason I'm excited about the addition of Corey Bojorquez.

It was either Jack Heflin making the team or Scott getting released.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

So Gutekunst's trades this summer brought back Randall Cobb, shuffled around some backup CBs, and (hopefully) upgraded the punter position. All this for the price of swapping a sixth-round pick for a seventh in 2022, and again in 2023. Isn't this a pretty good value, considering that sixth- and seventh-round picks are basically lottery tickets anyway?

I would say so. The Packers have had success drafting in the later rounds, but those picks also can be important trade capital for teams with championship aspirations that might need to add a piece or two.

Robert from Chandler

Do you think the coaches – esp. Coach Drayton, special teams – feel they have the personnel to significantly improve special-teams performance this year? Who are some of the key guys we might expect to be outstanding as tacklers on coverage?

They're turning over as many stones as they can to find the right combination. Oren Burks, Ty Summers, Malik Taylor, Isaac Yiadom and Henry Black are core guys with a lot of special-teams experience. Isaiah McDuffie, Shemar Jean-Charles and Hill will be counted on to contribute, as well.

Jake from Decatur, GA

I'm sure I'm not the only one asking this. What do you make of the decision to keep five ILBs (for now)? Isn't that a lot? I feel like three of those guys are going to seem more special teams than defensive snaps.

No, that's not a lot. The Packers kept five as recently as 2018. Again, Burks and Summers are core special-teamers, while McDuffie is a nice developmental prospect for Green Bay. The decision to keep five ILBs made complete sense.

Dale from Port Washington, WI

The Packers ended the day with 52 players and No. 53 will be the punter obviously. Just curious, but wouldn't it make sense to have kept one more player for a day? Like say keep David Bakhtiari on the 53 and then place him on injured reserve so he could return sooner? Not saying he would come back sooner, but it would give them the option. They know a lot more than I do, and math isn't allowed in II, but 53 is greater than 52.

To clarify, according to former Press-Gazette reporter Rob Demovsky, Bakhtiari was NOT eligible for injured reserve because he hadn't passed his physical yet. For that reason, Bakhtiari could not be placed on IR with the same injury he went on PUP for. I appreciate Rob, a former Press-Gazette reporter, for clarifying that.

Paul from Gorham, ME

Good morning! What is considered the end of training camp? Is it when teams cut down to 53? Is it the day before the first game? Is it the day after the last preseason game? Something else? Inquiring minds (at my work) want to know. Thank you!

I consider the mandatory roster reduction to be the end of training camp, though the final practice often feels like it.

Judy from Big Stone Gap, VA

Will Randall Cobb come back to the Packers?

I'd say it looks promising.

Kris from Mineola, TX

Good morning II. My concerns for the 2021 Packers are threefold: the ability to get off the field on third-and-long, special-teams kick coverage and stopping opponents' run game. Tell me I'm just an old worry wart and we're going to be fine.

Oh, Kris. You're just an old worry wart and the Packers are going to be fine.

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