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Inbox: They have a chance to really make their mark

Training camp will be here before you know it

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

Jeff from Victorville, CA

I thought of writing answers to Outsider Inbox but decided I'd much rather hear about others' thoughts and experiences than write about my own. There is still a lot of good in the world which is enlightening to say the least. Fifteen days till training camp. I feel like a 9-year-old on Dec. 10. C'mon already!

I keep going back and forth between "I'm ready for real football again" and "I can't believe the offseason is almost over and we're nearly six months removed from the NFC Divisional playoffs." Either way, there is one absolute in life: Training camp will be here before you know it.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

It truly is the dead zone. Sunday evening flipping channels I stopped on NFL Network and watched a replay of the 2009 playoff game between the Packers and Cardinals. I had forgotten about Aaron Rodgers missing a wide-open Greg Jennings in OT which would have been an 80-yard game winner. I had NOT forgotten about the helmet-to-helmet that wasn't called OR the facemask on the last play. (Still confused about those two OT non-calls) Tell me again, when is the dead zone over?

The second Mark Murphy steps on the dais at the Packers shareholders meeting and welcomes the owners back to football. For me, that's when the hourglass flips and the 2022 NFL season begins.

James from Ottawa, Canada

Wes, our RB duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon has been much ballyhooed and deservedly so! Last year we saw just how big of a threat this backfield is due to their different but complimentary skill sets. I can't help but feel we are seeing what could (should) have been almost a decade ago with Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, whose injury I still consider one of the Packers' most underrated losses. Do you see any similarities between these two duos and what they bring/brought to the table?

I find it a difficult comparison to draw. Lacy and Franklin were drafted the same year and we never really got to see everything Franklin could do. On the other hand, Jones is an established vet who's been one of the game's top backs for four years. Dillon arrived three years after Jones and is now a proven asset in his own right. We've talked a lot about Jones and Dillon this offseason, and for good reason. They have a chance to really make their mark on this franchise.

Scott from Sheboygan, WI

With most of the reps going to the starters, how do the players at the bottom of the 90-man roster get noticed during training camp?

By getting noticed when the opportunities present themselves, whether it's during training camp or the preseason games. Last year's undrafted success story, Jack Heflin, was a great example of that. Heflin hardly got any reps with the starters in practice, but he played with fire in his belly during the preseason and got noticed for all the right reasons.

John from Palmdale, CA

Congrats to Dar and all the II MVPs! Having been published three times makes me an UDFA scrambling for playing time. Time to cram the II playbook and get in extra reps on the Anecdote Machine! Thanks again for providing this platform!

Like football, Insider Inbox is about making the most of the opportunities that present themselves. Dean didn't win Inbox MVP in 2021 by being a first-round poet…he did it by trusting the process and doing his 1/11th.

Matt from Fond Du Lac, WI

Next year, the Packers could start seven first-round draft picks in Eric Stokes, Darnell Savage, Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, Quay Walker, Kenny Clark and Devonte Wyatt. Would that be a record for first-round starters drafted by one team?

I'm not sure about league-wide, but seven has to be up there with the most in the team annals. That's a crazy number and doesn't even account for De'Vondre Campbell and Adrian Amos, former Day 3 picks who stand among the best at their respective position. This defense has it all.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Wes, great job with Outbox! Do you expect Kylin Hill to be ready for training camp?

While anything is possible, I'd be somewhat surprised if the Packers cleared anyone who tore their ACL last season to practice right away during training camp. I'm expecting those guys to start on physically unable to perform (like Josiah Deguara did last year), while the Packers err on the side of caution. Hill did look great with the rehab group this spring, though.

Tim from St Louis, MO

I was thinking along the same lines as Karl from Carmichael mentioning Derek from Eau Claire choices for best backups under Brett Favre. I completely see the reasoning for leaving Kurt Warner out, as he never was on a final roster with the Pack. I became a Packers fan before the Rams moved to St Louis and was wearing a Favre jersey while most wore Warner jerseys. I didn't even know Warner was ever with the Pack until he played in AZ. I have 10 Pack jerseys, and one that isn't, a Warner Cards one.

Does anyone have a Kurt Warner Packers jersey? That could be fun.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares his favorite photos from the 2021 Green Bay Packers season.

Gary from Davenport, IA

I liked Wes's answer of "Gunslinger" for his favorite nickname. I watched a replay of the game against the Bengals when Favre came in for Don Majkowski and Ahmad Rashad called him a gunslinger after only his second pass. He must have known something the rest of us didn't.

I can't think of any other nickname that fit a player so well.

Drake from Huntsville, AL

Are there any special locations at Lambeau that you go to on break to just savor the moment, or to get away from it all, or to recharge your batteries? Why is it special to you?

South end zone. I'm going to leave the reason to myself, though. But every so often, I'll venture outside to appreciate how special it is my office is located at Lambeau Field.

Tom from Raleigh, NC

Clever: "Brett Favre's 253 consecutive starts or his 286 interceptions. Take your pick." I admire subtle wordplay. I also didn't care much for fantasy football until my 23-year-old daughter came home to watch with me the meaningless game last year - she needed Davante to score to win her league. Not a Super Bowl but good times with my daughter! Thanks for all you guys do!

I used to be big into fantasy football, so I get it. While I wasn't trying to be snooty to Craig, you have to understand that these guys are playing the real game. Some guys might play friendly fantasy football in their spare time, but I don't hear about it nearly as much about it as their "Call of Duty" streams. The NFL is about wins and losses and dollars and cents. That's where their focus lies.

Mike from Cottage Grove, MN

Maybe we should change the term 'dead zone' to 'rest and rejuvenation.' New faces, anticipation and positive outlook for the upcoming season are the thoughts and feelings during this period.

I like it; much better.

Bob from Bella Vista, AR

Golf seems to Aaron Rodgers' thing in the offseason. Does he play at all during the season, like when the Pack play in Florida? Are there any other Packers who are really good at golf (or better than me, which isn't saying much) or really into it? Are there any Charles Barkley's on the team?

I don't know much about Rodgers' golf exploits. It doesn't seem to be a subject many have written about, either. The guy sure can swing (and putt) it, though. I know Davante Adams and Mason Crosby are excellent golfers and I think Lucas Patrick golfs a lot, too. That's about the extent of my knowledge on the locker room's golf game.

Mike from St Louis Park , MN

Who has a better, er, more impactful season this year? Tae or Z?

Adams is the top receiver in the game and has his best friend throwing him the ball. I think he'll have a great year in Vegas.

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

Just a trailing comment from the O/I. A lot of people mentioned "Instant Replay" by Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap as a book favorite, but I didn't see any comments on the sequel, "Distant Replay" also by Kramer and Schapp. If you liked the first one, you should definitely read the second.

It has the "Rick from Trempealeau seal of approval" going for it…which is nice.

Col from Ludlow, United Kingdom

To all Inboxers not named Dar, remember, you weren't runners up, you just ran out out of time.

"The other Inboxers get paid, too" …or something.

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares his favorite photos from the 2021 Green Bay Packers season.

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

OK....Wes, your answers to the OI questions are why I love Inbox! Your openness about not being a huge Packers fan, your nerves when joining, having no idea that Vic wrote a daily column prior to taking the job, and saying that you would've asked for more money if you would've known (!)-I respect that so much. You're human, just like us, and that's why we come here and read. Finally, kudos to the Packers org for letting their writers write, even when it's not 100% "company line."

You might not always like my answers, but I'm not going to pour Ginger Ale down your back and tell you it's raining. I am who I am. I expect nothing but the same from all of you, including Dan/Charles/Ralph/Dillard from Waupun.

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

Hey Wes, thank you for manning the helm for OI. If it were convenient, could you ask Cliff his answers to this year's Outbox questions? I'd be fascinated by his answers.

We're running out of time before training camp, but I think I'm going to ask Cliff if he'd mind doing a podcast with me next offseason. I don't know if I'd ask him about his Mt. Rushmore or anything, but I do have quite a few questions for him about some of the historical Packers players not in the Hall of Fame and what he learned writing the book.

Tom from New Braunfels, TX

Longtime reader, but first-year asker. Reflection after OI, the Pack mean a lot to me through good and bad. My family is all gone now, but no matter whose house we were in on Sunday, the Packers game was always on. My earliest memories of football were green and gold. It was all I knew. I have passed that on to my kids. My daughter born on a Sunday morning at 5:30. I held her in my arms at noon to watch the Pack beat Minnesota. They are more than a FB team to me; they are intertwined with my family memory.

We are the totality of our shared experiences. As I've said to many of my friends who have struggled during their transition to middle age and adulthood – Nostalgia isn't living in the past. It's appreciating that you lived. I cherish the memories I've forged with my father and look forward to passing those positive callbacks on to my son.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

I have to give expression to emotions stirred recalling the setting of my most memorable Packers game. Near 70, hunting far back in the Alaska Range with sons Jordan and Ethan, we decided we just had to make the season's first game. Under heavy packs many miles over rough caribou trails, then 40 miles of gravel road, in hopes a remote lodge had reception for the Packers' back-and-forth game with the Saints, ending in triumph in Cobb's first game. Shared father-sons effort and the outcome still brings euphoria.

Amen, Rod.

Lee from Conifer, CO

Now that OI is over, how long does it take for you to edit the responses from readers? I desperately try to not upset the Grammar Gods, but being a teacher, I can only imagine what you have to do get the II readable. If I recall, Vic once posted an Ask Vic without any editing. Is that something you'd consider doing? It'd be hilarious!!

It can be tricky, and errors do happen. There's also that in-between grey area where people sometimes purposely use incorrect grammar or phrases to illustrate a point. We do the best we can with what we have.

Linwood from Travelers Rest, SC

Wes, you really did accomplish a monumental task reading and editing all our OI responses. I appreciate the post of one of my two answers and living the Packers history through the other readers' answers. You may have answered my question of when you start taking questions for the next OI with your answer Monday, "Hold up, did I just come up with the first question for the 2023 Outsider Inbox?" Is it any time now?

This bar doesn't close. I keep a notecard with Outbox suggestions next to my computer. I already have two jotted down for 2023.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I'm humbled to be mentioned as "second runner-up" for Inbox MVP. To get a nod from Lori from Brookfield is the equivalent to hearing Aaron Rodgers compliment the play of Mitch Trubisky. I'm not in her league, but I'm inspired by where she sets the bar. Congrats to Dar, and Derek - know that I'm pulling for you! Now the question: Reflecting on the year that's gone by, who is the II MVP writer? Both have had a fantastic year. Somewhere on a beach, Vic is smiling.

Congrats, Al. I appreciate you being part of this community. My MVP for Inbox is Spoff – because I couldn't do this without him.

Chris from West Allis, WI

Not just a congratulations to Dar, but a thank you as well to him and all the II legends. I read almost every day and submit questions now and then, however I definitely feel like more of a consumer than a participant. If I had to come up with insightful questions every day for the II to run, I can guarantee you there wouldn't be much of a column. So, a special thank you to all those stars who contribute regularly so us mortals have something to enjoy each day!

Despite the uncertain 2021 offseason, I had so much fun covering the team over the past year and discussing the happenings with all of you. I look forward to the mysteries that'll soon reveal themselves in 2022. We're one day closer.