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Inbox: They know it’s a 60-minute game

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Don from Hazelton, PA

I was looking thru some old magazines and found a 1996 Packers Yearbook. I must have looked at it once and sealed it away. Do you think it's crazy to hold on to such a treasure, considering Favre was on the cover and something special happened that year?

As editor of the Packers Yearbook for most of the last decade, I would hope they’re all considered treasures. But self-promotion aside, no, you’re absolutely not crazy.

Gary from Oregon, WI

With Jerry Kramer finally getting his HOF call, who do you think is next up from the Lombardi era as a senior entry?

Right or wrong, I think Canton’s doors have closed on the Lombardi era.

Scott from Wausau, WI

There has been a lot of Inbox talk about how good the Packers’ defense can be this year. But if the offense is king of the three-and-out like last year, the defense stands no chance. They depend on each other. Do you believe the offensive execution is more important for the defense to succeed in today's game, or is the defense setting up the offense more important? I feel in today's NFL, the offense has to be the tone-setter because the game is being fashioned for high scoring.

However you want to look at it, the offense and defense have to help each other out. If one unit is struggling, the other has to pick up the slack. More often than not it’s about staying in the game, somehow, some way, until the fourth quarter and then making the plays when they matter most, on both sides of the ball. That’s how you win in the NFL.

Larry from Carney, MI

In your opinion how many players on the current roster are a lock to make the final 53?

I did a quick rundown, counting only those players who would give me Cosmo Kramer convulsive shock if they were not on the final 53 (barring injury), and I came up with 29.

Brady from Madison, WI

On Friday, the NFL Throwback channel on YouTube released an "Ultimate Career Highlights" film for Charles Woodson. Sometimes it feels like a dream, that one of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history played for Green Bay at one point, and his unbelievable play helped the Packers to their first Super Bowl title since '96. Ten defensive touchdowns in seven seasons? The man was a maniac once he had the ball in his hands. What made him such an unstoppable force?

The maniac he was before the ball was in his hands. In person, I’ve never seen, nor do I ever expect to see again, a defensive player with better instincts than Woodson. He knew where the QB was going with the ball before the QB did.

JR from East Moline, IL

If you were going to start a franchise, which quarterback under 30 would you pick if Mahomes wasn’t available?

It would be a tough call for me between Wentz and Mayfield, but at this point I’d probably lean Wentz.

Max from Troy, MO

What indicators should we be looking for during the offseason to signal that someone is on their way to a second- or third-year leap?

We’ll start hearing a lot of comments along those lines from coaches when OTAs start next week, but I always temper my thoughts at least until training camp when the pads go on and the practices crank up in intensity. When you’re there every day, every year, certain guys start to develop more of a presence on the practice field. You take note of it, and then see if it translates to the games.

Jon from West Des Moines, IA

Obviously I'm a biased Packer fan, and I know Rodgers does make receivers better, but I absolutely love both MVS and St. Brown. To me both have what it takes to absolutely blow up and become stars, but I can't decide which one has the edge.

Isn’t that a good thing?

Doug from Eugene, OR

Hi guys, a little perspective on the jump from college to pros. As a younger man I had experienced a lot of success in amateur, college, and the professional mini-tours. As I was preparing for tour school I ran into a veteran who had earned and lost his card several times. He simply told me, "Son, remember tour school is the weakest field you'll see all year." There really is no way of knowing how any of these drafted players will respond to the man-to-man competition in the NFL, is there?

Not really. An old friend always used to remind me it’s a game of human confrontation. I’ve learned myself the emphasis in that phrase is on human.

Randy from Clarksville, TN

Just saw an interview discussing how difficult it is for rookies to learn a playbook. Is it true that players almost instantly have to learn, retain, and perform? Can you think of another instance of having to learn super-difficult information and performing immediately occurring in the sports world?

Basketball coaches drawing up a play with 4.2 seconds on the clock in a tie game comes to mind. Even then, sometimes the star just dribbles from one side of the court all the way to the other, launches a turnaround shot from the corner, and watches it bounce on the rim four times before falling through to win Game 7. That’s why we watch.

Brian from Rochester, MN

As players move on from the Packers, it usually feels sad – even if it feels like the right move for the team. But public opinion really changes from player to player. Ex: Jordy Nelson seemed to feel like a much bigger loss than Clay Matthews to most people. In your opinion, which player in the last 20 years left with the most unappreciated contributions?

Maybe James Jones.

Thomas from Nazareth, PA

If the Packers stay healthy...

…they will contend for a playoff spot. I believe any team with an established star quarterback can always say so, but it’s hubris to think beyond that in this league.

Marlon from Eagle River, WI

How are team captains determined for each game?

Under McCarthy, the coaching staff chose them. I don’t know how LaFleur is going to handle it, or even if he’s going to stick with weekly captains or go with permanent captains for the season. Stay tuned.

Kevin from Boerne, TX

Which end of training camp is your favorite to watch? The beginning week with all the hopefuls and endless possibilities/stories? Or the final week dwindled down to the difficult career-changing decisions?

As far as watching practice, the best week has always been the week between Family Night and the first preseason game. The pads are on, the players are in the groove, but it’s not yet the dog days of camp. The competition is fun to watch, and with this year’s practices in that stretch coming with the Houston Texans in town, it’ll add another dynamic.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

I see John Dorsey is stating Browns fans are more passionate than Packers fans. Don't you think every owner/GM/coach/player/fan says that about their team?

Indubitably.

Steve from Phoenix, AZ

The potential of this defense has me really excited to see what they can do. If nothing else, the days of Cousins, Trubisky and Stafford comfortably sitting in the pocket waiting patiently for receivers to break free may finally be over. When we win the toss, I hope LaFleur defers – not just because we want the ball to start the second half, but because we want our defense to start the game, because our defense sets a tone. The depth of change brings a different kind of energy.

I get the sentiment, I really do. I just don’t buy into all the tone-setting talk. NFL games are so rarely won or lost in the first quarter, to me anyway. These guys are pros. They know it’s a 60-minute game, whether the start is strong or sluggish.

Steve from Cottage Grove, WI

Regarding talk about expiring contracts and other future items, “Kung Fu Panda” said it well: "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present." Enjoy this season and worry about next season in a year.

As long as the cap is managed properly, the timing of a decision is, too.

Marc from Lake City, SD

Last month a very negative story about Green Bay by Tyler Dunne. This week a similar negative story by Tom Silverstein. Also Bob McGinn did a real hit job on Mark Murphy in January. Clearly the sources of their stories primarily came from the ex-Packer front office guys now currently in Cleveland and possibly in Seattle. All the criticism of the new power structure in GB is unfair. Let it play out and judge it then.

Works for me.

Thomas from Dunkerton, IA

On the subject of punt returns, the question to me isn't who will handle the ball so much as what will special teams as a whole be like. I swear there were times last year when I wished Ron Zook would have told them, "Don't hold, we're just going to fair catch everything." I'd like to see the totals we had on a 10-yard penalty vs. a 10-yard return. Nothing as frustrating as backing into a hole before 12 even touches the ball.

The penalties on special teams got out of hand last year. You need a roster deep enough so that special-teamers can actually feel their playing time threatened if they don’t play disciplined football. One goal has been to improve that depth this year.

Trevor from Seattle, WA

What's the over/under for number of Inbox submissions on Sept. 15 at 3 p.m.?

The first 2-3 hours after a game, any game, it’s nonstop. Regardless.

D from Allen, TX

Saw Spoff's assertion that agents push players to enter early, because the second contract is the "big one." Agree. Does the NFL have any type of advisory committee like the NBA to tell kids if they should enter the draft?

Players can get a grade from the advisory board, projecting a round they can expect to get picked. But like the draft itself, it’s not an exact science.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

Mike to counter your response to my question about the interior offensive line. I fully understand the free-agent signing of Billy Turner and drafting Elgton Jenkins addressed the issue, not to mention Madison returning. However addressing the issue and correcting it are two entirely different things. I like what we did in FA and the draft and I expect that Lane Taylor will come back healthy and angry this year. If that happens I agree this is no longer liability but a major strength.

My point was simply that you can only take it one step at a time. Address the issue in a way you think will fix it. Then as time goes on you see if it’s fixed. We won’t know until the real games start.

Dale from Caledonia, NY

Football has changed a lot over the past 100 years. What significant change (something on the order of the forward pass) do you expect during the next 100 years?

Two-point stances only, and it’ll happen in far less than 100 years.

Bill from Menominee, MI

Would you be opposed to the QB wearing a "red shirt" in preseason games? It seems like a logical trade-off to get QB1 increased play time with decreased risks. In the age of fantasy football and high-performance entertainment, fans don't want to see QB1 risking a preseason injury regardless of what team they're on.

I think it’s worth a discussion.

Colin from Lansdale, PA

Top half of the league? Seriously? This defense better be in the top half...It's time to get this right, Mike. With both the free-agent acquisitions and first-round draft capital, we need to have higher hopes than top 16.

I’m a believer you have to walk before you can run. That’s all.

Rick from Beloit, WI

Wes, “Selflessness and Sacrifice.” What an extraordinary example of determination and fortitude. Kenny Clark and his mother are awesome and loving people in my book. The world needs more true stories like the one you wrote about two very special and wonderful human beings. Keep up the outstanding work. It's time to finally buy my No. 97 jersey.

If you didn’t end last week by reading Wes’s outstanding piece, be sure to begin this week with it. Hope all the mothers out there made it a great one. Happy Monday.

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