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Inbox: They're off to a great start

It’s a different type of challenge facing Jameis Winston

LB Rashan Gary and S Darnell Savage
LB Rashan Gary and S Darnell Savage

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

If Corey Bojorquez lays down some killer punts, and has a whale of a season, should we start calling him Buh-Orcas? (Wes, I sat on this question for three days out of fear of being banned. Don't ban me. I only walked through the door that you opened. And will keep walking as I see myself out.)

It takes a lot of self-awareness to understand the risk you took with submitting this question. I can respect that.

Eric from Mequon, WI

If you were coaching against the Saints, would you rather deal with Drew Brees (mastery of the offense and accurate passing) or Jameis Winston (arm strength and ability to run)?

Brees had a 112.6 passer rating (highest against any NFC opponent) with 21 touchdowns thrown against the Packers in eight career starts. So, I want to be as far away from that guy as possible. I respect Winston, his talent and the success he's had in this league. But I'm totally fine with Drew Brees calling it a day.

Scott from New Orleans, LA

Having to prepare for Winston to scramble and run with the ball is very true, but the last couple of years Brees couldn't really throw the deep ball or deep corner routes. I think what's more concerning is Sean Payton's playbook menu is much larger than it was a year ago with Winston as their QB.

It's a different type of challenge facing Jameis Winston. There's no doubt about that. Winston is 0-1 lifetime against Green Bay, throwing for 270 yards and two TDs in Tampa Bay's 26-20 overtime loss at Lambeau Field in 2017. He can throw the ball a mile and beat you with his feet. And at any moment, the Saints can switch it up and put Taysom Hill behind center. The Packers still have their work cut out for them.

Dave from Sparta, WI

Elgton Jenkins is slated as our starting left guard once DB returns. Other teams may grade him, and offer to pay him, to be a left tackle if he continues to fill in at a high level. A quick search shows nearly a 40% increase in pay among top left tackles compared to guards. Will the Packers have a difficult time convincing him to stay before testing free agency?

Elgton Jenkins is incredible. If he can stay healthy, Jenkins is going to make a lot of money in this league. But before we start talking about Jenkins and the 2019 draft class, the Packers need to get through this stretch of Davante Adams, Jaire Alexander and Robert Tonyan coming up for contracts first.

Cody from Round Lake, IL

JAIRE, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Darnell Savage, JENKINS, Rashan Gary, all drafted by Brian Gutekunst and have a legitimate chance and being Pro Bowlers and for some All-Pro this year. Add in Za'Darius Smith, Adrian Amos and Billy Turner, as well as the promising rookie class...keep up the good work Gute! I haven't been this excited about our team since 2014. Is it Sunday yet?

It's really something the trifecta the Packers could hit if Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage and Elgton Jenkins all develop into Pro Bowl/All-Pro players. Collectively, they're off to a great start.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV

Which non-starter has the biggest impact on the Packers' season?

Gary. My honorable mention is Eric Stokes. All the top rookie corners the Packers have drafted over the past decade have played big minutes for the defense right off the bat. Stokes has had an offseason of first-team reps to prepare for that moment.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

Hello Insiders! I'm really looking forward to the start of our season. For Gary and the Smith Bros., are we looking more for pressures than just sacks to show their impact of the game?

Pressures are important because they throw a quarterback off and get him out of rhythm. The thing about sacks, though, is that's where a defense can really get in an offense's head. It's demoralizing when a QB gets dropped four, five, six times. Just look at what Za'Darius Smith has done the past two years. He's an intimidating presence, especially when he's moving around. And if Gary rises to that level in short order…watch out.

Dan from Edgerton, WI

Which matchup concerns you the most: Alvin Kamara vs. our linebackers or the special-teams matchups?

Kamara. Special teams are important, but Kamara is a headache whenever the offense is on the field. The Packers need to do a better job against him than they did last season when Kamara caught 13 catches on 14 targets for 139 yards and two TDs.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

With potentially starting a rookie at both punt returner (Amari Rodgers) and kickoff returns (Hill), is there a risk in starting two inexperienced players on special teams? Especially with Kylin Hill's limited college experience as a returner, wouldn't it make sense to have an experienced returner like Randall Cobb handling some of these duties?

One of the reasons the Packers drafted Amari Rodgers was his history returning punts. He's a natural at fielding the ball and quickly gets north and south. Kylin Hill is new to kickoff returns, but it's also easier to learn on the job there.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Last year I was surprised by the playing time and impact from then-rookie Josiah Deguara. The rookie that might surprise me this year might be _?

Hill. If I didn't know, I would've guessed Hill was drafted in the third or fourth round, not the seventh. It's been a while since a rookie seventh-round pick came in here and looked like he belongs on Day 1. Hill hit the ground running.

Dan from Cromwell, CT

I understand the risks with starting two rookies next to each other on the starting O-line. But think how great it will be for the Packers' future if these two are complete studs.

And it's not like either was handed the job. Jon Runyan competed at both center and guard, and Ben Braden was taking starter reps at guard throughout camp. When the time came, Royce Newman proved he could swim with the sharks at right guard. Newman earned this opportunity. It wasn't given to him.

James from Asheville, NC

What moves will the Saints employ to take advantage of two rookie offensive linemen and how do the Packers counter those moves?

I expect plenty of stunts, games and blitzes. I expect Dennis Allen will want to test the fundamentals of those rookies early on and see what the defensive front is being given. Josh Myers and Newman fortunately won't have to contest with the noise in New Orleans. Really, I think the onus is going to be on Matt LaFleur and his coaches to script a good opening drive and let those young guys get comfortable.

The Green Bay Packers practiced on Clarke Hinkle Field on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.

Joe from St. Louis, MO

Hi Mike and Wes, the list a few II cycles ago of punters that have played alongside Mason Crosby had me wondering: Is punting harder on the body than kicking? Are kickers more durable than punters? Or is Mason Crosby just that awesome?

For starters, Crosby is definitely that awesome. You don't go 14 years without missing a game by accident. The guy takes incredible care of his body. The difference between kicker and punter isn't so much how hard it is on a person's body but rather how an injury, particularly to the core, affects how a kicker performs. Besides Crosby's hiccup in 2012, the Packers have gone my entire adult life without issues at kicker. That's something else.

Kyle from Waunakee, WI

The PSU vs. UW game got me to ponder this and I can't pick a side. The last 8-10 years of Wisconsin football has felt like the Badgers and Packers have been on opposite spectrums. For the most part, the Badgers have had strong defense but an offense that struggled when they couldn't maul in the running game, while the Packers have had strong offense and lacking defense. If the Packers can be elite on offense or defense this year, which gives the best chance of making it to the Super Bowl?

The Packers had the top-scoring offense in the NFL last season. So, for that reason, I lean towards defense. If the Packers can play an NFC Championship Game where the opponent is held under 28-30 points, I like Aaron Rodgers' chances to get the job done.

Bruce from Appleton, WI

With the Packers' starters not playing much in the preseason, how do you think the team will do?

Just fine…because nearly all those starters are healthy and available.

Jac from New Freedom, PA

How is Jordan Love's shoulder doing? Has it healed well?

He's practicing just fine this week.

Perry from Helenville, WI

Hello gentlemen! A player I was really hoping to get on the practice squad was Reggie Begelton. Did someone pick him up? If there was an announcement, I missed it. Or is there a chance he gets signed when someone is called up?

The Packers didn't bring Begelton back on the practice squad. They went with Equanimeous St. Brown, Juwann Winfree and Chris Blair. I loved Begelton's story and perspective. I hope he gets an opportunity soon enough, whether it be with another NFL team or back in the CFL.

Brandon from Orlando, FL

This is probably a silly question, but have either of you ever received a gift from a player or coach?

James Campen bought my pizza once.

Ingrid from Superior, WI

No question, I'm just excited to see the new punter work this Sunday. I have a feeling things will improve as the season goes on.

Bojorquez's confidence should be at an all-time high after the preseason that he had. As Tim Masthay once said, there are no playbooks for punters. You come in and do the job.

Matthew from Salem, OH

Mike, you and Wes have the best Packers coverage! Thank you! My question is regarding the QB spot. We've seen teams go younger at the position and it bite them in regards to championships (Brees, Manning and Brady). What are the chances they trade Jordan Love and keep "12" longer term?

Anything is possible, Matthew. Like I said this summer, I'm done trying to predict how this QB situation is going to unfold in Green Bay. The offseason taught us anything is possible. Love is under the Packers' control through 2024 (if the first-year option is exercised). That's a five-year window for the Packers to decide on his value.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Vince Lombardi rode Jerry Kramer so hard, right to the point that Kramer was going to just quit. Then he patted him upside the head in typical Lombardi fashion and told him he was going to be the best guard in the league. It completely reset Kramer. Would that type of style work with today's athlete, and if so, what current Packers player would it work for, if any?

There are plenty of Packers players who would respond well to that type of coaching, but it probably wouldn't have much of a shelf life today with the NFL/NFLPA. It's a different game. Coaches can still push buttons on the field but not with the force they did in the 1960s.

Ryan from Baldwin, WI

Wes, in response to Spoff's answer regarding best places to tailgate before a game, is his answer biased? I've been to Lambeau and tailgated many times and always thought it had to be one of the best in the league but was led to believe I was being a homer. Since you guys travel to every NFL stadium, is Lambeau the greatest tailgate venue in the NFL?

Lambeau is the best. We're spoiled with Green Bay being so open-ended and walkable. In most major cities, it's not that easy to tailgate within proximity of the stadium. You're in a far-off lot or underneath an overpass. Even if you're not parked directly in the Lambeau lot, you're still in the shadow of greatness.

Matt from Des Moines, IA

Do you guys travel to away games with team this year?


Gary from Davenport, IA

I don't know if anything can be read into this but there appears to be a significantly higher number of tickets sold behind the Packers' sideline than behind the Saints' sideline. Does this bode well for a large Packers fan turnout?

There were a ton of Packers fans in attendance during the 2016 game against the Jaguars. Despite the quick turnaround, I'm still expecting plenty of green and gold for this one.

Joseph from Janesville, WI

I'm not sure to what extent this has been asked before, but what are some of the coolest names or nicknames that have come through the organization? "Gravedigger" has to be up there for nicknames. I also always thought Atari Bigby was a really cool name. Would love to hear your answers. Maybe I missed a "Thunderclutch Smashface" or equally cool name at some point throughout the years. Thank you for all you do!

He's no longer here but I thought De'Jon "Scoota" Harris was a fun nickname.

Brandon from Pleasant Prairie, WI

Crystal ball time. Who scores the first offensive touchdown of the season and who scores the first defensive touchdown of the season?

Davante Adams and Jaire Alexander.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills

Finally, it's Christmas with 17 packages to slowly open that wow or disappoint (likely some of both) each week. Who we play, when we get a bye, whether it's on national TV, injuries, are all just wallpaper to the games. Sure, I dream of the magic holiday ending that gives another three or four packages, but the best part is just letting yourself enjoy every bit of what you are getting in the moment it happens. Our memories and joy are found in every year's journey, the good and the tough.

There's nothing better than the anticipation that comes with a new season. Frankly, I think that's what makes the NFL great. The slate is cleared, the excitement has been building for months and everything is out there for the 2021 Packers.

Russ from Henrico, VA

The NFL can say the season starts on Thursday all it wants. I'm not celebrating anything that starts with the Bucs and the Boys. Can Sunday get here soon enough?

The Cowboys-Buccaneers opener is the sweater and socks of this recurring Christmas analogy. You unwrapped 'em. You don't really want 'em. But they don't hurt anything.