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Inbox: Those guys don’t get this far

CB Jaire Alexander
CB Jaire Alexander

John from Derby, CT

Knowledge is good.

It helps.

Markus from Aurora, CO

Insiders, there are still 60-plus days left until the regular season starts. What shall I do until then? Search the web feverishly for scoops, or simply lean back and distract myself until the Packers at Bears game?

Split the difference, sort of. The first practice of training camp is three weeks from tomorrow. We’ll be covering the heck out of camp, I can tell you that.

Bryce from Billings, MT

To find out more about tracking footballs, google “Zebra Technologies NFL.” They just partnered with the NFL and we may be closer than we think to tracking the spot of the ball.

Duly noted.

Steven from Charleston, WV

I wish I would've found II sooner than I did but I've enjoyed the last year or so immensely. First time writing in. The Bears in the opener or the Chiefs...which would be a bigger win in your opinion? Thanks!

If you’re posing a choice and the Packers are only able to win one of those games, you take the division contest without hesitation.

Packers DL Kenny Clark hosted his third annual Dreams Do Come True Football Camp over the weekend at Carter High School in Rialto, Calif.

Matthew from Madison, WI

Would giving up Thursday night games be a fair trade for an 18-game schedule?

I’m not sure that’s a trade either side would be interested in, to be honest.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

Of all the defensive players you have interviewed, what part of tackling is most difficult – the physical or mental aspect?

I’ve covered plenty of players whose tackling techniques were not the most refined, or physically they weren’t the strongest or most forceful hitters. But if by mental aspect you mean the courage to step into the fray, those guys don’t get this far.

Kary from Sheboygan, WI

Everyone has a good question, until they get punched in the mouth.

It’s going to be an interesting season in the Inbox if he makes the team.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, (another) Mike from IL asked Wes what were the most injuries he's seen a team endure at a particular position. If "defensive secondary" is a position then I'll submit that one for consideration. I'm sorry I don't remember the year (2015?), but we were playing the third-fourth guys on the depth chart. In a game near season's end, on the first play from scrimmage, two of our CBs or safeties collided and both had to leave the game. All the fans in the Raleigh bar could do was moan.

The details of the game you’re referencing escape me at the moment, but anytime someone mentions a spate of injuries, my mind always goes to the 2013 NFC Wild Card playoff game vs. the 49ers in the can’t-even-pump-gas cold. It wasn’t one position, but the defense as a whole, and it resulted in an effort that’s never received enough credit. Barrington, Jolly and Hayward were all on IR. Matthews was out. Shields and Neal exited with injuries in the first quarter. Perry was active but playing on one foot. Mulumba was dragging one leg behind him as he lumbered around in the second half. Datone Jones was playing outside linebacker before he ever practiced there. Yet the defending NFC champs had just 20 points through 58 minutes and needed to convert on third-and-8 with just over a minute left to kick the winning field goal. Since then, I’ve never underestimated the value of playing at Lambeau in January.

David from Janesville, WI

Wes! What the hell is going on up there? Your statement about enjoying the “Go Pack Go” chants with the offense on the field will be taken seriously by many and make that nagging noise problem worse! Mike, please issue Wes one demerit point with a 90-day expiration for illegal statement in jest.

Not a chance. It was the best answer of the whole column.

Chun from El Monte, CA

What is the weakest position heading into training camp?

The biggest question marks to me are the backup spots at quarterback, left tackle and inside linebacker. I’d like to see some depth in those areas really catch my eye as camp unfolds. James Crawford had a strong spring, so if he picks up where he left off, he might be the first one to shorten my list.

Todd from Brighton, MI

What!? No lunch with Spoff and Wes for Packers Perk auction item? It would set records.

Wes didn’t want to starve.

Erik from Sisters, OR

It was stated that it would be better to have a defense that can get a stop when the game is on the line, say the last two minutes, than to have a statistically top 10 defense. I think we would all prefer to have a defense that keeps the game from coming down to needing that stop in the first place. Now here's the question: Is needing the stop a result of the game favoring the offense or the defense simply procrastinating playing top-level defense?

Neither. It’s the result of this being the NFL. I can guarantee almost nothing in this league, but if your goal is to “keep the game from coming down to” crunch time, and thereby avoid needing to perform your best when it matters most, I’ll guarantee you won’t win enough.

Caroline from La Crosse, WI

I'm always interested in reading about the personal side of coaches and players as it is so important to their well-being and coaching/playing. Has Matt LaFleur and his family found a home and now settled in Green Bay?

Yes. When I interviewed LaFleur in his office last month for a Packers Yearbook story, it happened to be the day after he tore his Achilles, and he told me his family was moving up to Green Bay that weekend. He knew his wife wasn’t going to be happy about his inability to assist with all the work.

Harold from Chester, NJ

What's the preferred method for brat consumption? Boil then grill, grill only, or grill then simmer?

Parboil in beer and onions, grill, then straight from the grill to the bun.

Aaron from Herndon, VA

Just a comment today: The infusion of talent to the roster does not only improve the team from a personnel standpoint. Those that were already Packers improve from those roster moves, as well. Adams has been ascending since he got to GB. However, it cannot be coincidence that he was on the verge of breaking team records the same season he began battling Jaire Alexander in practice. Iron sharpens iron (metaphorically speaking, of course). I think that is the most exciting part of 2019.

I won’t deny that’s a positive factor, but realistically, don’t overplay it. The majority of ones vs. ones in practice occurs in training camp. Throughout the regular season, the respective ones face scout teams, except for the occasional two-minute drill. The best must continue perfecting their craft in their own way over the long haul.

Patrick from Valrico, FL

I have noticed a certain practice of some sites which take the same exact articles and modify the titles after the original post. Thankfully packers.com does not use this tactic. I find it very annoying and I wonder is this simply a trick to get more clicks or is there a less deceptive purpose?

Don’t think too hard.

Jay from Pollock Pines, CA

Mike, I don’t get to read the Inbox regularly, so I usually end up reading several in one sitting. My favorite responses are the ones that clearly required significant research to put together. (1989 Cowboys and 1981 Giants two-game schedules are great examples.) Did you love research papers as a kid or did you come to acquire the detail bug later? What are your best resources for assembling those kinds of answers? Keep up the great work!

The NFL Record & Fact Book and profootballreference.com provide a lot of background for research-based queries. They don’t have all the answers, but they have the data that can lead to answers with a little legwork, logic and double-checking. If I’m curious enough about something and have the time, I’ll do my best to figure it out.

Adam from Racine, WI

During a road trip to New York I had lots of time to think and thought about a way to improve special-teams play and possibly player safety. Allow teams a five-man special-teams roster outside of the 53 and game-day rosters, but can only play on special teams. It would allow teams more depth in other areas of the roster, and beyond the standard positions teams could keep top gunners, returners, etc., who focus solely on excelling in those roles.

Sorry, I’m not interested in greater specialization in an already over-specialized league. No thanks. I could see the game-day 46 increasing at some point, maybe all the way up to 53, before the 53 itself would increase.

Jill from Oshkosh, WI

Which player are you most excited to watch this season?

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

Wouldn't it be cool if Lang and Sitton went into the Packers HOF together? It just seems fitting.

That was mentioned in the Inbox when they both retired within a few weeks of each other earlier this offseason. If they were each other’s introductory speaker, that would be even better.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

A takeoff from Paul from Bay View's question about teams practicing in the heat. Do you think any teams will ever come back to Wisconsin for training camp to avoid the heat back home?

Home facilities are so advanced and ultra-equipped now that it’s becoming harder and harder to replicate the environment elsewhere. Teams also seem more reluctant these days to take away whatever local economic impact there may be from hosting training camp by moving it somewhere else.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Speaking of southern team training camps, do you know what happened with the Jaguars and UW-Stevens Point? Pretty sure that was a one-and-done, correct? Being from Point originally I do have a Jaguars/Point T-shirt from that year. Never knew why it didn't continue.

It was one-and-done, in 1995. I’m sure Vic knows more behind the reasons for not returning, but if the idea was to come to Wisconsin to escape the summer heat, the Jaguars picked the wrong year. The Midwest heat wave in the summer of ’95 was one for the ages. Multiple days of high 90s and 100-plus temps, stifling humidity, the whole works. That was my summer of grad school at Northwestern and I was subletting a non-A/C’d apartment. It was brutal. Dozens upon dozens of elderly and destitute people in Chicago were dying from the heat, and the daily tally was on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. So were pictures of the refrigerated trucks being used to store the dead bodies because the coroner’s office was so overwhelmed. How’s that for irony? Die in a heat wave, finally get A/C. I’m not making this up.

Visitors enjoyed the free exhibit with activities, photo sessions, and interactive games. The traveling exhibit will stay at Summerfest until July 7.

Lane from Kihei, HI

Reading about a possible cow bell giveaway at Packer games reminded me of the old “bat days” at Twins games where everyone got a free Louisville slugger. What’s the most unusual promotional giveaway at a sporting event you have heard of? It was so loud sitting below the upper deck!

Speaking of Chicago, it has to be Disco Demolition Night at old Comiskey Park. July 12 will be the 40th anniversary of the debacle. I don’t have enough time or space here to explain what happened, but it was memorable.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Hey II, my question is in regards to the post-retirement Gronk. That dude went from a powerhouse to someone my 12-year-old could beat up for lunch money. I know PEDs are checked for so I am not accusing anyone of anything, but what do strength coaches do to make these guys so much bigger and stronger than they naturally are without the use of some sort of PED? It is just mind-blowing.

The combination of diet and workout regimen these guys are on, year after year, isn’t normal. The only way to maintain the physique after retirement would be to continue all aspects of the regimen, and who wants to do that? Maintaining a certain level of exercise and continuing the healthy diet of a “normal” person changes the body quickly.

Aaron from Dallas, TX

“Chiefs, Texans, Colts and (womp womp) Patriots.” Am I the only one who instinctively read it that way?

I highly doubt it. I wrote it that way.

Scott from Fredonia, WI

An easy first step in using technology for ball placement is sync up the replay system with the positional sensor in the football. The refs can choose which frame they feel is the end of progress, and the replay system spits out the position of the football to the nearest index card thickness.

Vacation can’t come soon enough.

Jonnie from Garden City, MI

Ask a Packers fan 12 questions and, by golly, they'll give you 12 answers. I'm looking forward to all the responses! What's the most difficult aspect of your job when turning the reigns over to us to answer the questions?

Getting people to follow Wes’s instructions to wait a day before submitting their answers. But all’s well that ends well, and now I’m going to check out for a week or so. Enjoy your upside-down-inside-out box, or whatever stranger thing you want to call it (wink), as well as the upcoming holiday. Take care and be safe, everyone.

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