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Inbox: You gotta do it all

Teams win with controlled aggression and lose with undisciplined penalties

FB Danny Vitale
FB Danny Vitale

Chris from Chillicothe, OH

Mike, I can't wait for the baloney to stop, but if the bologna stops Sept. 5, what will be in Wes's lunch when you swipe it Sept. 6?

Ma Hod don't pack bologna, bro. Good morning!

Max from Ingolstadt, Germany

The name Danny Vitale pops up quite regularly this off/preseason. Would you mind breaking down what is expected of a fullback in today's football?

Everything. Vitale joked the only thing fullbacks aren't on the hook for these days is the quarterback's reads. Fullbacks no longer are just thumping, short-yardage options. If you're going to survive at the position, you gotta do it all. Kyle Juszczyk is a perfect example. Vitale has all the makings of one of those players.

Rob from Louisville, CO

My DeLorean crash-landed in late 2010, so forgive me if you already answered this, but after three seasons, Jordy Nelson has a total of six TDs and has never started more than four games in a season. Can you believe we wasted a second-round pick on this guy?

Nelson was a prime example of how not all players develop at the same pace. The Packers' patience paid off with Nelson, who went from No. 4 receiver to Super Bowl hero in a span of six months. You could argue he retires as one of the top five receivers in franchise history.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

In Jordy's presser, he mentioned that Mark Murphy asked him if he would retire as a Packer. Why would Mr. Murphy do that?

If Murphy hadn't asked, I don't know if Nelson would have. That's just not how he's wired. He let James Jones break his "retirement" news for crying out loud. Nelson is unlike any other quantifiable "superstar" I've covered. He wasn't about the spotlight. He understood it came with the territory of being a Pro Bowl receiver and was a consummate pro, but he didn't like drawing attention to himself unnecessarily.

Jake from Franklin, WI

Hi Insiders! I have a Jordy Nelson memory that you might enjoy so I thought I'd share it. Back in 2014 when the Packers were playing the Jets, we had a work outing at the zoo that day. The zoo had set up a nice private area for the company to eat, drink, and relax. Instead of walking around the zoo, the vast majority of people were in the private area watching the Packers game. I remember Jordy being unstoppable, catching lots of huge passes in a comeback win for the Pack that day.

Nelson had some memorable plays throughout his 10 years with the Packers, but that performance against the Jets (nine catches for 209 yards and a touchdown) was sheer and utter dominance spread across four quarters. It wasn't one catch but the totality of all nine. It set the tone for a special year.

Michael from Fredonia, WI

Will "87" ever get the ovation at Lambeau that he deserves? We need a chance to let him know what he meant.

Time will tell, but I don't think we've seen the last of Jordy Nelson in Green Bay.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Matt LaFleur mentioned they held back some looks in practice against the Texans with John Pagano on the other side. Sept. 5 is a big game for the Packers and LaFleur, and an important opportunity to get off to a fast start. When do the coaches start game-planning for the Bears and Sept. 5? Have they already? ML has to have been thinking about that date since the schedule came out.

The advance planning for that game is done. The coaching staff put that together in the offseason. I'd imagine they'll start practicing those Chicago-specific concepts the last two weeks of training camp, if history is any indication.

Erik from Sisters, OR

I like the honesty of the new HC. He really laid it out there when describing the offense and the attitude and lack of energy between snaps. Do you believe the no-huddle install will light the fire or are there deeper issues with the lack of hustle?

The locker room isn't giving off that kind of vibe at all. I just think it was one rough practice at the tail end of the first two weeks of camp. Like I said at the beginning, training camp is a gauntlet. The team practiced 11 times in the first 13 days.

Steve from Neenah, WI

How does the O-line look so far in training camp?


Al from Green Bay, WI

Alex "Light" is listed at 309 pounds. What makes this preseason game important for him?

Because he's the leading contender to be the swing tackle after Jason Spriggs was waived injured Tuesday. Light could play a lot at both tackle spots tonight against the Texans, with it unlikely David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga play. This is his audition.

Raul from Middleton, WI

With Jason Spriggs gone, it makes me think back when the Pack drafted Mike Wahle from Navy in the second round. He was a tackle and terrible there. They switched him to guard and he became an All-Pro. Why did they not try that with Spriggs?

Spriggs started two games at right guard during his rookie season. After that, everyone pretty much stood in agreement tackle was the more natural spot for him.

Jay from Altoona, WI

I was a little surprised there was no question posted in Wednesday's Insider Inbox regarding the release of Spriggs. While we will never know how injuries hindered his development, it does demonstrate that trading up in the draft for a player does not always pan out. If Spriggs shows the downside of trading up, hopefully Savage will show the upside of trading up.

The question has to be asked to be answered. I enjoyed my time covering Spriggs. Where some high-round picks get prickly if things don't go their way, I always found Spriggs to be approachable and honest. He did everything the team asked of him, adding more weight last offseason. Sometimes it just doesn't work out.

Scott from Martinez, GA

And what about Preston Smith? Does he come as advertised?

I think so. Preston Smith is a steady, fundamentally sound football player and entering his prime physically. I know he exited practice this week with back tightness, but Smith has been an exceedingly durable athlete during his first four NFL seasons. The guy just stays on the field.

Matt from Roanoke, VA

Which of the Packers' rookies will have the most pressure to make an immediate impact? What I mean by that is, which rookie do the Packers NEED to step right into a starting role?

Darnell Savage. That's obvious. He was lined up with the starting defense from the first public practice of OTAs. At the same time, it's not all going to be on Savage's shoulders. He'll have Adrian Amos back there with him, as well.

Steven from Rhinelander, WI

Do you think Rashan Gary will live up to his draft pick position?

It's early but he's given me no reason to think otherwise.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

II, I was wondering why the Pack picked up RB Keith Ford with all the written satisfaction with our current RBs, but then I saw the injury report. Smart man, Gute.

Anyone who knows anything about preseason football understands teams need a lot of running backs in the preseason. Even if they were healthy, there's a chance Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams wouldn't play in tonight's game. This is a big opportunity for those backup backs ( Corey Grant, Darrin Hall and Ford) to impress.

Eric from Mequon, WI

Which position group will be the hardest for the Packers to trim before the regular season?

Receiver and offensive line.

Jeffrey from Plainsboro, NJ

I know Jimmy only had two touchdowns last year, but if memory serves me correctly, there were at least two, if not three or four more TDs that were called back from penalties. Some of which were questionable or had no real outcome on the play itself, other than taking points off the board. So although it was a down year in his mind, compared to the rest of the TEs around the league, the injuries, and the way our offense performed overall last year, I don't think it was nearly as bad as everyone makes it seem.

Graham is his harshest critic and I get it. The very best hold themselves to a high standard. However, I didn't take as much issue with Graham's season as others. He posted respectable numbers and didn't miss a game despite battling a knee injury all year. More than anything, Graham earned Rodgers' trust. I think that relationship will bear fruit for the offense in 2019.

Jason from Des Plaines, IL

Not a question, just a comment. I can't imagine how much information Jace Sternberger is taking in right now from the tight end room. A future Hall of Famer matched up with arguably the best blocking tight end in the league and a rookie draft pick with plenty of potential. I like where this is going for sure. Let's hope the new offensive playbook incorporates all three tight ends throughout the season.

Sternberger and Robert Tonyan have a very unique opportunity to learn from the two of the best in Graham and Lewis. I talked with Tonyan about that Tuesday for my story on how proactive Graham and Lewis have been in mentoring the young tight ends. There's really no better way to start an NFL career than working with those two.

Bob from Lexington, SC

Haven't heard much about Elgton Jenkins and Yosh Nijman. Understand they are a bit raw and need time. Early on, I heard Yosh Nijman is a monster with raw talent, and that we probably couldn't hide him on the practice squad. Just wondering about how they are doing?

If you haven't heard much about Jenkins, then you haven't been reading my Inboxes closely enough. I like everything I've seen from Jenkins in the team periods and one-on-one drills I've seen him in.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

In last year's camp Wes spotted Tonyan at TE as a keeper. Which UFA is showing like that for the '19 class at a thin position? Anyone at OL?

If you wiped the slate clean and asked me to guess which of the dozen undrafted free agents was the tryout player at rookie camp, I wouldn't say Darrius Shepherd's name. Again, I don't know if he makes the team but he's a natural slot receiver – smart and shifty.

Scott from Ays Beach, FL

Any details on Kevin King? I know he's out, but any sense for the injury and its extent?

As I said Tuesday, timelines can be tricky with soft-tissue injuries. The Packers said they don't have a long-term concern. We're a month away from the first regular-season game, so hopefully that's enough time for King to get right.

Marin from Zagreb, Croatia

Hi Mike and Wes! I saw Javien Hamilton and Jason Spriggs are "waived injured." What exactly does this mean? Can they be claimed by another team or will they be placed on injured reserve? Thanks for the great job you are doing!

To take an injured player off the 90-man roster, he must be exposed to waivers. If that individual clears, then he goes on that team's injured reserve for the season or until the two sides reach an injury settlement.

Samuel from Washington Island, WI

What's your take on Lonnie layin' the wood?

Davante Adams and Graham said it best – there's no place for that type of behavior in practice. If that's the way you want to play, there's a preseason game on Thursday. I'm sure the NFL office would be happy to ship a FedEx envelope your way afterwards.

Jeff from Littlefork, MN

Cami from Jupiter, FL, asked about the consequences for Lonnie Johnson. Not only did he deliver an unnecessary hit in practice, but he also doubled-down by flexing over a player who could have realistically been injured at that point, then he obtusely tripled-down by posting it on Instagram. There is a preseason game this Thursday. It would seem like a rookie CB would be on the field playing for his spot. Is it safe to say some Packers may still remember this and that all consequences are not equal?

I know what Tony La Russa would do, but that's not the way the Packers conduct themselves. I will be curious to see if Johnson plays, though. I definitely respect the way Bill O'Brien and the Texans handled it.

Brian from Lawrenceville, GA

Looking at the latest NFL transactions, I couldn't help but notice Jordy's retirement as a Packer isn't official. Any idea when it will be official?

It's typical for teams to do "ceremonial" retirements instead of a retiring player signing an actual contract.

Amy from Bayport, MN

Matt LaFleur has been pushing the players to ramp up the intensity in camp. He also has a no fighting policy. My first thought was: "That isn't fair, how can you push these players to the edge and not expect passion to boil over into the occasional skirmish?" My second thought was: "That (and strong fundamentals) is exactly what they're expected to do in a game to avoid penalties." Do you think this approach to practice is a deliberate plan to instill discipline?

Aggressive but disciplined – that's been one of the main themes the Packers' coaching staff has pushed this offseason. Teams win with controlled aggression and lose with undisciplined penalties. Players must know how to toe that line and it starts in practice.

Vince from Flagstaff, AZ

A picture of "Moore, Light, deBeer" standing next to each other may do pretty well in the Pro Shop.

This is really the stuff you guys dream up, huh?

Oscar from Cottage Grove, WI

Pizza n' Beer or Tacos n' Tequila?

Pizza n' Tacos!

Timmy from Chicago, IL

Maybe it's been said before because it feels obvious now, but can we call our safety tandem the Super Savage Smash Bros.?

Or "A 'Savage' duo you can't 'Amos!'" I'll see myself out.


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