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The competition starts with a clean slate


Shalom from Austin, TX

Do you think the Packers are the best healthy team in the league? Who else, healthy, has the same or greater championship-caliber team?

I see a lot of contenders if their rosters stay healthy, especially in the NFC, but injuries will be a factor in 2018. They always are. Roster depth will matter.

Jake from Oxford, WI

What is with all the fans that think Aaron Rodgers should stop taking any risks, even if it reduces his effectiveness? I understand minimizing unnecessary risk, but if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t do what Aaron Rodgers does, he ceases to be Aaron Rodgers. It’s not like he’s sneaking in on defensive rotations taking snaps at middle linebacker.

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I’m with you. He needs to be who he is.**

Collin from Omaha, NE

We’ve heard that all three of our rookie WRs have an opportunity to contribute next season and I’m excited to watch them compete in camp. My question is what separates them from each other? What are their respective strengths? Respective weaknesses?

To be determined in my view. At first glance, it appears Moore is the most powerful, Valdes-Scantling is the fastest, and St. Brown might have the best hands. But the competition starts with a clean slate.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Amazingly the Packers haven’t drafted a first-round skill-position player (QB, WR, RB or TE) since 2005 when they selected Aaron Rodgers. More talented weapons for Rodgers sounds like an excellent idea as he plays in the back nine of his career. With two first-round draft picks and Gutekunst as GM will that streak end in 2019?

That depends considerably on how 2018 unfolds. Can we play this season first?

Don from Superior, WI

I had to join the Air Force to afford to get my education. I knew the risk to my personal safety when I signed the agreement. I ended up getting injured and have a disability now. I was able to acquire a degree and provide for myself with that degree. I chose not to stay in the service because it was too risky. All the rule changes in the NFL are to make it. My question is why did we have to change the rules? Every player knows the risk when they decided to play the game and if you are afraid of getting hurt then take your college degree that your scholarship has provided you and forget about football.

With all due respect to your military service, and I mean that sincerely, the comparison isn’t valid. If the game isn’t made safer, fewer kids will play it (or be allowed to play it). That will hurt the game’s popularity, as well as shrink the talent pool. When the talent pool shrinks, there’s not as much cream to rise to the top, and the highest level of the sport will suffer. The quality of the game will decline as the fan base dwindles. It’s not a good combination. The owners are making safety-related decisions for the long-term health of the sport and their investments.

Jason from Kent, OH

An interesting question was brought up yesterday about placekickers punting and vice versa. Are teams required to have two kickers and a long snapper on their team or could they theoretically remove one of their kickers, punters, or long snappers for another wide receiver, running back, etc.?

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Packers LS Hunter Bradley celebrates his birthday on May 21. Take a look at photos of him from rookie orientation and college. Photos by AP and Evan Siegle, packers.com

Teams can allot their 53 roster spots to anyone they choose. There’s no requirement they have a quarterback, let alone two, though I wouldn’t recommend building a team that way.**

Gary from Murrieta, CA

The history of holding for the placekicker includes, for many years on many teams, the backup quarterback. When did the punter "officially" take over those duties?

I never sensed a wholesale shift. Tony Romo was still, famously, holding for the Cowboys as recently as a dozen years ago. I think having the punter hold is simply a way to maximize on practice time for both the specialists and the backup QB.

Jerry from Savannah, GA

How much do you think Johnny Football will increase the CFL’s popularity?

In the United States? I doubt much at all. Doug Flutie lit it up north of the border for years but it didn’t make all that many waves in the U.S. It just became a great story when he returned to the NFL. I can’t speak to how the Canadian fans will or won’t react to Manziel.

Myke from Janesville, WI

I was amazed in 2011 watching our receivers catch nearly 90 percent of passes thrown their way. I don't believe in human perfection. For me, the Packers’ best year was 2011. After that season, the receptions slid away from our WR corps when fate raised its head. Our former Insider reporter disagreed. His pick was 2014. Which year do both of you think was the Packers’ best?

To be fair, Vic was selecting from the seasons he covered, which began with 2011, and your apparent focus on offense falls right in line with his general feelings about fans. Aside from the Super Bowl-winning team, I think McCarthy’s best overall team is a close call between 2007 and 2014. I lean slightly toward ’14, but both teams were powerful and balanced.

Jake from Greenville, NC

How many other receivers did the Packers draft before taking Driver in the seventh?

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One, Ohio State’s Dee Miller in the sixth round, 17 picks before they took Driver.**

Bryan from Madison, WI

I feel like the Packers have quietly assembled one of the better D-lines in the league. I can’t imagine many teams would look at Daniels, Clark, Wilkerson and Lowry and think “meh.” I am excited to see how that unit performs this year.

As I’ve said before, the addition of Wilkerson to what already was one of the strongest positions on the team signaled exactly where the foundation of Pettine’s defense will lie.

Nate from Victoria, Canada

Hey guys, I’ve gotta say that I really enjoy what you’ve done with the column, I find myself chuckling every time I read it. Don’t get me wrong I liked Vic, I just find your sense of humors more my style. Seinfeld references are always appreciated. What I’m most excited for this season is can the Packers get off the field on third down. Is there a specific area that peaks your interest for the 2018 Packers? Also, Vic never answered my questions so here’s hoping...

For me, it’s seeing Pettine’s plans for the pass rush, and whether the Packers can generate one consistently without having to send extra rushers, which makes the back end vulnerable. A coordinator’s hands are tied if he must blitz to get pressure. His playbook is wide open if he’s choosing how to do it.

Tony from Kaukauna, WI

How about J.J. Watt? What he does off of the field is just as good as his dominance on the field! Bucky Nation and Houston got to be very proud.

There’s not much more I could say about the man that hasn’t already been said.

Susan from Inman, SC

I was privileged to watch Rodgers play in a charity golf tournament this weekend. If he is slinging the football the way he was swinging those clubs, he's ready to go! Has he been officially cleared to fully participate in OTAs this week?

There’s been no indication he’ll be under any limitations.

Rickie from Elkhorn, WI

Hi guys. How different do you think the offense will look this year with the head coach and Joe Philbin rebuilding the offense from scratch? They are obviously doing all that work to give a fresh look to opposing defenses. Mr. Philbin didn't have the same level of young RB talent at his disposal when he was here last, and the receiver position was locked down with Jennings, Driver, Jones and a young Jordy.

I don’t know how different it will look, and having covered all of McCarthy’s tenure, I can’t say if I’ll really notice anyway because his offense has covered considerable ground, schematically, over 12 years, and I’m no X’s and O’s guru by any stretch. I’m not expecting anything brand spanking new, necessarily, but I’ll be watching for timing and rhythm. That’s what makes the offense hum.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

I know people are excited about our draft and want football now, but for Pete’s sake. We just had an April where we had two feet of snow in 24 hours. Can't we enjoy summer first?

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Packers DT Mike Daniels held his third annual youth football camp on Sunday at St. Norbert College in De Pere. Photos by Ryan Hartwig, packers.com

I spent a comfortable Saturday afternoon in the bleachers at a minor league baseball game. I certainly hope to do more of that in the coming months.**

Sebastian from Slinger, WI

I think the reason so many people hate the Patriots is the fact that they never had to cheat to win but still cheated anyhow. I think that takes away a tad from their legacy. They are still great don’t get me wrong and their accomplishments aren’t just a fluke or due solely to cheating but that same dynasty being caught several times when they already had the upper hand in the AFC leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. Thoughts?

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens didn’t need to take PEDs to make the Hall of Fame. They already had all the ability and were well on their way. Legacies live with the choices made.

John from Casablanca, Morocco

In a recent answer you talked about the rookie wage scale of the current CBA and the fact that it has taken out all the drama of rookies signing their first contract. I LIKE this fact a lot. My question: Have you heard any complaints or grumblings about this provision in the CBA? Do you expect this provision or something very similar to be in the next CBA? What provisions in the next negotiations do you think will have the most contention or heated discussions? Power of the commish in determining player discipline? Other?

I think the rookie wage scale is here to stay. It’s been great for the league. The commissioner’s power has been addressed somewhat, but I anticipate more discussion. Marijuana and other drug-testing concerns will be on the table as well. Any anthem or related protest issues should be resolved by then, but if not, they could come up, too. Economically, the current CBA has worked very well for both sides, which should be a good start toward the next CBA.

Pat from Freehold, NJ

No, it wasn't OK for Pete Rose to bet on his team to win (spread or no spread). It still ruins the integrity of the game. Other gamblers will know which way the wind is blowing by the way Rose is betting.

More importantly, was he managing today’s game to give his team the best chance to win tomorrow’s game, when he was going to bet on it?

Jerome from Midland, MI

Will the Packers have the youngest CB/S group in the league in starts and experience? Fundamentals are important. How much growing pains will this young unit endure costing yardage, field position and points due to defensive holding, pass interference and missed assignments during the game? Experienced opposing QBs will be testing this group early and often to find out.

Of course, but the secondary is going to get tested by every quarterback regardless of experience level. It’s the way the game is played. To your point, the leadership of veterans like Clinton-Dix and Williams will be vital to get through the growing pains.

Don from Rochester, MN

Insiders, a follow-up question on the scout team for practice. Is it made up of both practice-squad players and second/third-stringers? Who makes those decisions and does the scout team provide both a defensive and offensive look for the first team?

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WRs J'Mon Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling put on their Packers uniforms for the first time at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles. Photos by Ben Liebenberg/NFL

Yes on the composition. The coaches make the scout-team assignments, and there is a unit for each side of the ball.**

Scott from Neenah, WI

Is this accurate or am I missing something? The Packers, Bears, Vikings and Lions each lose all their non-division games and split their division games, each finishing 3-13. The team that wins the tiebreaker gets into the playoffs. With three wins. I know it is near impossible to happen but still possible right?

Yes, it’s possible.

John from Fort Pierre, SD

Spoff, did you think to ask Hunter Bradley if the player that asked him why he was still there got drafted?

He said in his conference call on draft day it was one of the stars of the team, so I assume the player was drafted.

Tom from Vista, CA

How did Alex Karras and Paul Hornung get caught?

The league conducted an investigation into gambling amongst its players that lasted several months. Years later, Hornung went on record saying he and Karras were far from the only players who gambled on games, but they weren’t going to rat out anyone else just because they were the only ones who got caught.

Benzino from Aurora, WI

Clay Matthews aside, and Perry flashes here and there, but can we honestly say we haven't had the Mike Daniels-like emergence in our OLBs? Recently we haven't really had one guy come up and take the next step and assert some dominance. Can Pettine bring it out of this group?

Fackrell, Biegel and Gilbert are all viable candidates. The time is now.

Roland from Oconomowoc, WI

Maybe you should discuss how fast the grass is growing at Lambeau. You seemed to have covered every other subject. Looking forward the sound of those pads crashing and the crowds screaming.

When the offseason starts Jan. 1, it does get long. Media access to OTAs starts this week, though, so we should have some new topics to kick around soon. Happy Monday, everybody.

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