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This is when teams begin setting the standard


Richard from Farmington Hills, MI

Wes, it's reassuring to learn that you're not really a “heel.”

It depends whom you talk to. Good morning!

Jessi from Sterling, KS

What a brilliant idea to have that rookies go through the Packers Hall of Fame to get them connected with the history and community! Do they do that every year or is this a first time?

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The Packers always have established education programs for their incoming rookie class, but I thought it was a cool idea by director of player engagement Grey Ruegamer to bring the rookies to the Packers Hall of Fame for a little history lesson and scavenger hunt. Our video department did a great job of bringing viewers along for the ride.**

Matt from Marshall, MI

The question regarding 2011 versus 2014, and Vic’s defensive-oriented stance on it, combined with the Pettine projections, renewed my hope and biggest qualm in the Rodgers era. Give the man a serviceable defense and see what happens. Here’s to a healthy and productive season!

*The 2014 squad is the most balanced Packers team I’ve covered – an explosive offense, a top 10 defense in the second half of the season and good health the entire season. When the defense is there, history has shown the Packers often wind up playing well into January and February. *

Nick from Wilton, UK

It seems likely Aaron Rodgers will, barring any injury, stay as the Packers QB for the foreseeable future. As the GOAT, is there any responsibility taken by him on developing DeShone Kizer or any other QB? To me, bringing Kizer in now, as a somewhat wounded but potentially great QB, was inspirational thinking if he gets to learn from the best before being given the Packers’ reins.

Rodgers is an open book. Ask anyone who has backed up Rodgers and they’ll tell you how good he is with young QBs. He’s also been forward about his intentions to play into his 40s, so I’m not counting on Kizer being the QB of the future. Still, Kizer is the most heralded prospect the Packers have had at the position in a decade. If he develops, only good can come from it. Just look at Jimmy Garoppolo in New England/San Francisco.

Arthur from Chippewa Falls, WI

I have always been a fan of the long snapper. If my sons played that is the position I would steer them to. To me, the long snapper is the (or should be a) focal point in the kicking game. Bad snap equals bad kick. I would have to say the best ones are a mainstay for a team. What are your thoughts?

It’s one of those positions where if you do your job and stay under the radar, you’ll be employed for the next 10 years. Isn’t that what every NFL player wants?

John from Toronto, Canada

Outside of team training camps, what do players do during the offseason to improve skills? Do they typically work out with private coaches, or do they only focus on conditioning?

Each player gets suggestions about what to emphasize in his offseason training from dieting or strength and conditioning. Some will stay in Green Bay to train, but most travel to Florida or California to prepare. There are so many state-of-the-art training facilities out there with coaches and gurus who specialize at certain positions. There is no offseason in the NFL. The grind is constant.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Insiders, you are a rookie about to attend your first OTA as a Green Bay Packer. What are your goals for this session? What one lasting impression do you want to leave with the coaches?

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The Packers were back on the practice field Monday for the first day of OTAs. Photos by Evan Siegle, packers.com

If I’m a rookie attending my first OTAs, I want to show the coaches that I’m a good listener who is open to constructive criticism. This is when teams begin setting the standard. It’s up to rookies to meet it.**

Ross from Hudson, WI

Jaire Alexander said something interesting while in the Hall of Fame. Referencing a Super Bowl ring he said, “...we have to get our hands on one.” I have heard mention of his swagger, and combining that with a team rather than a “me” mentality could put our secondary in good hands.

*Every player is chasing a Super Bowl ring, but notice how Alexander said “we,” not “I” in his response. If you saw how Alexander reacted to Lamar Jackson getting drafted, you can tell how much the team means to him. Swagger for the sake of swagger doesn’t win championships. It needs to be channeled into performance. Alexander did that at Louisville and it’s what made him a first-round pick. *

Jay from Land O’ Lakes, FL

Marquez Valdes-Scantling played down in Tampa at USF, my neighborhood. He's always compared to Janis but there is a difference. Marquez is a much better athlete with superior ball skills to Jeff. His route-running needs work, but hey, so did Jordy’s out of KSU.

*Valdes-Scantling is by no means a finished product, but he’s more polished than Janis in 2014. With all due respect to Janis and Saginaw Valley State, Valdes-Scantling played in two big D-I conferences. I remember talking to some of Janis’ coaches back in 2014. He feasted on a lot of D-II cornerbacks who couldn’t match his athleticism. *

Tyler from Vacaville, CA

Wes, if we’re talking about the CBA, I’d think practice or instructional time will be brought up. I know the players think it’s safer to have more time off, especially during the spring and summer, but wouldn’t they agree it hurts the development of the younger players? I’m not saying full contact or tackling but more time with the coaches. We’ve certainly heard McCarthy voice his displeasure on a few occasions.

This is a question that must answered in the next negotiation. At that point, there will be a decade’s worth of evidence to analyze. I believe everyone’s heart was in the right place during the last collective bargaining agreement. There’s an obvious correlation between contact and most injuries, but have the changes to the offseason program benefited the health and on-field performance of players?

Mark from Walton Hills, OH

I wanted to comment to what Don from Superior said yesterday. I, too, am a veteran. In fact, I am Navy retired. I understand about getting a disability. I still remained in after my disability till retirement. If you look back at both the NFL and the military, in both cases, you will see that measures are continually being taken to make it safer. In both cases, there are things that happen to cause injuries. These are not things that will make the job less effective, and in many cases, make them more impactful. I applaud the NFL in trying to make the game safer.

*Thank you – and Don – for your service. The human brain remains one of life’s greatest mysteries. As we learn more as a society, we make adjustments in every walk of life. The past is already written, but the NFL’s eyes and ears are open. *

John from Winnipeg, Canada

If the game continues to be safer, isn't there a possibility that the segment of the fan base that watches mostly for the violence may begin to turn away? If there was ever a trend in that direction, don't you think the owners would choose profit margin over safety? The bottom line rules!

*Violence doesn’t drive NFL viewership. It remains the country’s highest-rated sport despite the changes in the name of player safety over the years. The league isn’t trying to outlaw contact – it’s working to remove the unnecessary hits Davante Adams took twice last season. You can have a popular contact sport without all of the extra-curriculars. *

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Wes, do you think the legacies of players like Peyton Manning and Brett Favre are diminished because they played for more than one team?

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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

Not at all, granted that player performs at a high level. I just think sticking with one team adds something special to the resume of an elite player. It speaks to the player’s ability to perform at a high level and the commitment the two sides had to each other. That isn’t easy in the salary-cap era.**

Russ from Henrico, VA

Gambling in the day of Karras and Hornung probably should not be compared to today. As a young man, I remember Ken Willard coming to our office selling insurance. This guy was a four-time Pro Bowler and worked in the offseason! You make a roster today and you aren't looking for a second job.

*That’s fair. *

Nathan from San Diego, CA

What was the rationale for having QBs hold for the placekicker? Was it for the threat of the kick-pass option?

*It used to be popular for backup quarterbacks to serve as holders since they handled snaps and potentially could throw the ball on a fake. However, the Packers and many other teams began favoring punters holding in recent years because specialists spend more time together, while backup QBs have many other responsibilities on their plate. *

Jeff from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

My question/comment is in response to the questions yesterday regarding Johnny Manziel coming to the CFL. Doug Flutie dominated the CFL from ’90-97 without the internet exposure of today and no U.S. TV deal. Today, the internet is very accessible, ESPN broadcasts CFL games in the U.S. and football popularity has increased in both countries. The other question was about the CFL's interest in Manziel, himself. As a CFL season-ticket holder, I have had multiple people ask who I am taking to the Hamilton game since the signing.

The audience is there if Manziel performs, but he needs to make the roster and contribute in a meaningful way to make the moment last for more than 15 minutes. When signings like these happen, a lot of fans think the player is just going to step on the field and play right away. It doesn’t work like that in the CFL. There are only nine teams and many of them are committed to a starting quarterback (Henry Burris started for more than a decade). It’s a foot back in the door. Manziel needs to make the most of it.

Chris from Marshfield, WI

Do the scout teams wear the colors of the upcoming opposing team that week? Do they wear the numbers that correspond to the players they are pretending to be? Does the scout team QB representing Cam Newton make the same annoying cadence? Is he required to chew gum?

The scout team wears standard pinnies and red hats over their helmets. Nothing too fancy. When preparing for a quarterback, they’ll have their scout-team QB mimic that player’s tendencies like I’m sure most teams do.

Brian from Edgerton, WI

Recently on “Packers Unscripted,” you were talking about the rookie wage scale and how there hasn't been a holdout since the CBA that either of you could recall. There has been one big name very recently, Joey Bosa. I believe his holdout was about guaranteed money. Is there any other part of a rookie contract that is even up for negotiation? By the way, great job to both of you on Insider, “Unscripted,” and all the great articles you both write. We as fans are lucky to have you.

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Not really. Offset language has been the only real hiccup for first-round picks since 2011. That just means how much a team can recover if a player is released and (signs elsewhere) during his fourth season.**

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, you are more learned than the average fan when it comes to the NFL. But football is a complex game, on and off the field. What do you wish you knew more about?

A deeper understanding of why defensive coordinators choose to play zone over man in certain situations over the course of a game.

Dean from Northampton, UK

Would the Packers ever give up a home game to come and play in the UK?

Nope. The days of the Packers playing home games outside of Green Bay passed 24 years ago. It means too much to the community on multiple levels.

Colin from Lansdale, PA

In response to Mike's reply, does it really matter from an entertainment standpoint if we're watching the "cream of the crop"? Take college basketball as an example. NBA players have far more talent, yet many would argue the college game is more entertaining and fun to watch.

Sure, but college basketball benefits from the same feeder system as the NBA. The NFL wants the best athletes playing its game. Spoff hit it on the head. The emphasis on player safety is an investment in the future of both the game and its players.

Joe from Las Vegas, NV

I grew up in rural Wisconsin as a diehard Packer fan. Professional football was the only sport I really got into growing up. As a transplant to Las Vegas, I have now gotten into hockey and the Vegas Golden Knights. As a sports writer, with an expansion team reaching the championship in their first year, along with the tragedy in Vegas, where does their story rank among the greatest sports stories of all time?

I think the Knights’ achievements would be more in the mainstream if they occurred in one of the top three sports, but it’s still a remarkable run. If they win it all, it has to be up there with the greatest sports moments of all time.

Chuck from Minneapolis, MN

If a team gets into the playoffs at 3-13 because of an unlikely weak division and makes it to the Super Bowl, does that team still get to draft high in the order?

Not in the NFL. That team will still pick No. 31 or 32 depending on whether it wins the Super Bowl.

Lachlan from Queensland, Australia

In response to Dean from Leavenworth, IN, who asked about whether Mailata would increase the following down here in Australia. The short answer is no. When Hayne made the 49ers over there, he was one of the best players in one of our top sorts (imagine Le’Veon Bell coming to play rugby, for instance). The media lapped it up and wouldn't stop publishing stories about him but it didn't increase support (though there was a smattering of Hayne jerseys around the place). Once he left, it went back to normal. A preseason game here would be nice though.

*You would know better than I since you actually live there. I can only go off media coverage. It just seems like it came when Hayne signed with the 49ers and went after he was released. The best barometer of the impact these guys are having on the NFL probably will be seen in the years to come and whether or not we see more Australian-born players entering the league besides punters. *

Dave from Franklin, WI

"Teams can allot their 53 roster spots to anyone they choose." Except for in Madden! I'm sick of wasting a roster spot on a punter.

But you save a spot on a snapper, so it balances out.

Dan from Saint Louis, MO

Congrats on the half marathon Wes! Did you get goosebumps running into Lambeau? I know I did when I ran the half a few years back.

The run through Lambeau Field is at the very end of the race, so my headspace was more focused on my knee at that point. It is a cool moment for fans, though.

Dan from Houston, TX

Wes, I also recently ran my first half marathon (February). I challenge you to a race. You pick where and I will sign up. Loser buys the San P!

Ha. The smart money would be on you.

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