Sat, 20 Aug 2022

Inbox: This is a blank page in a brand-new book

Packers
26 Jun 2022, 18:12 GMT+10

The potential is limitless for the Packers’ receiver roomWes Hodkiewicz

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Wes, Friday's Inbox was epic. From receiver musical chairs to a complete breakdown of the Hodmeister cheese guide, it had it all! Just because it's the dead zone doesn't mean you aren't in midseason form. Keep stacking days buddy!

I'm just trying to do my 1/11th.

Josh from Adams, WI

While "The Dead Zone" was a decent Stephen King novel and the film adaptation is definitely worthy of watching, I feel utilizing the moniker for this period of misery falls short of the epigrammatic standard of this hallowed forum. As such, I hereby propose an official name change to "The Nothing," the villain from "The NeverEnding Story" defined online as "a supernatural force of destruction spawned from disillusionment and disbelief." It really hits it on the head. All those in favor, say "Aye."

This hit me right in the feels. I can imagine Spoff (on his snail), Rockbiter and me running from the approaching storm to the Silver City that is training camp.

Ross from Hudson, WI

With the much-ballyhooed receiver room, a question came to mind. We have all heard of running back by committee, but can there be such a thing as wide receiver by committee? Do wide receivers need to establish a rhythm like some running backs do? Is it realistic that the Packers could use a constant rotation of receivers to keep them fresher?

I think so, especially when guys have earned those opportunities. I'm not saying to expect hockey line changes every two or three plays, but the Packers have multiple receivers who do different things well. Why not widen the scope and see what works? If the young receivers develop and the veterans stay healthy, the potential is limitless for the Packers' receiver room.

Charlie from Morgan Hill, CA

What approach do you expect in preseason as it relates to special teams and the issues over the last few years given the Rich Bisaccia hire?

I expect special teams to perform well because the guys playing in the preseason likely will make up a bulk of the unit in Week 1. It's a make-or-break camp for many players with aspirations to make the 53-man roster. This is a blank page in a brand-new book. Now, who wants it the most?

Michael from Weston, Canada

Wes, since it's a lovely Saturday in the DZ, now seems like as good a time as any for this one. If Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon were a tag team, who would they be? The Dudley Boyz, The Rockers, The Legion of Doom...?

The Minnesota Wisconsin Wrecking Crew.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Billy Turner's first year in Green Bay he played right guard and he looked like a tackle trying to play guard. Then in Year 2, he played right tackle, his best position, and he played well. I saw the same thing with Royce Newman last year, a tackle trying to play guard. Does Royce have a shot at RT? What did you see last year? Did you see those same tackle traits and what thoughts do you have with Royce?

I liked Newman at tackle and thought that's where he might line up when he first got here, but obviously he played both spots at Ole Miss. The Packers broke him in at tackle last spring before he entered into the right-guard competition midway through camp last year. The Packers rotated him at tackle and guard this spring, so I could see him being in the discussion for both posts. Regardless, the Packers like to cross-train their young linemen, so none of this is new.

Jack from Knoxville, TN

Hi guys, I was wondering what Christian Watson had to say about catching passes from AR, things like AR is super accurate, the ball comes at you a hundred miles an hour, are the passes thrown with a tight spiral? I'm not sure you have heard anything from him, but I thought you might. Thanks.

Watson talked a little about that and just how "you have to be on your P's and Q's" when Rodgers is on the field given all the checks he makes. The kid gets it. He knows what he needs to do.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

Wes, I've often read that because Christian Watson went to such a small school with lesser opponents, that Romeo Doubs may be the most NFL ready out of the gate. Well, he went to Nevada which isn't exactly Alabama, Georgia...or Wisconsin. What gives?

The Mountain West Conference isn't small potatoes. It's a competitive league that's produced a lot of NFL talent, including Davante Adams. The difference with Doubs is in his role and production at Nevada. He was a four-year starter and a go-to playmaker during his final two seasons. In that way, maybe Doubs is a little ahead of the group so far but this game is an ultra-marathon.

H.R. from Henderson, NV

I get the sentiment that Wes was going for in his response to Brandon from Orlando when he said, "If you earn trust, you will produce." However, I think he was off the mark here. You aren't going to get the chance to produce if you don't earn trust first. If you aren't trusted to do your job - stay in your gap, tackle, run the right route, etc. - you won't even be on the field to get the chance to produce. Trust has to be earned first before you get the opportunity.

I should've clarified this slightly. I was saying history has shown those receivers who earned trust (Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, etc.) have produced at All-Pro and Pro Bowl levels. I wasn't trying to put the cart before the pony.

Steven from Balsam Lake, WI

With Sammy Watkins on the roster, how many TDs will Aaron Rodgers throw to first-round receivers this season? (Happily mocking the talking heads with this question.)

I hadn't even considered that. Hey, Marcedes Lewis ruined that first-round narrative for the critics a couple years ago. Maybe Watkins obliterates it this year?

Jeremy from Abbotsford, Canada

Wes, as someone roughly the same age as you (34), I'm curious what it feels like to be both young in most contexts but also increasingly older than the players you cover?

I haven't found it to be too difficult (yet). I consider myself a people person but also don't build my writing style off being a player's best friend or working my way into their social circle. They're at a different point in their life journey than I am, and I drive in that lane. I have a wife, a child and a job to do. I definitely want to learn more about them - but that's no different than the coaches and everyone else in football.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I think the coaching staff could scheme Jordan Love to look amazing, but that's not really point of a preseason game. Does the coaching staff, at least to some extent, determine how good Jordan Love looks to the naked-eye, casual fan? They want to see how he reacts to certain situations, even adverse ones, right?

The coaches aren't going to reinvent the wheel in an exhibition setting, but even if play-calling is more vanilla, it's Love's job to run the offense, lead his teammates and win the situational opportunities. That's what I'm looking for this August regardless of whether Love is lining up across from Nick Bosa or the 90th man on the 49ers' roster.

Jim from Duluth, MN

Starters playing in preseason games? All I can say is... Jordy Nelson and Rodgers' remark about a "meaningless game"! That should end the discussion once and for all.

It did for me. That's where I'll leave this discussion.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hello II, do players come to Lambeau to work out during summer break and do they have access to coaches when doing so?

It's my understanding players under contract have access to the facilities and weight room, but coaching is prohibited outside of the voluntary offseason program and minicamp.

Matty from Durango, CO

This is a serious question and if you can provide any recommendations, I'd appreciate them. When watching a GBP game, I'm barely able to keep track of who has the ball let alone know that a guard was pulling, the safety was out of position or that there were too many players on the field. How do expert II game watchers watch without spending hours rewinding every play to see what 22 players did on every play?

There's no right or wrong way to watch a football game. If you want to track the quarterback the entire time, go for it. But if you want to learn something about a specific player, then my advice is to focus your attention on that player. Because if you look for everything, you will see nothing.

Bill from Fort Worth, TX

The undrafted free agent count got me thinking. With the higher number of defensive players, along with the bulk of the offensive ones being linemen or quarterbacks, I wonder how much this factored into the defensive and special-teams struggles over the last decade. I mean, there are certainly diamonds to be found in the rough, but could over-reliance contribute to what we saw on the field? Players over plays, right?

I don't think so, Bill. First, some of the Packers' best special-teamers over the past decade were undrafted free agents (Jarrett Bush, Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo). I also believe improvement will come from being more bullish about using established players in the right circumstances (e.g. Rasul Douglas playing kickoff coverage, Adrian Amos being a personal protector on punts, etc.).

Sue from Tomah, WI

Good morning, gentlemen. Hope you are both well. Will kids be able to have Packers ride their bikes this year?

Correct. The bikes are back.

Derek from Norton, KS

What do you believe is Roger Goodell's greatest achievement as commissioner of the NFL?

Being a commissioner in any sport is not an easy gig. I certainly wouldn't want the job. To me, Goodell's greatest achievement is growing the country's most popular game into a worldwide enterprise.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Ugh. Yesterday I came down with COVID-19. Even though I'm vaccinated with both boosters, I've still been laid low. Give this 69-year-old some good news about his favorite team while I work on my recovery.

I'm sending positive thoughts your way, Dwight. We're 32 days away from football. Heal up and get ready to cheer. In the meantime, you'll be in my prayers.

Nick from Cincinnati, OH

Good morning! I am bringing my dad up for training camp this year. It was a Father's Day present. He is 72, a lifelong Packers fan, and his first time up there. We are going to be attending the joint practices with the Saints. Any "must-sees" or other suggestions that we need to take advantage of to make the most out of our trip? Thanks in advance.

If your father is able, I'd highly recommend checking out the Packers Heritage Trail. As much praise as Cliff has received for his book - and deservedly so - the work he did on the trail through Green Bay is priceless. It's a worthwhile journey through time.

Michael from Champaign, IL

Hello, II! I've been stewing about this for about a year. When Aaron was holding out last summer, I submitted the possibility of the Packers becoming a running team with a great defense and hoped they could find a quarterback to manage the offense. Now that Aaron signed, we have the best of both worlds! I would just like a little acknowledgement. Thanks!

OK, Roman.

Mark from Big Bear City, CA

Good morning, Wes. I've always heard stories in the Inbox about Packers fans on vacation running into other Packers fans. It never really happened to me until our last vacation in Sonoma and the Russian River Valley wine tasting. I was walking through the main entrance and a guy started jumping up and down waving his hands yelling, "Go Pack Go!" Terry told me he lived in Illinois and was traveling with Bears fans so he was happy to see me and my Packers shirt. Packers fans are the best.

That's funny but not surprising. I had somebody come up to me in the UP after finishing golf one day and say, "Three things!" I was stunned. That moment is up there with my 2019 incident where I was finishing Inbox at an Ohio rest stop when someone came up to say hello and that they're a fan of the column. Packers fans truly are everywhere.

Brian from Green Bay, WI

Wes, since you recently golfed in the UP, I am making an assumption you stopped somewhere for a Michigan pasty. What is your go-to pasty choice to pair with your root beer?

I officially had my first pasty (with a Stewart's root beer). I may have cheated, though. It was a breakfast pasty with sausage, eggs and peppers.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Weston, so you don't care for cheese. Andy Herman doesn't like watermelon. Anything else we need to know about the people we get Packers info from?

Herman doesn't like watermelon? Now that is unacceptable.

Matt from Anchorage, AK

Hi Wes, how are you? I'm still stoked (among other big things) I got published for the first time! In response to another Matt about favorite sports sounds, my favorite sound in sports is the football dinging off the goalposts. Bonus if it's a team doinking it to a miss against the Pack.

I had a lot of people come at me for not mentioning the "double" doink in my response, so my apologies to everyone for that. I hope you'll forgive me.

Tom from Platteville Township, WI

With all due respect to David from El Segundo, CA, the placement that I covet in the Insider Inbox is the final answered submission because it is the last thought in the minds of the illustrious readers as they enter the night of the living DEAD ZONE.

Better luck next time.

Mike from St Louis Park, MN

Yes, the doink of the ball hitting the upright is good but how about the sound it would make as it sizzles through the laser upright?

Now you're speaking my language.

Teddy from Onalaska, WI

I've been told the tailgating party in London will include some of King Edward VIII's delicious wedding cake.

Dismissed.

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