When David Bakhtiari is healthy, the Packers boast the best left side of an offensive line in all the NFL Wes Hodkiewicz
Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL
Next week starts your busy time of the year. What are you most and least looking forward to in the next few weeks?
What am I most looking forward to? Spoff coming back. I'm joking...Wait, no. I'm completely serious. Beyond that, it'll be good to get back to real football again. It just wasn't the same last year without fans last year. I can't wait for that first game where the Packers run out of the Lambeau Field tunnel to the roar of the crowd. It's almost that time again. The part I'm least looking forward to is the relentless grind. As a department, we're lucky if we get off three days off the entire month of August. Once camp starts, it's a tunnel with no U-tours.
Joe from Wausau, WI
Probably no college CB faced more of the top college receivers the last two years than Eric Stokes did. Does the competition he faced flatten the learning curve as he prepares for his rookie season?
Offenses are more sophisticated at this level, but facing the level of competition Stokes did provides a good foundation to build from. Stokes lined up against some of the nation's most talented receivers, in the biggest football stadiums in the country. I don't imagine he'll have many "deer in the headlights" moments.
Laura from Arlington, VA
Which offensive player is one to watch in training camp?
Josiah Deguara is likely to start camp on the physically unable to perform list, but he's my pick once he returns to action. The Packers were just scratching the surface with Deguara when he tore his ACL early last year.
AJ from Brisbane, Australia
One thing I'm looking forward to this year: Watching DBs making "business decisions" on AJ Dillon!
If Deguara is 1A, then Dillon is my 1B as far as offensive player to watch. I sure wouldn't be the defender standing on the tracks when that train is running towards me.
Marin from West Lawn
With the outstanding depth at running back, wide receiver, and tight end going into this season's training camp, how will Matt LaFleur manage the number of reps so that each player has equal opportunities to improve their chances on moving up on the depth charts?
It's a good problem to have, but that is going to be the biggest test for LaFleur and the coaching staff. You know Davante Adams is playing almost every offensive snaps, and Aaron Jones or AJ Dillon is most likely going to be on the field at all times. So, how do you utilize those other three skill-position spots. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, and Devin Funchess all bring something different to the table, and the tight ends, too. LaFleur will need to find the right balance between creativity and continuity.
Matt from Burlington, WI
II, what is the best position to put Elgton Jenkins at Week 1 and then after David Bakhtiari returns?
If Bakhtiari isn't cleared for the opener, then I want Jenkins at left tackle. Once Bakhtiari is back, then I think the Packers' best move is to slide Jenkins back to left guard. When Bakhtiari is healthy, Green Bay boast the best left side of an offensive line in all the NFL...why mess with that?
Monty from Hazen, ND
Jon Runyan played some good football in a reserve role last year. He was a LT at Michigan and a two-time, All-Big Ten player. If Bakhtiari can't go, why not try Runyan in that spot? I have read that he is not big enough but he is listed at 6-foot-4, 307 pounds compared to Bakhtiari (6-5, 310). Please explain.
I could cover the NFL for another 30 years and it'll never not be weird to hear a 6-4, 307-pound man called "small." Runyan has some positional versatility but his frame and broad shoulders seem tailormade for the interior. That's not to say Runyan couldn't play outside in a pinch but his focus has been on guard. That left tackle will be decided among Jenkins, Billy Turner, Ben Braden, Royce Newman, and Yosh Nijman.
Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL
I never hear the name Jake Hanson brought up as a potential replacement for Corey Linsley. Is he flexible enough position-wise to make the roster if he doesn't start?
Hanson needs to make the roster first before we talk about him being a potential replacement. He was cut at the end of camp last year and was on the practice squad at the time he got injured. Now, that's not to say Hanson couldn't make that jump. Scott Wells sat for a year before mounting his push to be a contributor, but Hanson will need to impress at a crowded position.
Terry from Green Bay, WI
Wes, I just heard the NFL's plans for a team that has to cancel a game due to COVID-19 that can't be rescheduled. As an owner, GM, or coach, you can't force your players to get vaccinated. What do you do to reduce the risk of having to forfeit a game?
It's an extension of last year, more or less. Whether players have been vaccinated or not, they must be safe, smart and disciplined at all times. The league threatening to make teams forfeit a game for a COVID-19 outbreak was met with strong reactions. Without getting into all the financial stuff, I assume the NFL looked at last year, when it got in all 256 regular-season games (with a few close calls), and said we doesn't want to take a step back in 2021.
Lynn from Butler, IN
You may have answered this before but do you believe Jordy Nelson will be in the HOF?
Matt from Waterloo, IA
Hey Wes, not to compare apples to oranges, but it seems like the trend in professional sports is players changing teams/cities more often to team up with other players and take more ownership of their careers to market themselves. For example, LeBron James has played for three different teams at various stages in his career. While the NBA is different than the NFL, I also never thought I would see Tom Brady in a Buccaneers uniform. Do you see this as a trend or are they more exceptions to the rule?
Well, I also didn't think Brady would play 20-plus seasons. I think he's the exception to almost every rule. But I think the trend will continue in the NBA but it's tough to great a "mega team" in the NFL because of the size of rosters.
Tony from River Falls, WI
It's awesome that Wisconsin stars such as Christian Yelich, Za'Darius Smith, Aaron Jones and David Bakhtiari cheer on the Bucks in person. Is this a recent trend in professional sports or have players always attended their state's other pro sporting events?
It's been a common occurrence since the turn of the century and maybe even earlier than that. I remember Prince Fielder, CC Sabathia and some players coming to a Packers game in 2008. The difference now is social media shines such a flood light on athletes' attendance at games these days.
Randy from Westminster, CO
Do you think the press will be camping out at airports in California and Wisconsin watching for the wild AR arrival?
News is news but I hope it doesn't come to that. I would much rather everyone just walk down to practice next Wednesday and take attendance there.
Robert from Verona, WI
For the record, I didn't ask any questions related to Adams, contracts, or anything else that could be tied back to the WR1 reports that are out there. I'm not responsible for this one, Wes!
I believe you, Robert.
Jacob from Superior, WI
Packers and Adams "break off long term contract talks" I haven't even been reading insider anymore, not that the column isn't great because I love your guys honest take, but I truly don't understand what the front office is doing. I have to say this is the first time ever training camp is coming up and I have zero excitement. Here's to hoping for some good news coming out of Green Bay before September, until then I'm going back to floating in my pool, my spotted cows await.
I get understand where you're coming from, Jacob. My advice to you, and any other frustrated fan, out there would be to take a breath and let things unfold in real time. Four months ago, most everyone thought Aaron Jones was as good as gone...and then he re-signed. So, nothing is over until it's over. As exasperated as you may feel today, I hope the excitement bug bites in the next few days. Because there is a lot to be excited for, with this team and this season.
Gary from Davenport, IA
People tend to forget how great that Super Bowl XXXI team was. Did you know they are one of only two teams since the merger to lead the league in scoring and in fewest points allowed during the same season? The other team was the '72 Dolphins.
And yet, the Packers still only have two Pro Football Hall of Fame players.
Doug from Neenah, WI
Good morning, Wes. How about a shameless plug for the Packers Pro Shop? While 2020 pandemic revenue had to be down, I ordered more than my fair share of clothing and accessories online but couldn't make up the shortfall. When something needed to be returned it was fast, easy and hassle-free. There are plenty of creative gift ideas for friends and family too. Thanks.
And my child thanks you for those purchases. The Packers Pro Shop and our distribution center folks do one heck of a job. I have to give a special shoutout to Lisa Treichel, too. No one - and I mean no one - made me feel more comfortable working inside this building than Lisa did after I was hired in April 2016. She's a treasure.
Julian from Gastonia, NC
Interesting Wes mentioned History professor as an alternate career track. As an undergrad at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill many years ago, I had my share of both History and Journalism. I've always felt the best training ground for Journalism is History. History is dig, dig, dig and when you're finished go back and dig some more.
I almost double majored in Communications and History...but decided I wanted to finish college in four years.
Rick from Hartford, WI
Wes, what part of Chick-Fil-A did you miss, they were not McNuggets. Here's to great season no matter who is under center. Go Pack Go!
Tell that to Giannis!
Dave from Waterford, OH
Wes, you did get one of the two players right, with your answer of Brent Fullwood. The other guy that was selected to the Pro Bowl, played on offense, wore No. 21, and played for the Packers, was...John Hadl .
*Wes angrily shakes his fist at the nearest cloud*
Mike from Franksville, WI
Rodgers...and now Adams...I don't even care who's throwing and catching the ball at this point, can we just start playing football again, please?
T-minus four days until we get back to football.
Chas from Phoenix, AZ
Wes, good job with Week 1 in your two-week marathon and your fingers worn down to the knuckles out of the way. Will Week 2 provide more in the way of questions concerning training camp or do you think those will wait until Spoff returns?
That depends on all of you. Have a good weekend, folks.
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