Tue, 03 Aug 2021

It was about learning, to get to the proving ground that awaits Mike Spofford

Kyle from Osceola, WI

I've got $88 that says Wes only used 295 points so that Spoff would get a thousand questions about it on Friday. Too bad there's no math in the Inbox and gambling is illegal at Bushwood.

Congratulations, Kyle. Of all the Inbox replies to Wes's math deficiencies - and trust me, I read them all - this was the best. By far. Nicely done.

TK from Grafton, WI

To follow up on Jeff from Waukesha, who was/were the player(s) you knew early on wouldn't make it? Or how does a rookie give that impression? Or what can a rookie do to be unimpressive?

I always try to reserve judgment until the pads go on, and I know Wes does, too. But when you see a guy unable to ever win a one-on-one drill, especially against young guys fighting to make the roster, that's a bad sign. Also, when you see a young player constantly having a coach or teammate adjust his pre-snap alignment in 11-on-11, that's not a good look either.

George from Manassas, VA

He may not have been the shortest, but wouldn't you say Doug Flutie might have been the most successful short QB, maybe if you include his dropkicks?

Even without the dropkicks. But it wasn't until his second stint in the NFL, after a wildly successful run in the CFL, that Flutie really did his thing here.

Monty from Hazen, ND

I have read that the team is high on Ben Braden and that he is a possibility at LT if David Bakhtiari is not ready to go. He is in his fourth year as a pro, has bounced around a bit, and hasn't played much. What's his story and would you put him in the category of "late bloomer"?

We'll see. Perhaps it's a label that'll be attached to him depending on how he competes this summer. He started games at both left tackle and left guard for Michigan and was named second-team All-Big Ten in 2016. He has spent time each of the last four seasons on the Jets' and Packers' practice squads, with stints on the active rosters of both teams. He's one of those paid-his-dues guys for whom it's natural to hope he finally gets his breakthrough.

Doug from Lafayette, OH

I've had to do some rearranging during the Aaron Rodgers saga. I've been guilty of jumping to conclusions and being a poor fan. Truth is, there's no need to pick sides here. As a human being, I should respect another individual's process of having feelings. As a fan, I should absolutely hope for the best outcome for this team. Both sentiments can coexist. I feel it's as simple as that for me right now. Has this ordeal challenged the boundaries of professionalism and natural human reaction for you?

Not really, but I don't mean to be flippant about it. I had a team to cover, and a job to do, back in the summer hysteria of 2008, when Rodgers broke collarbones in 2013 and 2017, and when McCarthy was fired in 2018. The dispassionate approach kicks in at certain times. It's an occupational hazard, as well as a requirement.

Al from Brisbane, Australia

Mike, in the midst of the swirling conjecture, I can't help but wonder whether the thing that will ultimately direct Rodgers' decision is the thing so dear to him: his legacy.

I guess we'll find out. Eventually.

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

What are the Packers planning to do if Aaron Rodgers doesn't show up to training camp?

Get Jordan Love ready to play.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Read the NFL's updated COVID-19 protocols for training camp (and I assume the season) and I can't see how any player could justify not getting vaccinated. Not sure what percentage of the Packers' roster has been vaccinated at this point but I'm anticipating 100% by July 27. Is that reasonable? What are your expectations?

I have none, but the protocols clearly incentivize vaccination. Life will simply be harder and full of inconveniences for those who decline.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

Far be it from me to tell Ben from Burlington he's wrong, but he is. The EEOC has ruled employers can require vaccinations and are allowed to require it of new hires. The airlines are already doing it in fact.

Wasn't aware of that. We stand corrected.

Scott from La Crosse, WI

With all of the conversation around best outdoor kickers I'm surprised Robbie Gould isn't being brought up. He is the only kicker I recall Aaron Rodgers giving a call out to besides Crosby. How do you rank Gould in terms of outdoor kickers?

Oh, he's right up there, and the Bears know they never should have moved on from him. But between the two I'd still give the nod to Mason Crosby.

Jared from Blue Bell, PA

I believe JK Scott completed a pass to Mason Crosby last year on a botched play turned trick play turned failed extra-point attempt. Doesn't No. 2 have the most recent reception for a single-digit-wearing Packer?

Technically no, because whether it's rushing attempts, passing attempts, completions or receptions, those don't exist statistically on PATs. If Davante Adams catches a pass on a two-point conversion, he does not get credited with a reception. He just gets two points if he reaches the end zone, none if he does not. No other stats are recorded.

Sandra from Menomonee Falls, WI

Why do you continue to report on the childish actions by both sides of the Rodgers holdout?

We aren't, unless I missed any headlines on our website regarding Mark Murphy's comments or Aaron Rodgers' T-shirts. We're acknowledging what's out there based on the questions submitted to this column, but we are not reporting on any of it.

Matt from Missoula, MT

Does Joe Barry coach from the sideline or in the booth during games?

I'm not sure. We'll find out during the preseason, I would imagine. He hasn't been a defensive coordinator since 2016 so he'll certainly be asked when the time comes.

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

I've really enjoyed seeing the pictures of the Packers to wear (countdown to camp) jersey number. Everyday I'm amazed at how brief a stint some of these guys had in Green Bay. Many are names I remember fondly and I picture them having had long careers for the green and gold, but many have never gotten a second contract. Makes me appreciate "maximizing your potential earning" quite a bit more.

Indubitably.

Randy from Ooltewah, TN

How key will it be to the defense to have Kevin King produce a solid season? He seems like a forgotten man since Stokes was drafted, but I see him as a key component to the pass defense.

So do I. Last January's rough day in the NFC title game makes it easy to forget King led the team with five interceptions in 2019 (and should've had probably seven or eight). He missed some tackles on the perimeter last year he shouldn't have, and some injuries cropped up again after a healthy '19, but he was a solid cover corner until the last game. I'm very curious to see the battle between him and Stokes for the No. 2 spot, but whoever wins, there's plenty of reason to like the Packers' top four at the position heading into the season.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Mike, do you see AJ Dillon formally playing a fullback role versus No. 2 RB?

No.

Sean from Springfield, OR

Hi Insiders, with the longer season do you see starters resting more? If a team wraps its division by the time they hit 12-2, do they coast? Does a team monitor its players and rest some in the middle of the season?

It all depends on playoff positioning, as it always has. If a team can still earn a higher playoff seed and feels it's worth the effort, they're gonna fight for it.

Jonathan from Milwaukee, WI

What changes do you think we need to make this year to go all the way?

Win one more game. Or two.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, England

Who would be the better of you guys in training camp?

Wes takes more meticulous notes during practice. My brain no longer has the space or energy for so much minutiae.

Michael from Hammond, IN

Will Josh Myers be the starting center on opening day?

It wouldn't surprise me, but he has to prove he's up to the job. The spring was not about proving anything. It was about learning, to get to the proving ground that awaits.

Jeff from Lake Forest, CA

With the preseason now one less week, I'm curious what the veteran playing time will look like now in terms of getting ready but not getting injured. Would it be smart to play half or most of Game 1, and sit the last two in case of injury? Curious if you've heard any rumblings about what established players will do now.

I haven't. My guess is veteran starters will play less than a half of football total in the preseason, probably split between the second and third games. But that's just a guess.

George from Richfield, WI

Google-image-searched Ezra Johnson after (Monday's) II. I can't wait for those '70s/'80s outfits to be a throwback. Those numbers on the hips, the G's over the shoulder stripes. Also, Ezra's yellow elbow pads over the green sleeves. Ah, I miss the older looks. Maybe I'm just getting old.

Aren't we all.

Christopher from Appleton, WI

Hey, guys. Players such as Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams have provided you great insight in how they read and react to a given play on the field. Have you covered a CB or DB that has given you similar feedback? Sounds like Jerry Gray just wants these guys to "trust" their instinct on given play.

Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams could both talk about defensive plays the same way. I've learned more about football at this level from those types of conversations than from anything else. It'll be nice to someday (hopefully soon) regain those opportunities.

Brett from Bloomingdale, IL

Since Coach LaFleur has been with us, I feel that he has excelled in tailoring his offense to thrive with A-Rod's legendary off-script playmaking abilities. If Love were under center, do you think we would see him play more within the system, with less improvisation and more rhythm throws? Or allow for wiggle room within the scheme, and trust in Love's playmaking abilities that made him so great at Utah State?

You train the quarterback within the system as best you can, and then you let him play, followed by reviews and adjustments as you go along. Things have to happen organically when a QB is ready and makes those strides. The difference between the accomplished veteran and the young up-and-comer, though, is with the former, I think the system evolves with his game, whereas with the latter, his game evolves with the system.

Linwood from Travelers Rest, SC

Good morning! Here's a dead-zone question for whenever it fits into the flow. Coach LaFleur has been lauded as a leader and motivator of his team. From where has he obtained his leadership abilities? More specifically, what non-football related resources (books, podcasts, etc.) does Matt tap into to keep his leadership skills at the top? Thanks for keeping us informed throughout the summer!

That's a great question, and one I'll try to ask LaFleur the next time I get a chance to chat with him one-on-one. I'm not sure that's an answer he'd feel comfortable broadcasting to the world in a press conference.

Mark from Pitt Meadows, BC

Who in your opinion do you feel will have the bigger jump/impact in the new defensive scheme, Darnell Savage or Rashan Gary? I hope and predict both will become players that teams are very scared of when game-planning.

I think both are primed for potentially big years, and I've written as much about both (Gary story here / Savage story here).

Bud from Diamond Harbour, New Zealand

Hi Mike. My question is: Are you related to Ainsworth Spofford, a bookseller, publisher and newspaperman who was appointed librarian of the Library of Congress in 1864?

Yes, I'm a direct descendant. He's my great-(I forget exactly how many greats)-grandfather.

Brandon from Atlanta, GA

I'm more of a backspace guy myself.

That takes too long.

Kevin from Fort Collins, CO

You CAN connect a rotary phone to the internet. You use something called an acoustic coupler. It's no "Caddyshack," but hasn't Bob from Rome, NY, seen the classic "War Games"?

One of my all-time favorite movies, and I can remember using a coupler to send stories back to the Wausau Daily Herald newsroom when I first broke into this business. What memories.

Corey from Richland, WA

Mike, I know this forum is not Disco Night at the Shaboom and you should know I am not a female, but what is it like to work with Wes Hodkiewicz?

Is this week over yet?

Josh from Seattle, WA

Serenity now!

Happy Friday.

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