While he waits for Brett Favre's decision on whether to play in 2006, Packers General Manager Ted Thompson expressed his faith in second-year quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
"We have a lot of confidence in Aaron," Thompson said during an interview with the NFL Network on Friday afternoon. "He was very good on the practice field this year."
Worrying about Rodgers' ability to man the starting quarterback position this season could become moot if Favre decides to return. That question has become a hot topic among the Packers faithful in northeastern Wisconsin and across the United States.
Since visiting Favre at his Mississippi home in late January, Thompson has talked to the quarterback and his agent, James "Bus" Cook several times over the telephone. Thompson has not set a deadline when Favre must come to a decision, allowing the future Hall of Famer to weigh his options.
"I haven't tried to badger him too much or bother him," Thompson said. "He's deserved a little time."
Only time will tell if Rodgers is the Packers' quarterback of the future. During his rookie season in 2005, Rodgers performed mop up duties in two games, totaling nine-of-16 passes for 65 yards, one interception, zero touchdowns and a passing rating of 39.8. But Rodgers' performance during practices has impressed Thompson.
"You don't really know until you get him into the chaos of an NFL game," Thompson said. "But everything I've seen leads me to believe that he's going to be a fine quarterback."
No one doubts Rodgers' ability to master the offense. Cerebral and hard working, Rodgers was often seen at his locker scouring the playbook after practice. Thompson also lauded the former California-Berkeley star's intelligence.
"From the mental aspects of the game, he's going to be able to handle that," Thompson said. "He's a very confident young man. I don't think he's going to need a lot of patting on the back."
Such self-assuredness will come in handy if and when Rodgers replaces Favre, who has reached legendary status.
"The burden that he will have to carry is that everybody will compare him to Brett," Thompson said. "That's not a fair thing. He has to be Aaron Rodgers."
Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who Thompson hired on Jan. 12, will help guide Rodgers. The general manager made numerous phone calls to his network of football people before selecting him, and each person praised McCarthy's qualities. Thompson said those hard-nosed attributes will make him a good fit in Green Bay.
"I just felt like he and I would make a good team," Thompson said. "I liked his background. I like the fact that he's got a little toughness to him. He's got a little bit of that Pittsburgh macho thing going."
Thompson reiterated that he did not select McCarthy, who served as Favre's quarterbacks coach in 1999, because of his relationship with the 15-year-veteran.
"I love Brett and I want him to be our quarterback, but I think I had to make a decision on who I thought would be our best head coach," Thompson said. "The fact that he knew and has worked with Brett before certainly was a plus, but all seven of the coaches I interviewed for this job said they could definitely work with Brett Favre and they would want Brett to be their quarterback."
With the coaching staff now filled out, Thompson and the Packers organization will focus on upgrading the roster through free agency and the NFL draft. The Packers are emphasizing the latter as they examine college prospects this week and next at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"We have a lot of work to do as do all the teams in the NFL right now," Thompson said. "We're here. We're starting this part. We'll be ready to go."