Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 13

Read the transcript of General Manager Ted Thompson’s Monday press conference. Thompson answered questions in the media auditorium prior to Monday’s practice. - More | Audio | Video www.PackersTrainingCamp.com

(Did you see improvement in Rodgers on Saturday?)

I've had that question a couple times from some of the writers. I've seen Aaron progress as a quarterback since he's been here. We've had a lot of confidence in him from the get-go. But having said that, it was good to see him have a little success out there. He moved around, saved a few plays. I think he has a very good arm, very accurate thrower. I think he showed us what we see in practice every day. But to do it in game action obviously is very important, and I think he feels pretty good about how the game went.

(Have you had to be patient watching him develop?)

I guess so. But again, I've been OK. We did a lot of work on him prior to the draft and we've studied him since he's been here. The proof is still in the pudding, you know, when he finally gets that shot to take over a team, whether it's this team or somewhere else, or any quarterback for that matter, it's playing the games and doing all the stuff that happens in an NFL game. But we feel very comfortable at the quarterback position, and have felt that way for some time.

(How's Justin Harrell coming along?)

I thought he played pretty good. I think he's one of those kind of guys, and it was the same way when he was in college, he's going to make plays in games. He had a sack the other night. I think he played hard. Again, I think his conditioning is still not where we want to be, but it's just probably going to be one of those old-school things, that he's doing to kind of get in shape during training camp, and then we'll work on him next year about maybe getting here in better shape to start with. But he's a great kid, loves to play the game, and I thought he played pretty good in an 11-on-11 game the other night.

(Was the d-line as a whole a bright spot?)

Right. We think that's, and I've said this before, we think that's clearly a strength on this team is our defensive line and the depth in our defensive line. We felt like all the fellas, collectively and individually, played well. They were strong against the run. I think we had four or five sacks and some pressures, and that's preseason too, so you can't write too much into it, but most of these guys are fairly proven veterans that have played here in the past, and they've all played well.

(Is depth and rotation there more important than who starts?)

Yeah, we don't put too much stock on it (who starts), especially at the defensive line area, because one week we might start one guy and the next week we might start another one, and that's everywhere I've ever been. Now, when we were here in the '90s and we had that fearless foursome or whatever you want to call that group, that was pretty well set. But the whole time I was in Seattle, from one week to the next it changed. But they all played, and you have to kind of keep those guys fresh anyway.

(Do you have a good feel for your draft class as individuals?)

I think some of it's still probably out there. As individuals, certainly we've gotten to know them as people. As a group, we think it's a pretty good group of people that we're dealing with. As players, they're all competing and trying. Some are probably having more success than others, but I think at the end of the day it's going to be a pretty good group.

(How's Robert Ferguson doing in camp?)

I think Robert has done a nice job. He works hard every day. I think on the double-day sessions, we limit him to one practice. I may be wrong on that, but I think we do that as a precautionary method. We have him on several special teams, which he's done well at in the past. He's competing, and it looks like he's doing a nice job.

(Is he hanging on?)

I don't know. Training camp is competition, everybody is competing. Robert is in there competing, and he's doing a fine job of competing. How it works out and how a player makes a team, whether it's for one year or whether it's for 10 years, you just never know how that works. Every day and every training camp and every situation is a little different. I don't know if I answered your question or not.

(What qualities have kept him here for so long?)

I think he's a talented receiver. He's got good size, good speed, he can run nice routes, he catches the ball well, things like that. Sometimes it comes together and sometimes it doesn't quite come together.

(Are you anxious to see more game action from Paul Thompson?)

He wasn't scheduled to play the other night, and then when Ingle didn't get out of bounds fast enough, he had to come in. I think he's scheduled to play this week a certain number of snaps, so we're looking forward to it. I think it's always fun, especially in the late third, early fourth quarters, sometimes it gets a little chaotic in preseason, but we're looking forward to seeing him under the lights, knowing that he's going in and being part of the thing. He looks pretty good out there. He's got a calmness about him, and I think he's got a confidence and an air about him, and I think a quarterback needs that. We're looking forward to seeing it, though.

(Is he what you thought when you picked him up?)

Yeah, I think he's done a nice job. He practices hard, works at it, studies. He does all the things you have to do to compete at that position.

(The safety miscues, what's your level of concern there?)

Not overly. As a group I think our defense played very well. I think in a preseason game you can almost anticipate there being a few gaps, and some of the things that look like they might be a particular, or a position player's fault, might not be depending on the defense that was called. But yeah, we missed a couple tackles, and I'm sure there's a few plays there that some of those fellas would like to have back. But again, it's a position where we have a lot of competition and people are going at it pretty good.

{sportsad300}(Is it the same with the first-team offense, you don't get too hung up on the first game?)

Yeah, in fact Jeff alerted me to the fact there was a lot of angst about that. Yeah, we'd like to do like we did in the Family Night scrimmage where we go out and the offense goes right down the field, boom, boom, boom, two touchdowns, everybody's happy, we set off the fireworks and here we go. It doesn't work that way. Our offense went out there for three series, maybe four, but I know they didn't have any more than 10 or 12 plays. If you have maybe a bam-bam third-down pass, if you catch it maybe you get going and you go and score, but if you don't then the punt team is back out there, and it's 'Oh my goodness.' So I know there were some missed assignments with that group, and I know there were some execution problems. While we wished it didn't happen, it's not like we're going to pull our hair out. It could have happened in a regular season game, and there have been instances where it's happened in a regular season game where in the first quarter you didn't do anything and then all of a sudden you score 35 in the next three. I'm not suggesting we would have done that, but I don't think you can put too much into it. But yes, to answer your question, we would have liked to have done better, but we don't think it's the end of the world.

(How was Brandon Jackson's performance?)

I thought he did OK. Again, like I said before, we had a couple-three guys banged up, and he's kind of been thrust in the role of the workhorse, and for a young man that's probably a little daunting. But he seems to be holding his own, both psychologically and physically. I thought he ran hard. He was finally able to break some out in the second half. Had a drop, which I'm sure he'd like to have back. He's got good hands and we're not concerned about that. All in all, I thought he had a pretty good game. Stayed in there and battled.

(Was he tested on blitz pickups at all?)

Yeah, I think so. I think he did. I think he did all right. Overall, I thought our protection was pretty good.

(With the two kickers, what do you go on?)

You're talking about in terms of separating them? I don't know, there's a lot of things you have to kind of factor in. But we think this is an excellent problem to have. I'm very impressed with both these young men. They are competing, they're doing their job, they're doing it professionally, and they know they're under the spotlight, which is specifically and exactly what we want to do is put them in the spotlight so they feel all the pressure that you can possibly put on them. Because when that guy goes out there in December and it's 2 seconds left and you're down by 2, you can't emulate that, but you try to get as close to this as possible. So we're trying to do that, and I think both of them have responded outstanding and we're very impressed with them. I don't have the exact answer, I don't know how it's going to turn out. But we'll say this, I'm very pleased with those two guys.

(Do you still think that will come down to the end, or would you like to give one guy the last two games?)

I can't anticipate that either. I don't know for sure how that's going to work out. We're not ready to decide yet.

(How is the Wednesday off working? Did you have any input in the schedule?)

No, we had some general conversations in the past, and I'm kind of a pro-let's-take-it-easy-on-them kind of guy, in terms of that philosophically. But Mike made those schedules and he set that up. He and the staff worked together, and they spent a lot of time in the offseason working on schedules. I can tell you exactly what they'll be doing in Period 5, November 6th. I don't know how they do that, but they do that. But to answer your question, I think it's a good thing. I think when players can have some time down, certainly from just a purely personnel standpoint, which I focus on quite a bit, especially at some of the positions where we've been banged up quite a bit this year, it's really kind of helped a couple guys that might not have been able to go kind of get back on their feet and go again. There's a certain amount of attrition during the course of a training camp that normally doesn't show itself once the season gets started, because you're going double-days and some teams go multiple double-days in a row. I think this helps a little bit, but there's no exact science. Some people say ... who was the old coach at Minnesota? Bud Grant, yeah. He used to actually go to training camp two or three weeks after everybody else had already gone, because he felt like that made his team better in December. It was a theory. And then other teams would say, well, you're crazy because you're losing out two weeks of practice time. So it's which came first, the chicken or the egg?

(What do you tell your scouts when you send them out?)

We've always set those schedules. We know exactly where every scout is going to be every day this year. They come in, we get all the names and the list and it's my job and John Dorsey's job to put those names together and the schools they have to go to and the players they have to see. And then when they come in for that week or 10 days at the start of training camp, that's when we sit together and we work through the schedules and we know the visitation policies. But in terms of scouting, ... we know exactly where they're going to be and who they're supposed to see, so if it's on Tuesday, Oct. 12th and I need to get a hold of Lee Gissendaner, I know exactly what school to call if his cell phone's not working. In terms of general scouting, we do, we talk about that all the time, about how you have to write down what you see, believe what you see, and do that, because oftentimes at a school you might be sitting with, say you're at Ohio State, you might be there and there might be 15 scouts in the same room, and oftentimes scouts will discuss the players. 'This guy is no good' or 'this guy is really good.' Then all of a sudden if you're not careful, you'll start listening to them instead of watching the tape and what you write down, then you can't defending a meeting because you don't have any substance behind it. You'll just write down what somebody said. That's kind of what he (Ron Wolf) was referring to, and we stand behind that.

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