Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 16

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

(How much satisfaction do you take as a GM seeing Cullen Jenkins justify his contract?)

There weren't any concerns about him not quote-unquote justifying it. Cullen has been a good football player here for a long time. We felt like the move to defensive end helps put a little bit brighter spotlight on his abilities. He's a good football player and he's worked very, very hard this offseason to keep improving, which is what true professionals do. Yeah, I was glad to see him have success, but it doesn't surprise me.

(Is he on the cusp of being a great defensive lineman?)

Well, adjectives like great or good or outstanding or excellent ... we're really, really happy to have him. He presents a lot of problems to offensive linemen. He's unique in his physicality, in his build, in his balance. He's not your classic 6-foot-6 defensive end, but he's tough to handle.

(Is there a sense of urgency to get another body at running back?)

Mike and I talk about every position all the time, and for now we're OK. We're hopeful we can get a guy or two back. If we were to get another guy dinged, then it would get a little thinner, but quite frankly the fellows we have need to get reps, so from that standpoint it's good for them. I guess, they'll take a lot of reps.

(Any concern of overworking the backs in practices and games?)

Well, no, I don't know. Our coaches do a pretty good job of keeping a handle on guys during practice if they're getting worn down. We're certainly not going to put somebody in a position where they could become vulnerable because of fatigue or something like that. But the more reps those guys can take the better.

(What did you see on film of Korey Hall to make you think he'd be a good fullback?)

First, he was a pretty good linebacker, and an excellent special teams player. We have friends on our coaching staff that are friends on their coaching staff, and they couldn't say enough positive things about him. The fullback position is difficult to find in this day and age with college offenses running the spread offenses with one back in the backfield and they're running draw-action or play-action on almost every play. Same way with NFL Europe. Oftentimes you can scour that league and there's no fullbacks playing because they don't run that offense. We think it's obviously very vital to a quote-unquote West Coast offense, and he has a history in high school of being a sort of all-everything kind of player. Very good eye-hand coordination, good ball skills. When Sam Seale worked him out in Boise, they had a quarterback throwing passes to him and him running routes. So it wasn't like we were the only team thinking about it. There were other people thinking it. Just from a physical standpoint, he's a little bit more identifiable with the fullback position.

(Is it realistic to think a guy playing linebacker in the Fiesta Bowl in January could be starting at fullback here in September?)

We'll see how it plays out. He's a football guy. He can catch the ball, he's got good toughness. We thought he and Ryan (Powdrell) both played very well the other night. We'll see how it works itself out, but he's doing fine. It's interesting, I don't know if this is a trend or not, but there are four other players in the league right now that were draft-eligible this year who were linebackers in college, and they're all four playing fullback.

(Do you know who those are?)

One specifically that I can remember his last name is Abate, who was a linebacker at Wake Forest. I think he was a first-team All-American and made every tackle there. He's playing fullback for somebody, I forget who it is. Any other questions?

(When do you start putting together your 53? Does it change every day?)

You kind of look at general scenarios, and go through the scenarios. You can't get too wrapped up in it because things do change. Some guys that maybe aren't playing very well will all of a sudden play really good in the last couple of games, or vice versa. Also injuries play a factor into it. We're constantly going through different combinations of players and looking at the board and seeing how it looks, and doing it again. But there's not that many decisions already made.

(Last year you kept four tight ends. Are you going to get away from that and go with more true fullbacks?)

I think you kind of go with what you've got. We had I think two fullbacks on our team last year in William and Brandon Miree. We did carry extra tight ends just because we felt like we had quality guys at that position. It sort of depends on where you are at those positions when you get to it. As I mentioned before, I think having a true fullback is nice to have in a traditional West Coast offense, but there are movement guys and athletes at the tight end position that could perform a lot of those functions.

{sportsad300}(How closely does the Hodge you've seen in practice and last week's game resemble the guy who was the hit of training camp last year?)

Well, I don't know. I think he's the same guy. I think sometimes it's just opportunity and being in the right place at the right time. I still have a lot of confidence in Abdul. I think he's a good football player. I don't think he played his best game the other day, but that happened with several of our guys amongst our backup linebackers. I thought our first group played pretty well. But I'm sure they're looking to have a little bit of a bounce-back.

(How do you weigh the contributions from scrimmage versus special teams in your wide receiver decisions?)

You try to just add everything up, and you think about the role that player would have on your team. Obviously first and foremost they have to play a position. They have to have, unless they're a dynamite special teams player, they have to be able to function in a role as a position if need be. Or maybe a particular section of that position. Maybe it's a receiver that's not going to be all-everything, but he can do this and this, probably not going to ask him to do this. But if he performs well on special teams and then still can provide something, a little juice to the offense, that's a plus. You're always weighing different things. Some guys are exceptional on special teams, other guys are more average. But you look at the position, and we have to have 'x' number of people that can play multiple spots.

(Is it too early to be looking at positions where you may have tradeable depth?)

You're always going through those things. We just got all of the full first week of preseason tape in, and that's what we've been doing for the last couple of days is just going through every team and watching every team and doing the depth charts and seeing how they play them, just like everybody else is doing to us. All along, you're kind of thinking where you are on your team and what you think you might need or think you might not need. It's just like talking about the final 53. You go through different scenarios and all that has to kind of come together.

(Do you think you'll find a game-breaker for the return game? A lot of people are talking about Will Blackmon's return last week where he broke four tackles but didn't gain any yards.)

Yeah, we think we have some talent at returns, and I thought the other night we did OK. On that one you're talking about, it got called back because of a penalty. It wasn't his fault. But I think again, it's a combination of things. It's having, improving your core people that are on your special teams that are doing the blocking, that are doing all the dirty work, but clearly you have to have skill guys that can catch the ball, have really good ball skills, have an instinctive feel for how to play in space. We think we have a few guys, and we're looking forward to seeing how that plays itself out.

(Is it tougher on you to cut guys because you were one of those players always fighting for a roster spot?)

Yeah, I think so. A long time ago, when we first started this, we have certain rules that we have to go through, especially when it comes to this. That we're completely honest with the young man, that we're straightforward, that we don't put them in embarrassing situations, that we treat them like professionals. Reggie McKenzie who also has a hand in a lot of that, he's very good. He and I have played, so we understand that he and I have probably both been cut. Every player at some point in time unless other circumstances get involved in it will eventually have that knock on the door, and it's difficult because one day you're on the team and you're going as hard as you can and you like your chances and you think you're going to help the team, and all of a sudden you get a knock on the door. It's devastating. So I think those of us that know how that feels have a certain appreciation for what the players are going through. It doesn't make it any easier, but we do try to do it like men.

(Is that how your career ended, or did you just retire?)

Actually, I was practicing. I had already made the final roster, and this was like Wednesday of the first game. And I'm going into year number 11, so I'm thinking yahoo. And we practice, I go through an entire practice on a Wednesday afternoon, and I come in and our head coach at the time was Hugh Campbell, and he's walking by my locker and he goes 'Ted, can I see you for a second?' So I go in and talk to him, and we had a draft choice, I can't remember the guy's name, but he had been holding out all this time, and he had signed that day, so they released me to free up the roster spot for this new guy. So he gave me the speech, and then the defensive coordinator came in and gave me a speech, and the linebacker coach, and everybody else came in, and by the time they got through talking to me, not only was I surprised I got cut, I'm surprised I didn't get a raise, because everybody was saying what a great guy I was and all that. But that's what happened to me, and it really surprised me because I thought I was past that. I'd been through 10 years kind of wondering how it was going to go. I was an old grizzled vet, so I thought I was past the danger point, but I wasn't.

(When is it time for Wynn to show what he's got? How much longer does he have?)

Clearly, that puts a lot of pressure on a rookie to make a team when he hasn't been out there. He has a legitimate injury, and we understand that. It puts the club and the kid in a tough situation. We're hoping against hope. He's doing a lot of rehab work, and we're hoping to get him out there at some time before we have to make those decisions. But it's disappointing, and I'm sure he's disappointed.

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