Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 20

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

(What were your general impressions of Saturday night's game, and does your familiarity with the opponent help in the evaluations?)

Probably not. On that aspect of your question, probably not. You just evaluate who you're seeing. If you know who they're going against and you a have a little bit better gauge of the quality of that player, but probably not. In terms of what I thought of the game, I thought it kind of disintegrated, or something. First of all I thought our guys played hard and they played effectively. We moved the ball on offense, which there seemed to be a lot of angst around about that, so that was good. I thought our defense played pretty good, and our special teams played solid. Again, I think probably both teams, all things being equal, in a game like this where it's raining and it's 38-6 or something at halftime, I imagine everybody would like to just say OK, let's just call it. But you have to keep playing. Other than that, I thought in the second half, and even in the first half some, it was a typical preseason game. We picked up some fumbles and scored. I think Mike alluded to this, I don't think it's indicative of the strength of our team or the weakness of the Seahawks. It was just one of those preseason games.

(How do you gauge the performance of the D-line vs. their line missing two tackles?)

Right, they didn't play Sean or Walter. I don't know, you play who you're playing against. I thought our defensive line played pretty strong. My guess is that'll be a fairly consistent thing. I think we'll have a pretty strong group up front.

(Can they be the best defensive line in the NFL?)

That would be good. That would be good. We'd be all for it. I don't know, it's sort of in the eye of the beholder. We like our defensive line. I've said from the very get-go that we like them as a group, we like the group, and we think we have some individual players that can hold their own against other players around the league. But we feel pretty good about the strength of our defensive and our offensive line.

(Are we seeing a culmination of them being together for a couple of years?)

Well, I think there's some good to that. But they're also, many of them are getting to the age in their development, understanding the pro game, where they kind of take off. These guys are sort of in the prime of their careers, and that's a good thing for the Packers I think.

(What challenges do you face trying to get trades done this time of year?)

The challenges are having two parties agree, obviously. I hate to be simplistic. But in a perfect world, you have a player that maybe at the end of the day you don't think is going to win up on your 53 but you think should be in the National Football League and should be playing for somebody. And you find another team that maybe needs another player at that position, and it's reciprocal on our part. The difficulty there is finding those combinations of things. But we have people that make phone calls all the time and watch tape and try to stay abreast of everything. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't.

(Is it any harder during training camp right around that final cutdown?)

It depends on the team and the circumstances surrounding the team. Especially the final cut, you're getting down to your 53 and you go through as a staff and an organization so much angst in terms of getting down to your 53, but then to trade for somebody, then you have to get down to 52 to make room for that one, and some teams just are not comfortable doing that. They'd rather play with the guys they have and then add to it as they go through the season. That's the way it is. Other teams are less concerned about it, depending on their development and where they are. I think we've probably claimed a guy off the last cut the last couple years, and in Seattle I think we claimed three or four one year. So it kind of depends on the team and where you are and injuries and all that sort of thing.

(How is Harrell doing and how important is it for Jackson and Jones to be key factors this year?)

First question, Justin, I think he's doing good. I thought he played pretty solid against Pittsburgh, I thought he played well against Seattle. He's coming along. He's improving every day, and he's a load when he gets going, so we're happy about that. In terms of Jackson and Jones, they seem to be fitting in pretty well. Like I said before, it could be a little bit overwhelming for Brandon because he's been thrust into the role of starting and everybody looking at him, and after every practice he probably has to answer questions, 'What about that dropped pass in this practice?' and that sort of thing. But he seems to be holding his own. Both of those fellows enjoy the game of football. They seem to get along with their teammates well. They don't seem to be overly awed or awestruck in terms of being in the National Football League, so I think that bodes well for them. We'll see how it goes. They're doing OK so far.

(Are you going to bring in another running back?)

I jokingly said to somebody yesterday I went to the grocery store looking for one and I couldn't find one. It's a little bit difficult right at this second because teams are still at the 80-plus roster limit. In a perfect world, we'd have another guy or two in the rotation right now. It is what it is, and that's where we are. We're still hopeful of maybe getting a guy or two back to take a few reps in one of both of these next two games.

(Do you have any feel for Jackson's toughness?)

He looks pretty tough to me. He was pretty tough in college, and like I say, he hasn't backed down from anything so far. So, so far so good.

(Why is running back the easiest position for rookies to come in and contribute?)

Well, I don't know that's the case. But I will say this. History has told you that young guys can come in and play right away. I think it's just a matter of natural running instincts and all the ingredients that make up a running back. If you're a good running back in high school, if you have those qualities, it should transcend to college and then on to pros. Then maybe, comparing that to an offensive line position, there's probably more technique and footwork and fundamentals that you have to go through to play against the big people in the National Football League as opposed to college. And everybody it seems like in the offensive line has their own special techniques and footwork. But running backs, I would guess it's probably a little bit more easier, not easier physically, easier from just being able to duplicate what an NFL running back does.

(With the fullback situation, how important is it to get Brandon Miree back this week?)

It would be nice to get him back. Clearly, it was a dag-gum shame that Ryan got hurt the other night, I think on the very first play he was in the game. It would be nice to have another guy. If not, then we'll do what we always do, go double tight ends and things like that.

(Can you explain how important the fullback is in the zone-blocking scheme?)

I'm not sure if I'm the person you need to ask about the zone-blocking scheme. I haven't quite figured it out. Mike likes a fullback in his offense, as Coach Holmgren did and Coach Sherman, and everybody else. They like to have a fullback in the game, and whether it's a move tight end, a quasi-fullback or whatever, they like to have that. The fullback position is important. He's involved in a lot of protection, he's involved in reading the hole. If you cut to the chase, that's what zone blocking is, you don't know exactly where the hole is going to be, it kind of evolves during the course of the play, and the fullback sort of leads the running back into that hole, theoretically.

(Back in April, did you think Korey Hall would potentially be your opening day fullback?)

No, I don't think you think in terms like that. We thought he was a heck of a football player, and we'd figure out a way to do it. But he seems to have taken up the position pretty well and has played pretty good. Played very well in this most recent game. We'll see how it comes out.

(Can you keep your top five defensive tackles or is a good player going to end up somewhere else?)

I don't know. We'll see how the whole final roster thing works out. Historically speaking, if you have good big men, you try to hang onto those good big men. Because they're hard to find if you get hurt later on.

{sportsad300}(Do you feel better about Aaron Rodgers now than you did coming into training camp?)

I've had that question a lot, and I'm not trying to be glib, but I've liked him all along. I liked him when we drafted him, I liked him in his first year. Yeah, he went through some tough times, but preseason games and that sort of thing, and even the game he played in last year, I don't think necessarily is the telling tale. I think he's a young man that's confident, that's smart, that is physically talented, that believes he can play, and he has understood and accepted the role that he's in, even though he still wants to play. I'm proud of the way he carries himself. I think he's going to be a good player, and I'm pleased with the way he's playing now, and I'm pleased that people are looking at him with a more positive outlook, because I think he deserves it, and we're proud to have him on our team.

(Is Favre-Rodgers the best quarterback combo in the division?)

I don't know about that either. I don't know. I'm not going to start giving people bulletin-board material. But we're very happy with the quarterbacks that we have.

(How do you feel about this team relative to the first couple years?)

I think we have more competition at more positions than in the past, which I think theoretically will lead to a better team, if we put these players in the right positions and we make the right decisions. So I feel pretty good about the team. Most of these guys are football guys. They enjoy playing the game. They're playing it obviously to take care of their families and themselves. But I think they're also playing it for the team, and we like the group of fellas, the people. They come from all walks of life, but I like the group. I like being around them and standing on the sideline with them.

(What is Koren Robinson's status?)

He is suspended for the year by the commissioner, and that's where it is. I'm not even sure when he would be eligible to be reinstated, and that would be up to the commissioner's office to do that. So we're just like everybody else, we're just waiting.

(How does that process work?)

About being reinstated? As I understand it, any player that's been suspended, once that term has expired, whether it be a year or four weeks or whatever it is, then that player applies for reinstatement through the commissioner's office, and then the commissioner's office rules on whether that player would be reinstated or not.

(What have you seen from Kabeer in camp and how valuable is it to have a guy who can rush the passer on third down like that?)

Well, pressure on the quarterback is very important. We've been fortunate enough in both these preseason games, and it hasn't been mentioned too much, but we've gotten multiple sacks in these games and balls flying around and we've been picking it up and scoring. So pressure on the quarterback in general is unbelievably important. But I think Kabeer is a very talented pass-rusher and a very good teammate. I think he gets along with his teammates very well. I think he's respected by those guys. And we like him as a player, we like him as part of our group. We think in fact that he is more effective if he doesn't play every down. So I think it fits our team. He has a role to play for our team, and it's important.

(What did you see of Bush last year on the Carolina preseason tape, and did you like him going into the draft?)

Yes, we liked him going into the draft. We didn't like him enough, nor did anybody else, apparently. But then we watched some tape on him in Carolina, he played very well in the first preseason game, maybe not as good in the next couple, and then he didn't play very much after that, which is the reason we claimed him. We liked the way he looked and we liked the way he played the game. I think he's one of those guys, and we have several on our team, that has greatly improved his whole physical makeup and his play over the offseason and all the OTAs and the mini-camps and things like that. We think he's a result of a lot of that, and he's a prime example of it. He's played very well. He got a few picks the other night. He's one of those guys who likes to play the game. Seems to fit in very well with our group.

(How did he look on film on the plays he didn't get picks?)

I think he's playing very solidly. He was very good on special teams. He actually could have had another pick. He plays the game. He lines up on his guy, he runs with him, he turns, he chases. It's a very difficult position to play, so it doesn't mean he's going to be flawless and he's not going to get beat from time to time. But he along with some other guys, we're very impressed with our group there.

(Have you seen enough of both kickers to make a decision before the end of the preseason?)

I don't know. It's still being played out as we speak. So we'll see how that plays itself out. They're both doing well.

(With all the knee injuries, are you concerned the new turf had anything to do with those?)

No. We're always doing studies on that. In fact the league does studies, every time an injury occurs you write down what kind of shoes that player was wearing and how it happened. Every one of these injuries, watching tape, happened in completely different circumstances, so I think it's just the luck of the draw. We played on the exact same field in Pittsburgh and had nothing, and I don't think the Seahawks had any injuries here. I think it's just the way the game fell.

(How many of those injuries were contact?)

I think all of them were some form of contact, but from different angles and it looked like different velocities and all that. A couple they were just in a pile and you couldn't really see much.

(What is your schedule as far as cutting down the roster?)

I don't know. In fact, that's one of the things I'm doing this afternoon is meeting with Mike and talking to him, because quite frankly I'm not familiar with what his schedule is in terms of staff and players beyond Thursday night, so we'll kind of have to work that through. Usually we like to do it as soon as we've made decisions. But I don't have an answer for you, Mike. We'll see if we can get one, though.

(How important was it Saturday night for Bubba to look like the old Bubba?)

I'm sure he was excited to get a few balls thrown in his direction. He made some nice catches. But there's not a lot of doubt amongst the people in the football department about Bubba. We think we know he's a good solid football player. For whatever reason, it just didn't go well for him the last year or two. But like I said before, I think he's going to have a bounce-back year. He's playing very hard. He's blocking well, and he's catching the ball and he can get the ball upfield after he catches it. I was pleased with that. I wasn't necessarily surprised.

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