Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 31

Read the transcript of General Manager Ted Thompson’s press conference Monday from the Lambeau Field auditorium.

(You don't show much emotion, but when you see Greg Jennings go down in the game the other night, does any part of you get a little emotional?)

Well yeah, I think, especially when you're down on the sideline and you can see the collisions. I think having played kind of helps you do that, but I think you do that with everybody, not just Greg. They had a couple guys who got hit pretty good up high, and you just don't like to see that. There's always a little bit of scare factor going on there. Plus they got close to me a couple of times and I was having to backpedal to get away.

(How's your backpedal these days?)

Not very good. I think I almost pulled a hamstring.

(You like to go on the field once every preseason, right?)I do. Yeah. I'm more comfortable down there. I think the game flows more naturally. I can see things. There's less questions in my mind. I know everything is OK and all is right with the world. When you're sitting way up where we have to sit for the game, you don't have that connection. I think it's a little bit more nerve-racking to be separated from it. I feel more part of it. But the purpose is different though. It's not for my comfort level. I genuinely like to watch the interaction amongst our players and see things that you want to see, that sort of thing.

(Did you see what you wanted to see the other night?)

Yeah. The second half was excruciatingly painful, just because it just went longer than any of us would like to see a preseason game go. I'm sure you guys felt the same way.

(With the changes made in the offseason, did you ever think you'd get off to the start you have?)

Well, I expected us to be competitive. I've said all along, I think this is a good team with good guys and I think they're accountable to each other. Success or unsuccess in preseason, or your winning record in preseason, I don't know that it matters a lot. What matters is seeing the team come together and they seem to enjoy each other and feed off each other, and you like to see that. I think that's a good step. We're a long way from being a finished product, but we've taken some positive steps. We like what we've seen.

(What has the addition of Dom Capers done, not just the 3-4, but bringing in a coach with that kind of track record?)

I think Dom obviously has tremendous credentials, and his reputation speaks for itself. I think all the work that our defensive staff and offensive staff and special teams, the whole bit, it's showing itself a little bit in these preseason games. I think there's some excitement amongst our players. I think everybody, all of us in life probably like to try to do new things and different things, and as you watch the games you see all the different alignments we put our guys into, and I think players enjoy being put in a position where this team is counting on them lining up in the right spot, even though we've moving guys around and stuff, being in the right spot at the snap. But I think in general Dom is respected. I think the players know that if they do what they ask them to do that it's going to make them better players and a better team, and I think that all kind of builds on itself.

(When you brought in Charles Woodson, did you have any idea he'd do what he's been doing these last three years?)

Charles is a professional's professional. We knew that. We liked him. At Oakland, they asked him to do a lot of different things out there. He had to line up and play safety when they had some safeties banged up. He stepped in and did it. A lot of people the caliber of a corner that he is are not going to do that, if you're selfish or if you don't care about your team. The thing that I admire about Charles is he's a really good teammate, and you can see that his fellow teammates look to him to do things, and I think he takes that as a challenge as a professional.

(What due diligence did you have to do on him before you signed him?)

Well, this goes back to Ron Wolf's teachings that you always kind of value, you factor in your college opinions of players as you go forward, whether it be in free agency or trades or somebody gets released from some other place. The first thing we go back and look at is our college reports, and we obviously had very high ratings of him. We watched a lot of tape, we did a lot of due diligence. We know there had been people who had been through the Raiders organization who knew and worked with him, so we did what we normally do.

(What did people who had been with him with the Raiders say? I imagine there were differing opinions?)

We came to the conclusion that it would be a very good addition to us. We had people that we know, that we respect, that spoke highly of him, about the things that I view as important.

(When you hear Charles say what he did yesterday, that this team is capable of winning it all, do you agree with him?)

I think players can say what they want to say. I think we have the kind of team that if we play well week in and week out we'll have a chance to win. I don't do predictions. But I like our team, and so far so good, like I said.

(Did you cut Sulak, Harris and Brooks yesterday?)

We had some conversations with some of our players. I think you guys got the release that we will release guys later this afternoon, those three.

(At receiver, you've brought in Nelson, Jones and Jennings, not selfish guys. Is that something you specifically looked for, because not all receivers in the league are like that?)

I think at all positions, character and their makeup, and we talk about this leading up to the draft, it doesn't matter if you are a receiver or a defensive lineman or what, we look for a certain kind of guys. Now, everybody is different and everybody's personality is different, but we think there are core values and core things that makes a good teammate that we try to look to. And unselfishness I think is a very good key attribute of a professional football player.

(Some players have fit into this defense well, but it could take some time to draft and acquire more of the right fits. Where are you with that?)

I think we have players that can play in this defense. I think we have players that can play in any. I don't look at it like it is that big of a thing. I think it is a scheme-based idea that allows us to put some more question marks in the minds of the quarterbacks that we are playing, which is the whole idea behind it. It allows us I think still to have a stout ability to play the run. Like I say, I think we have a very versatile group of players and they are pretty excited about what we are doing.

(As an old special teams guy, how important is it to have a good punter?)

Very. That would be good to have a good punter.

(Do you think you have one?)

Yeah, Jeremy has done a nice job. Like Mike said yesterday, he has the ball now.

(When you look back at last year and the move you made after cuts, if you got a do-over, would you still do what you did?)

You don't get do-overs. It's a little more complicated than just saying that was a bad move. It's more complicated than that.

(What makes it so complicated?)

It just is.

(Are you more inclined to swing a deal with another team rather than just cut players who are going to end up on other rosters?)

We are and will continue to be through the course of the week have conversations with different teams, as we always do, as all teams do. We'll see how that works itself out.

(Are deals more difficult to make at this stage?)

No, I think you can still do it but there is quite a bit of cat-and-mouse thing going on. Nobody tells you the truth. Except us, we always tell people the truth. It's sort of someone could be desperate for a particular player at a particular position, but then they would say, 'No, no, we're not looking for anybody there.' So then you've got to play that game. But there are deals made, and ideally it works for both teams. A team is able to solve a need and another team is able to get value for a position that maybe they might have extra.

(Is it possible to keep four halfbacks, or does that just make it more difficult at another position?)

Everything is tied together, but I think you keep your best players. However many that works out that works out.

{sportsad300}(Will these be the hardest cuts you've had to make in your time here with all the depth you've cultivated?)

It will be difficult. This time of the year, Mike and Russ and I were talking about this this morning, that the worst time to be in this game is Saturday of this week. You spend all of this time team-building and adding pieces to the puzzle, and then all of a sudden on Saturday you have to let 20-plus guys go away from this team. And they are as much a part of this team as any of the players that we are keeping. It is a really difficult day.

(You've always taken a half-and-half approach with the practice squad, keeping some of your own and signing some others. How do you view the importance of that group?)

Oh sure, we put a lot of time and effort into practice-squad things, and you kind of have to speculate as to who might be available and what teams are going to do what and how your own guys are doing. You don't know. That's the reason everybody thinks Friday and Saturday, that's it. You don't know how the whole between Saturday and Sunday thing is going to work out. There are a lot of unknowns, and you are just kind of sitting and waiting to see if people get claimed or if they don't get claimed, who gets released and who doesn't. But it is hugely important. We like to have guys on our practice squad that if we need them then we can bring them up and play them, and that's the way we like to do it. In a perfect world that's the way it would work.

(You've had pretty good success with undrafted free agents in the past, but might this be your best crop?)

I don't know. Again, you love them all. Everybody that comes in and tries, whether they are a draft choice or a free agent, they kind of grow on you and you like them and you like the way they act and hang around with teammates. It's a good group though. They have done fine.

(Do you recall what you thought of Driver when he was coming out of college?)

Yes. We watched a lot of tape. The tape at Alcorn wasn't great tape, but it was good enough. We had him rated as a draftable player. I recall specifically, I think I have mentioned this before, calling his agent. I really shouldn't say that. Anyway, we knew there was going to be a lot of competition for him as a free agent because some people had envisioned him maybe being a free agent as opposed to a draft choice and we happened to have a seventh-round pick at the end of the draft. Ron said, 'the heck with it.' I think he uses the word heck, we'll just draft him, and we drafted him. It was a heck of a pick by Ron.

(How do guys do that, last so long in the draft and then be on the verge of franchise records?)

It's a miracle. It's not a miracle; it's a testament to Donald and his ability. That's the reason. We all put a lot of work into the draft and evaluating players and doing all of that, but it comes down to an individual player's will to make himself great, and Donald has willed himself to be great. Now, the Good Lord blessed him with a lot of ability, but the man never misses a practice. He will not sit out of a rep, which he could do at any time based on his seniority and stature on this team, but he does not do it because he is a professional football player. That says a lot for Donald Driver.

(Where is Brian Brohm in his development?)

He is doing OK. I thought he played pretty well the other night and hung in there. Sometimes in preseason games you get a little distorted view, especially at that position, depending on what is going on in the game at the time. But Brian is doing OK.

(Does Kampman look like a 3-4 outside linebacker now, and what have you seen as he's developed at that position?)

I think he is doing great. He is a extremely smart and intuitive football player that understands the nuances of using power vs. quickness vs. technique. He thinks about things. He studies his opponent. He reps. He's another guy that never misses practice, never misses a snap, and he makes himself into a good player. The Good Lord, again, blessed him with a lot of ability as well. I think he is doing fine.

(How about Tyrell Sutton? Do you like what you see and are you surprised at what he's done?)

Yeah, I get that question a lot. Not overly surprised at all. He was a good player at Northwestern, and they play some big-time people there. He's a good, very instinctive football player.

(A few years ago you only kept two quarterbacks. Why did you do that, and would you consider doing that again?)

I don't remember when we did it. It's all tied up. It depends on whether is this a better prospect or is this a better prospect? It's not just you have to have X number at each position on your 53. The 53, we go through a lot of angst getting to it but then after that as you know once you get through the season you have some imbalances from a perfect roster from time to time.

(Is that risky at that position?)

Yeah, there is always risk. It's risky to go light at another position too. We all would like to have more players and keep more of the guys that we have. Ultimately we'll be at 53 sometime late Saturday afternoon.

(Is Justin Harrell a candidate for IR? Where is he at?)

From all reports he is getting better, which is encouraging. He has had a rough road to hoe, and we're hopeful he can keep going.

(How do you make that decision with a player that's injured, whether to hang onto him and wait for him to get healthy, or go with a healthy player?)

Yeah, we talk about this every year. You would like to have a complete body of work on everybody. It doesn't work like that in the real world. You are going to have to do some speculating and projecting because everybody is not going to have the exact same number of reps or be put in the exact same situations to make a play or not make a play. At the end of the day you try to keep the 53 players that are going to give you the best chance to win both now, but you have to look at this as a season-long decision. It can't be just who is going to line up against Chicago. It's got to be what is best for the Packers this season and you try the best you can, but you guess in some respects.

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