Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 7

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

(How important is the defensive line when building a team?)

Huge. We've talked from the get-go that both the offensive and defensive lines are the engines that run the thing. You can have as good a secondary as you can possibly have, but if you don't have a defensive line that can control the run and put pressure on the passer and things like that, in this day and age it makes it unbelievably difficult to be successful. So we put a lot of weight in that, and there is a lot of weight in our defensive line.

(When you were here before with Ron Wolf, he spent big money on Reggie White, Sean Jones and Santana Dotson. Are you following his blueprint there?)

Well, you'd love to get to a point where you have a defensive line like that. We like our defensive line a lot, but when you consider Reggie White, Gilbert Brown, Santana Dotson and Sean Jones, that's a pretty good foursome. But yeah, we did in those days. It's a little bit more difficult in this day and age to be able to get a Reggie White or a Sean Jones just because teams have the same regard for their guys, and that's where the money goes.

(But you have put a lot of resources there.)

Yes we have. We've spent capital and draft picks and quite frankly, the guys that were here when I first got back were, as I said then, I thought as a group was a pretty good group. Now, we've had some interchange but there are several of those guys that are still here.

(And you've re-signed guys to extensions.)

Yeah, we think that's very important to identify the players you want to keep and go at it. You can't do it all at once and you can't make everybody happy all at once. Sometimes guys as individuals and their representatives prefer to get to free agency, but we like to have those discussions.

(As you look at it now, are you getting the bang for your buck?)

We feel pretty good. We'll see. Preseason and training camp, we'll see. We hope we don't get anybody nicked up and keep them together. They're working good, I think they're very well coached, and as you guys watch, when they're going they're all in line and there's 14 of them or however many there are, and they're all doing everything and they keep them going pretty good.

(How do you see Korey Hall doing with his transition?)

I think he's doing pretty good. Seems to be improving every day. I'm sure there were some days out there when he realizes he's not playing linebacker, 'Oh my gosh, I'm playing fullback.' But as a lot of guys that come through college, he has some experience as a running back, playing other things, other sports, so those kind of guys can usually adapt and do that sort of thing. But I think he's doing fine. Catches the ball very well as we knew. He's got some toughness, seems to be a very smart, bright guy, likes to be first in line at all the drills. He's a gung-ho guy.

(With the nickel situation, do you feel more settled because all the guys competing have good ability?)

We feel pretty good about the group right now. Again, we have to go through the process, and there's no anointing before it's time. But we feel pretty good. We felt this way in the spring. We felt quite frankly, and I think I said that in front of you guys several times, that I don't know who they're going to be, but we felt pretty good about the prospects we have there. We'll see how it all pans out, but so far so good.

(Do you need to see them under the lights in the preseason games?)

I think so. A particular preseason game is not going to be a determining factor. We're going to try to take the whole body of work, so to speak, and try to make the right decision for the organization, both for against Philadelphia and also going forward. But we feel pretty good about the group.

(Do you remember how you heard about Zac Alcorn?)

Lenny (McGill) scouts that area so he would naturally be the first one, because I wouldn't have been to that school. That's one of the schools I didn't get to. I think we saw him in a small-school college all-star game, and we had his workout results. He's just one of those guys that the tape that you watched, he was a very dominant player at that level, and you never know how that's going to work out either when you bring him into a training camp. And he had some pretty big eyes for a while, and occasionally he still does. But he's getting better, he's a tough guy. He's playing with some sore feet that I don't think any of us in this room, or certainly I'm not sure I'm tough enough to go out there and do it. He's hanging in there, and he's competing at a position where he's having to take a lot of reps because of some injuries. We're proud of the way he's working and he's competing. He's got very good hands.

(Are you concerned about the increased reps for the remaining running backs?)

Well we had, as you well know, we had six to start with. We're now at four, which is oftentimes, certainly when we were in Seattle, the number that we would go to training camp, so we think we're OK, knock on wood, but we wouldn't want to get too many more nicks there. So we're sort of getting close to the edge. But we feel pretty good. Quite frankly, all those guys need to play a lot and get a lot of reps and more practice time, so it's an opportunity for them.

(Do you agree with Mike about DeShawn Wynn's progress?)

We felt like, and I think it's apparent for you guys to see, the kid has a lot of ability. And for whatever reason he was drafted later than maybe his talent would show, but that really at the end of the day doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you're a first-round pick or a seventh-round pick or a free agent. What matters is what you take of that opportunity, and he's going to get his chance. He's going to get his reps. He's a big man that's got very good feet, got good vision, he's a good runner and he's a load in there.

(Anything new on P.J. Pope's injury?)

No, other than to say there was an arthroscopic procedure done yesterday. I don't know. I think we're going to have to kind of sit and watch this for a week or two and then kind of get a better gauge in terms of timetable.

(Any update on Morency?)

Same kind of thing. It's one of those things, we're probably going to be a little bit cautious with that. We had Vernand and we kind of know what he can do. We're certainly not going to push him out there quicker than he's ready to go. We wouldn't do that with anybody. But it's still an unknown. Quite frankly, (Dr.) Pat (McKenzie) makes those calls. The coaches, myself and Mike, none of us interfere in that process. But it makes us anxious sometimes.

(What have you seen from Brandon Jackson in Vernand's absence?)

I think he's doing a nice job. He's got a solid build, very good lower body build. He's got big hands. I think he catches the ball pretty well. I think he's still learning and growing as a rookie will do. But he seems to be getting more comfortable out there. I thought he performed pretty well in the Family Night thing. That's a pretty tall order, even if you're a second-round pick, which Brandon is, to come in and all of a sudden you're running with the big boys right away. But I think he's doing OK.

(How extensively do you scout the other preseason games to get a look at players?)

It's part of the personnel process from now and through the final cuts, and even beyond quite frankly, we will do night and day tape watching on preseason games. Fortunately we had the Hall of Fame Game in already, so we're going to start that as soon as I get done with you guys here. We try to focus, number one, on personnel, the personnel side of it in terms of who's got multiple, who looks really strong at a particular position, maybe they're not going to be able to keep all these guys, and that sort of thing. Obviously we try to find out how they're using the younger guys. How they're going to fit, what roles they're asking these guys to do. It's a pretty extensive process. Because like I said before, it's all positions. It's not just, take our particular position of tight end, we're a little thin there, we've gotten banged up. We're not just going to watch for tight ends. We're going to be watching for everybody on those teams, because you never know how this thing shakes out. We'll do a lot of watching tape.

(How do you pick the kicker? Do you add up all the kicks and go with the best percentage, or is it more subjective than that?)

It's probably a little more subjective than that. Obviously results are results. But everything is a little different, especially with a kicker. It's not like you're putting it on a tee and everybody is in the exact same circumstances every time. There are different snaps, different holders, different circumstances that are surrounding it, whether it be in a game or a practice situation. But we have two pretty good kickers it looks like, and they are competing, and that's exactly what we wanted to have happen. Don't know how it's going to turn out, but they look pretty good.

(How do you feel about Justin Harrell so far?)

I like him. I like him fine. I thought he was a little out of shape coming in. He seems to be rounding into shape a little bit, and I think he'll jump in with that group. That's a pretty competitive group. As I said before, that whole defensive line group practices hard, they work hard, and he's doing fine. He's a good kid, he's going to be a good player, and I thought he did some good things in the Family Night scrimmage.

(Did you expect he might struggle with his conditioning?)

Well, you never know about that. But we felt like during the spring that we knew when we drafted him, we'd sit him a little bit during the OTAs and stuff just to make sure that Pat had a very good feel in terms of where he was rehabilitive-wise, that's the wrong word. In his rehab, there you go. So we felt like we'd probably sit him a little bit. He was a little bit out of shape. A couple other guys were a little bit out of shape. But I think he's doing a good job. He's getting a ton of reps, because we only have six, and for those big guys that's a lot of reps.

{sportsad300}(How useful is it to have a former running back like Edgar Bennett coaching that position?)

Well, I think Edgar is a very good coach in his own right, obviously. I think his playing career and his experience helps him both as a coach. It also helps him in terms of the regard his players have for him. I don't necessarily think, I'm not one of those people that think that you have to have played to be a good coach. But I think since he's walked in their shoes before, there's a certain understanding, a certain amount of empathy on Edgar's part to guys ... you go through a training camp, especially for rookies, and especially at the running back position, my goodness, you've got these veterans, they know you're a rookie so they're going to knock you down when they wouldn't do that to a veteran, but that's just part of the maturation process. That's what you do. It's sort of like sorority and fraternity hazing. You're hard on those guys. And you get knocked down and the coaches yell at you and nobody likes you. But I think Edgar has a very good feel for his troops, and I think they respond well to his coaching. He's also a stickler for drills and things like that, as you guys well know. I call him high-maintenance, because he's got more equipment out there than any other position. He's got the ropes and the things and the other things. But I think he's a good coach.

(How was the new playing surface on Saturday?)

I don't know, I didn't see any slippage. I don't know if you guys asked any of the players or not. But it should be almost identical to the surface on Hinkle, and our players really like that. So my guess is they really like it. It's a different look, if you guys were walking down there, because there's not the crown on the field that there normally has been. And plus, like I said before, it's a higher jump to get into the Lambeau Leap thing.

(Some guys are saying it's a faster surface. Would that ever factor in to how you build the team?)

No, it's a grass field, and it's Green Bay, Wisconsin. Fast is good. We like fast. But I don't know, it's all relative because it's two teams playing on the same field. It's not like it's in the old days the way the University of Oklahoma used to do, when they had the Astroturf and the really raised crown, and they'd run everybody downhill. It's not like that.

(Does it change the game without the crown?)

I don't think so, no. I thought as a player, when I used to play in Texas Stadium, that was a huge crown. You could look across the thing and you could barely see Tom Landry's hat over there, and Tony Dorsett would be running a sweep and he's going downhill. Well, you're going downhill too, but he's going downhill faster than you are. Or he was going downhill faster than me. I don't think it changes the game. It's a fair, very good state of the art field, it's a grass field. I think it's beautiful to look at, and it's going to hold up together better. We won't have to re-sod during the season, which has always been a potential nightmare, if we re-sodded and then we got a big rain right after that, the field would have been unplayable. We never told anybody that, but that's what my grass people tell me. I don't know anything about it. I've got natural watering at my house, and my yard is just brown, pleading. Any other questions?

(How do you see Paul Thompson fitting in?)

He's doing all right. He's always the fourth guy in line, which is just the nature of the beast. But when he gets in there, I think he carries himself pretty well. He stands, nice looking athlete, stands tall in the pocket. I think he's got a good arm. He's made a few good throws, and he can move around a little bit. There's a little something about him, you can see why he had a good senior year at Oklahoma.

(Are things more settled than last year as far as position battles?)

I don't know. I think you always have certain things you're trying to get done. Quite frankly, I haven't really thought about it in those terms, whether we're more settled or more comfortable. But I like our team, I like that we have a lot of competition in spots. And again, even after a week-plus of practices, I don't really know how it's going to turn out in several spots, but I'm looking forward to watching it play itself out.

(How excited are you about the backup linebackers?)

Again, it's another position I think we have a lot of competition for the spots that are going to be on our final 53. I think Winston, as you guys well know, he's a linebacker and he coaches the heck out of those guys and he asks a lot of them. We're putting them in positions to compete. Goodwell had a very good scrimmage the other night, as did some other fellows that are fighting for those spots. We've got a couple guys that have been a little nicked up. We're hoping to get them back out there pretty soon and add to that competition. Tracy White has had an excellent training camp.

(How do you feel about Brandon Miree as the starting fullback now that William Henderson isn't here anymore?)

Yeah, obviously that's always a little bit unnerving, knowing you're going in with a whole new backfield, and William has always been a great player and a great representative of the Green Bay Packers. But that's what life is. You move on at times. I think Brandon does a nice job. I think he has good leadership qualities. I think all of a sudden he's probably the elder statesman in that group, and that's a little weird because he's not that old either. But I think he does a nice job. He works hard. Again, he's got good ball skills, he catches the ball pretty well. We'll see how it turns out. He's got a couple rookies behind him too that are doing some good things.

(You can only keep so many defensive tackles. Would you consider trading one?)

I suppose, if that happened. I don't know if I've ever gotten to the end of a training camp and felt like I had too many defensive linemen that were of that caliber. But we like our group. We've got a long way to go before we get to having to make those kind of decisions. You're always looking at where you might have some strengths and where other teams might have some weaknesses, and then maybe two teams could get together. But we're not really anticipating anything. But we go through the process of evaluating all of our positions and all other teams' positions in the same way.

(Why did you feel it was important to give Donald Driver a raise now?)

Well, I think I'll stand on, and I've always said this, I'm uncomfortable speaking about in terms of specific players. I will say this. There's some mechanisms that we've used with most if not all of our veteran-type contracts recently. We feel like sometimes it enables us to address some things that we think are important. Plus, we'd like for Donald to be here for a long time.

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