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Ted Thompson Press Conference Transcript - Feb. 26

Read the transcript of General Manager Ted Thompson’s press conference Friday from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.


(If there is no salary cap, there could be more than 200 players becoming restricted free agents rather than unrestricted. Is there potential for discontent, that a large number of those guys will be unhappy, increasing the possibility of missing mini-camps, OTAs and other things?)

I think that would be better addressed to those particular players in those circumstances. I think, you use the word discontent, I think there would be a certain amount of discontent on everybody's part with any sort of labor unrest or difficulties that we may or may not be going through.

(Do you know exactly what you want to do with contracts in 2011, 2012, or are you still figuring that out?)

We've been in ongoing conversations about what strategies the organization might take. We haven't really firmed all that up yet though.

(Are you surprised so many of the top quarterback prospects aren't working out?)

Quite frankly I've been running around watching heights, weights and measurements. I don't know the score, the tally of who is and who isn't working out. Some of the guys might have had some injuries coming into this thing. I don't know really what you've been referring to. I haven't been keeping score.

(Aaron Rodgers tweaked his release a little bit. In terms of Tebow, how difficult is it for a quarterback to do that? How much time does that take?)

I'm no quarterback expert, and certainly in the mechanisms of the thing. I will say this about young Tebow. There's been a lot of discussion and commenting about him and his release or his ability to play in the National Football League. Based on his history, I think that would be a little bit premature to start criticizing him and doubting his ability to play. He's been playing at a pretty high level for quite some time. Has to go down as one of the great college football players of all-time, so let's don't sell him short just yet.

(In terms of offseason priorities, where do you rank the secondary?)

I never rank priorities. I love them all. I think we're always going to try to get better. We're always going to try to keep pushing the throttle down so that we can go faster and do better. At the same time, I've always felt like this and I know some our local guys probably get tired of me saying it. I think the best and most dramatic improvements you can have is from within, and that's what our offseason program has always been focused on. Now, we also place a high value on the draft, because we feel that's the future of your core players, and free agency, our own as well as maybe guys from other teams. We'll do whatever we can to try to help our team, and that's what we try to do.

(You franchised Pickett, and among the franchise players, there's a lot of 3-4 nose tackles. Does that say something about that position, and did you anticipate kind of a large market for that position this offseason?)

I can't speak for other teams. In our case, it was simply a matter of, we feel like Ryan's a good player. We feel like he's a good teammate, a good leader of that group. I personally like him quite a bit. This gives us an opportunity to keep having some conversations and try to get something done. We'd like to do a multi-year deal with him, but there are differences where we are in the negotiations, and this was an avenue that we had to at least retain some right to be able to do that in the future.

(How high a priority is Aaron Kampman?)

With all of our free agents, we've been having conversations. There's nothing to report on any of those things, so as opposed to speaking to Aaron directly, I'll just speak in general, and this may answer a few other questions you might have. We don't have anything to report. Historically speaking and it certainly applies this year, our policy has always been to try to retain as many of our own players as we could.

(Guys train so specifically for the Combine now. Does that make it harder to evaluate what you see here?)

Players oftentimes they go away, like say they're going to school in Columbus, Ohio, they go to Arizona to train and do all that and do specific training for the Combine. I think that's OK. It shows a certain amount of competitiveness and wanting to get ready for it and do the tests, because we like to put the guys through the tests because it's a comparative thing. There's certain minimums that you look for that you feel like you have to be able to do it at least that well or maybe you can't play. At the end of the day, we tell these guys when they get here, 90 percent of their work in terms of where they're going to get drafted and what they're going to be as an NFL player has already been done. This last part, the testing and making sure you're the right kind of person for the locker room, make sure that you can run as fast as maybe we think you need to be able to run to play that position, that's that last little bit that they have to finish. This is the finishing part. In terms of, is it better for them to stay at their school and train or go somewhere else? That's for them, their families and their agents to decide.

(Going back to Tebow and some of the other quarterbacks who ran the spread offense, is that a detriment to their NFL chances?)

I think probably a little bit too much to be made of it. I think if you're a good player you can play. There are instances where guys will not have taken a direct snap in their college career, so you have to make sure that you can do that. You've got to be able to do that before you can play at all. I think if you're a good quarterback and you have the ability to see the field and anticipate things and have almost that sixth sense of when pressure is there and when it's not there, I think if you can play, you can play. But it also leaves you as you are making those decisions, there is unknown of by the way, he's never taken a snap from center.

(Do you think Favre will be back next season?)

That's an interesting question.

(Since you have been in that position, how tough is that for a team to wait his decision out?)

Really, I mean I'm sure there are people that would give you an opinion on that. I'm not the one to ask on that.

(In general terms, what do you think of the offensive tackles?)

All of the positions will be good classes.

(You have extended Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings, but not Nick Collins. What does he need to do to get an extension?)

We're working on it, and have been (for) some time.

(Are you optimistic?)

I'm always optimistic, but the cake is not done until it's done.

(How would you assess Collins' play?)

He's a good player. A good guy, good teammate.

(How did he translate into the new defense?)

You guys can see. He is a marvelous athlete. He's got range, he's got hands, he's got anticipation, he's a good tackler. He's a good player. He's one of the core guys that we want to have.

{sportsad300}(Last year we asked if you would draft for the new scheme. Do you feel like you did or did you draft based on them being good players who could play in any system?)

The latter. No, I think those guys both fit our system pretty good. If you're asking me if Clay Matthews or B.J. Raji can play in another defense, absolutely they could and I think they would be good at it.

(What do you look for in a 3-4 outside linebacker?)

I know I sound repetitive, but I look for good players. There are probably ideal heights and lengths and stuff like that in terms of a body makeup that you look for, but it doesn't necessarily translate into the best 3-4 outside linebacker. James Harrison of Pittsburgh does not fit those height/length requirements, but he's a marvelous player. He was the Defensive Player of the Year two years ago. So you probably trend toward that. In a 3-4 in the scouting business, there is more projecting of pass rushers to those 3-4 outside linebacker positions. It's a very difficult thing to do because if a guy has never stood up and played before, just because he can run fast or do drills, it doesn't necessarily mean he can stand on his feet and play the game, but it does work out sometimes. As much as we can, we try to stick with guys that have proven that they can play the game. Clay Matthews last year is a perfect example. There were times where he put his hand down on the ground and rushed the passer, but a large majority of the time he was standing up and playing linebacker.

(What did you think of Aaron Kampman's transition to the 3-4?)

Oh, I think Aaron was doing very good. It's a shame he got hurt, but he was doing fine. He's physical, he's got the ability to get thick on people. Somebody told me that term the other day and I wanted to use it, so there it is. He can play the game. He sacks the quarterback, and that's unbelievably valuable in our league.

(Going back to the offensive tackles, if you want a 10-year starter, do you have to get them early in the draft?)

Chad Clifton is a perfect example. He was a second-round pick I think, and not an early second-round pick I don't believe and has started for 10 years. You don't have to obviously, the tackle position is a critical position, but I have found most critical positions are critical because you need some. So I don't know. Probably most of the great left tackles in the league were taken early, but probably most of the great running backs in the league were taken early too, or quarterbacks, but not necessarily, especially that quarterback.

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