Thompson Discusses Roster Decisions


The Packers kept three fullbacks on the roster. Pictured here (left to right) they are John Kuhn, Korey Hall and Quinn Johnson.

After what has to be considered perhaps the most daunting 2½ days of any general manager's job - when nearly two dozen roster cuts are made, waiver claims are filed, and practice squads are established - Green Bay's Ted Thompson addressed the media on Sunday afternoon to discuss the current state of the Packers' roster and how it came together.

Other than noting that the decision to go with Brett Swain over Ruvell Martin at the fifth receiver spot came down to special-teams contributions and was one of the most painful moments of the weekend - "Ruvell was everything you asked of in a Packer. He's a good player, he's a great person, a great teammate, well-respected by his peers" - Thompson's press conference in the Lambeau Field auditorium focused primarily on four areas.

Here's a breakdown of those four:

The secondary

Releasing former Pittsburgh safety Anthony Smith, a free-agent acquisition with knowledge of the 3-4 defense, was prompted by a couple of factors. First, the Packers found what they feel is perhaps a better backup safety option in Baltimore's Derrick Martin and were able to trade offensive lineman Tony Moll for him on Saturday.

In addition, injuries prior to or during the preseason finale at cornerback to Will Blackmon (quad), Brandon Underwood (stinger) and Pat Lee (knee - injured reserve) leaves the secondary potentially a little thin at corner in the early stages of the season, and Martin can fill in there as well if needed.

Martin was a cornerback coming out of Wyoming in the 2006 draft, but Thompson said the team's evaluation of him back then was that he had the body type to play safety as well.

"We liked him then, and as we talk about a lot, a lot of our moves that we make on the pro side are based first and foremost of what we thought of him in college, and we thought he was a good player," Thompson said, adding that Martin also can contribute on special teams. "We were sort of looking for a guy that had some versatility and can be a little bit of a swing player."

The running backs

Keeping three fullbacks is a highly unusual move in NFL circles, but Thompson felt Korey Hall, John Kuhn and Quinn Johnson were all too valuable to let go. Johnson, the rookie, is still learning his way but is seen as having a ton of potential as a powerful lead blocker, while Hall and Kuhn are established pros who know the Packers' offensive system and contribute regularly on special teams.

"We felt like there was value in all of those guys," Thompson said. "That cost roster spots in other areas that wouldn't normally happen but we felt like it was worth it."

There was some thought given to keeping four halfbacks with Ryan Grant's top backup, Brandon Jackson, currently nursing an ankle injury, but only going with one more - DeShawn Wynn - behind Grant and Jackson is an indication Jackson could be back in action soon.

Non-drafted rookie Tyrell Sutton led the team in rushing in the preseason and had made strong bid to be that fourth halfback, but the decision to keep all three fullbacks played into his release. Sutton was claimed on waivers by Carolina while Kregg Lumpkin was brought back on the practice squad.

"We're sorry to lose him," Thompson said of Sutton.

The quarterbacks

With second-year man Brian Brohm being released and signed to the practice squad, the Packers have only two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster at the moment. It could stay that way for a while, with Brohm as the emergency option should anything happen to Aaron Rodgers or Matt Flynn.

That's more insurance than the Packers had in 2007 when Brett Favre and Rodgers were the only two quarterbacks. A third QB was on the practice squad for the first two weeks of the season, but not thereafter, and veteran Craig Nall was ultimately signed in early December when Rodgers got hurt.

{sportsad300}As for Brohm, Thompson was pleased he came back to the practice squad and was encouraged by his recent play. He said he's sure the former second-round draft pick was "disappointed" he didn't make the team, but that doesn't mean his career in Green Bay is over.

"Brian is continuing to make progress," Thompson said. "I think his most recent preseason game was his best outing. He is a competitor, he wants to be a good player, and he wants to contribute to the Packers. Now that we have him on the practice squad, we're going to continue that development. We haven't given up on him and I don't think he has given up either."

Justin Harrell

The Packers' first-round draft pick in 2007 was limited to just 13 games in his first two seasons because of injuries and now won't play in any this year after being placed on injured reserve. The back problem he developed a year and a half ago resurfaced during training camp this summer, and Thompson said the best course of action is to give Harrell an entire year to get healthy and let him make another run at a roster spot next summer.

Thompson said to his knowledge another back surgery (Harrell already has had two) is not being discussed at the moment, but rehab, conditioning and core strength work are the remedies being pursued.

"We're going to look at it like the glass is half full," Thompson said. "We're going to get it fixed.

"The kid's a good kid and he's a good player, and we just have to get him out there and be able to keep him out there. That's part of the NFL and we've talked about this before. There's durability issues and being able to get back up off the ground and go again. That's what this league is all about."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content


Action Needed: Update your Packers Mobile App!

Fans attending any games during the 2023 season should update their Packers mobile app due to important upgrades and enhancements.