TAKING ON TED THOMPSON
ONE ON ONE WITH THE PACKERS GM
I'll admit, trying to get Ted Thompson to reveal his hand is like trying to break Phil Hellmuth at the World Series of Poker...it's just not likely to happen. But from my sit down one on one interview with him this week, I was able to glean a few nuggets:
1. While Ted will never talk about specific players contract talks, since the season ended...they have talked with the agent for Greg Jennings. Thompson merely saying "we've talked to players who don't have contracts immediately up at this time."
2. Thompson admits that his up and down tenure as GM (4-12, 8-8, 13-3, and 6-10 for a 31-33 overall record) is a cycle that "he's not a big fan of."
3. Despite Aaron Rodgers 0-7 record in games decided by 4 points or less, when I asked if Rodgers will become a winner over time, Thompson insists that Rodgers is a winner now.
4. Thompson won't say last season was derailed by the turmoil of the offseason, and says he's not worried about Brett Favre showing up in a Vikings uniform and isn't thinking about it.
5. Thompson will still go with the "best player available" cliche, but admits the draft is strong in certain areas the Packers need help.
6. Thompson has spent this week evaluating the draft position by position. So far they've knocked off tackle, guard, center and quarterback.
7. When I asked if Justin Harrell could be cut if he doesn't fit the 3-4, Thompson just laughed.
8. He also seemed to downplay the possibility of trades if players (like Al Harris) don't fit the scheme, saying "switching to the 3-4 won't be as helter skelter as most think." He claims they haven't talked about trading Harris or Donald Driver, even though Harris struggles in zone coverage.
9. Thompson doesn't think the Packers need to add veterans to fill what is a perceived leadership void...and don't expect him to go hog wild in free agency. But a signing maybe not of Charles Woodson's status, but more on the line of Ryan Pickett's deal a few years back? That's possible.
10. Thompson also downplays the switch to the 3-4, saying one long time coach of the scheme told him at the Senior Bowl that the only big difference is the weakside end having his hand up and not on the ground.
11. He's convinced Aaron Kampman will be fine as a LB in this scheme.
12. He assured me the team will not be the youngest in the NFL for the fourth straight year.
13. He says he can't go the way the wind blows on the draft and free agency, and that's why he really doesn't listen to the criticism on both fronts.
14. He claims they have the LB's to play the 3-4...but I still think they get another thru the draft or free agency.
15. He wouldn't address Mark Tauscher's future, even with free agency looming at the end of the month, but seems to indicate next year's tackle are on the roster.
16. And while he won't say it publically, I think GM's like Thompson are at least preparing for the possibility of a lockout down the road with the Collective Bargaining Agreement up in 2010.
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