Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson spoke to the media on Wednesday morning. Here are some highlights from his news conference:
On the reported trade of defensive end Jerel Worthy to the New England Patriots:
I can't really confirm or add anything to that right now. I'd be glad to talk about anything else pertaining to the Green Bay Packers but in that regard because of agreements with other teams and things like that, we're not going to be discussing that. OK, questions. … Mr. (Johnathan) Franklin, how are you? Looking good.
On scouting players from small schools:
We've never shied away from it. I think history will tell you that, we're willing to take our chances. I do think that you have to look into that a little closer. And the prevailing argument that I think holds water against that is if you go to, say, Michigan State, you're going to play Big Ten competition for your entire career there. But the most difficult part of that and the thing that I think helps that person grow up to be an NFL player easier than at a small school is every day competition to remain in the lineup. If you go to a smaller school, you might have good players around you, but if you're NFL caliber you're better than everybody else and maybe the competition level and the day to day competing is different. So I would think that would be a valid argument, something that we'd look into.
Have you seen rookies come into camp feeling entitled?
Ah, well, I think so. Rookies, especially leading into that person's draft year or the draft time and they're on the front cover of Sports Illustrated or get invited to New York or get hugged by the commissioner and all that, I think there can be some of that. But normally that goes away when you get around the veterans for any length of time.
On draft picks that don't work out:
The work that you do later on in the draft, and we talked about this in pre-draft meetings, that's critically important. On top of that in terms of team building, we have put a bunch of work into and pride ourselves a little bit in the fact we take college free agents and made them part of our team and contributors. Not to just stand on the sideline but to actually contribute in games. I think all of that is important. I think all of that is relevant. Sometimes you have draft choices and it doesn't work out, and that's my responsibility."
On whether conversations have started about shaping the 53-man roster:
Well, we've had some informal conversations as I was walking around the building and just poking my head into people's offices. We haven't had any "meetings" with everybody present where we hash out whatever it is we're thinking about. We're kind of letting it play itself out. We've only played one preseason game."
On what he wants to see in Saturday's game in St. Louis:
"I want to see them run around, have some fun, enjoy playing the game. Don't forget it's still a game and do the best they can. Preseason in the NFL is a difficult time for our players and for all players around the league because they do know they're decisions being made. Decision that affect their lives. I try to go on the sideline, which I probably will do this week. I didn't last week because it was raining like cats and dogs, but I like to watch especially the young guys – I like to watch them and see how they're fitting in and how they're doing. Make sure that they still understand it's a game. They generally do their best when they play like it's a game."
On whether he needs to draft players more specifically for 3-4 defense?
(Answering a question from Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Well, I suppose, Tom. After that lead-up to that question, I kind of wish I had you sitting with me in the draft room that day, but, yeah, you stumble and fall from time to time. You do what you think is the right thing for the team and sometimes it doesn't work out. In terms of the scheme and things, sure, that's an ongoing thing unless you're able to see somebody play in a particular position. Oftentimes they play in a different position in college. We have a number of players on our team that fit that mode that have done fine."
Is that unique to defensive coordinator Dom Capers' scheme?
I don't know, I doubt it. My guess is it's just hard to find really good defensive players that have all those skills. A couple of those positions we're talking about demand the ability to run into 340-pound guys and defeat them, and at the same time, cover 4.5 40 guys coming out of the backfield and things like that. That's not an easy combination of physical traits to find. But we try.
On what he watches for from the sideline:
Yeah, I think you try to use all the experiences you've had. This isn't just who the best football player is, I don't think. I think it's more than that, maybe a little bit deeper than that. Now, you have to be able to play the game. I get that. But it's a lot to do with the person and their makeup and how they respond to adversity and that sort of thing. And everybody's different. They're not all cookie-cutter personalities. Our team, as you guys know, has completely different personalities. So it's the makeup of them. And I don't have any special gift in terms of being able to decide or make that decision. I just kind of like to watch them and see how they conduct themselves.
On his release from Houston in 1985. What happened next?
Yes, it was two or three days before the first game. I thought I'd already made the club. And I think technically I had and I got scr— messed around. But, the Kansas City Chiefs had a nickel linebacker that got himself banged up on a Monday night game about six weeks into the season, and they called me and I went up there for a tryout and by the time we got done with the tryout, they told me that the nickel linebacker that was hurt was going to be OK. And they put me back on the airplane and sent me home. That was my last hurrah.
(Note: The game Thompson mentioned likely was a Thursday night game on the second week of the 1985 season.)