Thompson on cuts: 'It's a no-win situation'

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson looks on during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015.

Ted Thompson doesn't take this part of his job lightly.

Even before he began his Wednesday morning news conference, the Green Bay Packers general manager cautions everyone that "this is not my favorite time of the year so bear with me."

Fresh off making his first 12 cuts, Thompson and his personnel department must make another 20 by the end of the week. A few players will depart for other teams. Some will return on the practice squad. Others will never play in the NFL again.

Thompson, a former undrafted free agent himself, played 10 years with the Houston Oilers. He vividly remembers the excitement he felt when he made the roster in 1975, and the disappointment and shock when he was informed of his release in 1985.

"Their coaches do a great job of explaining things about how they felt things went," Thompson said. "Sometimes the players would like tips on maybe what they need to improve on or work on or things like that. It's a no-win situation. It's a bad time."

Thompson rarely shows his cards as it relates to personnel decisions or his feelings on particular NFL topics, but he's been outspoken about his disdain for the mandatory cut down to 75 players prior to the final preseason game.

It forces teams to decide which positions they have to go light at. No easy task considering how many starters and veterans typically sit out of the last exhibition game.

Who makes the cut? You be the GM with our Roster Builder

After releasing five players on Monday, the Packers waited until after Tuesday's practice to make the last of their preliminary cuts. Quarterback Matt Blanchard, tight end Harold Spears and receiver James Butler all practiced before being notified afterward that they had been released.

"I think I've been fairly open and honest saying I'm not a big fan of the 75 cut," Thompson said. "I think that's antiquated. I think that was useful 15 years ago maybe. I think it'd be more useful for the teams to be able to decide how they want to play the last game rather than having to do it based on numbers."

So why exactly was it useful 15 years ago?

"I don't know, maybe it wasn't," Thompson laughed. "I'm assuming there was a reason."

"I'm sorry. I'm mouthing off and I probably shouldn't be. It's just a tough time and I'm not a fan of it."

Here's what else Thompson had to say on Wednesday:

On difficulty of evaluating Jared Abbrederis after missing a month:

Yeah, you take it all in. You take in his history and that sort of thing. We'll see.

On if players can make roster in final preseason game:

I think we're guarded enough. I say that in a mean-spirited way. We just went through a 75 cut so we're pretty jaded right now. But I suppose you could but talent is talent and if someone shows us something that's remarkable in that regard, I think even if it's in the last preseason game, I think we should pay attention to it. And we do.

On determining locker room chemistry:

I try to do my own work. Certainly what other people say and what coaches contribute to the discussion is taken into account but I do and our staff does their own work. We try to get to know these guys as people.

On getting to know players:

I spend a lot of time around the players that I feel like I can get an understanding of the person. You never really know if you know someone. But I know them well enough that it hurts to tell them they have to go.

On his time as a player in camp:

I was Mr. Gung Ho. I volunteered for everything and was probably a pain in the tail to some people. I don't know that I did, I played as hard as I could and I felt like if we missed practice because of a thunderstorm then it was against me, it was hurting my chances of making the team. I was that kind of psycho. When we were coming back from Chicago, we had played Chicago, it was our sixth preseason game and we were coming back to Houston and Ed Briles, our defensive coordinator, came by in the row we were sitting in, me and my friend, and told me that… no, he asked me, do you have an apartment yet? And I said, no. And he goes, 'Well, you need to get one.' He kept walking down the aisle and I looked at my buddy, who was a tight end, he was listening, too. And I said, 'Does that mean what I think it means. We both agreed it was a good sign.

On hardest part of cut downs when he was a player:

The waiting. Even though I went through the story about the first year, most years I was pretty sure I was making the team. It would've been a surprise if I didn't. Lo and behold it was a shock that I didn't make it when they did finally cut me. I wasn't that anxious about it most of the time, but you don't know for sure what coach or a personnel guy might think. C.O. Brocato, who passed away this week, a long time scout of the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans, he used to kid me on the practice field about how he rejected me as a player. he said it in a joking manner, but I think he meant it, which kind of hurt my feelings. God rest his soul, C.O. Brocato.

On if special-teams penalties are a concern in the preseason:

Well, it better not happen. I'm down on the sideline much of the time and I have been this year. Special teams during the preseason is chaos because you're not managing a group of 13 for 11. You're managing a group of 28 for 11. That's no easy task, but we'd rather it not happen.

On weighing own players against those who come available after cut downs:

We make sure that we acknowledge what we know and we don't know about these people. Some of these people we were involved in their draft process and we got to where we knew these people and that sort of thing, the ones that become available from other teams. So I think you acknowledge what you know and you acknowledge what you don't know. There are some people that maybe we didn't have and didn't do a lot of study on, so we don't know much about them. I think just like in the draft when that happens, you have to stand up and say we don't know that.

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