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Ted Thompson Packers Presser: "Need to Keep the Best Players" Whether Drafted or Not

The Packers' GM made it clear that there would be essentially no advantage given to drafted players over undrafted rookies or veterans in terms of making the roster out of training camp.

Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE

On Tuesday before the Green Bay Packers' practice, General Manger Ted Thompson spoke to the media regarding the team's progress, player evaluation, and a handful of other topics. Here is a partial transcript of his comments.

Thompson opened by talking about the status of the team and made a special mention that the teams headed up by three of his former colleagues will be the next three teams the Packers play:

We got an important few weeks right in front of us, finishing up a few preseason games, getting ready for the start of the regular season, it won't be more than a couple weeks before we're playing ... the next three games we play Reggie McKenzie's team, John Dorsey's team, John Schneider's team, which is pretty unusual. Looking forward to seeing those guys...I don't think it's a distraction. I think it's a side benefit, you get to see those guys before the game, shake hands...it's real friendship, real people, real stuff.

Thompson was then asked why the team has made no roster moves since wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard was claimed on waivers:

Just the way it's worked out. We've been at or pretty close to 90 the whole time ... You keep adding salt to the mix, it gets too salty ... quite frankly, it's just a reflection on where you are. When we claimed Sheppard, we had a couple receivers with a bump or two.

Regarding the Thursday night opener against Seattle, he was asked if that compresses the timeline after the final cuts:

We did this a couple years ago. In that case we had the advantage of a home game which makes quite a bit of difference on a short week ... everything has to be sped up a bit. Normally you'd practice on Sunday a little bit no matter when you open up, but when you open on a Thursday, that Sunday practice you have to get it going pretty fast, because the practice squads and such won't be set until Sunday around noon ... you do what you do. There will still be enough time (to make a waiver claim) ... we're not afraid to do roster things if it happens. Just because it makes it a little messy in terms of arranging flights and getting people in, that doesn't mean we're not gonna do something.

On the 2013 draft class, which has five players projected to start this season:

It's good, we don't look at it that way. We don't separate the players and the years, we love the 30-year-old guys just as much as the 20-year-old guys ... I would like to be good at (drafting) most of the time ... you're always looking for growth and guys that can contribute early on as rookies, certainly you anticipate some growth spurts and guys to participate early, but there's no substitute for experience.

One question was about whether the receivers or linebackers are the toughest to decide upon based on depth or quality of talent:

It's always the same, it may bounce around from position to position but there's always a lot of angst, of broken-heartedness going through the whole process, so we anticipate it being that way ... the numbers (at each position) bounce around a little bit, depending on the quality of the play.

Thompson was asked if a player who was drafted would be more likely to make the roster than an undrafted player (perhaps in reference to OLB Carl Bradford's lack of production so far). The follow-up question regarded the balance between a veteran player with a full season of tape versus a rookie.

Maybe a smidgen, but at the end of the day whether you draft him or whether you don't, you guys aren't gonna care, you'll care if we win or lose, and most of the people outside the building only care of we win or lose, so we need to keep the best players ... you have a body of work (on a veteran player) but the draft is moved a bit, the time with these young players is moved a bit, but I still think we have enough time during the whole process, and we're not there yet ... I still think we'll have enough body of work to make decisions properly.

On pre-draft visits with players who end up signing as undrafted free agents:

We bring a lot of players in, almost exclusively guys that weren't invited to the combine. It's usually to get to know them better, more so we're able to do a medical physical, which is important, an important part of the equation ...

Thomspson was asked specifically about Jayrone Elliott, and how a big performance in a short time can affect a player's evaluation and position on the roster:

I'm not gonna speak too much on individual guys ... I went through a lot of preseason games and I was often times playing in the second half of preseason games and the competition level drops a bit and even I made a couple plays ... you kinda have to weigh all this out.

On whether the concept of "hiding" a player on the practice squad even exists in the modern NFL and his attitude about the practice squad in general:

There's not much hiding going on in the NFL, it's a pretty competitive bunch ... we value the ability to develop players on the practice squad ... there are some guys who treat it more as these guys are just practice guys. From our point of view, our guys are told from the beginning that their job is to get ready to play and help us win, if that's next week or 10 weeks from now ... we normally if we can, we will fill (a vacancy due to injury) with one of our practice squad players as opposed to somebody off the street ... (the decision to switch to a 10-man practice squad is) fine with me, it's above my pay grade. I'm not getting to make a decision on that ... I think most people in my position, it would be natural to say that's a good idea, but I don't get a vote.

The final question was regarding what reasons Thompson had to think that JC Tretter would become a good center:

We liked him a lot in college, we thought he could play, we did some workouts with him at center. Sometimes that's not an exact science ... he has the makeup of being a player. Wherever he winds up playing, you never know. So far he looks okay.

That was it for Ted. Stay tuned for updates from practice.