Camp diary: Thompson extension is a positive for the Packers
Feb 21, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Image by Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Today was a “specific” workday for me as I covered practice for Today’s TMJ4. We report each day on practice, press conferences and locker room availability.
The camera man in this case one of the best, Mike Lammi, and the reporter in this case me identify players and stories to tell that day. Practice is where we get the “B roll” to use in the story. “B roll” is the action shots you see over the audio of the report. This was a little more difficult today because there are restrictions on what you can tape in practice these days.
Our producer Rick Rietbrock back at TMJ4 needs six packages or reports today. That was a difficult assignment because during the locker room exposure there weren’t many players available to talk with so we were going to have to get creative. Then we got a gift from Packers President Mark Murphy, he signed Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations Ted Thompson to a multi-year extension. That took care of half of the reports we filed today. Yes it was a Godsend!
Thompson seemed genuinely upbeat and happy to be continuing a job he has held for almost ten years. The Packers have had tremendous success under Thompson with six playoff appearances, four division titles, an NFC Title and a Super Bowl Championship.
One of the things that sets Ted apart from others is his background in the game. Thompson was a player in the NFL but not a star. He was a backup linebacker who had to make the team each year mostly on special teams play. Thompson was part of a great team in Houston the “Love Ya Blue” Oilers of the '70s and early '80s. Bum Phillips was the head coach, Earl Campbell the Hall of Fame running back, Dan Pastorini the quarterback, Billy White Shoes Johnson the kick returner-- they had a locker room full of talent and characters. But they kept running into those great Pittsburgh teams and never got to the Super Bowl.
Thompson observed the makeup of an NFL team from the end of the roster. He knows how hard it is to make an NFL team especially a good one. He never forgot how things work inside the locker room.
As a result, Thompson doesn’t just put talent on a roster; he fits talent into a locker room. I ‘m not sure many of you understand what that means. Everyone on the NFL level is talented but putting the right talent together is the trick. How will this player fit with the people and personalities we have in our locker room?
It is one of the reasons Thompson doesn’t arbitrarily delve into free agency. When he does, those players fit like Ryan Pickett and the reluctant Charles Woodson in 2006 who was the last person an observer would pick for the Packers to sign in free agency. Yet Woodson went on to become one of the great Packers of all time! Charles is up there with the Herb Adderleys and Willie Woods in Green Bay football lore. Woodson’s words following the NFC Title game in Chicago are inscripted inside the Super Bowl XLV ring “One mind, one heartbeat, one purpose, one goal for one more game.” Thompson has a gift for knowing how to put talent and the personalities of that talent together on a team. Trust me, that’s a rare gift.
The other aspect that Thompson brings to the picture as an executive is, he is still a scout! And when I asked him about that he replied, “That’s who I am that’s what I do.” Most executives in his position do very little actual scouting of talent. Thompson, like his predecessor Ron Wolf spends much of the fall traveling each week to college campuses to evaluate talent.
Thompson works in the toughest part of the football business. Player personnel is not a science. It’s not like building your fantasy football team. These are not video game figures or machines they are flesh and blood. And as long as flesh and blood is involved there are no sure bets!!
No one is infallible in this business, some just have a better feel for it than others and in this regard Thompson is as good as it gets.
The next signing you will likely hear about will be a contract extension for head coach Mike McCarthy.
FROM THE FIELD
Brandon Bostick the tight end flashed a few times today making tough catches in the red zone. We have a package on the tight ends tonight on Today’s TMJ4 B.J. Raji looks like he is going to have a very good season back at nose tackle for the defense. He is so quick for a man of his size and so strong that he has a definite advantage over most centers.
I like the way the defense is moving since the pads came on earlier this week. There is no doubt the Packers are going to be lighter and quicker up front and does anyone have the depth at cornerback that the Packers have? With Tramon Williams, Sam Shields,
Casey Hayward back, Devone House and even Jarrett Bush who played well as the dime back late last season go five deep in quality and that doesn’t even include Micah Hyde a corner last year who is playing safety these days.
I believe DuJuan Harris will take over the kick returning duties this season and I think he will do very well. Harris is compact but not small 5’8” 205 pounds, he is strong and explosive, catches the ball naturally and has a knack for reading the field and blocking on returns.
Punt return remains a bit up in the air I still think Jared Abbrederis will get a chance but I know Myles White probably won’t, he dropped three punts in practice today. Speaking of the punting game, a rare occurrence, Tim Masthay had a punt blocked, pressure right up the middle. Masthay has had only one punt blocked in his career in 260 punt attempts.
Catching up with one of the best NFL writers in the league tonight, Vic Ketchman, the editor of packers.com. Vic’s career in the league began in the '70s in his native Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where he covered the Steeler Dynasty. His column “Ask Vic” on packers.com is a must read!