Thompson addresses 'owners' at Fan Fest

Packers general manager stresses importance of developing from within

Ted Thompson addressed fans at the Green Bay Packers' annual Fan Fest this afternoon in the Lambeau Field atrium. While Thompson was not available to reporters, he did answer questions from former Packers center Larry McCarran while taping a television show that will air statewide tonight.

Thompson has come under heavy criticism thus far in free agency because he has yet to sign any players to fill vacancies left by running back Ahman Green, who signed with Houston, fullback William Henderson (released), or tight end David Martin, who signed with the Miami Dolphins.

Thompson said that the Packers are "working on some things" regarding free agency, but did not elaborate. Coach Mike McCarthy, who also was a guest on the TV show, said that it is important for the team's younger players to "step up." McCarthy also said that 75 players have committed to participate in the team's off-season workout program, which begins on March 19. McCarthy said that is the most of any team in the league.

Here are Thompson's responses to questions from McCarran:

On if he is surprised by any of the signings in free agency:
"We've expected to have some fairly dramatic deals because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the salary cap. If a team felt like they had to address a particular need, then we felt like there would be some good deals.
"We haven't done anything. We tried to sign Ahman Green and David Martin both, but we didn't come to an agreement there. We're still working on some things. Even though we haven't done anything, or haven't signed anybody, it doesn't mean that we're sitting on our hands. We're working on it, trying to find the right fit."

On how he plans to replace Ahman Green:
"First and foremost, we have four young backs on our team that we're going to try to develop from within. We've said it over and over, and Mike and I have talked about this a lot, the best way to become a good, sustaining team, is to develop from within. We're going to give these guys a shot, and we're going to bring in some competition for them. You never know what happens in free agency or the draft, but we're going to count on the guys we have on our team."

On if Aaron Rodgers is the team's quarterback of the future?
"Yes, absolutely. Aaron's working very hard. He's a fine player. He wants to play, and he understands the position that he's in. He got injured last year in the only opportunity he had to play, but he's continued to develop. Mike and I are both very high on him, and he's going to be a good player."

On what he can say about trading for Randy Moss:
"You don't say anything, that's the best way to do it."

On how he would characterize the NFL draft:
"We feel very confident that we'll be able to take a really good player. The key is, ‘Do we know what we're doing?' But we know what we're doing and we'll get some good players for this team."

On his thoughts on California RB Marshawn Lynch, whom many speculate the Packers will select with the 16th overall pick:
"He looks like a good player. We just got back from the (NFL) Combine, and a lot of players came through. We're impressed with this group (of running backs). We feel that the first round is deep enough to take a good player at 16."

On how far away the Packers are from contending for a Super Bowl title:
"The NFL is a funny business. You can be on the bottom and rise pretty fast. We feel like we're getting better. We have improved the core of our team. We have some good guys who have brought us some leadership and know their responsibilities. We did pretty good through the course of the season, and it was a tough season because we had some bad games here at Lambeau Field, certainly. We're going to try to avoid that. We have a chance, as far as predicting, but, again, the best way for us to be successful is for quality improvement from within."

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