Lately, the Packers' general manager is showing as much patience as possible with some younger running backs before he pulls the trigger on acquiring a veteran.
Prime example: Vernand Morency.
Thompson basically told reporters today that he plans to give Morency another shot at showing him that he can be the No. 1 back that the Packers are seeking this training camp. That maybe the injuries that have kept Morency out of action last fall and early in camp are flukes, and not a sign of what is to come from the third-year pro. Though Morency is out for at least two more weeks with a knee injury that he sustained the first day of camp, Thompson appears very willing to wait and see what Morency, or other younger backs such as Brandon Jackson, Noah Herron or P.J. Pope can do during the upcoming Family Night scrimmage and preseason game against Pittsburgh.
That's great if a team is in a rebuilding mode, like the Packers. Oops, did I say Packers and rebuilding? That's right, the Packers are aiming to win now, so don't most teams that want to win now have a No. 1 back already in place? A guy they know they can count on. A guy who has developed the necessary instincts at a key position, like running back?
Let's give Thompson credit. He knows a lot more about football and today's NFL player than most of us observers. He probably knows more about Morency and Jackson than any of us will ever know. But it sure seems a little risky going into a season with your so-called No. 1 back with little experience getting a handful of reps in the first two-plus weeks of training camp, doesn't it?
"Obviously we're disappointed Vernand is not going to be able to play in maybe the first couple of preseason games," said Thompson. "We'll see how he goes after that. We also have some young fellows here we need to see play, and need to see practice, so that affords them an opportunity."
Thompson says he has no immediate plans to acquire a veteran. For a team that wants to get off to a fast start and needs to improve the running game, it currently is putting its hopes and high expectations on very young backs. It's a roll of the dice, but not one that teams with intentions of making playoff run will make. New England, San Diego, New Orleans and Indianapolis are projected to go deep into the playoffs this year. What do they all have in common? That's right, they all have an undisputed No. 1 running back in place on their rosters.
With plenty of salary cap space, Thompson has the ability to trade or sign a veteran running back. At this point, or so it appears, he will do so only if necessary. Right now, at least in his mind, the time is not right.
Thompson feels that Morency can be a durable running back that the team can count on, but he has run into some bad luck.
"Quite frankly, it's a violent business and sometimes you get dinged up," Thompson said. "And sometimes that happens early in your career and then you wind up playing for a long time and it never happens again. Sometimes I think it's the luck of the draw. I guess genetics enter into it, but we don't think it's that."
We'll see about that. If Morency is injured again in a few weeks when he returns, we'll also see if Thompson truly wants to win now.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the complete transcript of Ted Thompson's press conference today, click here.