Practice squad or bust for rookie QB

Thompson will have to have good game against Titans to make developmental squad

Paul Thompson is currently the Green Bay Packers' third string quarterback, but beyond this Saturday, look for Thompson to be either on the team's eight-man practice squad, or out seeking another employer.

Thompson has done little in practices last week, or this week thus far, to give the Packers any reason to think he is a capable No. 3 quarterback. He threw three interceptions today in a no pads practice, which has been about his average number of pickoffs in practices of late.

With any luck, Thompson will find the mark a little more often against the Titans. One of the reasons the Packers have kept him around is because of his potential. At 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, Thompson, a former wide receiver at Oklahoma, is very athletic. He has a good arm and the ability to run, but his accuracy has been woeful at best during training camp.

Last week the Packers released last year's No. 3 QB Ingle Martin in an effort to get a better look at Thompson. But thus far in two practices this week, Thompson has not been much more accurate than he was last week in practices, or in Green Bay's exhibition Aug. 18 against Seattle. In his most extensive action of the preseason, Thompson completed 5 of 10 passes with two interceptions and a passer rating of 24.6.

Thompson will be receiving a chance to play most of the second half Thursday against the Titans at LP Field. If he can move the offense somewhat and not make any turnovers, chances are he will make the team's practice squad, but don't count on him making the team as the third quarterback behind Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

The assumption here is that the Packers will go with two quarterbacks for a week or so in order to stash kicker Dave Rayner or Mason Crosby as trade bait for another team. Then they will acquire a quarterback with a little better accuracy and immediate upswing than Thompson.

Thompson knows a lot rides on the upcoming game, and what he has to show the coaches.

"Just smart decisions," Thompson said. "What I did in the last couple of weeks is trying to force things instead of playing inside of myself. I was comfortable with the plays, but just smarter decisions. A presence in the huddle to get the guys in and out of the huddle faster, so I can make adjustments if I need to."

Who knows? Thompson might play well enough to make the 53-man roster, but that would be very surprising at this point. For now, the best place for him is the practice squad to better refine his talent.

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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