Q&A with Packers GM Ted Thompson

Some notes and quotes from the general manager's 45-minute sessions with reporters on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

"I feel like a chatty Cathy," Ted Thompson said.

And for good reason. The Packers' low-key general manager had just spent about 45 minutes talking to reporters during back-to-back-to-back sessions at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Friday morning.

As is the custom followed by Thompson and most general managers here, Thompson didn't spill the beans about his free agent plans or what draft prospects he is dying to watch. Nonetheless, he said plenty of noteworthy things in front of the bright lights of NFL Network and the recorder-wielding Packers media contingent that is here.

Here are the highlights not fit to be a standalone story:

Is the Combine when you become smitten with a prospect?

This is kind of the start of the whole thing. Now, we've been to the all-star games and we've been scouting all fall, but this is where you can see them all together and they're all standing in line. You watch how they get along with each other. It's kind of like what I do at practice. A lot of times, I'm watching players but I'm not watching them practice. I'm just watching to see how they fit in with other players. We want good people, we want guys that can get along. But this is sort of the official start of getting down to the nuts and bolts, because we have the template of the draft board, and that's going to change a lot, but it's something to start with.

On the state of his draft plans:

When you're picking at nine, your draft board's a little bit different than when you're picking at 30. I haven't even started working on that. We've just been kind of, ‘Do we like this guy? Do we think he's a good player? Blah, blah, blah.' And then we just put him up there. We're not there yet.

Does the No. 9 pick have to play right away, or can you afford to wait on a good prospect to groom behind an aging veteran?

In a perfect world, he's the kind of player that comes in and help you right away. But we're not opposed to doing that. We did that with Aaron (Rodgers, behind Brett Favre), obviously. If that's the way it works out, that's the way it works out.

Do you need to consider drafting a left tackle early to get ready to replace Chad Clifton?

We always put a premium on the big people, we've always done that -- I think we've drafted offensive linemen every year since I've been here. And I think we have a pretty good group of offensive linemen as a whole. But Chad's a big part of that and we want him to come back but you're always looking. Like I said in there, you have to be sustainable, you have to be able to absorb an injury and still continue to play. We're not all the way there yet but that's what we're trying to get to.

Have you talked with Mark Tauscher?

I don't know that we have. I think Russ (Ball, who negotiates contracts) is talking to a bunch of different people down here this week and I'm sure he'll be one of the guys, yeah.

Would you like to bring him back?

We're still not there. That's going to be more of a medical decision than it is a football decision. Mark's a really good football player. We hope that he's going to be with us going forward but that's got to be a medical thing, and we're a long ways from being able to make that decision.

Two other free agents are defensive end Michael Montgomery and nose tackle Colin Cole. Has your thinking changed on bringing them back with the 3-4?

No, in general we like all of our guys and we'd like to have them back. Free agency is free agency, so I'm sure those guys will want to kind of test the market. So, we're going to continue to stay in contract with their representatives so hopefully we can work something out. My guess is they will become free agents (on Feb. 27).

Have there been contract talks with Greg Jennings?

He's one of several players that we're going to continue to talk to and try to work something out as we go forward. I'm sure we'll able to get something done.

What did you learn about Patrick Lee in his few games last season?

Well, Pat got hurt fairly early in the season. What we learned from Pat that he was a pretty good player on the field. He's a little bit better player 11-on-11 than he is one-on-one (in practice).

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com.

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