One day after some media outlets had proclaimed Clay Matthews III the winner in his battle with Jeremy Thompson at right outside linebacker, Thompson was back in the starting lineup on Tuesday morning.
"I think he's done well," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said of Thompson. "Jeremy's been a guy that we felt good about in OTAs. I think that right now, we've got excellent competition at that outside linebacker position between Jeremy and Clay Matthews."
Thompson thinks he and Matthews will switch in and out of the starting lineup on a daily basis. Neither of them took a step toward winning the job during Tuesday morning's 90-minute practice. The workout was conducted in shorts and helmets, so the physical element was missing. Maybe that's a good thing for Thompson, who suffered a stinger that knocked him out of part of Monday's practice.
The intelligent Thompson said his transition from defensive end in the old scheme to outside linebacker in the new scheme is going well.
"I think we're getting to that point (where he can react instead of think," Thompson said. "We're getting a lot of reps during training camp, got a lot of reps during OTAs, so we're getting to the point where we know what we've got to do."
Matthews probably is the favorite to win the job, in part because he's clearly talented enough but also because the Packers gave up a second-round pick and two third-rounders to get him. He's been impressive so far.
"He looks to me like your prototypical outside linebackers," Capers said. "We felt that way watching him play at (USC). I don't think he's done anything to disappoint us. He's done well. He's like any rookie. He's still learning. Every day, there will be two or three things that come up, but once he sees it, he normally picks it up and doesn't make the same error twice. I think he has the physical and mental tools to really play the position."
Interest in Vick?
Asked about controversial free agent quarterback Michael Vick during his Tuesday press conference, general manager Ted Thompson didn't emphatically close the door on the possibility.
That news swept across the Internet like locusts on a field of wheat. Thompson, however, generally speaks vaguely when asked about specific situations, so the issue probably is much ado about nothing.
Have Thompson and his staff discussed Vick? Probably, but that doesn't mean there's interest.
"The routine that we go through is the same," he said. "It doesn't mean any more that we are likely to do it or less likely. It's a routine that we go through. It's automatic."
Asked by Packer Report last week, Thompson said there had been no discussions about Vick because most of the staff was on vacation — not exactly a signal of great interest. For such an image-conscious organization, Thompson likely would need team President Mark Murphy to sign off on signing Vick.
For the record, Vick, who became the first visiting quarterback to win a playoff game at Lambeau Field, has a career passer rating of 75.7, on 53.8 percent accuracy with 71 touchdown passes and 52 interceptions. In his last season in the league, 2006, Vick matched his career rating of 75.7, with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has rushed for 3,859 yards in six seasons — including 1,039 in 2006 — but he has 55 career fumbles (27 lost).
After a physical Monday practice and a long Tuesday night workout on tap, the morning practice lasted only 90 minutes, half of which was a jog-through.
"I thought today's practice was exactly what you need at this point," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We had a 60-minute jog-through. The offense and defense both finished four, four-and-a-half minutes early, so that tells you about the focus. That talks about the sharpness, and that's what you are trying to get done. Tonight we'll line it up and we'll go get it again like we have in the first four practices. So far, it's been a good day."
The short practice put a smile on Donald Driver's face.
"Anything helps the body," Driver said. "Anytime you can have a short practice, that helps the body a lot."
Defense dominates again
The only partially competitive portion of the practice was a pre-scripted move-the-ball period. Aaron Rodgers was pressured throughout and completed only 3-of-8 passes, though Greg Jennings dropped a perfect deep ball and Jordy Nelson dropped one easy pass and probably should have made a sliding grab on another long ball by Rodgers.
Including holdout B.J. Raji, 13 players sat out the morning practice. The defensive line was hit especially hard, with Raji, Johnny Jolly (ankle), Ryan Pickett (rest) and Cullen Jenkins (rest) on the sideline.
Also out were running back Brandon Jackson (shoulder), safeties Atari Bigby (rest) and Jarrett Bush (abdominal), cornerback Brandon Underwood (back), linebackers Nick Barnett (knee) and Brad Jones (back), center Scott Wells (rest), left guard Daryn Colledge (thigh) and left tackle Chad Clifton (rest). Nick Collins landed a little awkwardly while trying to break up a pass and had his left knee checked but it didn't appear to be serious. Backup lineman Duke Preston walked off gingerly at one point but was back in after a couple of plays.
The starting offensive line consisted of left tackle Tony Moll, left guard T.J. Lang, center Jason Spitz, right guard Josh Sitton and right tackle Allen Barbre. On defense, Michael Montgomery and Justin Harrell were the ends, with Anthony Toribio at nose tackle.
The Packers practice again at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. They're off on Wednesday, then have full-pads practices at 8:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.