Starter Pack: Thompson (finally) speaks

A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For much of the second half of this past season, when the Packers were going through the weekly drama of whether or not quarterback Aaron Rodgers would return from his collarbone injury, general manager Ted Thompson politely declined interview requests.

Unlike some GMs, Thompson also does not regularly hold a season wrap-up press conference.

So it was during a short interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, on location at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., with Vic Carucci and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan, that we heard from Thompson for the first time in months.

Although Thompson did not talk specifically about why it took so long to clear Rodgers to return, he did discuss during an interview that lasted less than five minutes how difficult it was for the Packers to deal with their myriad injuries.

“Well it's fairly trying,” Thompson said. “I was very, very proud of our team though, and I think it shows some of the culture that coach [Mike] McCarthy and his staff has brought into it because they never quit playing, never quit trying. But it was an awful tough year, it was that.”

Thompson also faces a difficult offseason given that he has 17 players, including several high-profile starters, scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in March.

Combine that with the holes the Packers have on their roster, especially on defense, and it's worth wondering if Thompson will stick to his usual ways and eschew free agency in favor of re-signing his own players.

He indicated that he would.

“We just think it's a good model to use under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement and that sort of thing,” Thompson said. “We just feel like your best policy is to try as best you can -- and it doesn't always work out because sometimes you have to do different things -- but if you draft good people, you develop them, you get a good coaching staff that coaches them up, they like it there, so you try to retain your own players as much as you can and you don't (always).

"We lose players just like everybody else. But if we can, we like to keep our own and continue adding guys through the draft and through free agency.”

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:

  • We continued our position outlook series with the focus on the running backs, where the Packers appear fairly loaded.

  • We also took one last look at our top-to-bottom roster rankings by identifying some trends and noting how the top-20 players shaped up.

  • Also, the first of two days of drafting for the Pro Bowl's new format took place on Tuesday evening. The Packers' lone representative in Hawaii, running back Eddie Lacy, was not selected yet.

  • ESPN.com Lions reporter Michael Rothstein has the story on Detroit's new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, the grandson of legendary former Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

  • The ESPN Insider teamInsider at the Senior Bowl identified some players with specific talents that were on display during practice this week.

Best of the rest:

  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Weston Hodkiewicz wrote that you didn't need a stat sheet to know the Packers' safeties played poorly last season.

  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tyler Dunne caught up to UCLA running backs coach Steve Broussard at the Senior Bowl. Broussard said he thinks his former player Johnathan Franklin will improve over his rookie season in which the fourth-round pick did not contribute much.