Thompson's Fishing Expedition

GM Ted Thompson (Jeff Hanisch/USP)

Lots of teams are talking trade this time of year but not all of those phone calls are legitimate. That and much more from the Tuesday before Thursday's preseason game at Cincinnati.

When Ted Thompson isn't evaluating players, he'll occasionally grab a hook and some bait.

"We fish from time to time," the Green Bay Packers' general manager said on Tuesday.

With rosters needing to be cut to 75 players by Monday and the regular-season limit of 53 by Friday, Aug. 31, general managers around the NFL are letting their fingers doing the walking in the NFL's annual version of "Let's Make a Deal."

"The (calls) now are a lot of times fishing. You usually have more (legitimate) interest as you get closer (to final cuts)," Thompson said.

The Packers' phones figure to be busier than most. They have positions of strength to deal from, especially wide receiver and, to a lesser extent, defensive line. On the other hand, they probably at least are considering fortifying themselves at offensive line and possibly safety and quarterback.

To that end, the Packers' scouts are watching games in person or on tape and trying their best to project the rosters of the other 31 teams. What players might be released? Where might another team's strengths and weaknesses match the Packers' weaknesses and strengths?

"We all do this: All 32 teams have been studying the other 31 teams for the last two or three weeks," Thompson said. "In this day and age of video, we get the games the very next day. Our guys are doing it right now as we speak, putting together evaluations – not draft boards but who they kind of liked that may be in a little bit of trouble at their place and that sort of thing and try to evaluate strengths and weaknesses."

Injury report

New injury: TE D.J. Williams (undisclosed).

Returned to practice: None.

Old injuries: WR Shaky Smithson (ankle); RB Duane Bennett (knee); CB Davon House (shoulder); RB Brandon Saine (hamstring); FB Jon Hoese (hamstring); RB James Starks (turf toe); LB Desmond Bishop (hamstring/knee); G Ray Dominguez (ankle); T Andrew Datko (concussion).

Active PUP list: OLB Frank Zombo (hamstring), DL Johnny Jones (knee), T Derek Sherrod (leg) and TE Andrew Quarless (knee).

Asked about the players on PUP as roster decisions are made, Thompson said: "A lot depends on the health obviously and kind of where we are. We'll weigh all that as we get closer. We still got some ways to go."

The week ahead

Wednesday is an off day as the team travels to Cincinnati for Thursday's preseason game, which starts at 6 p.m. (Central). After days off on Friday and Saturday, the team gets back to work at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday and Monday (both in pads). The final practice of training camp will be on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 11 a.m. (helmets).

Four-point stance

Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley, who returned this week from lengthy stints on the sideline, will play on Thursday. "I trust them and trust what the position coaches think as far as how they feel going into the game," coach Mike McCarthy said. "If we see something during the game then, yes, caution will definitely come to the forefront. But you know I'd like for those guys to go out and play and get a routine. It's not like they'll play every single play, too. You're able to substitute those guys and roll those guys. We won't just play with two receivers or three receivers with Aaron or just one tight end with Aaron. They'll definitely have the benefit of rolling in there. It'll be good for them to get as much work as they can."

— The third preseason game is the big one as the starters will play the first half. It's not any bigger, however, for Thompson. "I don't know that it's any more important than the other games. You're looking for that spark, you're looking for that thing that sets that player apart from other players. It's not exact science. We're hopeful to come out with some good ones."

— Rookie quarterback B.J. Coleman drove an offense of second- and third-teamers to a touchdown in a two-minute drill against the starting defense. Fellow rookie Jarrett Boykin caught four passes, including the touchdown in front of Morgan Burnett.

— While the coaches emphasized that no starting positions have been won, Jarrett Bush again took the first-team reps at cornerback and Anthony Levine the front-line snaps at safety. We'll have more on those positions on Wednesday.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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