Ted Thompson gave a little insight into the philosophy that has shaped as much as it has defined his legacy of the past decade.
"You never talk about your good fortunes," the Green Bay Packers general manager said Wednesday. "If things are going good, you just be quiet and let things continue to be good."
While quietly molding the Packers as a championship-caliber team the last several years, Thompson has refused to pound his chest and toot his own horn. Staying in modest character, the successful general manager carried on with the important business of looking after a team getting ready for the upcoming season despite another career-defining day.
The Packers rewarded the 10th-year leader of their football operations Wednesday with a multiyear contract extension.
"I'm pleased that we were able to enter into this contract extension with Ted," team president Mark Murphy said. "His outstanding work has been the key factor in the success that we've enjoyed in recent years. I have tremendous respect for Ted, and am confident that we will continue to contend for championships under his leadership."
Terms of the new deal weren't immediately known. When asked to shed light on what the "multiyear" entails, Thompson predictably declined and said, "I'm not a very specific guy."
What is known is Thompson, 61, will stay on as general manager for at least a few more years in the wake of speculation just a few months ago that he could be on the verge of stepping down and retiring to be with family in his native Texas.
Thompson was under contract through the end of the 2016 NFL Draft.
"Mark Murphy and I have had some ongoing conversations - general-type conversations - but I felt very appreciated by the organization and honored to work in this position with such fine people," Thompson said. "The more you think about it, the more you think how nuts are you that you'd walk away from something like this. It's important to me. It's not my family, but I've got a lot of really good friends here and co-workers that I enjoy coming to work with every day.
"It's life, but it's life on an exaggerated scale. You're playing in the NFL, and you're trying to win and compete at the NFL level, and that is so hard to do. To get a chance to continue to do that after you put all the chips on the table, there's very little choice there. I want to be here."
Thompson also seems to be invigorated physically and mentally, as he declared, "I feel great." Observations about what was perceived to be lethargic health at draft time in the spring prompted the predictions that Thompson's tenure with the team may not be much longer.
Another contract extension in hand, Thompson isn't contemplating when his rewarding time in the league in which he played for 10 years (with the Houston Oilers) and has worked in a front-office capacity for 22 years will be up.
"I think I'll just let it play itself out," Thompson said. "Most people in life have these artificial dates in mind, 'I'm going to retire when I'm X years or a certain age.' I think everybody is different. It seems to me that a lot of people can be very productive later on in life. We'll see. I enjoy what I do, and I've got really good people that I work with, and I think because of that I feel pretty energized to keep going."
Thompson's 10-year run ties him with Vince Lombardi (1959-68) for the second-longest stint among the 11 general managers in Green Bay's illustrious history. Curly Lambeau, the team's first general manager, held the reins for more than 30 years from 1919-49.
On Thompson's watch since 2005, the Packers have the fifth-highest total of wins in the league with 92 (including the playoffs), won the NFC North title four times (including the last three) and reclaimed the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl XLV champions during the 2010 season.
Following that Super Bowl victory, the Packers ensured the dynamic duo of Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy would stay together for some time by according them contract extensions. Thompson hired McCarthy to lead the team in 2006.
"When two people work together for as long as Mike and I have, I think you develop certain understandings of each other and there's certain things that you can communicate that are unsaid as opposed to originally when you probably needed to spell everything out," Thompson said. "I think we have a very good working relationship. We anticipate each other's thoughts, often, which might drive both of us crazy sometimes. I think it's working well, and it has worked well, obviously - we see things pretty close."
And, that strong relationship of nine years seems destined to stay intact at least a little longer. McCarthy, whose contract is up after the 2015 season, is on his bosses' to-do list for another extension.
"(It's) a big priority, and it's been the plan," Thompson said. "The way the organization is set up - I'm not giving any trade secrets away - it's the way it's always been done here that the (contract for the) general manager kind of gets put away and then you do the (one for the) head coach."
--Perhaps the most scrutinized position battle in the early stages of Packers training camp gained some more intrigue Wednesday.
Morgan Burnett, the team's lone returning starter at safety, dropped out early from the 2 1/2-hour practice. Head coach Mike McCarthy said afterward that Burnett "tweaked his ankle, so we held him."
Burnett's sudden absence elevated top rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to a starting role that has been foreign to him since his arrival in May. Clinton-Dix worked alongside Micah Hyde with the first-string defense for most of the team drills during the balance of the practice.
"Everybody wants to get reps," said McCarthy, adding, "Every rep is very important, especially in the competitive drills."
Without knowing the extent of Burnett's injury and how long it may keep him out, the promotion of Clinton-Dix to a prominent job that many thought was preordained when Green Bay selected him No. 21 overall could prove telling.
The depth chart stayed unchanged from the team's offseason workouts when the camp practices started Saturday. Burnett and Hyde were the starters, relegating Clinton-Dix to the second-string reps.
"We're just competing ... and the best man will win," Clinton-Dix said.
The former Alabama standout might have to take aim on beating out Burnett instead of trying to unseat Hyde for a coveted spot in the starting lineup.
Hyde, a second-year player, continues to look the part of a capable NFL safety after making the transition from his natural spot of cornerback in the spring.
"Micah Hyde is a very natural, fluent football player, very instinctive, very bright," McCarthy said Wednesday. "He just really needed the offseason to start from A through Z going through the defense because, particularly at the safety position, there's so much communication that's involved. Obviously, his experience playing nickel and corner would help him with that, to see how it's all fit together. I think he looks very natural back there."
Even with Burnett sidelined Wednesday, defensive coordinator Dom Capers showcased Hyde's versatility and possibly a new wrinkle for the defense. Capers had Clinton-Dix and promising third-year backup Sean Richardson as the two safeties with Hyde in a rover role up close to the line of scrimmage.
"I love that whole secondary - you just talk about depth and competition," McCarthy said.
The onus will be on Burnett to get back on the field as soon as possible. The fifth-year player didn't live up to the four-year, nearly $25 million contract extension he signed last July by not forcing one turnover and struggling in pass coverage last season.
--After four days of practice time in camp, JC Tretter has seen plenty of B.J. Raji in the trenches.
The two have been frequently matched up in one-on-one blocking drills, and Raji has been the clear winner.
That is good news for Packers fans who had to wonder whether Raji would ever get back to playing at a high level in his return to exclusively nose tackle after a dip in production the last couple seasons. Raji, a 2009 first-round draft pick, settled on re-signing with Green Bay on a one-year, $4 million contract in March after finding little interest early in free agency.
"B.J.'s in great shape," McCarthy said. "I know our strength staff was very pleased with where B.J. came in with his weight."
The Packers list the 6-foot-2 Raji at 337 pounds.
"If you ever want to get a center ready, B.J. Raji and (6-3, 310-pound defensive lineman) Josh Boyd are your guys because they definitely present a challenge to covering up a center," McCarthy added.
The early dominance by Raji against Tretter, in particular, may be of concern for team supporters with regard to the state of its offense, however. Tretter has been groomed since the spring to replace Evan Dietrich-Smith, who signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay, as the team's starting center this season.
The 6-4, 307-pound Tretter made the switch from tackle after not playing as a rookie last season because of a leg injury.
McCarthy acknowledged Wednesday that Tretter, a fourth-round draft pick last year, is enduring growing pains in his first NFL training camp.
"JC Tretter's playing center for the first time, and it's obviously in the National Football League (and) in this style of offense," McCarthy said Wednesday. "So, yeah, he needs every rep. I can't tell you if there's someone in the locker room that's prepared himself as much as he has, and he'll continue to do so.
"Yeah, it's not going to look clean. I mean, our team isn't clean. Let's be honest with you. We've missed blocks, we did some wrong things, that's why you practice. ... But, yeah, JC needs this work."
General manager Ted Thompson also is erring on the side of patience with the change at center. The Packers are going on a fourth starting center in as many seasons, following Scott Wells in 2011, Jeff Saturday in 2012 and Dietrich-Smith last season.
Besides Tretter, Green Bay has first-year player Garth Gerhart and rookie Corey Linsley, a fifth-round pick, as center candidates.
"There's risks you take in life, and there's uncertainties as you go into training camp, but I think there's always going to be some of that at some positions somewhere," Thompson said. "It just so happens at that position right now we have guys lining up who haven't played a lot in the NFL. That's OK. It gives you something to be excited about."
--The Packers will hold their annual Family Night event Saturday at Lambeau Field.
Announced as a sellout with more than 72,000 tickets sold only a week after they went on sale in June, this year's Family Night will be merely a practice for the team instead of the customary intrasquad scrimmage.
"Just the way the whole schedule laid out for Mike and his staff, we just needed that day as a normal practice day to be able to get everything accomplished that we wanted to get accomplished," Thompson said. "And, quite frankly, I don't know that'll look a whole lot different (from previous years). We still have some really good fireworks (to conclude the event), which is a big hit in the locker room and for all the kids and that sort of thing."
Preservation also might have contributed to the format switch for the on-field work this year.
The Packers lost projected starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga to a season-ending knee injury in last year's Family Night scrimmage.
Popular NFL referee Ed Hochuli and some of his crew are scheduled to officiate this year's event.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not going to line up and feature Eddie in the passing game. He still needs to be standing back there behind the quarterback getting the ball, running with his shoulders squared." - Head coach Mike McCarthy, on halfback Eddie Lacy's involvement as a pass catcher in the offense going into his second pro season.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Starting tight end. How the Packers proceed without pass-catching standout Jermichael Finley remains a mystery. In fact, the door hasn't been closed on Finley rejoining the team, but that notion is far-fetched considering the unrestricted free agent may not play football again because of the severe neck injury he sustained last fall. Green Bay has seven tight ends on the roster early in training camp, and settling on a sufficient replacement for Finley figures to take some time. Andrew Quarless is the top returning player at the position and has been serviceable in the passing game when healthy.
However, the Packers would seem to be better off by plugging in a couple young, athletic prospects with second-year player Brandon Bostick and rookie Richard Rodgers, the latter a third-round draft pick out of Cal. The 6-foot-4, 257-pound Rodgers flourished in a receiver-type role in Cal's spread offense last season. The 6-3, 250-pound Bostick flashed potential as a big-play contributor with seven catches for 120 yards and a touchdown in a four-game stretch last season before succumbing to a season-ending foot injury in December. "He's bigger, stronger (this year)," head coach Mike McCarthy said after watching Bostick produce in the starting role during practice Wednesday. "He needs to stay healthy."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--RG T.J. Lang had increased work in practice Wednesday as the Packers returned to the field following a day off in the first week of training camp. Lang, who has been bothered by a shoulder injury since the start of camp, split reps with backup Don Barclay at right guard with the starting group.
--OLB/DE Mike Neal practiced Wednesday for the first time in camp. The fifth-year player started camp on the physically unable to perform list because of a sore abdomen and missed the first three practices. The 6-foot-3 Neal, who is listed at 285 pounds on the team roster, revealed that he reported to camp at 263 pounds - the lightest he has been since high school - to make him better equipped to play outside linebacker in his hybrid role.
--DE Jerel Worthy said Wednesday he is hopeful of getting back on the field soon as he completes his recovery from surgery on his lower back in April. The third-year player hurt his back while training early in the offseason. The injury and subsequent surgery kept him from participating in the team's spring workouts, and he started training camp on the non-football injury list.
--OLB Nick Perry remains on the PUP list and has yet to practice in training camp. The former first-round draft pick also missed the team's spring workouts because of lingering foot and knee injuries.
--ILB Jamari Lattimore returned to practice Wednesday after being out since Sunday because of illness.
--DT Letroy Guion remains on the non-football injury list at the outset of camp because of a hamstring injury.
--WR Jeff Janis, a seventh-round draft pick this year, remains on the non-football illness list because of an unspecified ailment. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that Janis' delayed camp debut is "going to be definitely sooner than later."
--WR Gerrard Sheppard was claimed off waivers by the team Wednesday. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Sheppard, a first-year player from Towson, was waived by the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday. He spent the entire 2013 season on the Ravens' practice squad. The addition of Sheppard brings the Packers roster to a maximum 90 players.