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Mike McCarthy Press Conf. Transcript - Dec. 6


OK, I'll start with the injuries. Korey Hall as a knee sprain. Korey will be challenged to be available this week. Cullen Jenkins with the calf strain. It was better than we probably anticipated, but I don't see Cullen being available this week. And Brett Swain had a knee contusion. I think he'll be ready to go this week. With that I'll take your questions.

(Are you concerned that Jenkins' injury could be a long-term one?)
What's long term?

(More than a week?)
It may be a couple weeks. When you're dealing with a calf strain, just meeting with Dr. McKenzie, he feels better today than he did with the initial diagnosis last night, after going through the testing and so forth. But I don't see Cullen making it this week.

(That is a big loss with the way he has been playing after his cast came off?)
Cullen's been playing very well. He's been fighting through a number of different things, obviously it started with the hand injury there in Philadelphia. He's been playing extremely well. We just have to get him healthy, get him back.

(Was Swain's injury related to his previous knee injury?)
No, it's really just a knee bruise. I think if we needed him to go back in, he could have played yesterday.

(Now that you have looked at the film, what did you think of James Starks' performance?)
I thought James Starks played well. It was a great opportunity for the young man. Going into the game, really just anticipated probably giving him probably 8-10 carries. But I thought he played well. He graded out very well, not only in the run game, in pass protection. On the kickoff return, he did some good things. Just had the one miscommunication on the one short ball. But for a first time playing in a football game in two years, we're very pleased with his performance.

(Was that a byproduct of you being patient with him, and him getting those six weeks of practice time?)
Definitely. I think it definitely helped him prepare for this first step. Anytime you have a situation like his where you're down for a long period of time from injury, you have to make sure that they're ready to play. It is difficult to put someone in the game you don't have much history with, particularly in a padded environment. I thought he did a very good job. Very pleased with his performance.

(Where are Starks and Jackson at on the depth chart now?)
For the twelve-hundredth time, there really are no depth charts. Brandon Jackson has done an excellent job and will continue to do so. I think I stated this yesterday after the game, I'd really like to get into more of a rotation now that I know I have three halfbacks. Dimitri Nance is someone that really hasn't had the opportunity that James had yesterday, and he's done a lot of positive things since he's been here on the practice field. You have to be careful when you rotate backs like that in the game because I think it was very apparent yesterday when 44 went into the game we were running the ball. That's something we have to obviously plan against as we move forward. I would like to have some type of rotation of all three of those backs, but Brandon is still our main guy. He's done it all year. As I've stated before, I don't think it's in our best interests with as much football as we have in front of us to sit there and run Brandon Jackson 25 times a game.

(Do you foresee being able to use Starks in the passing game?)
Absolutely. I think James and Dimitri have that element coming out of the backfield. They have good hands and are both good receivers. I think all three of those backs – I know Brandon can play every down and I see Dimitri and James developing into an every-down player.

(How limited is Starks as far as packages he can play in?)
I don't really want to get into specifics of how we're going to use each one. That's really what the games are for and for our opponents to plan against. We would not put an individual in the game that we did not feel could play both run and pass because it would be a one-week or a two-week shot. Because you just can't line up and telegraph what you're doing based on who's in the game. But James can play both in the run and pass.

(Was it hard to be patient and wait for Starks?)
I wouldn't say it was difficult. I think to a man, the players and coaches alike, everybody could see the talent from the day he arrived here back in the spring. He had an unusual hamstring injury that took a long time. The patience was worth the wait, but it's really what he does moving forward. He's a fine young man. Going the PUP route was the right move. We took enough time to get him ready to play in games, and he stepped up and responded. It's just like anything else in this world, when you have the opportunity you have to do something with it, and he got off to a good start.

(Who got games balls for yesterday?)
Game balls, offense was Aaron Rodgers, defense was Cullen Jenkins. Special teams, Diyral Briggs, and Quinn Johnson was the big hit.

(You were outstanding in short-yardage situations yesterday. Was that just improved play from the offensive line?)
Clearly. It was clearly the execution. I thought the run-blocking unit played very well. I thought the backs did a good job all the way through. The backs' performance as a group was one of our better performances of the year as far as ball security, the reads in the run game, and I thought we did a real nice job particularly in the short-yardage area.

(Do you expect Wilson to get more time with Jenkins out?)
We'll see. We'll see what the week presents itself, and really the Detroit Lions will have something to say about that and how we prepare for them. Jarius Wynn has actually done a very good job here in the last month. Jarius and C.J. have been pretty much neck and neck each week to get to the 45.

(What do you like about the T-formation in short yardage?)
What do I like about it? I like the look of it. It's just basic football. It really fits the running style of John Kuhn. I think John is a very instinctive inside zone or belly-type runner. It gets him closer to the line of scrimmage in that type of situation. I don't know how much you'll see that on first down.

(Have you ever been around a quarterback who has gone five games without being intercepted?)
Probably not. I'd have to think back, but Aaron's playing at a very high level. He's doing an excellent job with his reads and his decision, ball-placement. I thought the big throw to Greg Jennings, that type of throw, to make that throw with the confidence that he did, I think that's kind of a signature throw in his arsenal right now. Aaron's playing at a very high level.

(What gave you troubles in protection with the four sacks?)
Just we had miscommunication on the one, technique on the other ones. I probably went a little too much drop-back, frankly. You always try to be critical of yourself week in and week out. But once we got into more of a run-pass mode, I thought our protection was much better.

(How is Driver's wrist?)
It looks a lot better today. The swelling went down, so I don't foresee Donald having any problems being up this week.

(Do you kind of hold your breath when Rodgers runs the ball or are you OK with his decision-making there?)
I don't hold my breath. That's part of the way he is trained. That's part of the way he utilizes his athletic ability. I think he has been very smart with his scrambling. The one big third down where they played two-man, he recognized it right away and took off. That's something in that particular situation, they played a lot of two-man and different combinations of it. So he is not out there to run the football, but I think he has been selective and smart with it.

(Have you seen him get smarter with that?)
Oh, absolutely. The Dallas game was probably the last one. He takes that hit on the sideline. That's not what we're looking for, and he's doing a much better job sliding. He probably did too good of a job sliding in Atlanta based on some of the spots that we were getting. He is much smarter running the football.

(The NFL went to all division games for the last week of the season. Do you like that?)
I think everybody likes it now the way it is shaping up. I like it. It will be great when we get to that point to see where both teams are. Playing Chicago the last game of the season, I think it's awesome.

(I know you don't want to talk about playoffs, but how happy are you with the way you are playing?)
We're getting better, and that will really be the message as we get moving forward here to Detroit. We need to make sure that our house is clean and we are improving on the little things that came out of this last game. We had some things there in the first quarter that we need to clean up. We wasted a number of timeouts on offense and things like that, but we're doing a lot of things very consistent. I think it was the first time this year we didn't have a penalty on defense. We have only had one penalty on defense a number of times. There is a lot of statistical evidence supporting the emphasis in the areas of discipline. Tackling was a major emphasis this week. We have been really on them hard about the ball security. Jeff  can give you the statistic; I think we broke another record as far as ball security over the last five weeks. You get what you emphasize, and when they are applying it to the Sunday afternoon performance, that is what you are looking for. We still feel we have better football in front of us, and that's what we're striving for.

(Do you remember a time where you went into the final four games with such a logjam of teams competing for a playoff spot?)
That's why you play 16 games. I couldn't tell you. I don't reflect on those types of things. I am just really focused on us playing our best football. We need to have a great week of preparation and make sure we go to Detroit and put our best foot forward.**

(You talked about Matthews managing his shin injury, but he only has one sack in the past three games. Have you seen him favoring that at all?)
Not really. I think Clay has really opened up a lot of opportunities for our other individuals on our defense. He is playing winning football, and he played winning football yesterday as far as our grading system. It doesn't help players when they don't practice. I think that's obvious, and it's not the physical as much as the mental. It's a challenge, and he's a young player. I think we tend to forget how young he really is. But I think he is managing it very well and he is still being very productive, and he was productive yesterday.

(What do you think of Zombo now that he has settled into a starting role?)
Frank is improving. I thought he played very well yesterday. He had a very high grade and very consistent. He has done a very nice job. Just the path that he has come and we have talked about that in here before; I can't say enough about these rookie free agents that have made our football team and the opportunity that they have taken advantage of. He is getting better, he is improving. He is a lot more consistent, which is what you would expect at this time of year than he was at the beginning of the year. Frank is doing a heck of a job.

(Did you get an explanation on the grounding call?)
Yes. He threw it too high. It was a little too high over the receiver's head. That's a new one. We'll have to work on the way we throw the ball away now. I'm going to have to change our quarterback school drills around. Judgment call, sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don't.

(How much more attention is Matthews getting from opposing offenses and is he a guy that is targeted?)
Absolutely. It's no different than what every offense goes through every week and we'll do the same this week. There will be jerseys of key players on the defense that you need to be aware of. I'm sure when our opponents practice and prepare for our blitzes and our different things that they have a Clay Matthews jersey on somebody. I am sure their protection unit is aware of where he is lined up because we do obviously play him on both sides and he is involved in a number of inside pressures. I am sure they are very aware of where he is at every snap.

(How would you assess the kickers' performance in the cold yesterday?)
We need to be better, but that's what it's all about playing there at Lambeau Field. The wind, that was our first challenge in that type of atmosphere. Tim will learn from it. I am confident of that. We were able to get out and practice Thursday. They come up here and kick in the stadium during the week with the winds changing as much as they do. That needs to be a home-field advantage. We technically won the contest if you want to compare the kicking between both clubs, but we can definitely improve from that and Tim will definitely learn from that.

(Did the field goal get tipped?)
No. We had way too much penetration in the 'A' gap. The protection was not what it needed to be.

(What was the explanation for why they stopped the play when Rodgers threw the long pass to Jones?)
They said that the tackle, I think it was Chad, moved also so they had to blow it dead before the ball was snapped. The defender coming across the line of scrimmage, our tackle moved before we snapped the ball was one of the explanations.

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