(How was practice today?)
Good practice today. Finished about eight minutes ahead of schedule, so that gives you a little indication of the tempo. Thought the red-zone work was good. Blitz work was very good. Got a couple looks on film that we need to talk about. It was good work.
(How about your quarterback the last couple days? How does Aaron look?)
Looks very good. The offense is in sync. I thought definitely the four days off would really help the players, or practicing on the fourth day, however you want to look at it. So I feel good where we are, but we still have some work to do. We're going to probably have I want to say about 90, 95 percent of our install in before we leave. We're going to save some for the work in Dallas. Feel good about where we are so far in our preparation.
(Do you save something just to freshen up the practice a little bit when you get down there, just to give them something new? Is that part of it?)
It's more of a mindset, because I think it's important for our football team not to feel that they're on a sprint all the way up until the game. It's a process. We talk about trusting your process, as far as our preparation leading up to the time for performance, and with the Super Bowl schedule, you have more preparation time. By no means do I want our football team to feel that we're sprinting into this game, because I don't have any doubt that our energy level, the excitement and drive and everything will be there. I don't want to leave anything on the practice field. I think it's important, particularly in our situation because we're a tempo offense and a tempo philosophy as far as the way we want to play, I don't want to do too much on the practice field.
(What has getting a healthy Cullen Jenkins back meant to the defense?)
I think his play the last couple weeks speaks for itself. I think Cullen is definitely a penetrator in our defensive scheme. He has the ability to beat the one-on-one block. He's our best pass rusher, as far as a down lineman. Very productive player, and when he's healthy, he's as good as it gets. So it's great to have him back.
(How did Frank Zombo bounce back from his first workout yesterday?)
Frank looks good. He's getting better. He had more extended work today. I really want to see how his body responds to three days of work. Wednesday's padded practice will be a big day for Frank down in Dallas.
(When the '96 and '97 teams went to the Super Bowl, they had an older defensive coordinator who became a pretty beloved figure with his players. I know they're different personalities, but do you see Dom getting that same feeling from his guys, that they love playing for him and feel that way about him the way that group felt about Fritz?)
I can't compare the relationship, obviously, but I do know that everybody respects Dom Capers as a person and as a professional. He's done an excellent job obviously in his time here. He's done a great job bringing together a staff, which to me is the most important responsibility of a coordinator, and he has excellent relationships with his players. That's probably a better question for the locker room, but if you're asking my opinion, definitely, he's very well-respected here.
(Any special guest speakers last week or this coming week?)
We have no guest speakers this week so far.
(What about the officiating crew? What do you know about this crew and will you go over their tendencies like you normally would?)
[It's not announced yet. Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.] It's an all-star crew, so we're not going to do a statistical breakdown on every official, because it doesn't really … we'll do more on the head referee based on his tendencies, but it's a little different breakdown the last two weeks, because you're dealing with all-star crews.
(What have you seen from Darren Perry as a coach working with him and what kind of future do you think he has?)
Darren Perry is an excellent football coach. I think Darren along with a number of other assistants on our staff, they have a very bright future. As far as those futures, I know they're bright, but everybody is focused on the game in front of us, and I know there may potentially be some opportunities.
(Where is Atari Bigby physically, and how much do you wrestle with upsetting what you've got with Charlie Peprah and the continuity vs. using him on defense?)
Atari looks good. He's practiced very well, particularly the last three weeks, so he's ready to go if the opportunity knocks. But Charlie Peprah is the starter and has been for a long time, and that won't change for this game against Pittsburgh.
(Can you talk about Heath Miller and just the way you guys have played tight ends lately?)
I tell you, Heath Miller is a very good football player. I have always been impressed with him from afar. Anytime you have a chance to play against a player in live action and see him up close, I really walked off the field, … I knew his measureables and remember when he came out of Virginia, … but he's a lot bigger, more physical player than I realized, especially after the game in Pittsburgh last year. He does an excellent job, very smart. I think he's really an excellent example of their football team. They have a lot of veteran players that are just very good players at their particular positions, have a complete understanding of their scheme, playmaking ability within their role. I have a lot of respect for Heath Miller.
(You guys have kept opposing tight ends in check lately. What do you attribute that to?)
Hopefully that's the case next week. He is definitely one of their playmakers. He is definitely a guy that can beat you.
(How do you bring down Ben Roethlisberger?)
Tackle him between the knees and the chest. He is a big man. I think he is a special player, the way he extends plays. The length of the play with Ben is always longer. The way their passing game is designed, his ability to step up in the rush and do the things he does. He can make any throw on the field, evident in our game last year and another thing that you learn when you see players live. He has the arm to step up, roll to his right, and still make the 60-plus throw. That's definitely one of our objectives is to make sure when we have the opportunity to get him on the ground.
(Does his footwork give him the ability to be shifty without necessarily being a scrambler?)
He's a good athlete. I just recall when he came out of college, if you go back to his college tape, he had runs of 50, 60 yards in games. When you see a man of that dimension able to finish scramble runs, I don't care what level it is on, I've always considered him a good athlete. More importantly, he's a big man. I don't know exactly what he weighs but he is someone that we need to do a better job this time around learning off last year's experience, we need to get him on the ground.
(With Pouncey battling the injury, how important is the center position and what kind of season has Scott Wells had?)
I have always believed when you build the offense, you start with the middle because those are the individuals that have the most responsibility in your decision-making process. That's how we do it and that's how I have always done it. The center, the quarterback and then the backs as far as their adjustment responsibility and then you go to the tight end. So really the closer you are to the ball, the more responsibility you usually have in an offensive scheme. So I think that in itself tells you how important the position is. Scott, this is two years in a row I've stood up and talked about Scott Wells. I think he clearly has played the best football of my time here, starting last year and this year. I think he is playing at a very high level, has total command of our offense. He is a big part of our ability to play at the speed that we play at and make the adjustments that we do.
(Have you thought at all about what winning a Super Bowl would mean to you?)
I think anyone that coaches in this business has an understanding what it will do for your football team, for your organization and for every individual. That's all part of the drive, that's all part of the motivation. When everybody wants the same thing and is willing to make the sacrifices to achieve that, good things happen for everybody involved. I think that is the obvious.
(Can you imagine a McCarthy Way or a McCarthy Avenue?)
I wouldn't turn it down, I'll say that. But I know that is something that is very special and unique in our community. I have driven down Holmgren Way plenty of times.
(In your last 24-48 hours before you leave for Dallas, what will your point of emphasis be for your team?)
I really view our preparation as two phases and we'll complete the first phase tomorrow. Our training environment here is unique to the Green Bay Packers, no different than Pittsburgh's is unique to them. We want to make sure that we leave here feeling good about what we have accomplished during the week. I know for a fact the way we have performed the last five weeks has a lot to do with the way we have prepared, so I do want to finish this preparation. Then we'll shift gears on Monday, frankly. Our schedule is going to be modified once we get to Dallas. I'll go through that and make it loud and clear, the adjustments that we need to make once we get down there and the things we are going to accomplish while we are down there. I'll do that in Monday's team meeting.
(Will you be on grass down at SMU?)
No, my understanding is FieldTurf.
(And it is outdoors?)
They have grass practice fields. We're going to go in the stadium.
(It's an outdoor stadium?)
Correct. We have the use of an indoor facility at a high school if we need it.
(Does the league assign it or is that Ted going back to his old stomping grounds?)
No, I think the league assigned us there. That's a good question for Ted.