(What's left for Aaron to do to get clearance for Sunday?)
I thought Aaron Rodgers looked fine today at practice. From my perspective, I would say he's ready to go. But ultimately, it's a medical decision. Unless there's any type of setback between now and the game, I anticipate Aaron to play on Sunday.
(Are there any more tests for him to complete?)
My understanding is he's passed all the tests.
(So the medical team will look him over tomorrow?)
They'll have a conversation, just like they do anytime a player is on the injury list. Post-practice, they'll have post-practice evaluations, and that goes on between now and the time they leave tonight.
(With a concussion he could be one more hit away from another problem. How do you handle the third quarterback if necessary?)
That's what you have between now and gametime to make those decision. An option if we're concerned about it would be to bring Graham up tomorrow. We do have a third quarterback package in place. Those are really our two options.
(Has Clay just not made enough progress?)
Clay's doubtful for the game. I talked to Clay this morning before he went into treatments, and we'll give him all the way up to gametime to see if he can go. But he's making progress. He's close.
(What did you remember about Mike Montgomery that made you bring him back?)
What did I remember about him? Michael Montgomery has been in our program for a number of years. He knows our defense. So we felt he would be able to come in and be able to get ready on short notice and be ready to play Sunday if needed. Really, Michael Montgomery's active status is directly tied to the health of Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal.
(If Neal hadn't had the shoulder thing spring up, did you want to wait another week to make a decision on Barnett? Did the need for another defensive lineman end it for Nick?)
Well, these decisions are really options … they're options before you make a final decision. This has been going on for days. There's a lot of activity on our personnel board right now, and we're just preparing for the different options that we have to get ready to put 45 players on the field to win games on Sunday. We felt this was the best option, putting Nick Barnett on IR at this point. Nick fully understands that his situation is in his long-term health's best interests. This is the best thing for Nick, but it's also the best thing for our football team.
(Were you the one who told him you'd have to put him on IR?)
Those conversations really happened long before today. Nick clearly understood and was communicated the potential options that were in front of him.
(Medically, would his recovery time have allowed him to play at all during the regular season this year? Or once the surgery took place, was it pretty much …?)
It's really once the surgery took place, what they found, and what they found we were hoping not to see. Once the report came back from surgery on Wednesday, we pretty much knew at that time that he was potentially done for the season.
(With all the machinations going on, what is your biggest concern going into the game? Is it the special teams?)
Special teams is always the biggest stress that's put on your team anytime you have injuries. I think everybody understands that. I like our plan. We've been able to get the individuals prepared and repped who are going to play in the game. That's where I stand as far as my confidence. I don't think we've had to create anything new or put someone in a position that they haven't been in before, so we're ready to go.
(What happened to Driver?)
Donald has a quad, it just kind of flared up on him at the end of practice yesterday. You know Donald. He'll be fine. He'll play Sunday.
(In the search for good news, are you getting a good feel for the guys on PUP?)
They're champing at the bit. I see Al and Atari every day before I go on the field. That's when they start their rehab down there in the Hutson Center. I know mentally they're in a very good spot. We really just want to see them in the drill work and the things they'll be able to do once they pass their physical. But they've done everything to this point to give you every indication to feel like they're ready to go. But we need to get them out there in team drills and 7-on-7 and get them participating in things where they have people around them, the functional movement, the pushing and tugging and pulling on one another and so forth because that's what you cannot do in the rehab phase.
(How's James coming along? Is he as far along as the other two?)
I would say so. I just don't have any experience. I've only had the opportunity to see Starks in shorts and helmets. So we'll see where he is from a physical standpoint. They've been in rehab a long time. They look good, they look healthy, but I can't really give you a whole lot until I see them in the drill work.
(We've gone over the problems and injuries, but you're 3-2 and the losses have been close. Are you a lot closer to getting this on track than some people might perceive?)
I don't really care what people perceive, but the reality is you are what you are. We're 3-2. No excuses. No apologies either. Close or not close, there's things that we can improve on, there's things we can learn from in our first five games, and that's the way we coach. I think our players are very accountable in what we've done in the past, and we've applied that to our preparation this week. We're ready to go. We're ready to play Miami. We're excited to play Miami. We know they're coming off a bye week and this will be an excellent challenge for our football team. But we're home, and we're very confident going into this game.
(What about your offense? There are times you look like yourselves and then you'll have struggles on third down or in the fourth quarter. What's your feel for the offense right now?)
I just feel that's the game of football. I don't want to just coat over your question, but it's the way it goes. Are they your expectations or are they our expectations as far as how the evaluation is being presented to the public? Yes, we feel we have a good plan and we feel we should convert every third down, but it usually doesn't happen that way. There's situations that go on in the game that you either play at a high level or you don't, and you just have to stay focused on why it didn't work the way you wanted it to work. Every game is different too. We've played five games. There's a reason why you play on offense a certain way when you encounter injuries in the flow of a game. That's a part of planning. When you plan for a game and you're out of that plan in the first quarter, I think that says a lot about your coaches and your players if you can continue to be productive and win the game. Those are all positive things that we have done, but they don't show up in statistics and so forth. Now, we haven't done it well enough, because I wouldn't have to answer these questions if we had done it a little better.
(I know you don't care about my expectations, but how do you feel about the offense compared to your expectations?)
See, it's a work in progress. Every year, I'm not ready to sit here and give you a total evaluation of where we are in any phase. That's why you play 16 games. That's why you practice every day. You're always trying to improve. You have a standard of where you think you can be, but you have to be honest about where you are. There's some things that we've done at a very high level and we'll continue to work to always do it at the high level. But consistency for four quarters, I think if you want to write a negative, yeah, there's times we haven't been consistent. It's all part of playing. Five-week evaluations, I don't really get caught up in, especially with the number of changes that we've had.
(Assuming Matthews is out, how do you line up at outside linebacker on both sides?)
Well, there'll be a rotation. It's not a matter of how we start. How are they going to line up? What's the first personnel group? Those are the things as far as how we play base and how we play sub.
(So you'll play Poppinga, Zombo and Jones from scrimmage?)
Correct, and Robert Francois will also play some outside linebacker if needed.
(When you have drops you work on it in practice, special-teams troubles you change the drills. Is there anything you can do with the injuries, or are you just snake-bit and unlucky?)
I think you have to look at the injuries. I think you have to look at your training. If you pop up and you have fatigue injuries, if there is something you can run a common thread through your injuries, then you have to look at your training or what you are asking players to do. I do not think that is the case. The one common injury that we have had is the shoulder strains. But then go look at the particular plays on film, and all three of them were totally different situations as far as Brandon and Mark Tauscher and Mike Neal, the positions they were in. I don't think there is anything wrong with our strength and conditioning or our trainers. Actually I think we probably would rank very high if you are able to test all of those as far as the way our players are treated and the way they are trained. We have upgraded our cafeteria lately and so forth, so we are always looking for ways to improve how our players our treated and how we prepare them to get ready for performance. I just think it is part of the game of football. Ours have come in big numbers kind of quickly. I'm hoping that we are just getting them all at once and we'll be healthy the rest of the year.
(I was just thinking it's natural as a coach to always want to do something about a problem, and it must be frustrating as a coach not to be able to do anything about this.)
It's not for me, and I think I answer that question 10 times a year. I don't want to sound malicious toward the individuals that are injured, but I do not concern myself with injuries. I really don't. I think that is what the offseason is for, I think that is the job of the coaches, that's part of our job to plan. We don't go in with a very limited game plan as far as how we line players up, the personnel groups that we play in. I feel we prepare for these types of situations from Day 1. It's part of the game. Yes, we have had a lot, but it is the Packers vs. the Dolphins, period. There are no asterisks in our league, and that's the way we approach it from Day 1.
(Woodson had a great year last year. How's he playing this year?)
I think Charles has been very productive. I think it is reflected in his tackles. When you move him outside like we did last week and he is not playing inside, his opportunities are limited. When Charles is inside and closer to the ball, he has more opportunities, but I think Charles is off to another very good year.