(Is Charles' toe thing related to what he's had in the past and not something you're really concerned about?)
Correct, it's an old injury. He jammed it on the field today, near the end of practice. Just stepped on the back of one of our receiver's foot. Just being cautious and we sent him up to the training room for some rehab.
(Is that why you have to list him on the injury report, when he leaves practice?)
We're following the rules, yes.
(Was it a painful injury right away?)
Didn't have a lot of discussion with him. He's played through a lot of injuries here, and I just felt it was important to get some treatment and have it evaluated as soon as possible.
(Is this going to be the plan with Chad, to get the Friday rest like in the past?)
This is the normal procedure for Chad Clifton, as far as practicing during the padded work Wednesday and Thursday, and giving his knees a chance to recover on Friday. It's the same plan we've used in the past.
(Where are you at with the cornerbacks now with Charles' injury and Brandon being unavailable?)
Well, Brandon's not ready yet. Knowing Charles Woodson's history, I think he'll be out there ready to go Sunday, and I really like the work of Tramon and Sam, and I think Patrick and Jarrett have had good work too. We're ready. It's been a good week of preparation.
(How comfortable are you at outside linebacker with Jones and Matthews getting a week of practice?)
They looked good. They both were full participants all week. They're ready to go.
(It's not ideal for them to not play much in the preseason. Are they OK with just the week's work?)
We're ready to go. There's nothing … I can't change the past, I can't change how the preseason turned out for both players. But I'm confident we'll be ready to go when we get up there Sunday.
(What about your running game? You didn't get as much work as you might have liked. What gives you confidence that will hit the ground running?)
Practices count in my view. It's all part of the training camp process that I talked about throughout the whole training camp. There's phases that you go through that are important that you hit targets. The first part is the installation phase of it. It's a very competitive time. The defense is installing, the offense is installing. Sometimes you're running the ball into bad looks, which to me are good opportunities because sometimes football isn't always about being right schematically. It's an attitude and it's a technique and it's a mindset. The padded work we have throughout training camp, the opportunities we did have in the preseason games, we feel confident in where we are and we're going to exercise our game plan for the Eagles and go up there. I have no qualms about running, protection or passing game going into this game.
(What challenges do their return units present for you, and what have you seen in your special teams units that gives you confidence going in?)
We expect special teams to be a big part of the outcome of this game, no question. I think DeSean Jackson is a special player. Just watching him in the punt return all week, he's gifted. He's special with the ball in his hands. We expect the multiplicity that they've shown with their special teams units because of the history of Bobby April, recently coming from Buffalo. There wasn't a whole lot in the preseason, which is the norm. But we expect to be challenged on special teams.
(They use Jackson on returns and he's probably their best receiver. Now you're looking like you'll use Tramon at least on punts. You made the comment earlier in the week about using Woodson in '07. Do you really believe that's worth the risk because of the potential that you can have good things happen? Personality-wise, you can either be really conservative or you can go for it, and it would seem like your thought process on those returns is a little more toward going for it.)
Today? Because of where we're lining up? I'm not sure what your question is.
(You went for it in '07 by putting a guy like Woodson in that position. Now given what you've got, you're doing it again. But you probably could be safe and just go with Jordy.)
Well, safe is because you have a returner that's not a starter. But the competition for the particular position is really the most important factor when you make those decisions. We feel strongly that we're putting our best players out there for the return game. Jordy Nelson and Brandon Jackson in the kickoff and Tramon and Greg Jennings on the punts. I understand fully, just like you do because you asked the question, their responsibilities as starters. But you have more than 11 starters in this league. We made a commitment to special teams. I felt in the past I probably didn't spend enough time, as far as meeting time. Practice time, we've increased that. We increased the competition throughout training camp, which maybe held us back a little bit getting continuity in certain phases, but we've put a lot of effort into getting the best players on our football team that can contribute on special teams, and that's no different at the returner position.
(Scott Wells said yesterday that it has really helped the line to have taken all of the reps together in camp. Can you quantify how much it means to do that?)
I agree with Scott Wells. I think anytime you look at an offensive line that is playing in sync, that is a huge part of being successful on offense. The best offensive lines that I have been a part of are the ones that have the ability to start 16 games, then 32, and you start having the opportunity to really get into a rhythm and handle the challenges that defenses present to you and make the adjustments. People think that you are out there making adjustments by first making a call. Those guys don't have time to make calls. It has to happen on the move, and a big part of that is the continuity that they were able to establish through training camp. I definitely agree with Scott.
(How concerned are you with Neal and how ready do you think Justin is if he has to be the fourth guy?)
Justin has been a part of the rotation all week, so he is ready to go. I fully anticipated Justin would be up when we met Monday. Mike Neal is also part of that. We are going to give him every opportunity. He will be a game-time decision. Mike has had a very good training camp. He has really improved with all of his opportunities, so we're going to give Mike Neal every opportunity up until game time to get ready.
(Obviously injuries factor in, but what else goes into your decisions when you go from 53 to 45?))
A lot of it is special teams. Frankly it usually comes down to special teams and how many people you can carry from a perimeter standpoint throughout your personnel groups, what your plan is that week. But at the end of the day, when it comes down to two individuals, special teams is usually the biggest factor.
(Is that often a tough decision?)
It's very tough. It's very tough when you have a healthy football team. It's very disappointing, and it's hard. You would expect that when you sit down and you have to tell one of your players on Sunday that they are not going to line up and play in the game. We try and create as much competition during the week for those final spots. I think anytime you can keep competition in your environment, particularly in your practice structure, I think it is very healthy for your team. We don't just draw up the 45 players on Tuesday and say, 'Hey, this is who we are going with.' That is not the way we operate. We have as much competition between 45 and 53 as we can during the course of the week.
(Is Martin sitting out similar to Clifton?)
Derrick Martin will be the same classification from a medical standpoint as Chad Clifton, coming off of the surgery.
(Can there be too much emotion going into this game? Do you have to temper the enthusiasm?)
I agree with that. I think it is all part of the maturity of your team, the maturity of your coaching staff, so I feel we are in a good place mentally right now. It is important when you go on the road to really focus and be ready for the waves of emotion, the momentum swings that occur more so in my opinion on the road than they do in the home games. I feel like we are ready for that.
(You have had some success on the road. Have you tweaked anything with your approach this year?)
I am a big believer in regularity when it comes to our football team, as far as how we operate from a scheduling standpoint. Having 11 new members of our football team, I went back to Year 1 just as far as the scheduling, the philosophy of the scheduling, why we leave when we leave, why we stay where we stay, how we operate on the plane, all the way through. My expectations of our arrival to the city, what happens between that time and the chapel service and so forth. I think anytime you become complacent, starting with the head coach, that is something that I addressed it hard the first year. I addressed it again the second year, just, 'Hey, we have all been together,' the third year and the fourth year. I just felt it was real important, especially with having 11 new members of our football team. But our routine, our blueprint works, so we are pretty much staying with the same schedule.