* (Any restrictions on Brad Jones or Clay Matthews at practice?)*
No, we're going to go full tilt with those guys unless I am given information to think otherwise. They were cleared today, and with Tuesday being their day off and treatments this afternoon and treatments tomorrow, I think we're going to be OK. I want to see them go through the padded work. So I feel good about it.
(How about Jenkins?)
I feel good about Cullen and Bishop. I think they are going to be ready to go Wednesday or no later than Thursday. I had a chance to watch them go through rehab after the jog-through and it looked encouraging. As you know, you see how they feel in the morning. You are dealing with muscle strains, but all of the information the medical staff has been giving me all along has been positive.
(With all those defensive starters that missed time, is there catch-up work to do?)
It is a position we are in. We'll exercise a full game plan for Philadelphia. We will not play with any restrictions as far as volume or creativity. We trust the players that are coming back off of injury and we feel it is important to have quality preparation throughout the week and get ourselves ready to play at the level we are capable of playing. Injuries are a part of the game. We had more than usual in the preseason for the defensive side of it, but it's also the way the game goes in the NFL. I'm not concerned about it. I think it's really just part of the path that is created in this league.
(Is it much of a switch for Matthews to go from right to left or is it pretty simple to do that?)
I don't think anything is simple anytime you change positions. There is a difference; there is no denying that. I feel that he is in a good place physically and mentally. So he is going to have opportunities over there that he may or may not have had on the other side. It's important as a football player, scheme is designed to put the player in a one-on-one situation and the player's responsibility is to win the one-on-one situation. Whether it is right side or left side, we'll continue to give him the work. I think Kevin Greene does an excellent job, particularly in the fundamentals and the technique of the position. Clay is a gifted young man. He brings a lot to the table in terms of his physical gifts and the way he plays the game, so I am fully confident he'll be very productive over there.
(Will Underwood be a few weeks yet?)
Brandon is getting better. I couldn't tell you. I just think anytime you are dealing with a joint injury and he has history with that shoulder. He is very positive. They all tell me they feel great, so I have to find what great is. It's different every day and with every player. Dr. McKenzie feels he has made a lot of progress so we'll just see how it goes. We're going to start working him with a harness and we'll see how that goes. But as far as when exactly that is going to happen, I don't have that information yet. But he has made a lot of progress over the three days off.
(What is your plan at nickel and dime then?)
We'll work through that this week. I would like to take that as far as I need to as far as who is lining up where. I know you guys respect that.
(What are your options at returner?)
I think our options are clear. Everybody here goes to practice. I feel good about the returners that we are working. I feel good about Jordy Nelson and Brandon Jackson in the kickoff return and I feel good about Tramon Williams and Greg Jennings in the punt return if that is the direction we go. We're going to compete on special teams and we're going to give our football team the opportunity to play with good field position. All of the work that we have done in the offseason in training camp, it's about putting the returner in a position to be successful. We'll make sure we have the best guy back there with the football.
(Do you take into account how important a guy is from scrimmage? Are you reluctant to use guys?)
You factor all that in. I think that's common knowledge. I don't really refer to how other coaches do it. I also have a history that I can look back on, on how I've approached the game as far as special teams, who's the returner, who's not, from '06, '07, '08 and '09. I think some of the decisions I made in '07 were probably the most aggressive decisions from a personnel standpoint, and that was the healthiest team I've coached. Does that play hand in hand? Who has the answers to those questions? But we're going to line up, and we're going to line up to win football games, and I'm talking about all three phases. So we're going to have the best returner possible back there.
(Last time we saw Jordy returning kicks in a game, he was benched against Arizona. Has he improved?)
I think the injury that he had affected him a little bit in the return game last year. I don't see that anymore. I think he was a little hesitant in that particular game. But I think he's done a very good job, and we've changed some things schematically in our return game that I think plays to Jordy's strengths. I like the body of work that Jordy Nelson has given us returning the football on kickoffs in the preseason.
(You were adamant about wanting to be better in the punting game. How good do you feel about Masthay?)
I feel very good. Tough decision, and Tim was the winner of the competition. I have a lot of respect for Chris Bryan. I think Chris is an ascending punter also. I felt that way all along. But I think Tim's body of work as far as everything involved, the holding, kicking off, that was definitely a bonus, because it really came down to the punting performance. We really wanted to make sure that we laid out as level a competitive playing field that we possibly could. I felt we accomplished that, and we felt that Tim was slightly ahead of Chris. He's also a young punter. I think he's going to improve. I think being around Chris probably helped him improve, particularly in managing the football inside the 10-yard line. I'm excited about Tim, I'm excited about the progress he's going to make. I think he's very fundamentally sound as far as his straight-line mechanics and the things he's demonstrated in our time together, and he's definitely improved since March. Very steady personality. Like his work ethic, and I feel very strongly that we're going to be much improved in the punting performance part of it this year.
(How much work did you get done on Philly during training camp and how does that help you now?)
As far as how much work, as far as practice time, we had one practice that we spent on Philadelphia. Now, we've had an offseason study that we spent a week as a staff on, and that's something that frankly, I spent the week of the Kansas City game going back through. We feel good about our plan that we have for Philadelphia and how we approach this game. They have a lot of personnel change on their defensive side of the ball. They're explosive on offense with their weapons, and they have a new special teams coach that always creates a little bit of a challenge, especially in Week 1. That's our mindset going into it. We feel we've done a very good job from a preparation standpoint prior to training camp and prior to the preseason games. We've watched all the preseason games, and we feel we'll be ready to go come Sunday in Philadelphia.
(Did this camp give you the most collective reps with your starting five on the offensive line?)
I'd say so. I think that's a good observation. We definitely started with the same one we finished with, and that's the first time that's happened in our five training camps, and I think it's reflected in the continuity that they've played with in the first four preseason games. Yes, I would agree with that.