(What happened with Poppinga?)
Brady showed up to work today with some inflammation on his knee, so we held him out of practice. I am hopeful that he will be ready to go tomorrow. It's just something that kind of flared up on him this morning.
(Did it happen in practice?)
I'm not sure exactly when it happened. It just flared up on him this morning.
(Is Underwood progressing and does he have any chance this week?)
He feels good. He had the opportunity to work with the harness for his shoulder injury and we'll see how he is in the morning. He has really picked it up in the rehab and he feels like he is making a lot of progress. We haven't ruled him out yet.
(How limiting are those harnesses. Brad Jones said the other day that it didn't bother him much, but is it more difficult for guys at certain positions?)
I would say the harness has a lot to do with the type of injury that you have to the shoulder, also the position that you play. Playing quarterback in this league, it would be difficult to play with one. I think it is important for Brandon to get pretty far down the road before we feel comfortable and he feels comfortable that he would be able to do the things that are necessary, particularly at that position.
(How has Clay Matthews looked?)
Clay Matthews demonstrated fresh legs out there today. I thought he looked very good, particularly in the third-down pressure periods, just bouncing around. So I think Clay is back 100 percent and we've just got to the reps in the base defense. He had a lot of work there Monday and early today. He looks good.
(A lot of people have talked about Aaron Rodgers as a potential MVP candidate. How do you think he is handling all of the expectations?)
I would say Aaron Rodgers is handling his business in a very professional manner, just like he has in the past. All of those types of awards, Super Bowl talk, frankly that is preseason talk. That is over in our mind. The only thing we are interested in is Philadelphia. It's nice when people recognize your players for potential, but we really don't care about potential. We're at the starting line of our season. We like the amount of work that we were able to get done and the quality of work, but we are at the starting line. It's very important for us to go through a full week of preparation and make sure we are ready to go. We are going into a very hostile environment up there in Philadelphia. It's opening day in the National Football League against a very good football team, a very well-coached football team, so that is really what we are focused on.
(Is it more of a challenge to open on the road than any other road game?)
Starting on the road I would say is a bigger challenge because it is opening day. Opening day brings a bigger sense of urgency and energy and it is a national TV game. It's a lot like a Monday Night-type Football game in my opinion. There is a lot of excitement around opening day, and on top of that you are playing on the road. Playing on the road in the NFL is very difficult. I think they do a very good job with their gameday operations in Philadelphia, so we've been working the crowd noise all week and had a number of opportunities to work crowd noise in the training camp. It's a challenge. It's a challenge to play in Philadelphia anytime, and I think you could probably add a little extra to that being on opening day.
(What differences do you see in Kolb and McNabb?)
Well, I'll have to answer that probably Sunday after the game. I would say on film Kevin was a very productive player coming out of college and has been productive in his film work in the preseasons that he has played in and the two starts he had last year. He looks to be able to make all of the throws. He is playing fast for a young guy. That is something I was impressed with as far as getting through his progressions. It seems like he is on top of what they are asking him to do. You can see that in the comfort, he looks comfortable. I had a chance to watch him on TV a little bit as far as his huddle command, just from my observations. But it is his first start. It is always a little different for the quarterback the first time he has the ball and it is totally his. But I think he is very well prepared for this opportunity.
(How do you feel about your defensive depth, especially a couple of those spots where you don't have any experience?)
We're young and we have some experience being young. You just really focus on getting them ready. Morgan Burnett has done a very good job in his time here, and I feel he is ready to go. Sam Shields has done a very good job. He has been getting better in every practice and he needs to play. We have played with rookies before and we have played with young players before. We're fortunate enough to have a lot of experience with our veterans. The most important thing I think for us, particularly on defense, it is Year 2 for us in this scheme, so communication is a lot better, confidence is higher. The continuity is probably not what we would like because we did not have everybody throughout the preseason, but we'll be ready to play, young, old, come Sunday in Philadelphia.
(Is there any way your defense can improve, other than another year in the scheme?)
I expect our defense to improve, no different than the way expect our whole football (team) to improve. You go through an offseason, you have an opportunity to tailor your schemes towards the players that you know you're going to have here, without us having a lot or any change, going through training camp, so we feel we're very familiar with our players, their skill sets. We like the packages that we've put together. Didn't really use any of them in training camp. We're going to get them ready to go, and it will start in Philadelphia. We've been an improvement-from-within program. It's working. We've been drafting and developing our players here going on five years. We're confident with the progress we've made, and it's no different for our defense.
(How do you change your message to your guys? You made it clear you were embracing expectations during camp. The guys wore the cowboy hats at the luncheon. How do you talk to them differently now, to focus on the small picture?)
I don't feel that it's a change. We talked about the Super Bowl expectations, we set our goals for the season on the first day of training camp. I don't want to disappoint anybody here in the room, but we don't sit around and talk about all the things that you all talk about in the paper. We don't sit and talk about all the articles and the things written about our football team, pro or con. We're talking about Philadelphia. I think it's important to set goals, identify with what the media is talking about, and just make sure we're on the same page. We're about Philadelphia, whether we're buying cowboys hats … to me that's not a real big deal. That's not a focus of ours. We're not a flamboyant-type football team. It's by design. I like the confidence of our team, but we're at the starting line. We're zero-and-zero. We're preparing to win our first game.
(Is Sean McDermott putting his own stamp on that defense or is he running a lot of what Jim Johnson ran in Philadelphia?)
I would say last year he probably carried on with Jimmy Johnson, the way he played in the past. You could see the philosophy of the pressure, the overload pressures and things like that. Frankly you can see a strong influence of going back to base defense in the preseason. Now, are they just not showing anything by design, which people do, or are they getting back to more of their base schemes because they've had so much change in personnel? Sunday 4:15 will give you the answer to that question. He's a second-year coordinator. I have not called a game against him, so I've spent a lot of time, more time than the norm, watching game tape, and just trying to get a feel for how he calls games.
(Do you think you've improved at nickel cornerback since we last saw you in Arizona?)
We haven't played a game yet. We haven't had an opportunity really to line up our whole defense. To sit there and answer a question honestly about how we're going to play at one position, … the way it's tied to the other 10 is just as important. I like the way our sub packages look on paper. I like the way they've looked going through training camp, and we'll have the first opportunity to do it live in the regular season.
(Did you have some interest in McDermott as a coordinator?)
I'm not going back to that. I think he's a good coach. I've never worked with him. He has a good reputation. I have respect for what Jimmy Johnson did there in Philadelphia. I thought he was one of the tougher coordinators to compete against, just the few times that I had the opportunity to compete against his defenses. I like the way he played the game, I like the way he taught the game, I like the way his players played.
(With Kolb having his first start, how important will it be to put pressure on him and rattle his confidence a little bit?)
We want to disrupt every quarterback that we play, and that will be no different this week in Philadelphia. I think it's real important that we play to our strengths and exercise our scheme accordingly. I'm more interested in what we do than what they do. We'll spend today and tomorrow talking about Philadelphia in all three phases. But at the end of the day, by the end of the week, it's going to be about what we do. That will be our focus. Do we want to get after the quarterback? Absolutely. But they do a good job on offense. They've got playmakers. They do an outstanding job pushing the ball vertically, and he's fully capable of that, particularly with the inside vertical throws. I've been impressed with what he has shown on film. It's going to be a big challenge for us up there.
(Last year Jackson looked so dynamic on the field. How do you get someone like Shields ready for someone with that pure speed?)
Well, he's dynamic, there's no question about that. You can start with the 7:30 special teams meeting just watching him on the punt return. He's a special player. He's very special when he gets the ball in his hands. It's important for us to play to our leverage and play to techniques that fit the scheme, and do not get outside of that. He's definitely someone that we have to be aware of at all times.
(How much prep work do you have to do for the Wildcat?)
That's really Week 1 football in the NFL. There will be 25 to 30 percent what we call unscouted looks in this game. That's what history would tell you. We had the opportunity to plan and prepare for the Wildcat in the Kansas City game. We were able to get a few snaps at it there in the third quarter. We feel we had the opportunity to work on it a little bit in training camp. We'll be ready for it, and I'm sure it's something they'll probably go to at some point.