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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 24


(Have you made a commitment on the offensive line with the five you went with tonight?)

Yes, we're going to work the starting five tonight is the starting five that we'll take into the Arizona game and we'll see what happens. But that's the five we decided on with Jason Spitz at center and Allen Barbre at the right tackle position.

(Where was Will Blackmon?)

Will Blackmon suffered a quad contusion, a bruised quad in the game. He'll be questionable for this week.

(How about Devin Frischknecht?)

He had season-ending surgery. He had a broken tibia and fibula. He was operated on shortly after the game, and he's doing very well.

(Why are you going with those five on the offensive line?)

It was a competition and that's the direction we're going. I don't keep track of everything every player does, and Jason Spitz is the starting center and Allen Barbre is the starting right tackle.

(Was it pretty close?)

Very tough decision. Scott Wells has graded out at a very high level. Scott is probably one of our top three or four linemen as far as grading out so far in the preseason, so that was a very difficult situation as far as determining what starter to go with. Scott has been a starting center for us, has played a lot of football here, but this is the group that we feel we are going to start with this week in Arizona.

(How did Wells take the news?)

Scott is a professional. I didn't expect him to be excited and he was not. We personally talked one-on-one at length about it. He had a few questions and I answered them very honestly. He understands why we made that move. We feel very good about our whole offensive line as a group, definitely a lot better than we have in the past. But we're very fortunate to have two starting centers on our football team.

(What was the biggest difference between Barbre and Giacomini?)

I just think Allen is further ahead than Breno. Breno, I think his response kind of told the whole story. 'Can we compete one more week?' I just think Breno is coming on. We just feel that Allen is further ahead and that's why we made the decision.

(What did you think of tonight's practice?)

I thought it was sharp. I thought it was crisp. There were some things I did not like. I'll look at the film and I'll evaluate it further. We spent a lot of time in the building today. We spent the whole morning going through the Buffalo game, making all the corrections, make sure that we were able to continue to progress. The most important film of the week is always your own game. Sometimes in training camp you want to fly over that and get on to the next challenge. I think it's real important to spend that time. Everybody had a chance to see themselves play. The coordinators had a chance to evaluate and talk to their respective groups, and then we went to lunch and then we spent the afternoon on Arizona. We put in a pure game plan top to bottom, just like we'll do for our regular-season games, and then we came out here with a shorter, crisp practice in shells.

(What is the prognosis on Matt Flynn?)

Matt may make it by the end of the week to practice. He's sore, so this is his first time he's gone through this type of injury. We'll see where he is at in two days. If he practices obviously he'll have a chance to play in the game, but I probably won't know that until Wednesday.

(Has Nick Barnett been fully cleared?)

He has passed his physical. He practiced last week and he is going to take probably 50 percent of the reps in practice this week. The doctors want to progress him back at a certain pace, but we anticipate him going through the full three practices this week and we'll see where he is at the end of the week.

(How are Clay Matthews and Jeremy Thompson doing?)

I would say Clay is realistically going to be ready for Tennessee. Once again, that's the doctor's vision of how to bring him back off of his particular injury. It's a re-occurring hamstring, so we're giving him every opportunity to make sure this is not a re-occurring injury the rest of the season. We're going to work him back at a brisker pace this week and then I look for him to line up next week and get a full week of practice and play against Tennessee.

(Do they have their work cut out for them to beat out Poppinga at this point?)

Oh, absolutely. I don't care who you are if you don't practice. I think that's very obvious, and especially young guys. Everybody was excited about where Clay was when the injury occurred. He was lining up with the starters at that particular point. But Brady Poppinga has taken full advantage of his opportunities. I can't say enough about him from a preparation standpoint. He's taken every snap in training camp, hasn't missed a practice, and it shows up on the field. He's very comfortable in the new scheme. He's done an excellent job particularly in the run defense of taking two defenders time and time again. He's been around the ball a lot, part of the takeaway production that we've had on defense. I think Brady is having a heck of a camp.

{sportsad300}(Assuming Spitz was going to be a starter, did it come down to Sitton vs. Wells?)

No, I wouldn't say that. I would say it was really just the combination. To be honest with you, it's a very tough decision, and we made a decision my first year here that didn't stand, that lasted a couple of weeks. It was very close. Whether it was Spitz at guard, Wells at center, that was definitely a combination we looked at. But we felt last year Josh had earned a starting position at guard, lost that due to injury. We felt that he has improved. He's a physical player on that right side, and that's probably the reason why we did go with him. But this was a very tough decision with a lot of conversation between Joe Philbin, Jerry Fontenot, James Campen and I, and this is the way it turned out.

(Are you locked into this five for Chicago?)

If they keep progressing, this is who we'll line up with. This is the five, and we're going to give it a chance to generate the continuity that you establish when you do have five offensive linemen taking all the reps together. That will be determined clearly on production, their rate of production. So if they continue to produce, we'll continue to have continuity with these five and we'll move forward. If it doesn't, we've got guys that are champing at the bit and that are ready to go. I think Scott Wells and Breno have shown that, so that is definitely a good option to have.

(How did Kapinos kick tonight?)

I thought Jeremy kicked very well tonight. The one punt was OK, other than that I thought he hit all of them. There's some fundamental footwork adjustments that Shawn and Jeremy keep working on. I think he has more pop with his punting now than I recall in the spring and during the OTAs and the beginning of camp. He's taken advantage of his opportunity. Durant Brooks is still injured with the hip flexor. So that's where we stand on the punting.

(Normally in the third game the starters play the most; based on the success both the offense and defense has had, will you scale back on that?)

Our first group with all the personnels will play the first half together. Whether we start the third quarter, that will be determined. That's something that is to be discussed later in the week, but that's my thought process right now.

(Will Thompson work on the left side?)

To me they're interchangeable, but it's just good to have him back out there. Obviously we've had to adjust more to injury based on reps available than who we feel is best on the left and the right.

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