Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 26

(How much work do you want Ryan Grant to get tomorrow?)

He'll go with the first group. If he comes in tomorrow and everything is good as far as his health and how he responds to today's practice, he'll go as long as the first group goes.

(How has he looked out there? A lot of rust?)

He just needs the reps like everybody else. He's kept himself in great shape. He looks good. I know he probably wants to play and get some live action. But I feel very good about his conditioning. He's just like everybody else. He needs some reps to get ready for the season.

(What happened to Kabeer today?)

Kabeer's knee is kind of sore. It didn't respond very well to yesterday's practice, so we held him today.

(What about Montgomery?)


(The guys who are out are all out for Thursday?)

No, we'll see tomorrow. You mean originally? There are three changes, two we already talked about. But nothing has changed in the group that I put out yesterday.

(What was the third change?)

Chillar was back today.

(Does the Hawk situation make you think about keeping seven linebackers?)

Just like every year, we'll try to keep the best 53. There are some jobs that this week, Tennessee's performance will weigh in. As far as how many of each position, that will work itself out. But there are definitely seven linebackers on our team we could validate keeping, no doubt about it.

(What do some of the young guys, rookies, need to show you in this one last chance?)

I think it's just important for all the younger players, particularly the rookies, to continue to progress. I think you've seen that from a number of them. I think it's only natural. I think it's really a direct correlation to our football team, being a young football team, we need to continue to improve. So I just want to see the rookie class take another step forward in productivity and just the comfort as far as using the techniques and doing things the way they've been coached to do it.

(Going into the fourth preseason game, is this team where you want it to be?)

Your team is never where you want it to be. It's a football team that has an opportunity to be a good football team. It's something we talked about today in the team meeting. We have some targets we still need to hit, we have the opportunity Thursday evening versus Tennessee to get that done. We'll have a long week of preparation prior to that first game. It's my responsibility and the coaches' responsibility to get our team ready, and I have all the confidence in the world that we will do that. But we still have work to do.

(How would you categorize camp as a whole?)

I thought the quality was high, what I refer to as the way we practice. Our tempo and the energy that we had out here was far better than the first two years. I think the less practices helped us in that. I felt our football players were out here working to improve. They weren't out here trying to survive. They were thriving individually, and I think that's important and I think the schedule helped them. On the negative side, I thought it was disjointed. I thought the scheduling part of it was a little disjointed, the three six-day weeks in a row. But I'm pleased with the amount of work, the quality amount of work we were able to get done.

(If you're able to, will you lobby next year to not be in one of those early national games?)

You don't get to lobby for it, so there's no reason for me to really answer the question.

(Did you get as many snaps in camp this year?)

No, we had less practices.

(Was there a big difference? Don't you usually have a target for how many you'd like to get?)

It's more percentage of breaking the snaps down as far as how they fit into different situations. I take a common grid that people use. I refer to it as you take the number of situations percentage-wise over the course of the season, I've charted it, I've got the last five years up on my board, and I try to make sure that reflects what we're getting done practice-wise, and then there's areas we feel we may need to stress more, red zone or maybe short-yardage this year, so I kind of balance that out. That's how I distribute the snaps.

(Do you plan on playing the starters a couple of series or does that change because of the long week before Minnesota?)

No, we'll play the first group probably the first series, approximately 10 plays, somewhere in that area.

(What do you like about Lumpkin and what does he need to work on?)

Lumpkin I think is a perfect example of what you're looking for in a rookie. I think talent-wise, he brings a lot to the table, because he's a big back. He has the ability to play every down, first and second down, and he's really progressed in the pass protection part of it on third down. He's improved every week. Family Night, I thought he had some opportunities he didn't take advantage of, and as he progressed through the weeks of training camp, I thought he ran with better pad level, was a lot more physical, and I thought he improved. That's what you're looking for in rookies, to take advantage of their opportunity, and he's put together a nice training camp.

(Has Jansen proven he can handle the job going into the regular season?)

I would say to this point he's done a very good job. He has another opportunity with Tennessee. He's probably competing with other people in the league, but I think he's definitely taken advantage of his opportunity.

(Do you think everything with Favre made Aaron's job any more difficult?)

I think the outside pressure is evident with what has been applied through who he replaced and the scenario with Brett. I'm not going to deny that, but I'm also not going sit here and try to regulate it and identify how much more there is. Really I have no interest in doing it and I don't think it is to Aaron's benefit. I think it is important for him to focus on playing quarterback, and I think he has done a great job of that. I think he has done everything right as far as his focus, how he has handled every step of the way to get through this process. I think his play has reflected that, and that is ultimately what he will be judged by. We can't control the outside pressures. It is a part of our business, but I think he has done a very good job of managing it.

(Did you learn anything about him you didn't know or see anything that impressed you?)

I think he grew up. I think we all grew up a little bit during that situation. I think he did a very good job of handling a challenge, handling a situation that there really wasn't a script for and was unprecedented. I think it is definitely something he can learn from.

(You started camp by saying it starts with defense. Where is the defense at right now?)

I think you've got three competitions to look at, a lot of information on the film. I look at preseason as just an opportunity to gather as much information as possible. One of the key targets for the defense was to use as many players as we can, so I think we have really done a good job of that. Accomplishing the immersion of Brandon Chillar and the rotation of the defensive line, which we have always done, the ability to play with the six defensive backs for the most part with the first group, so all of those types of things I thought were important. Now how we tailor that to a game plan, that will be reflected in Minnesota. The target of using more personnel groups and using more personnel on defense, I am very pleased. The productivity, it's never enough. People are going to challenge us running the football this year. We know that is a focus. We know that is how people want to play us. We welcome that, we enjoy it, and we think it gives us the opportunity to play downhill in certain downs and distances.

(What chance have you given Rodgers to succeed given the talent around him?)

I think Aaron Rodgers is given an excellent opportunity to succeed here at quarterback.

{sportsad300}(What's your opinion of blitzing more? Would you like to do more of that?)

The overall philosophy of blitzing is apply pressure to the quarterback. You also have run pressures, and it's about creating matchups, whether it's the personnel-wise or something you feel you can take advantage of schematically. That's it from a general sense, but you really get into week-to-week in who you are playing against and who is lining up and trying to create the one-on-one. Everybody thinks of blitzing that you are supposed to run free and hit the quarterback that throws hot. That's not necessarily as true in today's NFL. People have done a lot better job with protection adjustments. It happens all of the time. Really, pressure through blitzing is try to put a guy in a one-on-one position where he has the ability to beat the offensive player and apply pressure to the quarterback.

(So there's no big change in how you view the defense? A few years ago Mike Sherman made a big deal about blitzing more and that would be their identity, but that's not how you view it?)

I don't think you really want to go down that road unless you're committed to it. I recall the year because we played them in preaseason, and I think it lasted two games into the regular season. I think it's important, philosophically, to be able to do both spectrums. You have to line up and play base defense, you have to line up and play base offense, you have to line up and do base things in special teams. Now, blitzing or throwing the football vertically, those are all variations of who you are in whatever three phases. We're not going to live and die by the blitz, but we have to have the ability to put pressure on the quarterback. We have to have the ability to pressure run downs if we feel fit that's going to put us in the best position, whether that's personnel-wise or schematically.

(How tough will it be personally to look 20-some guys in the eye and say they're not wanted here?)

It's clearly one of the worst days of the year for me personally. It's something I don't look forward to, especially the players that have been here for quite some time, especially for the players you may have lined up and competed with. I don't look forward to it.

(For the guys who are going to be here, will you give them Friday, Saturday and Sunday off and go to work on Monday?)

It's off, but like I told them this morning, it's not vacation. We have treatments, the weight room hours are open. It's really a time for our football team to get their bodies back would be the focus this weekend. Then we'll start Monday and go to a half-day schedule as we prepare for Minnesota.

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