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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 10

(Did Harrell's hip injury happen in a game? Is it a concern?)

Justin Harrell has had a bothersome hip the last couple weeks, and it really has gotten to a point where Dr. McKenzie felt we needed to shut him down today and tomorrow, and we will test him on Friday.

(What are Korey Hall's prospects at this point?)

Korey is a potential test on Friday, and really his status hasn't changed. I think it will be a challenge for Korey to be ready for the game. Korey thinks he's going to make it, so we'll see where he is on Friday.

(What has Harrell given you since he came off PUP? Has he had the impact you hoped he would?)

He's never really been able to get healthy. His snaps have been limited, and I thought there was some progress in the pass rush part of it, and a little progress in the run blocking. Once again, he's a young player that's kind of going through a medical stage right now. We just have to keep working with him to get through it.

(Is it on him that he can't stay healthy, or is it just bad luck?)

Injuries are part of our game. They're frustrating for everybody involved. More importantly, I know they're frustrating for the player. I've seen individuals go through this at different points in their career, and I think Justin is going through a rough patch with injuries.

(With the number of snaps Kampman has played, have you seen any dropoff in energy at all?)

No, Aaron, he's fought through some nagging things this year. But as far as seeing a dropoff, I have not seen any. We've had some practice time where he's been limited. We're very conscientious of his snaps. They are definitely up. But he's been productive. He's been a very steady player in my time here. I can't say enough about his consistency as far as his preparation and his performance week in and week out.

(Has it been by necessity that he's had to play so many snaps, with injuries elsewhere on the defensive line?)

He's one of our prime-time players, so he's going to play a majority of the time. The numbers are up, but they're definitely up on our defense this year too compared to last year. We've had some injury situations that we're working through, particularly on the defensive line, that probably also factored in his reps being up.

(With Atari out, will you leave Charles at safety for another week?)

The plan is for Charles Woodson to play safety again this week.

(Brandon Jackson didn't have many touches last game. Was that just how the game went, or was that by design? He had been productive.)

I think it's the way the game evolved. I thought Ryan was in a rhythm. Frankly we'd like to have had more runs overall in the run game. I think the third down statistics probably didn't help us there. Our number of plays was down, 54, 56, whatever it was. Those are all factors in why his opportunities did not come.

(The times Tony Moll gets himself in trouble, is it technique or mental errors? What is he fighting to become a more consistent player?)

I think Tony's been consistent in his time that he's played. He's played four positions on our offensive line throughout the practice stages, and he's come in in games and really, as a play-caller, it's important to not have to adjust, particularly in some of the games that we've been in, and Tony has given us that ability. To answer your question, some of the technical things that he's gotten involved in I think is normal for any player that's come off the bench. I think Tony's been a steady, steady player for us. I'm pleased with the work he's given us so far.

(Ryan Grant's stats are better, but is he grading out better now than earlier in the season?)

I think Ryan Grant, a lot like our run-blocking unit, five, six weeks or so we're definitely running the football the way we're supposed to run it. As far as the way the back is fitting with the run-blocking unit, the ability to get up on the second level. I think our perimeter blocking has picked up. So I would say Ryan alongside with the whole run game has definitely played much better in the last six weeks than probably the first six weeks.

(You talked about Kampman's production, you've had a lot of interceptions in the back end. How close has the defense come to what you envisioned when you said defense would be the identity of the team?)

Well, we're not hitting the targets that we wanted to on defense, and we're all aware of that. But we have games left. We've had obstacles to overcome. We haven't done it at a high level, whether it be injuries, adjustments in games. We'll just keep battling away. But I stand by the vision that we had for the football team. Sometimes the course of your season doesn't go the way you'd like. I think we're kind of going through a spot with that right now, particularly the last three weeks. But it's still a team game. No different than the offensive side of the ball. The offensive side of the ball is supposed to score more points than the opponent. We're not doing that either. We all need to play better, we need to coach better. It's a team issue.

(When you said that, what was your vision? Did some parts of the defense live up to that identity?)

I think really those are questions for postseason. You can sit there and talk about the last game and we're all well aware of the numbers and so forth. But the final score is really the biggest indicator, and that didn't work out our way. Whether it's the total yards slanted to the left or the three turnovers we had slanted to the right, I think really those are postseason conversations.

(Is Bigby's shoulder something that might prevent him from playing the rest of the year?)

The feedback I get, he's feeling better. I think his shoulder is something that he'll be able to overcome here in the near future, be it this week or next week. Probably moreso next week. I don't anticipate him probably being ready this week. But he also has the ankle issue. That's still there.

(Is he just one of those guys who hasn't been able to play up to his level because of injuries?)

Atari has been hurt all year. He has been hurt since I think it was the Denver preseason game. It's unfortunate, and then he was hurt again in the Detroit game. He was able to fight through it coming out of training camp. I think it is obvious he has not felt the same since training camp.

(How has Aaron handled the late-game situations with the game on the line?)

Really I think those are more postseason conversations. If you want to start going through all of the games, I can give you my opinion on that. There hasn't been spots in games where I've had to, as a play caller, look in his eyes and go in a different direction. That has not happened yet. I have been in that position before. I know what it feels like; I know what it looks like. I haven't experienced that with Aaron Rodgers. Has he missed a couple of throws? Last game he went through a segment where he missed probably two or three throws in a game. That happens. To me that is not a huge deal. That is not a big negative. But I have never felt, whether it's two-minute, third down, red zone, where I've had to pull back and be conservative because of what I saw in his eyes or based on the way he was playing or other factors in the game. I have not experienced that yet.

(So in the Minnesota game when Mason had the 52-yarder, you felt you were in position and didn't need any more yards there?)

We can go back to those plays. It depends on what story you want to write?

(I was going to write that you seem confident in him in those situations.)

No, I'm talking about that particular situation. That's nice that you are going to write that. We have run the ball in that situation against that same defense very effectively, and I just think the way the game was called in Minnesota, we had plenty of protection issues throughout the game. If I was critical of myself, maybe I should have backed off. I think that's another example that supports the fact that we have never pulled back with him in charge.

(Does he need one of those games where he leads you to a win in the last two minutes?)

I think all quarterbacks need that. That's a positive and your football team needs that. To answer correctly would be to say our team needs that, and then the individuals, including the quarterback. Those are all opportunities to stack successes. That has been our battle cry in the past and we haven't done that year. That's how you build confidence is by stacking success after success whatever size that success is.

(Do you go into Sunday with Giacomini as your backup right tackle?)

I'm really not ready to answer that. He's ready. I think Breno has done a very good job. I know you guys don't get an opportunity to watch the team stuff, but you're probably able to see it in the individual. His opportunity to practice against Aaron Kampman I think has really helped him, and he takes full advantage of it. He's very competitive, very athletic, and he has so much football in front of him. I'm very pleased with the progress he has made, but I would say Allen Barbre would be the next player up.

(Before Breno?)


{sportsad300}(How much do things snowball for a team, good or bad?)

Snowball, I could see why you are asking that, but it can go one way or the other. That's why I think reality is so important. You have to be a realist and look at the full body of work. We don't have a very good record right now. I am aware of that, but I don't think we are a bad team. I think there are a lot of positives on our football team. We're not doing enough, and we can sit here and cut it up any way we want through all three phases, offense, defense, and special teams. You have to stack success. It breeds confidence. It gives you momentum and those are things you want to carry over. We talk a lot about the negatives in here, understandably why, but the most important thing is when you do something well and it a positive, you need to do that better also. That's the stuff we need to do a better job of carrying forward. When we were playing well in the passing game, we need to play better the following week. We just can't say we've kind of got that part figured out. It doesn't work that way in this league because you have to overcome. One side of the ball doesn't always play well, and the other side has to pick it up for them. That's really my disappointment as a leader is to get one side to pick it up for the other.

(Have you ever been around a team where the effort level slid late in the season? Is there any way to prevent that, or is it more about player selection, the types of players you bring in here?)

I just go by what happened today. They practiced hard again. Our tempo was in the plus category like it has been all year, and that is the job of the coaches. We need to hold them accountable to make sure the work is done right. We don't have an effort problem, never have, don't' foresee it being here. Ask our opponents. It's getting a little old hearing the opposing coaches compliment your football team when you are on the losing side of it. I'm not concerned about effort. Our guys play hard.

(What do you talk about with the guys this week, motivationally?)

It's time to fight, and I'm not talking about when a guy is blocking late after the whistle. It's time to fight our way out of this hole that we created. We're in this position for a reason, and it's time to fight in every aspect of our play. We need to make sure we fight through answering these types of questions and don't be pulled down. Fight through adversity that's going to happen Sunday like it does every week, and I fully expect us to fight our way out of this position with a win this week.

(Can you talk about the challenge of facing Jacksonville's running game?)

That's their starting point. They've got two dynamic backs, no question about it. They are 70 percent I think run in normal (down and distance) to start the football game. That is their starting point and we anticipate the same as we play them. That's kind of been a staple of Jack Del Rio in his time there. As far as how they run it and those types of things, we're working on that. We're not going to change our defense. All of the basic fundamentals apply as they have in the past.

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