Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 20

(Looked like Pickett was testing on the side. How did he do?)

I have no idea. I have not talked to the trainers yet. But Ryan's status hasn't changed. We'll be smart with him throughout the week, and we'll make a decision at the end of the week if he'll play.

(Will you take the team outside at all, or does opening the doors of the Hutson Center take care of the cold?)

The opening the doors was what we were trying to accomplish as far as the weather. Going out on the Astroturf is something I'm not in favor of, or the FieldTurf. That's probably the way we'll go in the future.

(Why don't you like it?)

It's a different surface. I feel more comfortable on the FieldTurf in the Hutson Center. It's just a preference, and also the quality of practice, taking the wind out is a factor. You always have a quality practice in the Hutson Center.

(Could you see somewhere down the line taking the team outside, or do you just get more done inside?)

You get more done inside. We have taken the team outside for the team drills, and that's something I would consider. I would always do the preliminary practice inside, the jog-through, the teaching segments. If we were to go outside, I'd stay the same format I've used in the past, doing the team drills outside.

(Since mid-October, team has been good in ball security, not fumbling. Other than the ball-security drills, anything you can point to?)

I'm just a big believer in anything you emphasize in your daily practice structure, it has to show up on Sundays. I think that is a result of our extra emphasis on the ball-security and ball-extraction on defense. It's never where you want it to be. We had three last week against St. Louis. We have improved over last year, but we still need to take another step.

(How much better are your special teams compared to last year?)

We're clearly much more productive, there's no question about that. I think it's more of a factor of our younger players are a year better, everybody knows the scheme, a year better in the scheme. I think Mike Stock and Shawn Slocum and the players should be commended on the extra time they spend throughout the offseason, because that's really showed up. Instead of having one or two players that you feel were top-notch, core players, I'd say we have over a half-a-dozen. I'm just really pleased with the development of that group as a whole.

(Is field position even more important at this time of year when the ball is harder to kick?)

No doubt about it. Field position, running the football, those are all factors in the game of football that when you play in cold weather you have to increase the importance of it. I agree with your point.

(How much do you get Mason Crosby outside to kick?)

They kicked outside today. After their participation in the practice structure, they kicked in Lambeau today.

(With home-field advantage still on the table, does that make these games must-wins?)

Everybody wants to pin must-win on you. I think it's important to win every game you play in. This is an important football game for a number of different reasons. The first reason is it's the next game, and we've approached every single game the same since we've been pushing through these seasons together. With our second season I'm talking more as an emphasis each week, as you move later into the year, the extra importance, because there are things like the playoffs and home-field advantage, there are other factors involved. This is an important game because it's the Packers vs. the Bears, but it's clearly the most important game because it's the next game. But yes, we're fighting for home-field advantage, so that's an extra emphasis.

(When you're forced to play Jenkins inside on the run downs, does that take anything away from his pass rush at all?)

I don't know if I view it that way, because I think Cullen Jenkins is definitely a match-up problem for centers and guards, particularly in pass rush. He's a defensive lineman that gives you a lot of flexibility because he can play both the end position and the tackle position. So I don't feel that we're putting a 250-pound man in there that's going to get beat up. I don't view it that way. I think he's a match-up problem when he goes inside, particularly in pass rush.

(Do you think he's played pretty well against the run when he's been inside?)

I think he has. I think you're seeing Cullen finally coming back to the form that he was in. He's been nicked up, he's been fighting through a number of little things on the medical front, and I feel he's played very well the last couple weeks and will continue to do so.

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