Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 30

(Are you concerned about Barnett?)

Nick Barnett showed up today. He had an illness and frankly we just sent him home. I don't think it will be a problem with him playing Sunday, but we'll see how it goes. He showed up this morning with that.

(Can you talk about the health of your defensive line and the Toribio signing?)

We brought up Anthony Toribio to the 53-man roster because of the concern obviously with Ryan Pickett and now Michael Montgomery. Anthony has been with us and he'll fit right in, won't miss a beat. It's exciting when you are able to bring up one of your own practice-squad guys, and we'll look for him to potentially contribute on Sunday.

(What is the prognosis on Jeremy Thompson going forward?)

I'm probably not ready to answer the question on Jeremy. There are tests that will continue to be done. There is no final decision on Jeremy. Everything has been positive to this point, and I'm hopeful and very optimistic that it will continue to go in that direction.

(You have already ruled out Martin; how serious is the injury?)

It's a good ankle sprain. I think he'd be very hard-pressed to make it back this week, so we'll see how he is Monday. But it is a significant ankle sprain.

(What has he brought to your special teams?)

Derrick has done a great job on special teams. His productivity is definitely at the top of our special-teams charts. He brings an attitude and an energy. He is exciting to be around. He is definitely part of the heartbeat and really our success we have had on special teams over the last four or five weeks. It is for other individuals to step up, but he's done a very good job since coming over here from Baltimore.

(Can Toribio play all three spots or just nose tackle?)

I think he definitely will play the nose and then on the inside in sub. He has practiced out there at defensive end so it wouldn't be a stretch to put him out there.

(Has Kuhn's role changed at fullback?)

No, John has had the broken hand, and he has had some things that frankly I just wanted to give him two weeks to get ready. So John is ready, and then the timing of Korey's elbow injury, so that's why Korey is going to be very limited this week and he'll be hard-pressed to make it for Sunday. And Quinn has been doing a good job. Quinn has been given opportunities both on special teams and with the offense, and he has done a good job. We feel very fortunate to have three of those types of guys that can run any facet of our offense and also contribute the way they have on special teams.

(Are you leaning toward taking a cautious approach with Pickett this week?)

Really, Ryan's decision will be medical. That hasn't changed. It will be the same approach that we always have. Pat McKenzie, he'll make the final call on that. Also, Ryan has been here four years now. You have some history and so forth, but we'll give him a chance to get ready to play.

(What are your thoughts on the Pro Bowl selections?)

We're proud of our guys that have been selected, and it's definitely a credit to their season and it's a credit to the type of season we're having as a football team. You always like to see more of your individual players recognized, but it says a lot about Charles and Aaron and Nick and all of the alternates. It's fun to share it in a team meeting and so forth, but we do recognize that as we continue to have success as a team that we'll have more names on that list.

(Since you are kind of locked into a playoff spot, is there any concern about guys not laying it on the line?)

Our approach is going to be the same this week as it has been for the first 15. It's important for us to continue the way we have been playing the last seven weeks, and that's really the message to the football team. I'm sure it will be a message once you go into the locker room. We're not in this situation to back off. It's important for us to continue our style of play. Our approach this week will be the same that it has always been. I think routine in your preparation and your approach is a big part of your success, so we're going to go out there and our goal is to go to 11-5.

(You have a chance at a team record for giveaways; what does that say about the offense?)

Our offense has done a very good job taking care of the football, really our whole football team with the turnover ratio. I think Joe Philbin does an outstanding job, and all the way through to the position coaches, it's something that is stressed about all of the time. Joe does not have a presentation in the offensive meeting that doesn't refer at some point to ball security, and our players have totally bought into it. It starts with Aaron. He handles the ball every play. He is very, very decisive as far as his decision-making in the passing game, and I think that is a big part of the low interceptions. Our perimeter players do a good job of holding the thing high and tight and taking care of the ball. So that will be a key statistic in the playoffs because I think you establish your style of play, you establish who you are as a football team, and what we have established so far in the first 15 games is the ability to take care of the football and take the football away.

(How unusual is it for a quarterback like Rodgers that is so early in his career to throw so few interceptions and is that something he can continue?)

I hope so. I definitely think that it is really discipline. He has that trait as far as in his preparation. He is just a very consistent personality, the way he approaches the game of football, the way he plays, the way he conducts himself on the sideline, and it carries over to the game. He is going to have highs and lows in his career; I know that is part of any quarterback's career in the NFL. But it is something that he has established in such a short time of only his second year, and really it's a discipline that he needs to because it's been impressive what he has been able to accomplish in the short time that he has been a starter.

(Is it even more impressive with the struggles early on with the offensive line?)

Yeah, he's had a tough go there earlier in the season. There's no doubt, when you're getting hit and the timing of your whole offense is not in sync, whether it's his feet or whether it's his vision, and the ability to step the right way in the pocket. But that's all a credit to his discipline and his belief in the pass protection. We corrected it. He's really playing in sync right now, and it will be a big part of our success in the passing game for him to continue to do that.

(You know how beloved the previous quarterback was here, but would you be surprised if there are still fans that haven't embraced Aaron?)

Aaron Rodgers is a Pro Bowl quarterback, and that's the facts. Trust me, I fully understand the greatness of Brett Favre, and I had the opportunity to be part of his career, and he deserves everything that comes his way. But this is the beginning of potentially another great career at quarterback here in Green Bay, and they should embrace it. That would be my suggestion if there is any doubt. He's putting up Pro Bowl numbers in both of his seasons. It does come down to winning, winning is important, but he's put together two quality seasons so far.

(Are you surprised with how well Matthews has played?)

The surprise of it, ... the ability part of it, that's something that we felt very confident about when we drafted him, and he's lived up to it. His work ethic and his relationship with Kevin Greene and the way Dom's continuing to use him, and it's grown through the course of the year. He had the setback in training camp with the hamstring. I wouldn't say I'm not surprised, it's just he's really on time. You can see him developing. And trust me, the first people to know are the opponent. When you talk to other coaches, when you talk to other players, he's one of the first individuals that people bring up to me when they talk about my football team. I'm not surprised he's getting the recognition. I think he has a great opportunity to be the defensive rookie of the year. He's definitely played at that level.

(There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle in the 3-4, but is he one of the reasons the defense has had so much success?)

When you break down the responsibility by position, the outside linebackers, the corners, that's definitely,...the opportunities that are provided for those individuals is evident the way you put the packages together. And he definitely has the ability to be a multiple complete player, whether it's pass rush, run defense or dropping into coverage. He has three fumble recoveries too. He's an instinctive football player. You could see his instincts right away even in the special team area, when he was given an opportunity to play in training camp and early in the season. He's a very natural, instinctive football player.

(Is Arizona's wide-receiver group one of the best you will face?)

I would think so. We have a lot of respect for a number of the receiving corps. I thought Pittsburgh's group was definitely challenging. The size of these guys, just the physicality of both Larry and Anquan is unique to one team. This will be a big challenge, and I'm sure they'll try to spread us out and challenge us that way. They're two definitely Pro Bowl special players.

(Do you take much out of the preseason meeting or is that too far back?)

I watched it, just from a defensive standpoint. I think Billy Davis is a damn good football coach. I had an opportunity to work with Billy out there in San Francisco. I really watched it just to look at their personnel, and just to watch our guys versus theirs. But schematically I don't put a lot of salt into the preseason. It's a different time, you're trying to accomplish different things. Just watching them play over the last four or five weeks has really been my focus just in the last couple days.

{sportsad300}(Jennings worked out with Larry Fitzgerald this summer; is that something a player has to run by you and what do you think he got out of that?)

I think it's great when you hear about receivers getting together and the opportunity to go to API in Arizona. I think those type of environments are outstanding. We feel with our resources and with our strength and conditioning staff and the way we approach our offseason program, we feel very strongly about what we're able to accomplish. But I'm not also naïve to the fact that the individual needs to step away. That's all part of the planning. You want your players here during the offseason program and the OTAs, but the time that they are away and they are spending time wherever they go, I think it's great. I think it's a great environment for them to be in. It's away from the building, it's not as structured from a coaching standpoint. I think there's a lot of benefits in that.

(Do you think it is a good way for players to measure themselves?)

Absolutely, and they learn a lot too. When you have an opportunity to coach the Pro Bowl, it's comical a little bit. Because the questions the players are asking you, they're trying to pump you for information. I can remember offensively, we probably put too much in our playbook out there, and we were running around trying to get them back at the end of the week. There's a lot of information out there that people are always trying to get their hands on.

(Going back to the preseason game, was that an important game for your defensive install?)

I think we went about the preseason the way probably we did my first year here. You definitely try to accelerate some concepts and principles that you may not show normally during the preseason because you're trying to get as much on film, and there are targets you're trying to establish. And obviously one of them in this defense is the ability to increase the pace and the tempo of the game. And pressure does that. Pressure is just not to hopefully you come free and you hit the quarterback. There's other benefits from that. We did pressure a lot in the preseason, but it was more for our guys to get them acquainted for the type of things that were ahead of them. Really, being an offensive coach, you don't really want to go into a game ... I played in a game I remember early in preseason, it might have been the first game of the year where it was 70, 75 percent pressure, and I was on the other side of that, and that's probably not the best environment for you to be teaching your young offensive players in a game when you're trying to get them acclimated too. There's two sides to that. But that's something we felt we needed to do in the preseason and I think it helped us.

(Would you prefer not to play the same team two weeks in a row?)

It's really hypotheticals, because there's so many other variables in that. Do you want to play the same team in a row? Some people say no, some people say yes. I think the biggest factor is are we going to be on a seven-day schedule or are we going to be on a six-day schedule. Those are the things that I'm more concerned about, not who we play but when we play, and just getting my football team on schedule for the next week.

(Are your coaches already looking at the other teams or do you wait until Sunday night?)

No, no. We'll be ready. We'll be ready for Phoenix, Dallas and Minnesota. That plan is already in place.

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