Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 5

(How was practice today with your top two quarterbacks limited?)

It's different. I thought Craig Nall did an excellent job. He took every rep today in the passing game. For him to come in with a new language, it's different from his time here in the past, I thought he did a good job with that. It was really a quality practice. We probably had too much energy at times. We had some extra-curricular activity after a few plays. That's a product of our players not practicing for some time. It's really a joy to coach this group. They really enjoy practice. They get after practice. Sometimes it gets to be a little much. We had a good practice as far as a Wednesday is concerned.

(Did Rodgers hurt his hamstring at the beginning of practice, or yesterday?)

On the last play of yesterday's practice he strained his hamstring. Today, he did not throw very well. He's day-to-day with him. We don't have any history with him. He's never done that before. It could be a week. It could be two weeks. We're kind of up in the air on how bad he did it.

(Was he running?)

We did a red zone, competitive drill yesterday. We had team, two-minute, competitive offense vs. defense and red zone competitive. He was scrambling in the red zone drill when he did it.

(You'll be favored to win your last four games. Do you have to address the young players so they don't get complacent?)

We address those types of issues, items of note as I refer to them, on Wednesday morning. It's all about the Oakland Raiders. That's our focus. I've addressed the playoff situation as far as what we can control. That's all we really need to concern ourselves with. As far as being favored and all that, I don't pay attention to that. Gambling is illegal. I don't want to be associated with it. I don't know what the point spread is and so forth. We don't view it that way. We're worried about the Oakland Raiders. We had a chance to spend the day correcting things, self-scout wise. We're all about the Oakland Raiders right now. This will be a challenge for our football team. They're playing their best football of the year. To me, I view them very similar to where we were last year. That's what I told the team this morning. If you remember where we were at this time last year, we were 4-8, and were able to make a run at the end of the season. It was the foundation of what we've been able to build off of for this season. That's how we view this team coming in here. We need to be ready to go.

(Will Favre take all the passing reps tomorrow?)

That's the plan. He threw in the jog-through segment today. We just felt he would be better off waiting another day. He went to practice anticipating on going but we're just being smart with him.

(Did you say Rodgers might be a week or two?)

We don't know because he's never had a hamstring injury. Usually when you have these types of situations you have some history to work with. It's new for him. We'll see how he goes.

(So it's not out of the realm of possibility Nall could be your No. 2 on Sunday?)

It's a possibility. He's ready. He had a lot of practice today.

(What do you feel you learned from the Dallas game?)

It reassures who you are and why you're able to win 10 games. You need to be able to do the fundamental aspects of your scheme every single day. We did not do that last week. We had a chance with the extra time to address it and focus on those types of things. And they need to apply to Oakland. That's been our approach.

(What did Jolly's MRI reveal?)

It didn't look good. We're going to take some more time. It was not as positive as we would have liked. I'm disappointed for Johnny.

(Does he have a tear in there?)

I'm not going to get into that. That's up to him to discuss that with you if he wants to but it was not positive.

(Are you worried about the D-line rotation that worked so well before?)

I'm not worried because we're fortunate that we kept 11 defensive linemen on the roster. There's a reason why. It's an opportunity for both Justin and Daniel to get more work. I think the pressure that was not applied in the Dallas game was not about the rotation. It was more performance-driven more than anything. Whether it's four-man pressure or five-man pressure, you can throw that around all you want. Those are things you need to learn from. I think Daniel Muir gives us some pass rush. I thought Justin Harrell played well, particularly in the run-phase when he was in there. We would like to get more reps and get prepared for that so that Corey and Cullen and those guys aren't taking as many reps as they did in that particular game.

(Does it look like Jolly is done for the year?)

It's a possibility. We've discussed that.

(Would you say Brett is having an MVP-type season?)

I agree with that, yes. He's having a heck of a year. Based on the criteria for that particular award and what he's meant for our football team speaks volumes. He's the leader of the football team and he's a big part of our success on offense.

(Can you compare Fargas to any running back you've faced this year?)

That's a good question. He runs with a lot of energy. He displays toughness. I think he has a good grasp of their scheme under Greg Knapp and Tom Cable. They brought that there from Atlanta. I can't pin him on anybody specifically. No one I can compare comes to mind. I'm impressed with him. He's on track for a very big season statistically. He's a guy that's been in the league for a number of years. You'd like to see individual earn and work for the success that he's had. He's impressive and once again I think they're playing their best football they've played all year.

(Are you confident with the weather turning that you'll be able to run the ball the way you need to in December?)

It's like anything in the game of football. You have things that you're trying to do as a football team. You supply repetitions in the practice structure to emphasize those particular schemes, situations or whatever the emphasis is. We've done that. We spent more time today running the football just like we have the last four or five weeks. We haven't changed that. That's been an emphasis. Throwing the football in the cold, it's more about the wind in my opinion. We want to be balanced. Running the football is important at this time of year, more so than the early part of the year because we were able to throw the football. We're preparing for that.

(Do you feel good about the progress you've seen?)

Absolutely. I feel good about Ryan Grant. I think he's given us a lot of juice, a lot of production. He could be a lot more productive if he was given more opportunities. I think he's a big part of our success. I think our line is playing better. We don't have the continuity that you would like with the same five playing all the time, but I think the group as a whole is improving. Playing all the different combinations, you're seeing the effects of that. Our fits are better in the combination of the zones, as far as the zone-blocking scheme. We talk about winning and improving and that's one area that we are improving in.

(Where do you think the confidence level will be after last Thursday?)

When we were down there they were too confident. They have too much energy. Confidence is something that you build over time. Coming into the season, we wanted to win. We thought we knew how to win. Now, we clearly expect to win. This is a confident bunch and they should be. We're a good football team. We have another good football team coming in here. We need to keep our eye on the target and stay the way we have been, stay true to who we are, and that's our focus.

(Which Oakland quarterback do you prepare for on Sunday?)

You have to prepare more for their scheme than anything. The way they block things and what they're trying to do. I don't see it vastly changing from one to the other from my conversations with Bob and exposure. They do a good job percentage-wise of trying to put the quarterback, regardless of who it is, in the best situation - I'm talking more from a down-and-distance management standpoint - to be successful. A lot of that has to do with why they're so high percentage-wise with running the football. I think they're fourth in the league in running the football. They make an attempt, play calling-wise and game plan-wise, to keep the quarterback in favorable down-and-distance with their approach to the game. Our preparation is focused on that.

(How much was Woodson able to do and what's the plan for him this week?)

He was limited. He went through the jog-through segment of it. He's pushing it a little more each day. He was in the rehab segment today down there on the practice field. It hasn't changed. The same as I answered yesterday, we'll be cautious with Charles as we move forward.

{sportsad300}(You made the decision before the Dallas game on the two defensive players, not wanting to risk it with so many games left. The way Tauscher is gutting it out, do you have a decision to make with him?)

It's week-to-week. Mark Tauscher's ankle responded better than Tracy White's. Those are things that the medical staff, I think, has a very good hold on with veteran players like Mark. They have a history with Mark, opposite of Aaron Rodgers. We're going to be smart. Mark's an individual that wants to practice so you have to hold him back. Every individual is different. At any point if we feel like we're threatening any player's career for the long term, he will not play. That's not what it's all about. But if he has the ability to play and respond accordingly health-wise and be ahead of where he was the week before, then we'll give him the opportunity to play. We don't want to go backwards from a health standpoint with a player having a lingering injury.

(What was Kabeer able to do today?)

He practiced. He practiced hard.

(How's Sapp's game these days?)

He looks like he's playing well. He looks light. We've been impressed with Warren. Warren's been a prominent player in this league for a long time and our guys feel like he's playing well.

(With the three guards, do you not have to decide on that until Saturday?)

You'd like to by Friday. I think we've done that in the past. We like to give the starter, the one who's going to be out there for the first 15, we practice our first 15 plays on Friday. We do it differently from the traditional West Coast teams that put the 15 in the night before. We actually do ours Thursday night. So the individuals that are going to start, you'd like them to go through the first 15 segment on Friday.

(Does Juice look better on that ankle?)

I didn't study him today. I was busy with the quarterback. He looked like he had a pretty good practice.

(In general terms, do you feel a quarterback has a better chance to succeed in the NFL if they're not thrown into the fire right away and brought along slowly?)

No doubt about it in my mind. When we played in Detroit, I had a chance to ask Troy Aikman that question. He felt that it was beneficial to be thrown into the fire. I think after the fact maybe. Going through it with Alex Smith, going through it to a point with Aaron Brooks and now going through it with Aaron Rodgers, I can see why coaches have waited. I thought Jeff Fisher in Tennessee did a great job with how he brought along both of those quarterbacks, McNair and now Vince Young. He waited some time before he put those guys in there. I think in my time in the league Jeff Fisher has the best success rate because he's done it with two different guys, top-five pick quarterbacks, and brining them along fast enough so you don't throw them right into the fire. I'm watching Aaron Rodgers develop, he has a longer opportunity to prepare. So I think waiting is the best for immediate success of a quarterback.

(Is confidence the biggest part of that?)

Confidence is a huge part of it, especially a position that has a lot of decision-making. He's got a lot on his shoulders. He's exposed a lot more to criticism with his performance. I think it helps his confidence greatly. When you study the West Coast offense and the foundation of the West Coast offense from the people that I was fortunate enough to learn it from, I can remember the quarterback school speeches that Paul Hackett used to give every year. It's something that I've held onto throughout my coaching career. You can coach the whole team that way, but about making the quarterback successful. You have to put your players in a position to be successful, especially your key position players. The quarterback, to me, is the most important position on your whole football team. Anyway you can do that, not playing him longer, running the football more, not putting him in a position where he has to win the game every year, that pays huge dividends as he goes further into his career, no doubt about it.

(What's impressed you the most seeing the Raiders defeat the Chiefs and Broncos the last two weeks?)

Those are division games. They're always your toughest. I've coached in that division. The Chiefs-Raiders rivalry is clearly one of the biggest rivalries in the National Football League. Denver and the Raiders rivalry is also a big one. To win those types of games, especially for a coach in his first year, I think those are victories that he'll point to as he moves forward. That's why I view their team like we were last year. That's why we need to focus on any opponent that's coming here. This is a good opponent. They have some momentum coming off these wins. This will be a tough game here Sunday.

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