Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Feb. 22

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy also addressed the media Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Press Conference Transcript | Video | Audio


(What are your thoughts on the tight end position without Bubba and how big a need it could be?)

We're very happy with the way Donald Lee played, obviously. Tory Humphrey, we're hoping he'll come back off of his injury. It's an excellent year in the draft, so we'll look to add probably another player or two there. But I thought we did a much better job this year utilizing our tight ends better, with some of the off-the-line things we did schematically, and we'll look to build on that

(Do the tight ends look like a pretty good draft class?)

Preliminary, yeah. Talking with Ted, and I know Ben McAdoo has had limited opportunity to watch them, and we had a couple guys come into our interviews last night. It looks to be a very athletic group.

(Have you played as many two tight end sets as you'd like or would you like to do it more?)

To me it's not really the personnel playing more than the other. It's really the concepts you use that are able to travel through the different personnel groupings. We went to more wide receiver sets which would definitely carry over to two tight end sets. If you recall early in the season, we played a lot with Bubba and Donald, and that was a starting point as we went through our installations in training camp and so forth. And I do like playing with two tight ends because I think it gives you more flexibility.

(With this need, would you consider taking a guy like Owen Schmitt from West Virginia, a fullback/tight end combo?)

Absolutely. We'll look at all of our options, and you never have enough good football players.

(Have you talked to Schmitt at all?)

I have not personally, no.

(Do you have an update on Brett, and do you expect to hear something before free agency starts?)

I have not talked to Brett this week. We talk weekly. Nothing's really changed. It's really the same message I gave last week when I talked about it. It's a personal decision. He's played a lot of football, and he wants to make sure he's 100 percent committed if he comes back.

(When was the last time you talked to him?)

Friday, a week from today.

(From the outside, you had this great season, so people think, what's the holdup? Do you have any insight into what the thought process is for him?)

I think that's a great point, because that's really not the issue. That's really part of the conversation, and anybody that's had the opportunity to sit down with Brett, you go through all the things that people think, that hey, he should play, he has a lot left, and that really has nothing to do with it. It's not the fact that he knows he still can play. He had a great time this year. It's just the fact that he's played a lot of football, and he's had to fully commit himself and his family year in and year out. When you do get older, you have more responsibility, and he just wants to make sure he'll be able to commit himself 100 percent. Because if he doesn't think he's 100 percent in, he thinks it might be his time to walk away.

(Can you talk about the downfield blocking of your receivers and some of the novel blocking concepts you used in the playoffs?)

I'd like to think we've done a better job in that area from Year 1 to 2. It's always a very important part of it, and I think it really shows up in our big-play ability, because anytime you get the ball to the second level, whether it's in the run game, and it really showed up more for us in the short passing game, guys getting downfield, making that block, creating the second-level opportunity that creates some yards after the catch. I think that's a big part of our attitude and the way our guys attack that, and we led the league in yards after the catch.

(What are the challenges with picking 30th this year versus fifth two years ago?)

You wait longer to pick, that's a challenge. It's a long day.

(Is it harder to know who's going to be there?)

I definitely think so. It's a different chess match that you're involved in. There's so much that goes on in front of you. But I think it's a great opportunity to stick to your board, and I think Ted does a great job of that, setting the board, sticking to the board, and just drafting as many good football players as possible.

(What are your plans for Justin Harrell for the upcoming season?)

Individual improvement. Justin missed a lot of time after the draft. He wasn't able really to go through the OTAs, and we protected him there in training camp a little bit. He needs a full offseason, starting number one in the weight room on March 17, and the individual time he'll have with his coaches. We look for him to contribute.

(Do you see yourself more active in free agency this time around?)

I'm well aware of how many free agents we signed last year, and that doesn't really equate to activity by the number of people you sign, in my opinion. We are active. We're very active. We set a free agent board, no different than we do te draft board. We'll fully participate, just like we did last year. Now, how many guys we'll sign, time will tell. I can promise you that we're participating.

(What is your role during the interview sessions? Do you just sit in the back of the room, or do you throw out questions?)

Yeah, I'm allowed to ask questions. I'm allowed to participate. I don't have to sit in the back of the room either. It's very organized. Ted once again does a great job. John Dorsey is pretty much the lead man in the room. I think our area scouts actually do a tremendous job with the information and prepping you before the college prospect comes into the room. I enjoy it. I think it's a great opportunity to evaluate a personality, but more important, you get an opportunity to meet these young guys as they get ready for the draft.

(With more juniors in the draft, and the scouts haven't had time to study them, does that make those interviews more important?)

Absolutely, and it makes the next two months very important. Once again, I think our area scouts do an outstanding job of knowing the players inside and out in their area.

(Can you talk about the emergence of Ryan Grant? Were you surprised how strong he came around and would you consider re-upping with him?)

I knew Ryan was going to play that well, I just didn't know it in Week 1. No, I think Ryan was a great surprise for us. He came in and we really liked what he did in the preseason. I thought he'd be a core special teams player and be able to contribute. But I think he's another excellent example of a young player that took advantage of a great opportunity and was very productive. He's another player I'm looking forward to being around in the offseason program, that can maybe add a few pounds, add some strength. It will be exciting to see how he builds off of this past season.

{sportsad300}(What are your thoughts on Brandon Jackson entering Year 2?)

I thought Brandon did an excellent job, really improving through the year. If you recall our training camp, with the number of injuries we had at the running back position, he took all the reps, and really didn't have the opportunity to play situational football, which was the plan for Brandon in his rookie season. Now, having the opportunity to pretty much experience it, first and second down, normal down and distance, third down, played special teams for the first time in his career. He looks to have a very promising special teams career. I think he's going to be one of our core, one of our top special teams players next year. I look for him to have a great offseason and to be a factor on our football team next year.

(Do you feel good about your guys at running back, that you don't necessarily need to add somebody there?)

I feel better about the group this year than I did last year, no doubt. Because we had a lot of question marks last year, and what's refreshing about the group, you have a lot of youth there, and you have a couple guys on IR that have really taken advantage of their season on IR, in the weight room, going to all the meetings and being part of the team. I think our running back situation will be very, very competitive. Now, as far as taking another one in the draft, if he's the guy up on the board, I'm sure we have no problem drafting him.

(Does it matter if a guy is from a small school or a large school?)

It's not good to stereotype, but you can see a pattern, because the larger school player has been exposed to more. But I think you need to look at it on an individual basis. I don't think it's fair to stereotype. But it has happened. I've seen it happen.

(Have you had issues with small school guys having problems picking up the pro schemes?)

Once again, I think it's more on an individual basis.

(Can you explain the rationale behind the franchise tag on Williams?)

Very good young football player. I thought Corey was very productive this year. I thought he was better this year than our first year. Once again, I say it all the time. Offensive and defensive linemen are a priority for our football team, and he's a fine young player.

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