Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - July 27

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Friday press conference. Coach McCarthy addressed the media the day before the first practice of training camp.

First, I'd like to welcome everybody back. It's good to see everybody. I hope you had a very good summer. I know I did. It was nice to get away. But I'll say this, it's nice to see everybody come back, particularly this week, with all the players starting to come through the doors, seeing the excitement start to pick up here at Lambeau Field. So we're excited about this training camp starting today. Just to give you an idea what the schedule is, we had physicals this morning, we have a run test that started at 11:30, that is going on as we speak, and then we will have 2 to 4 o'clock meetings this afternoon, and then we'll have dinner over at St. Norbert. The players will be off tonight and we will start in the morning with the football aspect of it. With that, I'll take your questions.

(Do you anticipate having Harrell under contract tomorrow?)

I hope so. From my understanding, everything is going well. So I'm hopeful he will be here tomorrow.

(Will he be ready to go full speed now or will you be limiting him somewhat?)

I know Dr. McKenzie needs to get his hands on him again. The medical meeting from our physicals is going on right now with Ted Thompson and the doctors. I really don't have all the medical information yet. But once again, Dr. McKenzie and Dr. Gray are going to need to see Justin first.

(What players, if any, did not pass their physicals?)

That's what's going on right now. I'll get that information later today.

(How important was it to have Brandon Jackson signed and ready to go?)

It's important for everybody to be here when we start. It was great to see Brandon get his deal done. You never want to see young players miss time, but in the big scope of things there's ways to catch players up if we have to go that route with Justin. I was very pleased to see Brandon in here ready to go.

(What position do you have the best depth at?)

I like our depth across the board. Once again, they wouldn't be on our depth chart if we didn't like the individual. I think when you look at our positions, based on experience, I think you have to say the defensive line is the group that has the most experience. I think that's a group that played very consistent last year, and I think it will be one of the better defensive line groups in the league this year.

(Did everybody report on time other than Harrell?)

Everybody is here. Talking with Matt Klein and the communication from Pepper as far as the physicals, everybody is accounted for is what I was told.

(With the running game, how will that be looked at?)

We have to find out about a number of those guys. We need to create the opportunity. When you break down our training camp schedule, in my view it really breaks down into two stages. You have the first 10 days up to the Wednesday before the Pittsburgh game where we'll be completely in an installation and fundamental stage. We'll get all nine of our installations back in, the ones we already put in in the spring and we'll have review days and so forth to create the extra reps we need to find out about a number of positions. We'll have a lot of information by that point. And once we get to the Wednesday before Pittsburgh, we'll get more into a game-plan type mode.

(Would you rather have one guy or back-by-committee?)

I've done it both ways. It doesn't bother me. You always have to have more than one guy. I've played with the feature back. That has worked. Also, my year in 2000 in New Orleans, my first year as a coordinator, we had lost Ricky Williams I think it was like Week 10, he broke his ankle. We had 'Regular Sooner,' we had 'Regular Trojan,' we were naming all the different personnel groups based on where the player played college. We had Chad Morton and a whole crew of guys. So I've done it both ways.

(Does it concern you at all that your halfbacks have only two career starts?)

They could probably say that about me last year, too, so I think it goes both ways. It doesn't concern me because I'm with them every day. I'm very pleased with the offseason program. We've talked about it as a staff again this week. When you look back at the depth chart and look at how many individuals really improved and so forth -- that doesn't buy you experience because they haven't played in a game, I'm aware of that --

But I think we have a lot of young men who have taken full advantage of our structure and our offseason program and have moved forward in their development, and we need to see those dividends start to pay off here in training camp.

(What kind of reports have you gotten about Favre's ankle and his overall conditioning, and how do you plan on handling him?)

I talked to Brett about a week to 10 days ago. From our conversation, his ankle is fine. He wants to start throwing more to get a further evaluation on his shoulder. But as far as his conditioning, he feels great. Just talking with his trainer Ken, he had a great workout from the time he left here in June, that segment up until now. So I think Brett will be fine physically. If we have to, we may go to a one-a-day schedule with him.

(What went into the decision not to practice those first three Wednesdays?)

It really comes down to two biggest factors in taking out those three practices was, and it's really the way I explained it to the players, you really have that much work to do. And the way I presented it to them was we can do this much in the spring and this much in training camp, or we can do this much in the spring and that much in training camp. And frankly, the reason why we did not release the training camp schedule until I think it was the third week of June, correct me if I'm wrong here Jeff, I was not going to go to that schedule until I felt comfortable with the amount of work that we got done as a football team in June. And we accomplished that. And really, the biggest factor for me is, you talk to the strength and conditioning coaches, I think Rock Gullickson does an excellent job with our football team, and I've had the opportunity to watch him work in the past, and when you sit down and put together an individual's workout program, rest and recovery is an important factor in their physical development. In taking the time and going out and talking to some of these, quote, gurus and specialists in the field of strength and conditioning, over and over again, you see rest and recovery as a major factor in the development of an athlete. And then, you take your football team to training camp and you beat the hell out of them for three weeks. I've done it both ways. Trust me, a lot of research has gone into this. I would not take a chance with my football team, particularly a young football team, if I wasn't confident. I've crunched all the numbers. The reps are very favorable. Actually, with the amount of work we got done in the spring, so we're really 150 team reps less than we were last year, excuse me, group and team reps. That really equates to about two practices, so I feel very confident these three days, that mid-week break, will really help our football team, particularly their legs, going through the toughest part of training camp which is always that first 17 days.

(How are you different as a coach this year?)

Well, less hair. More experienced. When I walked in here last year, I had never had a media press conference at the beginning of training camp, so I wasn't really worried about it this year, though you may prove me wrong here in the future. I think experience goes a long ways, whether you're playing or coaching. I'm a lot more comfortable. The vision has been confirmed, the course we're taking. I think our program is in place, the foundation is set, and we need to start seeing the dividends of our offseason program show up in the production of our football team.

(What's a realistic goal for this team?)

You're never going to get me to talk about wins or losses, because I do not view it that way. I don't think there's a football coach alive that's ever gone into a game let alone a season and just said you hope you do this, you hope to do that. We're trying to win every football game. We're going to win the world championship here in Green Bay again. That's the view, that's the vision. We've made progress towards that goal, and we need to continue to have those small successes as we build toward that goal, and that's the way I view it.

(You're in the second year of a three-year contract, and Ted is in the third year of a five-year deal. How important is it to not backslide this year?)

You know Jason, I think it's important as a coach, and I can't speak for players, but as a coach, I've never coached any differently regardless of what year I was in my contract. I've let my contract run out, I've done different things as an assistant coach. I don't really concern myself with the contract situation. All my energy and focus goes on winning the world championship, and taking it step by step. That's clearly my vision. I don't sweat that. I was given the best opportunity in professional sports in my opinion, and I'm trying to take full advantage of it.

(Independent of the contract, how important is it to build on what you did last year?)

It's very important. We want to get better. We want to get better every day. To make progress, you want to win more games than you did last year. I think all those things are obvious. We're moving forward. We're working to move forward and very pleased with what we accomplished here in the past few months, and looking forward to taking the field tomorrow as a football team.

(Does Donald Lee open training camp as the starting tight end?)

I think it's important to not really get caught up in who runs out there for the first snap of practice, especially the way we use our tight ends. I think that's been clearly evident, we use those guys in a number of different roles. Really, the play that's called or the personnel has a lot more to do with who runs out there than actually the depth chart, to be frank. But we have excellent competition at that group. I think Donald has had a very good offseason. Tory Humphrey has had an excellent offseason. Bubba Franks looks a lot better than I thought he did at this time last year. I thought he came back in the spring in very good shape. He feels a lot better about where he is physically. Zac Alcorn probably has the best hands on our football team. He needs to work on the other aspects of his play. So I think we have a very competitive group there.

(Did you approve this depth chart?)

You want to help me out here, Jeff? I'll take the bullet for Jeff here. Yes, I approved it.

(Why did you put Harrell ahead of Corey Williams?)

Well, Bob, as you know on defense you never really have 11 starters. I think Corey, if you want to get detailed and go play a game today, we haven't taken the field yet with Justin, but based on his potential ... if we were playing a game today, he would probably run out there with the first base, based on potential. I think Corey would run out there with the first sub-group, things like that, same with the nickel. There's no starting 11, as you know, both on offense and defense. Frankly, I think it would help everybody if they designed the depth charts that way, have a sub and a base.

(Is Underwood clear to go?)

My understanding was he would be, but once again I don't have the results of the medical report. But I anticipate him being ready to go, hopefully at least for one-a-days.

(There was a rumor Koren Robinson might have been arrested in a blog.)

Really? I don't read the blogs, so I can't help you there. I really can't comment on Koren Robinson, with his specific suspension situation with the league. I can't help you there.

{sportsad300}(Can you talk about where Brett's head is at, after all the drama in the offseason?)

I go back to June and the OTAs, Brett had a very positive, I don't want to say experience, he had a very positive participation in the OTAs. He had the shoulder soreness and missed the last couple of practices, but the adjustments that we've made and the direction we're going in specific situations, parts of our offense he's excited about. From a football standpoint, I think he's done a great job with his conditioning, he's kept himself in top shape, and from my understanding, he's had a very good four weeks since he left here too. I talked to him on the phone, like I said, about 10 days ago, very positive. It's been positive since he came back in the spring. We went through that period there, whenever it was there, before the OTAs, but everything is fine.

(Did he have to lay off throwing because of his shoulder after the June camp?)

Tom, I think what they're doing, they're doing a lot of supplemental exercises. How far he's throwing the football and the specifics of that, I don't know. But Ken, his personal trainer, has done a very good job of implementing different exercises and movement drills off of game film. They'll have their traditional workout in the morning, watch some film, and then go work on those movements in the afternoon and evening was my understanding. His workout has been very applicable to the quarterback position. The in-depth of how much throwing, I'm not totally sure of, but I know he has thrown.

(Are you ever taken aback by the connection the fans make with this team over the next couple of weeks?)

Am I ever taken back? I'm in full appreciation of it. It's incredible. I think it makes everybody's job easier when you have the excitement and enthusiasm that we have here. This place is one of a kind. It's an honor to be in this position, and we have the best fans in the world.

(How much thought have you given to a fast start this year? This team has started slowly in recent years.)

I've really given it little thought, because it's important. I don't need to think much more about it than that. It's important to start fast. I think every year you say that in the National Football League. You look at the statistics, how important fast starts are, the percentage that applies to your football team making the playoffs and so forth. So I don't think there's a football team in the league that comes in and is worried about the fast start. Maybe a more veteran football team. I don't think it's critical and things like that because you have to play it one game at a time. But to answer your question, we have stressed the fast start. The way we structured our scheduling gives us I think the best opportunity to start fast, because we're getting our work done and we should be fresh coming out of camp and so forth. We start off at home against Philadelphia, and that's the focus. Everybody wants to talk about your first four or six games. I don't think I've ever gone through a season where you sat there and said, boy, our first four are pretty easy. They're all tough. But yes, we need to start fast. It's important.

(Will the length of your practices be the same as a year ago, or will they be longer because of the days off?)

There will be some minor adjustments to the practice, so Tom, when you deal with competitive periods, the length is not exact. I didn't just add 10 reps. We've gone more competitive 2-minute, we've got some more competitive no-huddle. I've really looked at the situations and tilted the percentages toward what we felt we needed to work on. More red zone snaps, things like that. We're doing more competitive drills, and if it takes longer, so be it, and if it doesn't, then we'll probably be on time. We have added some extra segments to the practice, so they should be a little longer.

(Will you ever go live tackling?)

You know, I'll be honest with you, I go back and forth on that. Early in my career, I felt it was important, as a coordinator, but as a head coach, when you look at the big picture, you worry about improving the risk for injury. The only drill we'll probably talk about is goal-line.

(How do you perceive the battles on special teams, and how much are you going to work on them?)

Special teams is very important. I think we have a young, talented bunch in that area. We donate a big part of our practice segment. They get equal meeting time, just like offense and defense. So it's very important, and I definitely feel we'll be much improved in that area.

(Is there anybody who reports who will be out of shape?)

I don't anticipate that, knock on wood. Hopefully those days are over. I think those are some of the things you've seen in the past. With the offseason program, and the ability to get together as a football team throughout the OTAs, you have your hands on your players much more than you did in the past. I'm not naïve to the fact that a guy can go away for four weeks and not do anything, but I don't think we have those kind of guys here. I don't anticipate our conditioning being a problem.

(Where will improvement come from on offense?)

The improvement, number one, has to come as a whole. You can go through every position. Our offensive line group will be a better group this year, just based on experience. For as young as we were last year, the number of starts the younger guys participated in, will definitely help us, plus you look at what they've accomplished in the weight room. We're a bigger, stronger, physical offensive line group now, so I look for that group to improve. The tight end group, we need to get more production out of that group, and they probably had the most learning for the perimeter group on offense as far as doing things they hadn't been asked to do before, so I look for that group just to improve based on their experience. And we've added some guys to the wide receiver group, and the wide receiver group needs to get healthy, frankly. Greg Jennings missed a bunch of time with an injury, Robert Ferguson. Ruvell Martin and Holiday both came on late, so I think the competition there is going to be excellent. You've got James Jones and Clowney that have been added to that group, and our young guys too, Calvin and Chris Francies have really developed. So I think that's going to be a very competitive group, especially when you look at that big body type that can contribute on special teams. We've got a number of guys that fit that bill. Running back, we talked about that already. I think Morency really was productive for us with his opportunities last year. I look for him to improve. And you've got some guys you haven't seen a whole lot of, with P.J. and Brandon. So they'll bring a good punch. And Noah did a nice job in his situation opportunities last year. So I just think we will improve from within. That's what I'm selling, doesn't sound like you're buying, so we'll have to wait and see.

(Which players improved the most dramatically in the offseason?)

There's a number of t hem, there really are. You can go down, if you just go through the weight room, we have a board in there that puts up the workout player of the week, and I want to say out of the nine weeks, probably three or four of them were defensive backs. So that group there as a whole you can almost go down every one of them improved greatly. The linebacker group, A.J., we tend to forget he was a rookie last year. I can go on and on and on. I think we've probably got 15-20 guys, if you're allowed based on salary cap rules to hand out gifts based on what we've accomplished in the offseason, there would be plenty of them. I'm very pleased with the way we progressed in the offseason. I can't say enough about it.

(Do you verbalize to players that just because they had a job last season doesn't mean it's waiting for them this season?)

I very frequently remind our football team. I go back to the first time I got in front of the football team back in March of 2007, that the biggest obstacle that we'll have to overcome as a football team is handling success. That has been my greatest challenge as a coach in the NFL, whether it be as an assistant or a coordinator. I've always found players, their biggest challenge is handling success. Now success could be winning the starting job, getting a new contract, winning the division, being in the playoffs, and ultimately winning the super bowl. I've had more problems with players that were unable to handle their success as they've climbed through the league, because frankly, to get in that room, to be part of that meeting that's going to go on at 2:00, they all have some type of survival or innate ability to overcome. Because they wouldn't be in the National Football League as a player. That's something I frequently remind them of.

(What do players like Marquand Manuel and Bubba Franks need to do to bounce back?)

Well, number one, you can only base your opinion off the information you're exposed to. Marquand Manuel, if you look at him in the spring, looked like a different individual, just the way he was moving around. Whether his injury was more profound than was known during the season, I think that will be seen. But I thought he had a very good spring. You watch him on film, he moved around a lot better, the communication was better. That's what we base our information on. Bubba Franks was in much better condition than he was the year before, frankly, and you really go on to all the veteran players. To sit there and try to single out veteran players that you think didn't really have a good season, your veteran players, your prime-time players need to play big for you, or you're probably not going to have a lot of success as a football team. That needs to be a constant. That's why they're veteran players. That's why they are probably where they are on the pay scale. I think it's very important for our premiere players to play big for us.

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