Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - July 31

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s season-opening press conference Friday from Lambeau Field.

(Do you have a sense of any guys who have not been cleared to practice?)

We've had our medical meeting with the doctors, Ted and I, but frankly I have not had a staff meeting, which will conclude from here. I feel very good, but why don't you just ask me specifics and I'll tell you whoever you're interested in.

(Jenkins?)

Jenkins, he went through, passed his physical, and we'll be smart with him as far as how much he practices.

(Giacomini?)

I anticipate him to go full, but we'll just keep an eye on him in individual work, because obviously he hasn't been in that live action there in quite some time.

(Barnett?)

Barnett, we're going to put him on PUP. He did not pass his physical.

(Anybody else not pass?)

No. Nick's the only one.

(With Barnett, do you expect him sometime in training camp, or is that questionable?)

Definitely. Nick Barnett has had a very good rehab process throughout the spring and over the summer. He looks good. I know the training staff is very positive of his testing results. Not to get into specifics and everything about Nick Barnett, but he's definitely headed in the right direction. But it was a significant injury, November, the first week of November as I recall. He's definitely on time. (Cell phone beeping). That's 1,700 dollars, 1,701 actually fine. We just went through the fine list, so I just thought I'd let you know that.

(How about Bigby?)

Bigby's fine. Just as far as how much he practices and because Atari hasn't gone since December.

(Clifton?)

We'll probably go with Chad what we normally have, a one-a-day schedule.

(What about Wells?)

Same. Just watch Scott to start out. The plan is to look at all the players that have come off of those types of injuries and probably re-assess after approximately two or three days.

(Do you have a timetable on Barnett? A couple of weeks maybe?)

I couldn't tell you. It's just really on how he tests. It's just a normal process. Nick has been working exclusively with the trainers. Now it's time for Nick Barnett and Winston Moss to get more into the football drills with the coach as opposed to the trainer, because it goes to a different level. He just has to take that next step.

(Have Russ and Ted gotten a deal done yet with B.J.?)

Not as far as, prior to 2 o'clock. I've been tied up in a meeting from 2 to 4.

(Any sense they're getting close? Do you think he'll be here by tomorrow?)

I don't really concern myself with the contract negotiations. I think every year you go through it. I have all the confidence in the world in Russ Ball, and I look forward to seeing B.J. when he gets here.

(Is everyone else present and accounted for?)

Yes.

(Going into camp with the defensive changes, the offensive line, and rookies probably contributing, is that as competitive from a position standpoint since you've been here?)

I'll tell you what I just told the team. We just completed our team meeting, and we went through all the administrative aspects of it, and at the end I had a chance to talk to them. Every year I've stood in front of that room and told them this is the most competitive training camp ... I probably didn't say it the first year because I didn't know, but I know I have the last two years. And I said it again this year and I meant it. We clearly have 80 players on our roster that after our last cut we're going to be playing against some of the individuals in that room. I feel that strongly about it. So it's a great opportunity for all of us, players and coaches and support staff to pull this thing together and have an excellent football team. That's what we're looking forward to starting tomorrow.

(When you reflect back on last year's training camp, there were obvious distractions. How much different or better will things be this year?)

Well, distractions are part of our business. Sometimes you see them coming, sometimes you don't. Sometimes they come in different forms and fashions. I think last year is an outstanding opportunity to look back on and learn from, and that's really how we've addressed it as a football team. You have to deal with distractions and you have to keep it on the road, keep moving forward. Because one thing that happens in this business, it's so competitive and it's such a challenge every single day, that you're either improving or you're stepping backwards. You just don't stay the same in the NFL. It's been proven over and over again. So when those distractions come, you need to take them head on and keep moving and communicate and make sure the leadership is direct. Once again, I don't want to be redundant, you need to just keep pushing forward.

(Is that a significant advantage going into this year?)

I think it's lessons of life, lessons of experience that we can apply to our football program. I look at everything we've done in the past, both positive and negative, as learning experiences. I think that's life. That's football.

(How much of an effect did that distraction have on your football team?)

It's old news. It's something we can learn from.

(What do you take from all those close losses last year?)

Really the same philosophy and concept I just talked about with the distractions. Take the two-minute situation. You have an opportunity to break it down, you look at the percentage of reps you spent on it in practice in the spring and training camp and all the way through. You evaluate your preparation, you evaluate your performance, and you apply a better plan as you move forward. I feel that we've done that in a number of instances throughout our program, whether it be a new defensive scheme, adjusting personnel to a new scheme, and it will help us also on special team. I think that's all part of staying in front of the curve in the National Football League. It's so competitive and you have to stay on the front end of that curve.

(What's your evaluation of all the changes you made on defense as you go into camp?)

We're hitting targets. That's what you do. You go through the spring. Dom has done a great job, number one, with the staff, bringing the staff together, getting everybody on the same page. It was drastically different for our players. They've jumped in, bought in. It's just a lot of change, the way the meetings are conducted, the way we practice, the volume of the scheme, the different types of pressures. I think we're off to an excellent start. Now we need to apply it in a padded environment, and that's what we're excited about.

(Do you have any trepidation about so many players learning new positions?)

No I don't. It's time to go. Our guys, I can't tell you enough about the players. Everybody has offseason program workouts, everybody has the OTAs. But it's the extra time. It's the one-on-one in the offices at night, the players building the relationship with the coaches and getting the extra work. It's an incredible commitment that they've made in the spring that allows us to go forward, just like every team in training camp, whether you're first, second, third year into your scheme. I think it's going to be great to watch this offense and this defense schematically challenge each other and get ready for these preseason games.

(Do you have everything in right now?)

Yes. Well, yes, but we're all human nature. You go away for four weeks and you're sitting wherever you sit on vacation and you start thinking well, I might need this in Week 1 or Week 4. But conceptually, we're not putting in anything new. We may do a variation of a concept. I know talking with Dom on Wednesday morning, there were three pressures in the sub packages that he added. You have time to go back and reflect and make sure your menu has everything on it that you need.

(With the increased offseason work, how big is the start of training camp? Is it a line of demarcation or more of a continuation of what you've been doing?)

I think it's a continuation, because you have to teach. I've talked about it over and over again here. I think when you hit March, I always look at March and April as an opportunity for the strength and conditioning staff to move forward in their program, to start hitting the targets they need to hit. But more importantly I think for the individual player to have individual improvement, to go in and break down his particular game, how he's going to be used, the things he needs to work on, the questions that need to be asked on a one-on-one basis that sometimes in a group setting it's just not as clear to you, particularly with young players. We were the youngest team in the league for the past three years, and I think our offseason program really helped us and taught us how important is to get those younger players ready quicker, whether it's from a scheduling standpoint, the extra time that you need to spend with them and so forth. To me it's a continuing process. But training camp to me, if you're looking for a line, it's a line for real football. It's time to go play real football. The shorts, the underwear, it's off now. The pads are on. We'll have more padded work this year than we did last year. We had a very different training camp schedule last year with just the way our preseason games fell and so forth. Our snaps, our reps, this year will be the highest of my four years here, and a lot of that has to do with the way the scheduling fell, and still taking care of the players on a rest and recovery day that we feel is very important. I think it's going to be a great camp. We just have to stay healthy.

(How much do you use last season's 6-10 record as motivation?)

Would like to put it to bed. We talked about that today. I'll tell you this: I always refer to it as the lessons of 2008. It gets me up every day. It still burns my gut, and they know about it. I'm sure they are tired of hearing about it. Once again, they are experiences that you need to learn from, both positive and negative.

(Is there more pressure on you to produce a winner now that you're in your fourth year and you had a losing season last year?)

I don't view it that way. I'm thankful to be here today talking to you, if you can believe that. I'm serious. I have the best job in professional sports. I'm excited to coach these guys. I'm excited about our support staff and what they have done to get us ready for this training camp. I'm just excited that I am up here in 2009 ready to go. That's the way I look at it.

(You can't predict injuries, but do you expect less injuries given the changes in the offseason?)

I don't think you can predict that. I think the way we schedule them, we have the opportunity to have less risk for fatigue injuries. I know this training camp schedule gives us that. Injuries come in different forms and different fashions. Sometimes they are very unfortunate. Players get themselves in bad position. From a scheduling standpoint, you can try to lessen the chance for fatigue injuries and I know our schedule does that. It really goes about that far. I think the strength and conditioning staff has done a very good job. The condition of our football team has improved. I think a lot of that is the program, the maturity of our players. If you look at Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz, you look at Tramon Williams, you look at some of these younger guys that have now been there two or three years, it's a product of also them maturing as individuals too. I like to stand up here and give all of the coaches credit, but those guys put a lot of time into it. I just think we are growing up as a football team.

(How much has Aaron Rodgers grown up with that year under his belt?)

I think the biggest change that I see in Aaron Rodgers is his growth with his teammates in the locker room and the way people react to him. I see a young man that is still busting his butt, paying the extra time to the quarterback school. So I see a very consistent football player that is finding different ways to improve, whether it his offseason program. He goes back to San Diego between the OTAs and now. He has improved every year from our first year together, so I think he is very consistent there, but the biggest change I see is just really the interaction and the way he treats (his teammates) and the way his teammates treat him. You are definitely seeing his leadership ability moving forward.

(After quarterback school for the two backups, are you looking forward to that battle?)

I think I would answer the question the same way. Both of our young quarterbacks, Brian and Matt, they are both fundamentally better today than they were when they started in March. They both have a complete understanding of the offense, much better than when they started, so that is going to help them a lot. You get the timing and all of the things that are so important in training camp, and that comes with reps. Every young quarterback in the National Football League fights for those reps, and they'll be doing the same as they fight for that No. 2 spot. I definitely am excited about the progress that they have made and the time that they have put in, and I think we'll definitely see the dividends in training camp.

(With all the young players maturing and draft picks, is there a chance this will be a more physical team?)

Well, you always want to be more physical. That's the goal. It's really going to be a part of our makeup. If you just run our base defense out there today compared to last year in training camp, we're bigger on the line of scrimmage. Now does that make you more physical? We're bigger in run defense like I said in our base. I think the maturity of our football team, all of those things apply to being bigger, stronger, faster, more physical. Our players practice with a tremendous tempo. They have always played hard. I have never had an issue with those two factors or elements of our program. I think we are a physical football team, but you always want to be the most physical football team, and we'll keep working at it.

{sportsad300}(How much will B.J. work at end and how much at nose?)

Really it depends on when he gets here because the end snaps are very important for him, especially in base. Just like most teams I would think, you start off with base your first practices and work your way to sub.

(If he were to miss significant time, would that limit how you use him?)

I'm not ready to go there. We don't practice tomorrow until mid-afternoon. That is a lot of time in contract negotiations. But you don't ever want to see a young player miss snaps. They are important, no doubt.

(Is there a tipping point with how many practices he misses before he's too far behind?)

I'm not in that mindset, so I don't have an answer for you.

(Do you expect a more efficient camp because you have a more mature team and your quarterback is in his second year as a starter?)

I'm not sure where you are going with your question. Cleaner or more efficient? I want to make sure I am answering you. It's going to be different. Just looking at the schedule, we have seven days between the first two preseason games. If you have ever laid out a training camp, that is important. It makes it flow better. I don't know the exact number, but we had less snaps in training camp last year. Of the four years, last year was the least. So more work is always probably a better indicator of gaining more efficiency I guess to answer your question.

(Just the standard of performance, because you've been dealing with so many young players, certain things have moved slower in the past. Do you look for that standard to rise?)

I guess to answer your question I would say yes. I am always trying to push the standard higher, regardless of what happened in the past. We started the season pretty good last year, and I think a lot of that reflects your training camp. The biggest decisions we have to make during training camp are A, pick our team, but B, we've got to come out of the gate playing the Chicago Bears on Sunday night football. We want to be performing at a high level. Those are the things that I look for.

(Do you have much say in the exhibition game schedule?)

As far as when we play or who we play? You can request opponents, but...

(The times and dates.)

Yes, yes. We had a Monday Night Football game. The national TV games you do not have a say in. Our preseason last year started on Monday Night Football last year, and then we had the Democratic National Convention in Denver pushed our game to Friday, was it? We just had different combinations. We never had seven days between. It's no excuse, but we never had seven days between a preseason football game last year, where we do the first two weeks.

(So even though you're getting more snaps, you expect the rest periods to be better for players and the susceptibility to injury should be lower?)

That's the design of the practice schedule, which is the same schedule we have used. This will be our third year using it.

(Are you satisfied with how the players reported as far as the shape they're in?)

Yes, very positive feedback from Dave Redding and Mark Lovat. All of the coaches were at the workout. I was there for most of it. The conditioning has never really been an issue with our team, and I think we are off to a good start. To be honest with you, in June we probably had more of an issue with guys over-training, so that tells you something about the mindset of these guys.

(Are you convinced this team is better than 6-10?)

Am I convinced? I'm a realist, but I have a very optimistic personality. So we're trying to win them all. To answer your question, yes, we're better than 6-10.

(Is the talent on the roster capable of winning it all?)

Everybody has talent. I have stood up here...there is one goal in Green Bay, and that's to win the world championship. That will never change. That will never change.

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