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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - May 1

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s press conference following the first rookie orientation workout Friday at the Don Hutson Center.

(How much do you get out of this weekend football-wise? Do you film and evaluate these practices like you normally would?)

Well, the rookie orientation is really cut into two parts. That's why we went with this format and moved our mini-camp that was normally this time of year back to June. It was to give the rookies a legitimate chance to come in here and compete once you're able to bring your whole football team in after May 16, is when it usually falls. With that in mind, we really take the time commitment on Friday and Saturday, and cut it in half and go through all the different administrative aspects of someone coming here to the Green Bay Packers. Today we went through, the security director had an opportunity to speak, we talked about the rules and the operation of the locker room, the training, every aspect of the organization, and that will continue on tomorrow with community relations, PR and all the way through. When the rookie players come back in May, they'll have their housing in order and everything, and they can really focus on football. So with that being said, really only half the time is placed on football. We really took the morning today, utilized that for the administrative part of it, introduction to the weight room, went through what's expected in there, had an opportunity to do a functional training test with every one of our prospects, just looking for anything where we can help them there individually, and then took the afternoon and went purely football. Really, coming off the practice field, I don't know how you could not be impressed with the amount of work when you bring 40-plus players in here and spend that much time and go down and conduct a relatively productive practice. I think we're off to a good start. The last two years I've been very pleased with the way it started, and I'm sure we'll feel better as the weekend concludes. But it's an opportunity for us definitely to evaluate them, and we'll grade the film just like we do any other film. But we are in helmets. You get to see their athletic ability, their movement, see what they're able to retain from the classroom to the practice environment, so there's definitely a lot we can get out of this weekend.

(Is there a program tonight you have them go through?)

Yes, they're showering right now, and then we will take them to the Hall of Fame. Actually last night, Thursday night, we had an opportunity to have dinner up in the end zone on the sixth floor, overlooking Lambeau Field. An opportunity for Mark Murphy to address the group and take them through the history and tradition, the importance of the Green Bay Packers, and the opportunity that they're given to be a Packer, and that will continue tonight. We'll have be a dinner in the Hall of Fame, and there will be a presentation by the two Hall of Fame nominees this year, Dorsey Levens and Antonio Freeman. They will speak to the group tonight at 7, and we'll probably be done about 7:30, and I'm sure their coaches will be grabbing them tonight for a couple extra hours, and they need to get some sleep because you could tell this morning they didn't get much sleep last night. We had a couple guys that had some heavy eyes. But I'm very pleased with the start.

(Do you practice again tomorrow?)

Practice once a day, yeah.

(And then Sunday ...)

We'll practice in the morning, and then they'll be done by noon. Their travel will start at 3 p.m.

(At the start you were watching the defense. Are you interested in seeing the defense on the field in the new scheme?)

Well, I've had an opportunity to spend some time with our defensive staff over the past five to six weeks. It was good to see them out there in the practice environment, really trying to look at all the players. I was really watching positions today, just to get player evaluation. But yeah, I'm watching everything. I'll have an opportunity to watch the two punters tomorrow. Hopefully we can get outside again and kick. But I'm just trying to gather as much information as possible.

(How much room do you have to sign some of these tryout guys? By my count you have 79 players under contract.)

The performance will be evaluated. No doubt, it's a player acquisition business year-round. You're able to take 80 to camp, and we'll just continue to try to upgrade our roster as much as we can. I can tell you right now, we're going to have some tough decisions to get to that point. There's no question about it, and I think that's really ... we're in the fourth year of our program. Those are good problems to have.

(Are the odds really against those tryout guys?)

Not at all. I made that clear to them last night. It's not where you start, it's where you finish. I congratulated them No. 1 to be a part of the Green Bay Packers rookie orientation. It's a legitimate opportunity, no doubt about it. Now, they may not be the first guy in line. They may be the second guy or third guy, but every single one of those guys will be given an opportunity. We're not looking to just highlight this person in this camp, that's not what this rookie orientation is about. It's about going down, if you watch the practice reps, everything is equally distributed. Everybody takes the same reps in the individual periods and the group periods. So we're trying to gather as much information on all these prospects.

(What did you think about the two quarterbacks, their first impression?)

Well, I'm probably biased to the quarterback position, but I think to come in here and go down and operate a practice, and really, the structure of it was intact. Now, they're going to miss receivers and the timing is something that will be developed, but I thought Dave and Brian did a very nice job. Just to get us in and out of the huddle, the communication, the verbiage and so forth. They definitely had the toughest job walking out of the classroom onto the practice field, and they definitely did a nice job with that.

(What happened to Underwood?)

Just a little tight. We're a little worried about some of the guys. They traveled yesterday, and like I said, they were up last night. I'm sure their anxiety level is so high, and we threw a lot of information at them. You noticed we had some breaks, water breaks, and really spent a lot of extra time pre- and post-practice stretching and so forth. We have to be smart with these guys.

(What was your initial impression of Underwood?)

You could see the athletic ability. No question, he's definitely one of the players that jumped out. It was one practice. Obviously I'll feel better about it once I watch it on film.

(How far along are the veterans on defense with getting the scheme down? Are they still in a very basic learning mode?)

I think that's something I can probably have a better gauge on once the OTAs start, but I can assure you that there's a lot of individual time being spent with the defensive players and their position coaches. That's something that we've established here now with the offseason program. It's amazing what a free lunch on the third floor will do to get guys up there. They're in here early in the morning, either in the 7:30 or 10 o'clock group working out, and then most of them are taking that extra hour to spend with the position coach. That's something we can probably better gauge as a group. But I feel very confident in our new coaching staff. Dom is extremely organized, very detailed. I really like the way that staff has come together. It will be exciting when we step out there for the first OTA.

(How's the attendance been? We know about Nick Collins ...)

It's been very good. It's been very good. The players have been extremely positive about some of the changes we've made in the weight room. I think Dave Redding, Redman, and Mark Lovat have done a very good job with the changes they've made, the environment, extremely positive. The tempo is at a different level. Just in comparisons to last year, the last two years, our numbers are very similar. I think we're on pace to be as high, and the next six weeks will obviously give us a better read on that. But as a football team, I feel like we're in very good shape for this time of year, and that's the feedback that I get from the strength staff.

(Any guys you haven't seen? Al Harris or Charles Woodson?)

Al's been in town. Everybody's accounted for. Everybody's been communicated with, and everybody's confident we're taking care of business.

(What did you see from Jamarko Simmons? What will it take for him to make the team?)

That's really probably a better question for Sunday. Really, what I want to see him do is come in here and put together three practices and learn the system and so forth. I can probably better answer that Sunday for you.

(The draft focused mostly on defense and not so much the skill players on offense. Are you looking to add some running backs, receivers and tight ends here?)

Our numbers will be very similar, especially offense will be very similar, maybe even the same as last year because we're dealing with an 80-man roster. We took eight running backs, and you go through the positions. I'll tell you, the three tight ends in today, it's going to make for an interesting evaluation if you take five or six to camp. But the numbers as far as each position will be very similar to what we did in the past. Whether that comes out of this weekend's camp, which I'm confident it probably will. I felt very good about the prospects Ted has given us to work with.

(What did you think when you saw the Jets released Favre?)

He's a free agent. To be honest with you, I missed it. Jeff told me about it. I did a radio show. My understanding of it, it is part of the business end of it, but I really don't have a comment on it. The what ifs and the hypothetical stories, I thought maybe you guys would give me a bye this year (because) I did such a good job last year talking with you.

(Brad Childress said today they would talk about Favre. Do you care if he plays for the Vikings?)

If Brett wants to play football, he should play football, and that's really my stance on it. If he still wants to play, he should take advantage of his opportunities.

(Quinn Johnson likes to hit people, but is it hard for a guy like that to make an impression before you get the pads on?)

Well, the pads really for any position, in particular the interior part of it, is really what the true evaluations come into. But that's definitely something that he brings to the table. Anybody that has played with him or played against him and we had a chance to evaluate him, that's a big part of his game. Also I think he has some natural run instincts and he showed a little bit of that today. He is a little more athletic than I thought he was and I think he'll be an excellent fit for us.

(Do you see him getting more touches with the ball?)

We'll see. In the fullback position, we could probably improve in that area if we are going to break a tendency here in April or June or whatever the heck we are at. We talked about fullback runs, if that makes you feel better.

(Lumpkin made the team last year as an undrafted free agent. What did you think of Tyrell Sutton?)

Good little football player, I'll tell you that. He jumped out today. I don't know what everybody here thought of him. I thought he definitely showed some ability. He definitely has a chance. He has a spring in his staff and he's instinctive, so we'll see.

(Is there a place in this league for a running back of that size and build?)

Oh, no doubt. I think that has been proven over time. I think we all have a tendency to get caught up in the measurable, and you can't be blind to that. You could see the instincts. It's all about what the young man brings to the table. His productivity and everything speaks for itself. You could see just in the one practice that he definitely has some natural football instincts.

(You had Jamon Meredith at left tackle a lot. Do you see him as a fit there long term?)

That's the position we really evaluated him for. I knew he moved to guard, but that is something our regional scout there, Brian Gutekunst, definitely felt that he had that ability. We want to take a real long look at him at left tackle.

(So you're thinking him at left tackle and Lang at right tackle when OTAs start?)

We really don't have that set yet. That's something that, Lang could be inside too by then. I think he is another young man that I thought made a good impression today. He definitely has the strength levels for a young player to come into this league. I thought that was very apparent. He really reminds me a lot of a number of our current linemen. I really like the way he fits in with that group.

(Is Lang more at right tackle out of necessity in this camp? Do you see him more inside?)

You're going to see a lot of that this week, and you're going to see a lot of that when we get to the OTAs just because basically the medical situation of some of our linemen. Not everybody is going to be clear as we go through May and June. That will sort itself out probably once we get to training camp. That's the thing with the reps. I know I have talked about the ability to get more continuity on the offensive line, but we're probably not going to get to that point until training camp just because not everybody is going to be able to work throughout the spring.

(Does he fit what you like in a guard?)

Oh yeah, I think so, definitely. He's tough, he's athletic. The thing that I saw today, he's got some natural strength to him. Once again, we practiced in shorts today so I don't want to be the instant evaluator up here.

{sportsad300}(What did you see from Kole Heckendorf, and what will it take for any of these receivers to make the team?)

I'll be frank; I did not really spend much time looking at the receivers today. I will definitely get a good look at those guys tomorrow. But all of those younger players, it's just putting their body of work and it's going to be on film. And hey, they may not fit here but it could be a fit somewhere else. That's something that I expressed to them. This is a great opportunity for them to make a first impression and that doesn't just stop here in Green Bay.

(Did you get a chance to see any of his workouts before?)

I did not.

(Are there any guys in this group with return ability?)

That's a good question. I'm not that far yet either with Shawn.

(You said you like the way this defensive staff works together. What do you look for there, chemistry?)

Yeah, absolutely with this staff. If you look at the dynamics of the defensive coaching staff, the only two coaches that have worked together before were Joe Whitt and Winston Moss and that was here last year. Now, Dom Capers coached Darren Perry and he coached Kevin Greene, but you have new personalities, new people in the room, new scheme, and I really like the way it has come together. There are a lot of strong personalities in the room, which you look for, and Dom has been an excellent leader. He's very detailed, very organized. They have had an opportunity to go through their scheme breakdown, implement it, and go over it once, twice, three or four times. They were ready for the players once the offseason program started, so I think that's definitely a tribute to their work ethic. The extra nights and weekends that they put in to get ready for the players in March, and we're taking full advantage of these workouts in March and April. Like I've said, a lot of individual meetings going on and now they get a chance to coach as a group. We're off to a good start.

(Watching the defense through your eyes, ... it looks so different to us, is it a different feel for you too?)

You've got to remember what the goal is and the things we are trying to target. The 3-4 scheme is as much in my view, and in my opinion and it's part of the vision, is about player acquisition and about defense. It's the ability to acquire more linebacker types and that helps you not only on defense, in my opinion, and also on special teams. We are trying to get to be a bigger and a more physical football team, and I think that helps us. Just take the first two picks, B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews, two big, very athletic individuals that will help both on defense and on special teams. The other target I was trying to hit was our run defense. We were No. 26 in the league in run defense last year. That responsibility falls both on the coaches and the players. Just because we got a new scheme in here doesn't mean the run defense is going to improve. That responsibility is on the players too that were here last year. Now we feel very confident with our players from last year. I have always felt and I still do that we have more experience and we have some very good players on defense compared to our offense. I think this scheme, with the players that we have here in place, just from the base alignments, we are going to be a better run defense on first and second down just based on the way we line up and the people that we put on the field in our base defense. That's another reason why I felt this change was important. The 3-4 defense, I think people feel, well, the 3-4, they are going to blitz every down. Now that's part of it. We need to put more pressure on the quarterback too. Those are all part of the evaluation of why we made this move.

(How much change will it be for your offense to run against a 3-4 every day?)

A lot. The offense has been here four years and you think that they're up here hanging out and using old installations. That's not true either. We probably play two or three tops 3-4 defenses a year. Now we are going to practice against one every single day and we're going to play six of them on our schedule in 2009. We have always had a day. Installation No. 9 used to be just for the 3-4 defense. Now we are going to see it every day, so we had to make some adjustments in our offensive scheme. It's not really that we needed to add anything. It's just like anything; I'm sure you go through it in your job. You have primary focuses, you have secondary focuses, and now the 3-4 defense is a primary focus for us. It's been adjustment for everybody.

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