Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - May 28

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s press conference following Thursday’s OTA workout at the Don Hutson Center.

(Can you update us on the attendance and the guys that weren't here?)

Attendance, huh? We'll do this one time for you because we're so accommodating to the media. Attendance, we had 10 players that did not participate because of medical reasons. Frankly the seven veterans that did not participate, it's just really the result of not being 100 percent from their post-season surgeries or their post-season ailments. The three younger players, Lorne Sam had an abdominal strain, Clay Matthews had a hamstring strain, and Brad Jones, he has a slight groin. Those three new players missed practice. They did practice yesterday. Brad did not practice yesterday either. As far as the guys that are not here, Donald Driver, Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, no different than what we have done in the past. I know everybody here understands that, whether it's personal reasons, business reasons, whatever they are, I'm not going to discuss those. I know the fans respect that we don't do business in the media or personal or whatever the nature of their reasons are. Sutton and Underwood are both not here due to school, and Travis Dekker is on reserve/military. We put him on reserve/military yesterday. So that takes care of all of the people that did not practice and were not here today.

(What is Cullen Jenkins' status?)

Cullen had some work on his ankle. It's an injury that has been bothering him for quite some time. So he is close. If I was to project him, it would probably be more training camp or the end of OTAs.

(Is Chad Clifton's injury still his knees?)

Knees and shoulders. Chad is doing very well. You saw all of the players down there; they participated in the rehab segments off to the side from practice. I'm not concerned about any of those players being ready at maybe the end of OTAs or no later than training camp.

(Is Scott Wells' injury his shoulder?)


(Nick Barnett is still the knee?)

Yeah, Nick has been here. Nick was not here today. He has a personal situation that he is attending to. Nick is doing very well. He's been here since March.

(Is Breno Giacomini's injury a knee problem?)

Ankle. Very close. What did you think of the practice today? What did you think of that team out there, the other 96 percent that are out there busting their butts since March.

(How did Aaron Kampman look to you?)

I don't want to be redundant; I think this defense is going to help Aaron Kampman. I think there is always a hesitancy when you are asked to do something different. Aaron was very comfortable in the old scheme, but I think this is going to create more opportunities for him. There is diversity in the scheme. First and second down is clearly different for him. The sub packages, there is some multiplicity there that I think will also help him. I think he moves well in space. He has spent a lot of individual time with Kevin Greene. I know Dom Capers and Kevin Greene both feel very good about where Aaron is today, so he's only going to get better.

(With Justin Harrell, what kind of a fit is he for this defense and what are your expectations for him?)

I think Justin fits well. He'll definitely play the defensive end position, like I think everybody observed today. He'll also be an inside player in the sub packages. Really my expectations for Justin are to stay healthy. I think all of the individual goals that he has and that we have for him, he'll be successful and reach. He's a player that is kind of going through an injury segment of his career, and it happens. I think as long as he is healthy. He's a hard worker. He's excellent in the classroom. I know Mike Trgovac has been very pleased, very positive with his time he has spent with Justin. I know Dave Redding and Mark Lovat feel very good about what he has done in the weight room. There have been nothing but positive signs so far, but he's got to get over this medical hurdle that he has been fighting through.

(How important is it for him to be going through these OTAs after missing them his first two seasons?)

It's very important. It's an opportunity to improve. We have always been very clear in our outline of our offseason program. March, April, May is the opportunity for all of our football players to improve from an individual standpoint, whether it's in the strength and conditioning area, whether it's in their specific offensive or defensive position, and also on special teams. I think we do an outstanding job as a coaching staff of utilizing the individual time during those three months. We have an incredible organization that gives us all of the resources to accommodate our players. It's nice to see these guys growing up. June is about the football team improving. Justin Harrell all the way through, it's important for our younger players to be here. We've tailored everything we do to the youngest guy in the room. We have a lot of experience coaching younger players and we'll continue with this format as we go through.

(Can you compare where Aaron Rodgers is now to where he was at this time last year?)

I just think Aaron Rodgers today has more credibility with his teammates and probably with the media and the fan base. I don't think anybody every questioned could Aaron Rodgers be a top-flight quarterback if you watched him practice every day, and that's always the biggest hurdle you have to overcome as any player, particularly at the quarterback position. Can you transfer that to the playing field, and I think that something that Aaron can really draw from his experience this past year is how consistent that he was as a first-year starter. That's something that he needs to keep a hold of and it needs to stay a big part of his game, because his consistency and his decision-making, his ball accuracy, keeping us in favorable plays is his greatest asset to this offense. It gives us an ability to week in and week out continue to grow and improve and attack our opponent with a lot of versatility. He's had an excellent offseason. It's been fun to watch him take Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm through the quarterback school. They've been very competitive in their individual time here. I think our quarterback group as a whole has improved and has taken advantage of the last three months. They'll definitely benefit from the work they are going to have here over the next four weeks.

(Will you go with just three quarterbacks of possibly add a fourth?)

I'm not thinking about a fourth because I've only done it one year and I saw a lot of benefits of the quality of reps. The danger of not having a fourth quarterback is not having that extra arm. The benefits to having the fourth guy are the drill work and the physical stress that you put on that position, but the negative is it's always hard to get that fourth guy reps. We have a young quarterback group, so they all can throw more than if you had two vets and a young guy. So I don't worry about the physical part of it, and it gives us the ability to give Brian and Matt those extra reps and compete and grow. That's exactly what those guys need. You talk to any quarterback that has played in the National Football League, and the ability to have reps in training camp, they are so valuable. It's definitely the way to go I think with our group, so I'm very comfortable with three quarterbacks as we move forward.

(What were your overall impressions of practice today?)

For an overview, I thought the tempo was very good. We've had plus-seven, plus-eight, and that's how we judge the tempo based on the time allotment per period, something I've calculated every single practice I've had since I've been here. So your practice structure is in place, guys are getting in and out of the huddle, the defense is making substitutions, and that's the way you need to practice. That's the way the game's played. Plus that's really where our conditioning comes from. I've always felt we were a conditioned football team, and I feel the same way this year. I think our guys are in shape. I think the strength and conditioning staff did an excellent job getting these guys ready. We actually cut down the strength and conditioning work to two days a week, which we haven't done in the past, and I think we'll definitely see the gains of our players in these OTAs and the quality of work. So I feel good about the structure and the practice environment and what we've accomplished. Now, the defense had 22 mental errors yesterday and the offense had nine. That's not OK, but that's what this time of year produces. I think we've put together two really good practices that we can benefit and grow from, and we'll take those two practices today, have a review day tomorrow, tailor that more to our younger players, and make sure that we can get them cleaned up and try to get everybody on the same page as we move forward to next week because we start getting into red zone and third down, and more situation offense and defense. I'm very pleased with the special teams work. I think we've gotten off to a very good start. I think you can see what Year 4 does for you and your players as far as the first time they go out on special teams. I think there's a lot more coordination for this early in the process. I think the overall work that we've done has been good. Really, this time of year is about one thing, it's trying to get everybody in the room, all 80 players on the same page. Right now you've got different people at different levels, every NFL team is going through it, and I think we're off to a good start.

(Short of Mark Tauscher coming back, it will probably be a younger player at right tackle. What do you think of the guys there?)

Mark has been a staple here for so long. Anytime you make a change from an 8- to 9-year starter to a new player there's going to be some type of inexperience. The positive of our offensive line group is we've had a number of players play two or three different positions. We'd like to lock some particular players into more one position to have the continuity that we're looking for. That's what March, April, and May is about from an individual standpoint, and that's what the OTAs are about. We're going to line those guys up and let them battle it out, and we're going to have to make a decision probably sooner than later when we get into training camp, because I do want to make sure that the five linemen that are going to line up against Chicago have plenty of reps together.

(With Wells and Giacomini out, does that provide more of a challenge as far as sorting out the offensive line?)

Absolutely, the reps just for the whole offensive line. Anytime you have five players and you have a number of your players out, and Chad Clifton is not able to practice also. James Campen and Jerry Fontenot are always working different combinations to try and get those guys reps, but in the same breath, it's kind of what's best for the group and the offense, but also it's for the individual, and that's the happy medium you're trying to find.

(What went into the decision to open up the center position and how did Wells take it?)

There's nothing like competition. Scott Wells has been a very good starter for us. Scott is fighting through some injuries. I think it's really a product of our offensive line with the depth. I think the depth has improved. I was just looking at a picture up in James Campen's office yesterday, and it was the first play against Chicago our first year together, and Tony Moll and Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz, ... you look at that picture and you look at them today, and it seems like it was 20 years ago. But I also know since then the depth of that group has increased a lot, so with that comes competition, and that's why we've created that competition at that position.

{sportsad300}(I know you don't like to discuss the business side, but you have a guy like Tramon Williams who is still out here despite his contract situation being unresolved. What does that say about him?)

Tramon Williams, I can't say enough about him. He works every day, he's always got a smile on his face. He's an incredible athlete. He's a very gifted young man. And just the road, the path that he's taken to the National Football League, what he's done here in Green Bay, I think speaks volumes about the type of person he is. I think he's got big days in front of him, and I appreciate the way he goes about his business, and I've told him so.

(Do you expect to have Driver, Woodson and Collins back at some point during OTAs?)

I've addressed that. Time will answer that. I'm done with attendance. I hope you can respect that.

(The mental errors yesterday on defense that you referred to, do you attribute that to the new scheme?)

It's really normal. Think about it. You have veterans who have been here working since March, and they probably feel like they have a pretty good understanding. You have rookies who have been here seven days. You just have different people on different levels. It isn't like you're lined up against an offense that lines up in two backs and than two back slot. We didn't take it easy on them. We gave them multiple formations, multiple personnel groups, so we're really trying to challenge both the offense and defense. Because the other side of it is offensively we're challenged a lot more than we've been in the past, because of the volume of different types of defenses and pressures we've been seeing. Our offense has been together a long time. Now four years is a long time. But it's no different over there. We had too many mental errors too. Those are good problems to have this time of year, because those are situations you can learn from.

(Are you pretty happy with the transition to the 3-4?)

Absolutely. It's a change that I obviously felt we needed to make. It's a change I think I know will give our players the opportunity to be more aggressive. We're playing with more vision. I feel the offense and defense are playing on the same level as far as the mindset of how the game goes. And really, the No. 1 reason I did it, and I told you this before, is because of the personnel. I feel the 3-4, we've always been an athletic football team in my view, but now we have an opportunity to be a bigger, more physical football team with more linebacker body types, no different with our fullback and tight ends, and that carries over to special teams. The 3-4 change has been as much about personnel as it has been about schemes. I think it helps our defense and our special teams.

(Is it just a matter of breaking some old habits when you go to a new scheme?)

New techniques, new language. That's probably the best way to view it. The defensive players have to learn a new language, and they have to learn some new techniques. That's really what's gone on in their room.

(How would you grade B.J. Raji as far as his football IQ?)

I think he's well-coached. I think he picks up things well. If you have time to spend with him, I think he communicates very well. I've been impressed with B.J. so far. We're running around in underwear right now, and he's only been here a week, but I think he's off to a good start. I'm happy with what he's brought to the table so far.

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