Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - May 6

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s press conference on Sunday. McCarthy addressed the media after the final workout of the rookie orientation camp.

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(How did today's practice go and did you see the growth in the rookies you wanted to?)

I thought practice today was the best of the three, and I think that's something you could expect because everybody was new, except for obviously our six veteran players who were able to participate. Today was the best practice, and what I told them after practice when I called them up, it really served the purpose that we intended. It was an introduction to what's ahead. It was an introduction to mini-camp one. When they come back, the pace is going to be a lot faster, everybody is going to know what they're doing. Everything is going to increase. The amount of information that they will receive in the three-day period as opposed to what they received this past three-day period will be more, so everything is going to pick up. I just thought it was everything we thought it would be because I think it bridges the gap better between the unknown and mini-camp one. You're kind of able to take that big chunk out of the middle and hopefully prepare these young men for the first mini-camp.

(What assignments or instructions did you leave them with?)

Not a whole lot because we're talking about 10 days. A lot of them have to finish school, a number of them are going back to school, we have a lot of individual cases. But they're going to be back here on the 15th. So I just told them to get ready, obviously work on your conditioning because it's always harder as you climb levels. The speed of the game always picks up every time you go to a higher level, so just try to get prepared the best you can with that. Rock Gullickson, we had two opportunities to take them through the weight room, the expectations in the weight room, how we're structured in the weight room. We were able to test them all with the movement screening, and we will obviously apply that to their individual workouts.

(How much of the offensive and defensive systems did you introduce them to?)

Installation number one was basically our focus. We will do two installations in our first mini-camp, so I thought it was vital for them to get off on the first step so we are able to put in all of our offense and defense in the nine installations. It's very segmented as we go through our OTAs and our training camp, and everything is mirrored, so you're able to do things over and over again. So they were able to get through the first installation, and our goal is the 15th and 16th when they do come back early to spend those two days getting them ready for the second installation, because then Friday, Saturday, Sunday of the mini-camp weekend, we will go through installs one and two. So it's just a focus of teaching in progression, exposing them schematically to everything that they're asked to do once the veterans get here so they can get in there and compete.

(What's their schedule after mini-camp?)

Every year you go through the colleges that are on the quarters program. I think if my memory serves me correctly, James Jones has already graduated, so we just have to get him cleared as far as staying here and participating from May 15th on. So we're really looking for the rookies to stay here the whole time, because after the mini-camp, the veterans are off that following week and then we start the OTAs the week after that, the week after Memorial Day. So the rookies will just stay here all the way through.

(Are you using a few of your OTAs to work with the young guys before the mini-camp starts then?)

No, it will be just the individual time with the coaches.

(What did you think of Joe Werner, the converted basketball player?)

I thought Joe did a nice job. He came in here and competed. Obviously it was very new for him. I think we all expected that. He's extremely athletic. He's got a long road ahead of him, but I liked a lot of things that you saw from him. A man that big running routes, particularly the basic cross and the vertical routes, he's a big target running down through there and has excellent body control. So he's definitely intriguing in the passing game, but it's all very new to him.

(Will we see him later this month?)

We haven't made any decisions on who we're going to bring back as far as the group that was here on tryouts.

(Aaron Rouse has overcome a lot of adversity off the field. Do you relish coaching a guy like that, see the extra fight in him?)

Absolutely. Anytime you see people persevere whether it's in their professional or personal life, I think you have to admire that, and I think those are experiences you can carry over to your personal and professional life. Particularly in the game of football, adversity is something you deal with most likely on a daily basis, so hopefully those are experiences that he can draw from as he moves forward, and hopefully his road is not as tough as it was in the past.

(Does either QB you had this weekend have the arm strength to play at this level?)

Well, in fairness to them, particularly when you play quarterback and you go to such a new system, the last thing those guys are thinking about is throwing the ball. They're trying to get the plays out of their mouth and things like that. We put them through some of the quarterback drills and so forth, but I wouldn't rule them out. I wouldn't just say those two guys can't play, I wouldn't say that at all about them. I think those guys have a lot of football in front of them. They both can improve their overall strengths, and they're very young and raw.

(What do you think of DeShawn Wynn as a person, and what are the odds of someone changing their work habits in just a couple of months?)

Anytime you go into a new experience, I think it's important to give an individual a clean slate, regardless of what you've heard or what you think you know about that individual. Unfortunately, he suffered the injury. But there was obviously a lot of positives that we saw about the young man, that's why he's here, so that's what we'll focus on. Time will tell, and I think everybody here knows the way we work and the way we structure it, so whether he fits here or not, or really anybody we bring through these doors, it will be identified pretty quickly.

(That can be a slow-healing injury. Will he be ready for mini-camp?)

The information that I have had, I don't think it's that serious. I haven't talked to Pepper and those guys today. Maybe nothing has changed, but he told me he felt a lot better.

(Given how valuable this time was, did he set himself back somewhat?)

I would say he hasn't had the opportunity to progress as much as everybody else because you look at the number of reps. You talk to anybody who's had the opportunity to play pro football, it's all about getting reps. That's another thing about mini-camp one, you have different focuses involved. Anytime you get your football team together, you obviously want to improve. As we view the mini-camp that's coming up, number one, we want to address 2006. As I've experienced in past clubs that I've worked with, a lot of times you never really get to go back and correct the things as a whole with your football team. So we're going to take Friday morning and accomplish that. We're going to address the positives, the negatives, and the direction and focus for 2007. With that, then you move forward to the practice. You want to get your veterans in. Anytime you get your football team together, you get your veterans, you want to get them reps. There's only so many reps for the young guys. So now you just had three days of reps for the young guys. Especially you look at the quarterback position, you cannot find enough reps for those guys, so any young guy who misses those reps, he obviously did not take advantage of his opportunity. But on the other hand, we've had them here for three days. The classroom, the walk-throughs and things like that in the gym, that's where he is ahead, or the same as everybody else. But missing the physical reps, availability and accountability, that's something that will never change in this business in my view.

{sportsad300}(Will Favre attend the next mini-camp?)

Yeah, as far as I know. I actually haven't talked to him, it's been about a week. I have to get an update and see where he's at with his ankle and his rehab and everything.

(Will he be able to participate?)

I'm not going to do a whole lot. I don't think it makes a lot of sense to do a whole lot, especially where he is as far as the time frame in his workouts.

(Do you know of anyone else that's not going to be here?)

I don't have any information on who's not going to be here, as of today.

(With guys like Wynn and Rory Johnson, how do you talk to guys who have some character questions, and do you do anything differently?)

I think as a football team you need to lay down the expectations for everybody. Frankly, with the emphasis that's going on from the top, from the commissioner, I think it's loud and clear what's expected of all personnel, all employees of the National Football League. I've never in my 15 years in this league has it ever been crystal clear on what your expectations are, so I don't feel like I have to talk to anybody any differently, particularly at this time.

(When will you lift the restrictions on Harrell?)

That's something that we'll know more when we get him back here. It's not more of him not being able, it's just being smart with the rehab. Our doctors have just had a chance to see him for the first time Friday, so we're just being cautious there.

(The review of '06, is that just a classroom thing?)

Correct. Obviously, it carries over to the field because of the scheme adjustments that we'll make off of that and the direction we'll go forward for 2007 is a direct reflection of how we viewed 2006.

(Will the structure of mini-camp be any different?)

It will be the same as last year. We just won't practice Friday morning. So we'll go four practices instead of five.

(What are your first impressions of this draft class?)

I wouldn't say there's any surprises. As you go through each player, it confirms what you saw on film, so with that I'm very pleased. You have to step back, particularly after Friday's practice, because quite frankly when your draft class comes in and their first exposure to on-the-field activities with your football team, frankly, their performance positive or negative kind of gets overshadowed by the group, because they're in there with mostly veterans. So the practice goes faster. It seemed like we were down there three hours today, but it's because we'd take a rep, we'd rest. You're used to practice, practice, practice, ... going so fast, the practices seemed like forever but they really weren't that long, they were only an hour and a half. So you kind of step back and think, boy, that class last year looked a little better, but it's really the environment that they're practicing in. But we're in helmets and shorts, and I was very pleased with the work that we got done.

(With Brandon Jackson, are you excited to throw him into the mix with all those other running backs?)

He definitely has the quick feet and the explosiveness that we saw on film. I think he has the ability to be a playmaker from that position. I think he'll fit in excellent with that group, and it will be a very competitive group.

(How do you see that position developing? Are you looking forward to seeing how it works itself out?)

I think you really answered your own question. I think it's going to work itself out. Because no one in that group has been 'the guy' before at this level, and you never know until you put those guys in that position. So I think it's going to be a very competitive group. I've watched that group grow up, particularly this offseason, just the work they've been doing in the weight room and these IPW workouts that we've had. So I think it's going to be a group that obviously everybody will be watching, but I think that will sort itself out.

(Is the lack of experience in the backfield any cause for concern?)

I'm not concerned, I just have work to do. That's the way I view it. It's my responsibility to get them ready to play, and that's our focus.

(How much can this draft class help on special teams?)

I think it's very important. I think last year's draft class contributed throughout special teams and offense and defense, and we're looking for the 2007 draft class to contribute. With last year's class, we'll be a year stronger. I think there will be a lot of competition that comes out of this class, so we're definitely looking for them to help us improve in that area.

(With Underwood, when will he be ready to take part?)

He looks good. I think if you asked him, he'd be ready to go. But once again, Dr. McKenzie and Pepper, they have a plan for these guys, and like anything, when you get close, you just really want to make sure. I think ideally, you'd like to have him for the OTAs, but realistically we're probably better off if we wait until training camp. So that's where we are as far as making a decision. But he's had a great offseason. He's out there working every day, so I think if you asked him, he'd tell you he's ready to go.

(Can you tell how well a guy is coming back during rehab, or does it not show until you get on the field?)

I think when Flea takes them down there and does the drills, you can see for the most part. But my experience with major joint injuries is when they get to this stage where everything is fine physically, the mental hurdle is the hardest one to get over. And that won't be answered until, frankly, probably until he plays a game.

(What's Aaron Rodgers' status?)

Same. Kind of a common theme as far as just being cautious with him. He's another one that's chomping at the bit. Just with the quarterback school drills, he hasn't been able to do all of them to this point; he has I want to say about the last week and a half. So we're at that decision time for him too. When do you just finally take the reigns off and let him go? He's very close.

(Does that mean Ingle Martin will get a lot of work in this next mini-camp?)

If Aaron Rodgers doesn't get much, I think Ingle will get more work. We'll see a lot of the young guys.

(How did Korey Hall take to the fullback position?)

He's a football player. He'd probably tell you he's not sure where he's going sometimes, but he's an instinctive football player, plays with good pad level. You just see a lot of his natural instinctive things that he does. I think he's a guy that has a chance to contribute on special teams. But he's got a lot of work ahead of him.

(Will you have enough quarterbacks for mini-camp, if Rodgers can't go?)

Yeah, we'll be OK. We'll have four. He'll do something. I've got to sit down and ... we've kind of always gone with he's in or he's out, but if he's not in he's real close to being in, so we'll get some work out of him.

(Can you talk about the decision to move Korey Hall to fullback? He has played the fullback position?)

Well, I think it was high school. His college coach is actually a friend of mine. We coached together back at the University of Pittsburgh, and just everything that we were told about him, Sam Seale is our West Coast scout, was very high on the kid, so the combination of moving him to fullback because of what you saw on special teams. It happens a lot with defensive linemen being projected to offensive linemen. It's clearly a projection. A lot of it has to do with his mental makeup. Chris Peterson gave him as high a recommendation that you could possibly give a football player, so we were very comfortable that he would be able to make that transition.

(Did Stocco do enough these three days to get serious consideration?)

I thought John did a nice job. One thing you always look for in the quarterback is how he handles the team part of it. Some guys look good in drills, some guys don't look very good in drills. But I could see why he was successful in college. He picked it up, picked it up very quickly. By the second day it was coming out of his mouth pretty clean, and today he went through the team periods and the seven-on-seven clean. As far as him coming back here, that's something we'll sit down here in the next two days and decide. But it would surprise me if he doesn't have an opportunity in the National Football League

(This offseason, have you gotten enough help offensively in the red zone?)

In our analysis of the red zone, when we went through it, we just didn't at the end of the day say, well, we just don't have enough playmakers. I think it was a combination of things. Number one, we need to do a better job schematically, as far as the execution part of it. That falls both on the coaches and the players. That's something we're going to emphasize as we go through actually starting in mini-camp. We'll do red zone on Sunday and Saturday afternoon. So we need to increase that. Another thing that goes back on myself and the coaches, we have to put the players in better position to be successful. The first-down production down there is not getting it. We have to win on first down in the red zone and play with better, favorable down-and-distances in that area. But as far as the players, I am never one to complain about who's not here. My focus has always been on who's here, and once again, we have players here that we need to put in position to be successful, and I view if we do that and if everybody does their job, we'll be more productive in the red zone.

(The last four games last year the defense came on strong. With A.J. having another year of seasoning and adding Justin, does the defense really have a chance to be something special this year?)

I think they do. I agree with your view. Once again, we have to come out, we have to start fast and that's really a statement that goes for our whole football team. I thought at the end of the year they were remarkable during that stretch, and hopefully that's something we can build on. The communication and the confidence is the area of focus with that group, because when the communication was clean and they were playing well, they were exciting to watch.

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