Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 14

(What happened to Justin Harrell?)

Justin was injured in yesterday's practice, so we're being smart with him today. Pat McKenzie looked at him this morning. He has a knee sprain. I haven't got the information on how his rehab went and so forth. So we'll test him through today, and I'll have more information by tomorrow.

(Is it significant enough he might not play?)

I'm hopeful not. Based on the conversation this morning, I'm leaning more towards that he would play. But we'll see how everything went today.

(How did Blackmon look coming off his injury?)

He looks fine. He has a contusion. He just probably needs rest and we're just being smart with him so it wouldn't turn into anything more. I anticipate he'll be ready to go full speed on Sunday.

(Describe the impact he's had now that he's healthy.)

Just from a production standpoint, every time Will Blackmon touches the ball, he has the threat to score. He's done a very good job of that. Gave us field position at critical times in games. Just go back to last week's game and that was evident there, and also had the return in the game. He's an exciting young player that will continue to improve. That's what you can really focus on and be excited about. It's nice to have consistency back there with one person. We've done a good job of rolling returners through our return game in the past, but it's like a lot of things, I think we're getting a lot more consistent with the blocking and the returner because it's starting to fit together more.

(Has that been a long time coming, waiting for him to get through the injuries?)

On a personal note, just from the conversations that Will and I had, some players get injuries in bunches, and I think he experienced that at the beginning of his career, and hopefully he is past that. It was unfortunate what he went through the first two years. But you can see all the extra hard work has paid off, and he's off to a fine start.

(Hester has no return TDs this year. Do you have to be careful not to get lulled to sleep a little bit?)

We have a lot of respect for Devin Hester and his ability to change games from a return standpoint, and even from a field-position standpoint. He's been a major emphasis for us all week in our coverage units, and we need to make sure we rise above that challenge.

(How's A.J. transitioning to the middle?)

I thought he looked comfortable in his reps in the middle this week. We have confidence in A.J. and the other linebackers. Desmond Bishop, he's done a lot of positive things with his opportunities in there, and it's a linebacking group that has a lot of depth.

(Is he the starter on Sunday?)

That's why we go to the game. A.J. will start at mike, we can pretty much be sure of that.

(Did you change the schedule to freshen things up?)

We freshened it up, I think that's a good way of looking at it. I thought they practiced extremely hard yesterday, at a very high level, and I just wanted to make sure that we were able to get the things done that we needed today. We had a very spirited, energetic practice. We were done 16 minutes early. That's really moving. The execution was the way it needs to look. We cut 15 minutes out of the meeting time, and cut probably another 10 or 15 minutes out of practice. It was good to just attack this last day of preparation, and I wanted them to get off the field and emphasize the 48-hour rule as far as getting their bodies ready for a big-time contest on Sunday.

(Is that just this week or will you go with that the rest of the year?)

We go to a winter schedule next week anyway, so we're just kind of sliding into it. It's the same thing I've done the last two years after the 10th game. We'll start to cut back on some reps. You're getting to that point in the season where you have to be conscientious of wear and tear.

(Will you still go in pads on Thursdays?)

Depends on the week.

(Is it nice to get outside in mid-November?)

It was great. It was beautiful out there today. From my understanding, it's a lot like it's going to be on Sunday. Just the quality of work, being on grass is where we want to be. I know the players appreciate that. It was an excellent work day today. We were very pleased with the way the whole day went.

{sportsad300}(The Bears haven't lost at Lambeau in five years. Does that add anything extra to an already big game?)

It's been acknowledged. We appreciate your help on all that. You guys do a great job of pointing out a lot of things we can use, pro and con. We addressed the importance and tradition of this rivalry. We have a video that shows, it changes a bit each year, because it's important for our rookies and with our team being so young, I want to make sure everybody in the room has a clear understanding of the type of football game that they're preparing for and getting ready to play in. I just look at it as another log on the fire. I think it's going to be an excellent contest. It's a contest that we need to win. It's a contest we have all the confidence in the world to win.

(Do you consider Packers-Bears the biggest rivalry for this team?)


(Just because of the history of it?)

I just think the history of it, and Jerry Fontenot, he spoke to the team today. We've been having a different assistant coach speak on Fridays as a post-practice agenda, and he had a great message. Jerry played in Chicago for eight years. Mike Eayrs spoke on the tradition of the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears on Thursday morning. It's such a great rivalry and just the history and all the people that played in this game. It carries a lot. And I just go back to, I don't know if I told this story in here before, but I know I told the team. My first year at the owners meeting, I had a conversation and an opportunity to meet Steve Sabol, and we were talking about the Green Bay Packers and the history and he was telling me about his interactions with Coach Lombardi and so forth, and he made a statement that really stuck with me. He said that when the Green Bay Packers are playing well and the Chicago Bears are playing well, things are great in the National Football League. And I think that says a lot about both organizations.

(Can you tell if the players get into that kind of stuff, if they're absorbing those messages, or are they just listening because they have to?)

I don't get involved in their personal conversations or private conversations. I think they fully realize the importance of it. It's an important football game for the 2008 team, and that's the number one priority, and I made that clear from the beginning. I don't want our team to jump and go out there and just go ballistic because we're playing the Chicago Bears. That's not what this is all about. It's about recognizing the importance and the respect and the tradition of the game. But we're focused on the 2008 Bears, and we're the 2008 Packers, and that's the facts.

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