Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 23

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Friday press conference from Lambeau Field. - More Audio | Video | Watch ’The Mike McCarthy Show’ Packers-Lions Game Center

OK, I'll start with the injuries. Kabeer had the ankle and knee sprain. We're still running tests on Kabeer as we speak. Aaron Rouse had a knee sprain. Mark Tauscher re-aggravated his ankle sprain. So did Tracy White, same thing there. Charles Woodson had a great toe injury. Donald Driver had a slight ankle sprain. Ryan Pickett had a knee sprain, and Colin Cole had the forearm fracture. Those are the injuries, and with that I'll take your questions.

(Will Cole be out for an extended period of time?)

I really haven't talked the specifics about Colin. He won't play this week, I do know that for sure. It was a shame. He was playing very well in the game. He had the one series where he had a string of plays he made consecutively. But the time frame and all that hasn't been set yet.

(How did that happen?)

The specifics of it I don't recall.

(Is that a position where you can play with a club-cast?)

It's his forearm. I don't recall someone playing with a forearm fracture in my experience.

(Do you think he can make it back at some point this year?)

That's what we have to decide. That's the normal process you go through when you have injuries this late in the year. You have to project.

(Is Woodson's injury classic turf toe?)

Pat didn't describe it that way. There's a lot of swelling. There's history of an injury there in the past, so those are the things he has to work through. We'll have a lot better diagnosis as the week goes on. Charles is in there right now getting treatment, and he just has to get the swelling out of there right now.

(Did he have an x-ray at all?)

Not that I'm aware of.

(Kabeer's injury looked pretty nasty. Any idea there?)

The tests are going on right now, just like I've stated. It did not look good on film, just like you've stated, and it's both the knee and the ankle. He's very flexible, and I'm hopeful he was able to save himself from being in a bad position.

(With Pickett?)

Re-occurence. It's the exact same injury he had before, the back of the knee.

(There's a lot of injuries but you're back on the 7-day week. How do you go through it?)

We're in a normal seven-day plan. Today is a Monday as far as our scheduling. It's Victory Monday for the players. Tomorrow will be a game-plan day. Sunday will be a Wednesday. We will have some practice adjustments, there's no doubt about it. Our injury list is extensive. It will probably be similar to our Wednesday format two weeks ago, and then we'll see. I'll have a better idea after Sunday's practice what we'll be able to get done on Monday.

(Do you feel up until yesterday you were fortunate on the injury front?)

You can say that. Yesterday's game was a true challenge for our football team. If you look at the way the game started offensively, that was not positive, and the result was the defense being out there as long as they were. And then the injuries started to occur. I was pleased with the way we fought through it. It is a part of the game, and I just think you need to be smart with injuries at this time of year. We have five games left, and I understand the importance and the excitement of the upcoming game at Dallas, but we just need to be smart as we go through these individual injuries and keep in mind there's a lot of football left.

(Do you keep the players from thinking about being 10-1, or do you have them relish it?)

I don't think you need to relish anything right now. It's important to be in touch with who you are and how you were able to achieve 10-1. That's a daily message and a daily practice that we go through as a football team. We have corrections from the Detroit game. We will make those. We encountered a number of different situations in that game we can learn from as far as different players stepping up playing a lot of different reps both special teams and defense for the start of it. But this is no time to sit there and go wow, we won 10 games. To be at 10 wins and have five games remaining is important, and we need to take advantage of it. Because now is the time you start to talk about home-field advantage and the importance of finishing strong, and we'll start that this week as we get ready for Dallas.

(Is Harrell well enough to get back in the mix?)

I think so. It was a short week last week of practice, but we're going to need him this week.

(How about Collins?)

Nick will be close. Nick and Bubba Franks will be close. Will Blackmon has a chance.

(How did Rouse hurt his knee?)

He came in on the finish of a tackle, it was awkward. He tried to go the series after the half, and he was unable to go. Just kind of stepped in there awkward on finishing a tackle.

(Is that unusual for a rookie to have the confidence to jump a route like that?)

I think Aaron is clearly instinctive. It was a big play, in my view maybe the biggest play in the game. Because it gave the offense a chance to go down there and score, and we're winning 7-6 and really didn't do anything on offense to that point. That play there really turned things around. It was just a good read by him, the route recognition, and he has good ball skills, he's exhibited that, and he was able to finish the return on the interception. Huge play in the game.

(Do you have a decision to make if both he and Collins can go, or is Collins your starter?)

That's something that we'll take the week in practice. Those decisions, the baseline will be more medical than anything. From a production standpoint, Nick Collins is our starting safety, and will be so as we move on. But I'm very pleased with the way Aaron has played. But those are more medical decisions.

(Have you ever seen a run from Brett like he's had the last month?)

I don't recall coaching a quarterback that's had a run like Brett's had in all my years. He's really in tune with the offense as far as getting in and out of the different personnel groups, formations, and has been very consistent taking what the defense gives you. His decision-making has been outstanding. His ball accuracy has always been a strength of his. But this is as good a run of a quarterback that I've been a part of.

(With the hype around this game, two 10-1 teams, is your message different to the players at all this week?)

The foundation of the message is going to be exactly the same. You need to stay focused on who we are, how we arrived here. But those are all elements that we need to deal with. We haven't played in a game that will receive this much media attention. I'm aware of that, and it's something we'll talk about. It's something we've already talked about as a staff this morning as we move forward in our interaction with our players today and tomorrow on an individual basis. But that's all part of being in the National Football League. These are the opportunities you look for. These are the opportunities you're excited to be a part of, and we're excited about it. But once again, we're not going to deviate from who we are, how we've approached every single game to this point, that won't change anything, and everything we do will be put towards the effort of beating the Dallas Cowboys.

(How much do you see is riding on this game?)

How much is riding on it? It's one of five, it really is, because there's so many factors that go into this game. I don't think it would be smart to treat this as a playoff game where there's so much that rides on the outcome of this game. We plan on winning the football game. We'll do everything in our power from preparation to win this football game. But we're going to be smart with our football team, because there's a lot of football left to be played. And the benefit of this game is the four days off, or the 10-day period going into the Oakland game. We'll have a chance to hopefully get our team back and get ready for the fourth quarter. But this is the last game of the third quarter. It's how we view this game. It will receive a lot of attention, but our preparation will not change.

(Did you think about calling a timeout sooner at the end of the first half there?)

Well, that situation, with the time, when Donald caught the ball, we were going to go clock play because there are negative things that can happen in that time frame when you get underneath a minute. But they did a good job of holding him down. He couldn't get up quick enough. So when it got to 10 seconds, I was just going to take the field goal. And actually, I think it was the first timeout, Brett and I we talked about it, as far as we had the ball coming out in the second (half), it was imperative that we made sure we got points there. I'll say this, at the beginning of the drive, I was more concerned with taking time off the clock than anything, because the time of possession was so lopsided towards our defense. And I did not want our defense to go back out on the field, and really, I don't want to say it affected, but there were some calls that I made in the beginning part of that drive that were more in a controlled fashion of making sure we kept the clock going.

(Did that disparity impact the defense in the second half when Detroit was able to make some plays?)

Two-minute offense at that point in the game, I think our defense had 81 plays, they were out there. Statistically, you look at that as too much. But I think there were a lot of elements that played into that. We were running low, and I think it was an incredible job by Tramon Williams, Jarrett Bush, Frank Walker, to name a few, to play all the special teams and to play as much sub-personnel defense as they played down the stretch. That factored into the game. But I think that started in the first quarter, and when you have one phase of your football team out there that long on a short week, it's going to catch up to you, and I think it did there in the fourth quarter for our defense.

(How do you have two guys jump offsides on extra points?)

Well, I don't know how close you watched it, but you have their holder, and I think he's doing it more for the edge guys, but the communication that I received and I actually talked to the referee about it, was they were kind of flinching the ball. They're not jumping offsides trying to anticipate the snap count, I can promise you that. It's not an excuse, but that's the information.

(What kind of run are you having as a play-caller?)

I feel good about it. Still critical week in and week out of a few things you always think you can do a better job of. The biggest thing with play-calling is being on the same page as the quarterback and the rest of the offense. We're hitting our stride, our rhythm, for a large part of the games. You'd like to start faster in this last game, for example. But we have been productive in the first quarter throughout the season. I feel that's a strength of ours, starting fast, playing fast. I think we're doing OK there.

(Does it take time as a play-caller to get a good feel, to know your personnel as well as your game plan?)

That's why we practice and that's why we spend the time we do. I think everybody goes through it. Based on the development of your football team it may take you a little longer to achieve that, but I feel very confident in our personnel groups, how we're using our personnel groups, the situations they're being used in. I think our coaching staff does a great job from a self-scout standpoint of being aggressive, as far as allowing the creativity to build off of what we've done in past weeks. I think our process of game-planning is excellent. The bottom line is the players are executing. You can talk about all the great plays you called, but it's not about plays, it's about players making plays.

(How did you think Tramon Williams played at corner?)

I thought he played very well. I thought he was competitive. He had some break-ups. I thought he put together a very good game. The kickoff coverage play he makes to save the touchdown is probably about as impressive a play that I've seen on special teams. It's a recovery play, but I'm excited about Tramon. He's a young player that keeps improving, takes advantage of his opportunities, and I thought he improved as a football player and was productive for us yesterday.

(How about other guys who played fill-in roles, like Jason Hunter?)

Jason Hunter played well in pass rush. He's been very, very consistent and been a big part of our success on special teams. He's been one of our primary special teams players throughout the year. He played well in the passing situations. I feel very comfortable putting him in there as we move forward. Nick Barnett maybe had his best game of this year clearly. We thought Nick graded out extremely high, played very well. We had some very good individual performances.

{sportsad300}(Do you have to be extra cautious because of how big this game is when injured players say they can play, like Woodson, who might try to sell it a little bit harder?)

That's a big part of relationships and communications, Charles Woodson's with the medical staff, my communication with Charles. We're going to make decisions that are in the best interests of the health of the player, always. I will never attempt to put a player out there that we feel is going to put himself in harm's way for one football game, and even more importantly with five left. We'll be smart with Charles Woodson, no different than we would be with any other player. Now, Charles has had an extraordinary ability to play through injury. He did last year. He played through the shoulder and knee injury last year. At this time, early in the week, when he had the knee injury, Pat McKenzie said he won't play for three or four weeks. And Charles said he's playing, and when Sunday came around, he played and played well. So you have history that will factor into the decision. But once again, it's going to be a decision that's in the best interests of everybody, starting with the player's health.

(When did you become aware of the incident between Nick Barnett and Dominic Raiola in the tunnel and what was said about it?)

I did not have a discussion with Nick about that particular incident. It was said, I don't know at what point, maybe halftime in passing. But my understanding was it wasn't a very big deal, and it doesn't surprise me. If you watched those two play against each other last year, there was a lot of activity. It's an excellent battle, and I'm sure it will continue as we move forward.

(Driver had a big game but hasn't been in the end zone since Sept. 23. Are you impressed with his unselfishness?)

Donald is still our leading receiver. He's still a big part of every game plan that we put in. I won't speak for him, but I think he clearly realizes the importance to this football team and to our offense as a playmaker but even moreso as a leader on our football team. I think Donald Driver is the ultimate pro. He plays when he's hurt. He practices all the time. He's an excellent example for a young football player. He's earned everything he's been able to achieve in this league. He remembers where he started. I think he's an excellent example for our football team, like I've already stated, but I don't see it being a problem. Touchdowns sometimes come in bunches, sometimes they don't. But when he has the ball in his hands, ... I thought he was playing at a totally different level than anybody on the field yesterday, and probably should have gotten the ball more.

(Did you catch the Lions in a blitz on both the long runs Grant had?)

The one, 99 Shark, was clearly a blitz. I'm trying to think of the other one. The one-back run was not a blitz. The two-back run, that's the Shark play, was a blitz. They went with a strong dog. But the other one wasn't, just a one-back run.

(Is that something you like to get on film for teams that want to blitz you in the future?)

The particular play that we ran into that blitz, you beg for that blitz versus that look. That's what you're looking for. I want to say it was our second offensive play of the game, we had a similar play into a blitz and Brett threw the backside route. That had a potential to be a big play. But that's the way your play-calling goes sometimes. Sometimes you hit them, sometimes you don't. Every pattern scheme or zone scheme has different strengths for different pressures, different fronts, outside of the matchups.

(What did that stretch of 20 completions look like when you watched it on film?)

I don't have all the crowd noise and everything, so it's kind of dark and you're in a room by yourself. It's interesting you would say that because I didn't even think of it when I was watching the film. I was excited for Brett after the game. More excited for your offense because it shows the type of rhythm you're in. We talked about it in our overview of the film, but when I was in it, I really didn't think anything of it, to be honest with you.

(That kind of tells you how the guy is playing, doesn't it?)

I guess it's what you expect.

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