Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 15

(What was Justin able to do today and what are his chances to be up on Sunday?)

Justin Harrell was a full participant in practice today. I had the opportunity to observe him throughout the individual. I think he's in very good shape. We'll use the full week of practice to determine his status. I thought he got off to a good start. I won't know the specifics of how he did in the team periods until we watch the film.

(What did Al do today? Is there any possibility for Sunday?)

I would say Al is doubtful for Sunday. Al and I talked again at practice. He was able to do a lot of the individual drills, more extensive conditioning. He feels great. Mentally he feels he could play. We're just going to follow the direction of the doctors.

(With the nature of his injury, do you feel lucky there's a chance to get him back this year?)

Yes, we do feel that he has a chance to get back. He's made significant improvement from the time of the injury to the scan this past Monday, and he definitely feels a lot better. We definitely have a chance to have him back.

(That thing he was wearing, was that for protection or a weight?)

I think it was more protection, just to limit the breathing, was how it was described to me. Not the breathing, but the impact.

(How's Atari Bigby doing?)

Atari tested today. He's close. I had a chance to talk to him. Mark Lovat was taking him through the rehab, just to get him to open up all the way with the hamstring. Really how he feels tomorrow, if he can practice this week, he'll definitely have a chance to play. He's definitely better, he's a lot closer this week than last week when he tested.

(Having coached Montana and Favre, what are the qualities that make Manning special?)

Well, I think anytime you have a quarterback of that stature, I know just the first thing that I noticed being around two quarterbacks of such prominence is as soon as they come running out of the tunnel, not only does their team think they have a great chance to win, but everybody in the stadium does. Peyton has established himself in the National Football League with his consistency of playing at such a high level. The thing that I was amazed by Joe Montana was his accuracy and his anticipation. He's still the best that I've ever been around as far as anticipating plays and the accuracy with the football. And the same with Brett. They're winners, they champ at the bit, and they give your team an excellent chance to win week in and week out.

(Can you talk about how their no-huddle limits opponents from situational substitutions, or do you still try?)

You have to be smart. We refer to it as a fire situation. You can see it on film. It's a slow huddle, and between plays where if you do try to substitute, they're able to establish their formation and try to run the football or call a quick play to get you in an illegal substitution situation. There are situations where you potentially can substitute, so you have to be smart about that and try to take advantage of that. It's an at-the-line offense. He runs it very effectively, and it's something we spent a little extra time today preparing for.

(With all the adjustments Peyton Manning makes at the line of scrimmage, do opponents have a tendency to over-adjust or get out of the scheme?)

I would say the natural reaction to anytime you're in a situation on either side of the ball where the opponent is adjusting numerous times or gives the presentation of adjusting, the natural reaction is to try to simplify. It really goes back to the game of football. We need to make sure that what we set out to do with our call, the adjustments within every call, offense and defense alike, that we're lined up properly. Alignment, assignment, and doing what we need to do. We cannot let the opponent dictate how we're going to play the game, and that's a big part of it. They do a great job. He does a very good job of defense recognition, trying to stay in a favorable play, best available mindset. We do some of that ourselves at the line of scrimmage. He's very accomplished at it.

(He has such a quick release, how do you put pressure on him?)

Number one, the fact of a guy having a quick release is it's a two-part process. You want to put pressure on him with your front, and secondly you want to take away his No. 1 read. You always want to make the quarterback go to the second part of his read. You can have a quick release, but you have to take away the initial receiver. That's something we try to accomplish every week.

(What happened with Pat Lee?)

Pat Lee had some back spasms. He fought through it last week, and the doctors felt it was best to sit him today.

(This is the first time you're meeting Tony Dungy head-to-head. What are your thoughts on what he's done as a head coach?)

I think Tony Dungy is clearly one of the great coaches in our game. We had Mike Holmgren last week and Tony Dungy this week, I think they're definitely two at the top of the class of the National Football League. I think what Tony's done, taking two franchises and building them both into championship-caliber football teams says a lot about him as a football coach. I think the way he goes about his business and the way he treats the profession of football and the respect that he brings to the National Football League, I think it speaks for itself.

(Your defense's high interception total, what do you attribute that to this year?)

It's something that I would classify as part of the fundamentals of football. I think it's important when you identify the type of football team you want to be, it's nice to hit all the targets and being everything you possibly can be, but then you end up being a jack of all trades, master of none. And taking the football away has been a major emphasis around here for two years. We have a period every day that's called ball security, and the emphasis is obviously on taking care of the football, but the other side of it is taking the football away. I really apply the success we've had so far is that's the way we practice. If you practice something every day from a fundamental standpoint, it definitely needs to show up on Sundays, and it has so far.

(What's your impression of Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne?)

They are All-Pros. They have done it at a high rate for a number of years. You have to have a lot of respect for what they have accomplished and the way they looked in the game, particularly this past week against Baltimore. It's something you are always trying to achieve when you have the quarterback and the perimeter group on the same page. They have definitely once again accomplished that time and time again for a number of years. They will definitely be a challenge this week.

(How different do the Colts look on film this week compared to earlier in the season? What do you see that's clicking for them?)

It's always the little things. Some of their problems were probably similar to the things that we encountered in some of our earlier games. The timing wasn't intact, the fit might not have been exactly right in the run-blocking unit, the pass protection and so forth and so forth. Injuries, change of personnel plays a factor in that, and it's something that every team has to deal with. They have dealt with it in the past. I think the injuries they had last year, they did an excellent job of overcoming that. It seems like they are back on the same path.

(Do you anticipate Pickett doing anything this week?)

I'm hopeful. We're shooting for Friday. Just in the meeting this morning, Dr. McKenzie felt that he needed to rehab today and tomorrow and hopefully we'll get some work from Ryan on Friday. Then we'll go and make a decision for Sunday.

(Is it something they can tape up?)

They are going to have to possibly restrict him. That's the initial plan, but that's what really Friday will be for us to gather the information exactly how they want to suit him for Sunday.

(How about Aaron this week?)

The plan for Aaron Rodgers, he did not throw today. He'll potentially throw tomorrow, and he will not throw on Friday. They just felt, the medical staff, the closer to the game that he throws that he would encounter more of a negative effect on his shoulder. We're going to rehab after practice hard today and we'll see where his soreness and pain level is tomorrow. So if he's going to throw, he'll potentially throw tomorrow.

(How anxious are you to see what Justin Harrell can do?)

I'm excited for Justin. He hasn't played football since last year in the (Giants) game. Any time you see a player go through a personal challenge of overcoming a medical situation, the excitement is more for him to get back out there and play. As far as how we will use him as we move forward, really the week's work will determine that. I'm not going to put him in the position where he can't be successful. I don't think that's very smart. I know our injury situation would create more urgency for that, but we've got to make sure he is ready to play, just like any other player that comes off of a medical situation. That's what we'll do. We've got three days to watch him work and then we'll make a decision.

(Given how important practice is, what is Aaron missing by not being able to throw, and how are you making up for that?)

He's doing everything except throwing. We're going through the periods that he is unable to participate in, particularly the passing part of it, and we're applying it to footwork drills. He's doing everything except throwing the football, because in my experience if you don't practice very long the first thing that goes is fundamentals. Coaching the quarterback, it shows up first in footwork, and that's the thing that we need to keep on top of. Tom Clements actually spent a lot of extra time with Aaron working footwork today and will continue to do that. I'm just following the advice of our medical staff as far as when he can throw. Because it's like anything; you start overcompensating for one part of your body, it's going to affect something else. So we're just trying to spend more extra time on his footwork.

{sportsad300}(How comforting is it for a coach to have a quarterback who's going to show up every week or play hurt for him?)

Oh, I think it's huge. I think it's huge for your football team. It's very important for your offense. I've always felt from an offensive structure, the way to improve offensively is A, you've got to be strong up the middle because the people in the middle of your offense make the most decisions. I'm talking about the quarterback, the center and the running back. It always works from the inside out, and the continuity that is established with your offense starts with those individuals. Then also the guards, it all fits together as far as the mental responsibilities. So those guys need to practice because when you eliminate practice time, your opportunity for improvement decreases. I think it's a very simple formula. But the fact that he is playing every week and he is preparing every week, it gives us an opportunity to improve not only as an offense but as a football team.

(How's KGB doing? He doesn't seem to be getting much pressure on the quarterback...)

He's doing better. I thought he had a pretty good day of practice after the week of practice last week. He had an illness early in the week that he fought through, but he looked pretty good out there today.

(Did Thompson play well enough to merit starting?)

Starting, what is starting anymore? It depends on what does the offense put on the field first. I think Jeremy Thompson definitely improved from two weeks ago to last week. I was pleased with how well he played as far as the speed of the game and so forth, so he'll definitely have some more opportunities as we move forward.

(Having coached him in KC, were you hoping you guys could get Gonzalez?)

Tony Gonzalez, he's an excellent player. I think his continuing career at Kansas City speaks for itself. We've talked about this all of the time; player acquisitions, I don't speak on those terms. I have great confidence in our personnel department and the process and the decision-making that goes into that. There is a lot of conversation that goes on, and I know the significance of yesterday being the trade deadline and so forth, but that's all I've got to say about that.

(When you know a guy first-hand and have been around him, do you have more input?)

I have an opinion in the building.

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