Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 29

(What was Aaron able to do in practice today?)

Aaron Rodgers was classified as limited. Basically he was on a pitch count. He took pretty much all the run game and was limited in the passing game.

(How many pitches did you limit him to?)

It's irrelevant.

(Do you feel the time off helped his shoulder?)

Definitely. I think he's at the point where the strength is not an issue. Everything from a structure standpoint is not an issue. It just needs rest. That's what Dr. McKenzie keeps telling me. As much rest as we can give him, the better, just so it doesn't flare up on him. That's why they've established a pitch count for today, and I'll give him one tomorrow, and then we'll see where we are on Friday.

(Is it still the same approach, to limit his throws the closer you get to the game?)

Just the shut down time. 72 hours before the game is the target that you have to make a decision, and that's what we'll do Friday morning. When he's evaluated Friday morning, that's how much work we'll determine that he'll go on Friday. So it will obviously be either 72 hours of rest or 48 hours.

(You say he needs rest, does that mean rest from rehab or is the rehab still helping his recovery?)

The rehab is definitely part of the program. He'll go through rehab here, and it's just the recommendations of the doctor. His strength is good. I think that's been proven the way he's been able to throw the football. It's just an injury that needs time.

(When did Bishop get hurt?)

Bishop got hurt in yesterday's practice. Had a hamstring strain, after our long conversation Monday. Sometimes things like that happen. I'm not going to stand here and act like a doctor, but we've taken precautions in our structure, and it's really the responsibility of the individuals to make sure we're doing as much as possible to try to prevent injuries if we can.

(You mean Monday's practice, right?)

What did I say? Yeah, Monday's practice. Thank you.

(With Justin Harrell, are you encouraged? Is he doing more this week?)

Yeah, he's taking his full dose of reps. Justin Harrell is making progress, and this is what he needs. We talk about getting in football shape, getting in there pushing and pulling and tugging and so forth. He just cannot get enough work. We've had two heavy doses of padded practices as far as individual and the team work, so this is exactly what he needs.

(How much could he potentially help you?)

He would definitely be part of the rotation. When we do to go him on the 53, I would foresee him being active and part of the rotation, part of a four-tackle rotation.

(Does he still need a full offseason in the program healthy to reach his full potential?)

I mean, it definitely helps. I think time has shown with our players here that they take advantage of the offseason program and what individuals have been able to accomplish, and Justin is no different. But his path has been a little different. Injuries are part of the game. Some players experience injuries in bunches, that's been his case. He looks good, though. This is the best shape that he's been in since he's been with us in Green Bay. So I'm definitely encouraged with the progress that he's making.

(Do you feel you know what kind of player he is, or are you waiting to see him fully healthy?)

Anytime you're dealing with young players, I refer to them more as prospects, and that's any draft pick that I've ever been associated with. Specifically when you talk about developing quarterbacks, because that's my history, is they're prospects when you get them, and what you do with them, and develop them, I've always taken it as a big part of my individual, the coach's, responsibility of developing that prospect within the system of your football team. He's been here long enough to have an evaluation on him, but I think he has an extremely bright future. The tools are there. He's the body type that we're looking for as far as a defensive tackle, the way we play. He was productive in the pass part of it more than the run, in his experiences last year, so that's encouraging. It's usually the other way around when you're talking about offensive and defensive linemen. So there's a lot of things there to build off of.

(When you look back at the last seven games, playing your D-linemen starters so many more snaps than before, will that have any effect on the defense?)

All those things are looked at. I just think it was a short-term situation, dealing with snaps. The bye week came at the right time. I think those type of factors show up in the long term of a season. I think if we would have continued on that path of the number of snaps that the defensive linemen were playing and the rotation that we were using, I think it definitely would have shown up in the second half of our season. I don't think it's a factor right now.

(You see plenty of good defensive tackles in this division, but how good is Albert Haynesworth?)

Playing as good or better than anybody in the league. We have a lot of respect for the Williams crew up there in Minnesota, and Chicago has Tommie Harris. Like you said, there's a number of good defensive tackles in our division. But I don't know if both run and pass, if anybody is playing at the level of Haynesworth and Tony Brown. They've been very impressive on film. It will be a big challenge for us.

(The last couple of games you've committed to the run even when it's not going so well. Can you explain your reasoning for sticking with it?)

Every game plan is, I don't want to say different, but it's true to itself. You want to run the football. It's important. We weren't gashing people the way you'd like to, but the thing about our run game was the negative runs weren't there, so we were playing with favorable down-and-distance. The productivity, we want it to be higher, no question about it, but the run game definitely kept us in favorable down-and-distances. And that's important, and really you go back, the defense against Indianapolis, that was a focus, particularly third down. Their defense, you're definitely playing uphill if you're playing third-and-long against that type of defense. We need to run the ball, we're going to run the ball. At every point in every game that I've ever been a part of, there's a point in the game where you need to run the football. I've always felt that. That's a belief of mine, and that will continue to be the focus as we move forward.

(How about the run defense and the LenDale White-Chris Johnson combination?)

Excellent combination because they complement each other very well. We had a first-hand look at them in the preseason and they are off to a great start. It's a big offensive line. Gap control will be at a premium and the speed and urgency of getting to the gap and holding it will be a key factor in the run game. They both present problems. They are both instinctive runners and they fit their scheme very well. Once again, I think they complement each other very well.

(You saw Indy go with four linemen and four linebackers. Does getting Atari back almost give you a fourth linebacker?)

Atari had some history at that position as far as the way he has been used in the past and the way we play with our support of our safeties. He is definitely a major factor in run support. Aaron Rouse is another big body. It's important. It's part of our base gap control and support emphasis that will be part of this game. It's great to have him back. Aaron has played well in his absence and we have some flexibility there.

(So you haven't determined who you'll go with?)

They are both taking reps.

(How much did you learn about the Titans from the preseason game?)

The biggest thing you get out of the preseason game is the ability to evaluate personnel because the landscape of the game was different. We had played our starters the first series and then moved on to the backups, where Tennessee's approach was different. Schematically there are base concepts that they used in that game that they have continued to use in the season, and no different for us. It's a game that you need to go back and look at. It's a game that we didn't put a lot of stock into as far as what went on in the game, but you can definitely get a personnel evaluation out of it.

(As an old quarterback coach, how do you view the term 'game manager'?)

I guess someone thought it did. Game manager is a compliment. It's a compliment to the decision-making and the discipline of the quarterback. That's how I've always viewed it and some people may think if you compliment someone as a game management individual that they don't have the physical skills to play in a wide-open offense. I think it is a positive.

(How has Rodgers done in that regard?)

Very good. I think that's a strength of his. I go back to Aaron in college, I thought Aaron was a very good decision-maker in the system that he was in and the way that he was trained in college and that's definitely something that you have seen from day one here. He gives us the flexibility to do the dual concepts at the line of scrimmage and handles the protection adjustments, the run game adjustments, and he has been very disciplined in the passing game as far as distributing the ball where it is supposed to be distributed.

(How's Al Harris look?)

Al looks good. He has taken a full dose of practice both Monday and Wednesday, and it's great to have him out there. There is no doubt about it. He has that presence about himself, a physical corner. He looks good. He has had a good week so far.

(Is he on that Friday morning evaluation as far as his role Sunday?)

Absolutely. Friday is a big day for us as far as decisions we make as we move into the practice and the things we need to clean up and make sure the reps are given to the right areas and so forth.

(Have the doctors said Al can hit somebody, play live?)

Pretty much. That will be part of our Friday, but just to have him out there practicing in the padded practices. You try to protect him as much as you can, and he's been smart about it. I would anticipate he'll be cleared for the game.

(How is A.J. Hawk running compared to before the bye?)

The communication is, taking with A.J., that he feels great and the time off really helped him. I watched him a bit today in practice and he looks like his old self out there. He looks to be back, have the burst back. You could tell he was hurting there for a couple of weeks.

(Do you still want to get Chillar on the field in nickel like last game?)

Just in the conversation with the defensive coaches, you've got to utilize your personnel. We have good linebackers and we have safeties now that have proven themselves and our corners have stepped up. It's just the ability to utilize your personnel. Brandon has played well with his opportunity. It's no different on offense. Sometimes I put things in conceptually in a certain personnel group, not as much for the defense but the ability to keep utilizing everybody. I think we have to have the same approach on defense.

{sportsad300}(Outside of Nick Collins catching the ball better, how do you explain his elevated play?)

I think his recognition, his instincts and everything has definitely improved, just his familiarity with the defense, stealing routes, anticipation of things happening before they do happen. I do agree; his productivity as far as getting his hands on the ball, and particularly scoring. Just the interception return against the Colts was very impressive, just the cut he made to get into the end zone. He has definitely playing at the highest level that I have seen since I have been here.

(After watching film on the Titans, what makes them one of the elite teams in the NFL?)

I think the Titans play very fundamentally sound. They stay within themselves as far as what they are trying to do systematically. They are not a team that is going to try to trick you. They just play physical. They are a big, physical football team as far as their stature, and they do the things that they do well and they do a very good job with that. I think they are well coached. I have always had a lot of respect for Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff. He has a number of coaches on that coaching staff that have been there a long time. The program is established, and they are just playing very consistently right now.

(Do you see yourself coaching here as long as Fisher's been in Tennessee?)

I'd be all for it.

(Isn't that rare?)

I think it's a compliment. I think anytime a head coach has had the success that Jeff has had in Tennessee and the ability to stay in one place, it's definitely a compliment. Yeah, I think I have the best job in professional sports so I would love to be here that long.

(You've faced Holmgren, Dungy and now Fisher the last few games. Do those matchups mean anything more to you?)

I have a lot of respect for their coaching and everything, but I am not going to kid myself. It's more about the players. We didn't play any snaps against each other out there, but I think they are great coaches. Mike Holmgren and Tony Dungy have won world championships, Jeff has been in the Super Bowl, so you definitely have to dot your I's and cross your T's when you play their football teams.

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