Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 12

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Wednesday press conference. Coach McCarthy answered questions in the media auditorium following practice. - More Audio | Video | Watch ’The Mike McCarthy Show’

Okay, I'll start with the injury report. Ryan Grant was a full participant at practice, Al Harris was a limited participant, Doc (Carlyle) Holiday limited participant, Greg Jennings was a limited participant, Aaron Kampman did not practice, Tony Moll limited participant, Michael Montgomery was out, Vernand Morency was a limited participant, Aaron Rouse was a limited participant, Jason Spitz did not practice and Nick Collins did not participate - he was a player decision.

(Did Nick have a personal matter?)

Personal matter - positive personal matter. He was not here today for a good reason, so I'm sure he'll share that with you.

(How did Vernand look and what do you expect from him?)

Well, we talked about it a little bit the other day. Vernand pushed through practice, went through regular team drills pretty much, just didn't take as many reps as everyone else. Tomorrow will be the indicator because we're at the point now where we're maxing him out, pushing him through full speed, and how he responds is the final hurdle that he's got to get over. I'll have more information for you on Vernand tomorrow.

(On Monday you said he'd practice fully. Did anything change?)

That's a fair question. We are trying to get people ready for a game so the limited reps that he can with our reps but also he takes some with the opponent reps too. You could make the case that he went through a full practice, they're just being smart with him. They are pushing him. He was in full pads and went through all the drills.

(Is he at full speed?)

He looks good. He's moving well. Once again, it's the soreness that he's experiencing the day after a full load of work.

(What are the major factors that make someone good on special teams?)

Well No. 1, I think it's player ability, and I think we've definitely improved in that area. Two is the training of your core players to get some continuity. I think that's something that we are clearly ahead this year than we were last year because we had a little bit of a revolving door last year. Tracy White finished the season as our No. 1 player on special teams, and at some point in the season he wasn't even on our roster. Continuity to the core players is important. There's different philosophies in building your roster. Some people have designated roster spots for special teams only. We go in the direction or philosophy of having two-dimensional players on our football team. We don't keep people just for that aspect of special teams. We feel like we're doing a lot better job of that. When I say two-dimensional, they play offense and special teams or defense and special teams.

(When you started last year, did you have a full understanding of the value of special teams or is it something you've learned?)

I clearly have an understanding of what (effect) special teams has on a game, especially from being an offensive coordinator in the past. Field position makes the offense's job so much easier. The one year I was with the Saints, we were number one in the league in special teams. It's clearly a huge part of the team's success. Last year was not a learning curve in the appreciation of good special teams.

(Did you change the thought process on the body types you want there?)

I was talking about body types, it's more if you look at individuals. Aaron Rouse would fall into that category. You're talking about a larger, longer-levered body type. Tory Humphrey, I know we talked a lot about him last year. That body type where a guy can run and is still athletic and he's a 250-pound man, those are the guys that are potential problems for people on special teams. I think we've upgraded our speed on special teams, and that's partly due to us keeping the 10 defensive backs. And we've got some defensive linemen that are helping out. Tony Palmer is doing a nice job on the wedge. So you're seeing some participation from different positions that we didn't really have last year.

(The Door County district attorney will be filing two misdemeanor charges against Nick Barnett. Do you have a response or have you talked to Nick about it?)

Well actually Jeff has released a statement. We'll stand by that statement. It's still the legal process, and it's too early for me to even comment on that.

(Nick's lawyer said they plan to plead not guilty and go to trial. Is that something you have to prepare for?)

Once again, I think it's too early in the process to even get involved in it.

(Do you have any concern about his availability if the commissioner takes action?)

Uncharted territory. If something would happen, I guess you'd probably put it in the mindset of dealing with an unfortunate injury. Based on the way things in the past year have been dealt with, A, I can't control it, but B, as far as when you do have to make a change throughout your roster, as far as getting the next guy ready, we're prepared for that. If you're looking for a plan, then yes, we're prepared for that.

(In general, what's your message to players when they're out and about?)

Well, be smart. Be safe, be smart. No one wants to see anything bad happen to them, number one, as a person, but also clearly with the emphasis of what's going on in our industry, the message is loud and clear. Just this past Monday we had our first of eight continuation of the rookie symposium and continuing education throughout the football season. I think that's excellent, because when you talk about these young guys that are coming into the league, they play a college season, then they go train for the combine, then they get drafted, then they go to their NFL city, they play a full season, and then at the end of the season they've got a lot of money in their pockets and they haven't done anything really in a year and a half because they've been training. So the continuing education throughout the season is definitely a positive change because that's where you're seeing a lot of problems, particularly with some of the younger players that come into the league, after that season is over, it's kind of, 'Katie, bar the door.' I think the league has done a good job of addressing that with education.

(You joked last week about the cramped locker rooms on the road bringing the team closer together, but is there a real reason you've functioned so well away from home?)

I think there's some merit to that, but I don't think you can sit there and say that's a really bad locker room this week at the Meadowlands, we're going to play real well. The thought of it, you travel together. What I've done with the schedule on Saturdays, and I like it, is we get all our work done here before we leave, so when they get to the visiting city, where we used to have a three-hour block, ours is more of a four-to-five-hour block where players are encouraged to go to dinner with their teammates. Because you're kind of in the hotel by yourself, some people have family and friends, just the same operation as any NFL team. We leave the same time every week, and we do have more time than in places I've worked in the past. I think it's a positive when guys go out to dinner together, because they're doing things together, and it's all part of building that chemistry. I think that may also help. But you have to focus a lot better on the road. Our quarterback is outstanding at the silent count, things like that. Focus increases just because of the environment you play in, so I think those are all part of it. I don't think it really comes down to one thing.

(That brace Al wore on his arm in practice, will he wear that in a game?)

I don't think, just talking to Al today, I don't think he'll wear it in the game. That's what the communication was to me. It's really just to protect him through practice.

(But he'll have some type of wrap on it?)

That hasn't been decided. They'll work through that, more how he feels going through the week.

(How big a part of the game is stealing signals?)

Stealing signals? I think there's a reason why ... because I spend half my time, every picture you see yourself, you're doing this (looking at paper). I think there's a reason behind it. But I don't think it's a huge deal as far as sitting there waiting to steal signals for how we're going to call a play. We don't play that way. I don't know if other people do. I know the situation going on in New England, it's a league issue, I'm sure they'll look at it and be thorough with what they're looking at. But as far as the whole operation, I've never done that particularly. I'm probably not a good one to talk about it.

{sportsad300}(For a big guy like Lorenzen, what does he do well?)

He was a pretty good player at Kentucky. I remember breaking him down when he came out, and I thought he threw the ball well. Thought he had a strong arm. Didn't think he had a big-time arm, but I thought he was pretty accurate with the ball, just in the games I viewed him in college. Now I haven't seen a whole lot of him since then. To me, I don't think it really changes the way they'll play. I don't think they'll ask him to do as much as they would Eli, and that makes sense, because I'm sure when they're training in their offseason and in training camp and so forth, it's about getting Eli ready, and he's been a 40-something-plus game starter. He isn't a guy who's been injured a lot. We just need to make sure we're taking care of our house. I said it today in the team meeting, we need to clean our own house week in and week out and make sure we're improving as a football team. Conceptually what they do in their one-back run game, how they throw the football, I don't think that's going to change a whole lot, so that's really what we're preparing for. I've been asked if we're preparing for two quarterbacks. We are, we're going to watch all the film that we have, but we're also preparing for Eli too because he hasn't been ruled out. I guess he practiced today and took some snaps and so forth. We'll be ready to go either way. It's not going to change our game plan.

(How do you balance the practice snaps for the different running backs?)

That's really the structure of running-back-by-committee. You get into a mode where you don't want to waste a rep that that individual is going to run in the game, potentially. Now the flip side of that is if something doesn't go exactly right, say one of them gets hurt, then you have an individual who hasn't had reps in both concepts, and so forth. Just the way we do it, we tag the personnel groups, and we're running certain plays with Brandon, certain plays with DeShawn, and that's how we're moving forward. Mo being here from day one and playing last year has to account for something. I'd feel comfortable playing Vernand in a specific situation and so forth, but the point you made, we have to get the other guys ready to play too. Whether it's based on situation, whether it's based on concept, each guy is getting all those reps in that particular category.

(So then how do you find out about Wynn and if you want to use him more?)

We don't have a ton of information because he hasn't practiced, but we feel like we have a very good handle on what DeShawn's strengths are and we're giving him opportunities to play in those situations. We have a good feel for Brandon. Brandon is the one back that has benefited from all the injuries because he's got reps in everything. We're just kind of projecting in some sense and playing each guy in certain categories.

(Given all the background now, are you curious about that New England game last year?)

Am I curious? You still have to play the game. It's no different than what I believe as an offensive coach running the football - even when they know it's coming, you have to run the football. And no different on defense. I don't think it's a surprise when we line up and play bump-and-run, double-switch, and the things that we play. We didn't play very well in that football game. All the other things that potentially went on around it, I don't really have a comment on it because I don't know the specifics of it, and to me it's kind of irrelevant, because I'm not going to sit here and talk about a game that we got beat thoroughly in and blame it on something like that.

(As a play-caller, if you have that information, how much does it help you?)

You have to remember now, the clock is running too. The clock is running, and the guy who benefits more clearly is the quarterback. The play-caller is cut off at 15 seconds. I don't know the mechanics of an operation like that and the time frames they're doing it in, but definitely, the benefit of the quarterback is where the value is.

(Were you aware of the situation in the game last year?)

I heard about it afterwards.

(Did you go to the league at all?)

It was a credential situation, and I don't know if it was passed onto the league at that time. I'm sure Jeff, he's in charge of the credentials. We just blamed it on him.

(Why didn't Kampman practice?)

I don't know if it's a bruise, we're not exactly sure. His oblique, something in his abdomen.

(Were you surprised Crosby was still there in the sixth round?)

Well, I know Mike Stock and Shawn Slocum, they really liked him. They actually had him rated as the highest guy, so I'll just say this - I'm glad he was there and I'm glad he's here today. I think, number one, he's talented, and he's only going to get better, because he is young. The lift that he gets on that football as fast as he does I think is very unique. I think he's exhibited excellent leg strength. I just like his toughness. I like the way he goes about his business. He's very very consistent in his approach, how he kicks every day.

(Rayner was a popular guy in the locker room. Did you sense he went about the competition with him the right way?)

I think he clearly went about it the right way. There's something to be said about the new guy that shows up, particularly the rookie, he comes in and just laces up his shoes every day and goes to work. You may be the butt of a few jokes at first, and it's all part of a rookie orientation in a sense. I've just been impressed with his whole operation. I'm not surprised at all that he's here today.

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