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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 15

(Aaron Rodgers has no interceptions in two games. What do you attribute that to?)

He's making good decisions and he's being accurate with the football. He hasn't taken many chances, and that's all part of good quarterback play. He needs to continue to do that. For the most part, I thought the first week we caught the ball pretty good as a perimeter group. Didn't catch the ball very well, as well as we would have liked yesterday. With that, I think that all plays a part in no interceptions

(Is that something you've emphasized with him, being careful where you throw it?)

We emphasize it with our whole offense. We don't want to turn the ball over, whether you're carrying it, whether you're throwing it, whether you're catching it and running with it. Quarterback play, decisions, ball accuracy, that's all part of the way the quarterback is graded every day, whether it's practice or a game.

(Did you learn any more about Korey Hall?)

Korey has a knee sprain. I'll probably give him until Friday to see where he's at. He has a lot of swelling, just talking to Dr. McKenzie. I'm not sure of the length of his injury.

(Would you be inclined to use tight ends in that spot if you need another fullback?)

You see the way we play. Our fullbacks and our tight ends are interchangeable in mostly everything that we do. That will factor in the game-planning, also as far as their responsibility on special teams. I really look at the group of fullbacks and tight ends, whether you go with three tight ends, one fullback, two fullbacks, two tight ends, those combinations all factor in the way we game-plan and the way we play on special teams.

(How did Kuhn do in his place? How much do you lose if you don't have Hall on offense and special teams?)

I thought John played well on offense. He went in and he was, as far as his assignments and everything, he was a plus performance. Special teams, Korey was one of our core players. John is a very solid, very good special teams player for us. Actually when Korey went down with his injury, we took John off the special teams, just because of the reps and the way we've been building our roster, the 45-man roster is geared toward special teams, so there's other players we felt comfortable playing those positions.

(How about Bigby?)

Bigby has a hamstring strain. It was not a cramp. So same deal. By the end of the week I'll probably have more information. I think what's normal with both of those guys is there's more swelling than you would like, and once you get past that phase, you get a better diagnosis of the injury.

(How did Rouse grade out in his place?)

Aaron did some things well, he did some things he needs to improve on. A couple of his minuses were obvious on the big plays for Detroit as far as alignments, angles, things like that. But Aaron, injuring his ankle on Friday and coming off a performance where he played extremely well in Week 1, did not play up to that standard in Week 2, but they are all things he can definitely learn from.

(Will Woodson be able to practice this week or will you do what you did last week?)

Probably won't make that call until Wednesday. Just to see how he feels. I have not spoken to him yet today. But Dr. McKenzie felt that he came out of the game fine, that there wasn't any further damage. So we'll see how he feels Wednesday morning.

(You didn't have Charles for the game in Dallas last year. How much of a factor do you think that was in how you defended them?)

Charles Woodson, the way we defend on our defense, he's a big part of our game plan. Different things you want to do coverage-wise, matchups and things like that. But you play that game as a team, you win as a team, you lose as a team. But having him this year will definitely be to our advantage because of the experience that he brings and the ability to make big plays which was evident in the Detroit game.

(You think you will have him then?)

I anticipate it. There's nothing for me to believe not to.

(The ball down the seam to Lee that was incomplete, was that forced into coverage?)

The coverage that was played, Donald was the primary receiver. I thought the mike linebacker did a very good job of getting up on his upfield shoulder. But based on what the safeties and the play-side linebackers, the relationship to Donald, the read would be correct. But I thought the mike was over the top. Preferably I would like to see him go on to No. 2 there.

(Can you think of any besides that one that he's forced?)

He had a run check last week that he shouldn't have done. But for the most part, his decisions have been very good. There are some minus decisions that you probably classify as minus based on exactly what we do. But he's had a winning performance both weeks as far as the decision on where the ball is going.

(So that decision where he cut back into the field after tip-toeing down the sideline was a minus decision?)

That would be a minus decision, very good. Not a very smart decision.

(How do you get him to not do that?)

That's all part of the learning experience. He makes an excellent scramble for the first down and you can see, I was standing right there, so I saw it live, but also you see again on the film today, the angle of the defender. He probably thought he could cut that back. He doesn't need to be thinking like that. He's a quarterback. But you can see what he saw. Plus when he did cut back, he stepped out of bounds anyways. He needs to be smart there. When he got the first down, he needs to get out of bounds. Don't take any unnecessary hits.

(Do you still consider Greg Jennings a versatile receiver or is he evolving into a big-play, deep threat?)

I think he's a very versatile receiver. I think he gives you the ability to play inside, outside. We don't just run certain routes with him. We run up-the-field routes with him, double-move routes. Just the last two weeks he's been productive. And I really view the whole receiving corps that way. I think they're all versatile. Every one of our five receivers on the roster plays all three positions, and Donald Driver is really the bell cow as far as the mold I think they've all followed, the productivity with the ball in your hands, yards after catch. I'm very pleased with Greg's start, obviously statistically, but you like to see that from all your receivers, the flexibility, because it gives you a lot of choices when you get into game-planning and when you're going against the defense you're opposing as far as looking for matchups and things like that.

(Driver and Favre had an unspoken chemistry. Do you see the same thing developing with Aaron and Greg?)

I hope so. But I don't think Aaron just has that chemistry just with one guy. We're making progress with him not throwing the ball to Ruvell all the time. That's why we sat Ruvell down. That's a joke. I think Aaron is doing a really good job of making the decisions based on what the defense is giving him. Greg has benefited from it, and you'd like to see the ball continue to be spread around. That whole group takes great pride in yards after the catch. But there's definitely a chemistry that's building with the quarterback and the whole perimeter group, and it's nice when the quarterback and perimeter are on the same page because you have productive days like we did yesterday.

(When he threw behind Greg on the short slant, and it came up again and he hit him like he's supposed to, is that the ideal thing you want to see between your quarterback and receiver?)That's really every position, though, and the point I'm going to make is it's fundamentals, it's technique. I didn't like Aaron's footwork on the first one. It was something very minor, but it factors in the ability to put the ball on the front shoulder or the back shoulder. That's the thing that you're always chasing whether it's footwork and pad level on the offensive line or defensive line, it's the same thing in the perimeter group. That's why you have the individual drills in the practices and it goes back to the offseason program just to get the timing, and just all the little things, because the little things always make the difference in games.

(On the third-and-four that went deep to Jennings, do you expect him to see Jones crossing on that?)

Actually based on the way that the safety reacts, James was the primary receiver. The protection, if you look at it closely, there was a lot of color and he didn't feel that he could get back there. He stayed front side and took the shot with Greg, and frankly, if he gets it out in front of him we have a chance for a big play there.

(Once he got outside, is it too dangerous to throw it back across to Jones there?)

No, that's the read. It is based on how the safety reacts. Now it helps that the corner dropped him and he was wide open. Based on the protection and how the whole design of the play, that's what we were looking for.

(You said you didn't catch the ball that well. How do you judge those plays that are bang-bang with the receivers?)

We just look at if the ball touches their hands within the certain framework and have the ability to get your shoulders over the ball, we classify it. It's something we look at as a staff and we talk through. There are always close ones, but we felt we had a number of drops in this game.

(Would you consider sitting Grant a game or two to get his hamstring better?)

It's a medical decision. I think I have proven that here in the past when we talked about Charles Woodson. Last year that was a big game to go down to Dallas at that time and had home-field advantage and things like that that could possibly factor out of that game. Those are clearly medical decisions, and the feedback that I got back from Dr. McKenzie, is Ryan came out of the game OK, so we'll see how we progress and we'll set a plan for him this week as far as practice. That's clearly a medical decision. If we need to sit him down we'll sit him down.

(Did Lumpkin earn himself more opportunities?)

Absolutely. I can't say enough about him. I feel like I say the same thing every time you ask about Kregg Lumpkin, but he has taken advantage of every opportunity he has been given here. He had a plus performance in the opportunities that he had. He's physical. He was involved in some special team snaps that he was physical. There are some technical things that he can learn from and he'll improve on. I definitely felt that he improved on an individual basis and he contributed, and I feel very comfortable going with all three running backs.

(Is it unusual to go that far down the depth chart and see people making plays for you?)

I think that's a product of our culture here. That's what we've here since day one. We've played players when they have proven they are ready for the opportunity, and he's a great example of it. There are so many that have come before him, just in the last two years. I think it is a credit to Edgar Bennett and the other coaches for getting young players ready, but more importantly, I think the ultimate credit goes to the player. He has taken advantage of every opportunity since he has been here. You think of where he started from when he arrived and just the way he performed in the Family Night scrimmage and just kept getting better and getting better. Now he is playing in games in Week 2.

(How did you grade that punt snap?)

He should have caught it. It was a little high, but he needs to catch that ball.

(The timing of it, if he catches it, is he going to be able to get that off?)

I didn't think he needed to leave his feet, no. I thought it would have been fine.

(How did Grant do? He didn't seem to have a lot of room to run ...)

He didn't have a lot of great opportunities, but he needs to practice. I think any running back, they need to see the looks. They need to get in a rhythm and the timing and the fits and everything with the run-blocking unit. It's a product of probably not having some of the better looks that the other guys had, but he also needs to practice and get into a rhythm.

(What do you expect with Wells and Sitton? Are they back this week?)

I hope so. I hope they both practice this week, and really the week of preparation will answer the question whether they are able to go or not.

(Were they close at the end of last week?)

Yeah. I am hopeful for Scott to practice on Wednesday, and his is just going to be more of see how he responds to it, and Josh is definitely close.

{sportsad300}(Back to Grant, so it was more a lack of practice time than the hamstring itself?)

I don't think that is an accurate statement because he went out and played well last week. I just think he wasn't in sync and it's probably more he didn't have some of the looks that the other guys had. It's usually never just one thing. If it is, you usually fix it.

(What do you do when Sitton gets back? He was a starter and now has been out for a while ...)

I want to see him come back first. That's the first step. I want to see him practice. It's different in season. We're into a game mode, game preparation. We need to make sure that we are going to get the five guys that are ready to go ready to play. So how we work him back in will really be decided based on how he practices.

(How did Barbre do?)

He did OK. He didn't get as many snaps as I would like. I think he only played eight snaps, so I would have liked to have gotten him more work, but he graded out fine.

(What was the thinking there?)

Yeah, I want him to play. I don't want to wait until players have to play. I don't want to say it's a luxury; it's a little bit of a mindset. The guy that is competing for a starting job, back and forth, back and forth and then all of a sudden he doesn't play. I don't know if that's the best thing for our long-term plan as far as getting through the season. Kregg Lumpkin is another guy. I wanted to make sure he got to play in games before all of a sudden he has to play.

(When you look back to the Cowboys game last year, the week leading up to it, how did the players handle it and how will they handle the hype this week?)

It was a great opportunity for the football team. I think it was something that we were able to draw from, the Dallas game, as we went into the playoffs on some of the things that went on in the week of preparation. All the attention around the game, we refer to that as a prime-time football game. We did a study in the offseason of all of the prime-time games we played in. We had some common elements that we didn't do very well that we emphasized and were able to use in our preparation for the Minnesota game. It's definitely something that we'll address again this week as we go into another prime-time game on Sunday Night Football. So those are all great experiences, especially for as young as our football team was last year. We are a little more experienced this year. It's definitely something that we're going to look at again. We're going to go back and look at the game, talk about the things that went right and things that didn't go so well, and make sure we're able to learn from that.

(Is it just 1 of 16 or is it a little bit more?)

It's always a little bit more in my opinion because it's the next one. So it's one of 16, but you just can't look at it as just one of 16. I think that's an easy trap to fall into. They are a very good football team. They've got a lot of very good football players. Having the opportunity to be around a number of their players at the Pro Bowl, you have common insight of working with individuals throughout the week and you're able to learn about them. They are as good as advertised. I don't think you can deny that. They've got a big game tonight, Philadelphia. I think this will be an excellent contest. This will be a very, very big challenge for our football team.

(You mentioned that study in the offseason. Penalties were one thing?)

Penalties was one of the things that were too high in those games, and we're holding true because we've been too high the last two games.

(What else did you discover?)

Well, I'll just kind of feed that to you as we go on.

(Why did you do a study like that? Because you have a young team?)

Two reasons. Been playing a lot of them, young team was the second point. Really the number of things that went wrong in those games. We had some common mistakes, penalties, turnovers, and things like that.

(Does that fall under Mike Eayrs?)

Mike Eayrs.

(Are you going to watch the Cowboys game tonight?)

Absolutely, yeah.

(From your office?)

I don't know. We'll see. It just depends on how much work we get done. Probably the second half at home.

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