Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 26

(Are you encouraged by Collins' progress this week?)

I thought Nick looked good. He had a number of pass break-ups today, and hopefully he feels well in the morning. I thought he had a very solid day of practice. I watched him quite a bit.

(How effective can Ruvell be with that injury to his hand?)

He caught the ball well today. I think he's relieved just to have the club off his hand. They went with some form of brace and the one they used today, it's actually going to be a lot smaller during the game. He actually caught the ball well today.

(Are you any further along on a timetable for Al?)

I'd say it's safe it's going to be at least three to four weeks. The thing that we know for sure is we've had to totally shut him down for seven days, so he'll start probably Monday morning with some form of conditioning, and it will just progress as we move forward. There will be some tests that are done along the way. I don't have an exact timeframe for you.

(So the consensus is it will heal on its own?)

Yes, that's my understanding.

(How big a boost is that, when you're thinking you might lose him for the year, and now you might get him back in a month or six weeks?)

No doubt about it. I think everybody was nervous Tuesday when it really came to light exactly what was wrong with Al. First, you worry about him personally. Just the number of conversations that Al and I had throughout Monday, it was tough to see someone go through what he was going through, never been hurt and really not feeling like he shouldn't be able to play. Once we crossed over that barrier and moved into gathering as much information, really, injuries like this go back to a personal nature. You're just glad it's not anything that could be life-threatening or as serious as it possibly could be. As far as getting him back, unfortunately that's the NFL. Guys have to step up. Tramon Williams is ready. Will Blackmon. And Patrick Lee has done some good things the last two days. That's the focus of our football team, and that's the ability we have with our depth, and these guys need to perform.

(You've been on both sides of this. Which is harder, being a northern team and going to play in the heat, or being a southern team playing in the cold in January?)

I would say a southern team coming to the north. I'll just tell you from my own personal experience. I can recall being in New Orleans, and we played a game in Cincinnati. We had to win one of three games to get in the playoffs, and we had favorable records to the three teams we played. We played in Cincinnati and it was like 34 degrees, and Jim Haslett and I, we're both from Pittsburgh, and I'm not lying to you, I looked at him during the game and said, 'Are you cold?' And he goes, 'I'm freezing my butt off.' It felt like it was 50 below, and it was 34 degrees outside. I think just being down in that heat, I just found the adjustment, ... that's just my opinion, right or wrong or indifferent. When you go down there, I think people feel the heat is refreshing to a point and everything, but you do have to be smart with the hydration, because it can sneak up on you. But I think mentally it's definitely harder going from south to the north, but I'd say physically probably going from the north to the south.

(Is Woodson's toe healing or does he just get back to where he was each week?)

Just talking with Dr. McKenzie, he's really uncomfortable until probably about Wednesday. Just as far as, it has to settle down. As far as the bone improving, it's obviously going to take a lot longer than a normal fracture because he keeps playing on it. To answer your question, I don't know if he's staying about the same or slightly improving, but I know he's really uncomfortable until at least Wednesday.

(I know you have faith in your young guys, but having lost Al, where would you be if you didn't have Woodson playing through this injury?)

We would be playing with more young guys. Charles Woodson and Al Harris are excellent football players. They're a big part of how we play defense, starting at the corner position. There's no doubt about that. You don't ever want to have players injured, especially you don't want to have your star players injured. But it's also part of the game. It's important for the younger players to realize they have an opportunity. They've had the opportunity to learn from two veterans that have played a lot of football, that play that style of football very effectively, and it's their time to put it to use, because we need them as a team to perform.

{sportsad300}(With Woodson, you had a lot of conversations early on in '06. Now that you're past those, what were they about? How much he would practice or how you would handle him?)

I think our relationship in '06 was more about me establishing a program and Charles and everybody else making sure that they're in tune with how the program is run and what the limits are and things like that. We had our ups and downs, there's no secret about it. But it seems like so long ago. I think what happens with any players, actually I had a conversation with one of our younger players, when the coach has the relationship with the player as far as injuries, can he or can he not play, because the natural reaction from the player is, 'I'm fine, I'm OK, I can go.' And when they're just dealing with injuries for the first time, I'm not really sure they can go. And they're not really doing a service to the football team by saying 'I can go, I can go,' and then you put them out there and they're not able to play at a high level. You have to work through that. Like I said, I just had a conversation today, and that's a part of a coach having a relationship with a player, going through experiences like that, because you're only as good as your information when you make decisions. Information comes from the medical staff, comes from the players, comes from the coaches that are taking him through rehab, can he get back and ready to play? Charles Woodson and I have that relationship. When he tells me he can go, I trust the fact that he can go. When we talk about the work that needs to be done to get him ready and it's done, he's performed. He's done it now for two years. So that's where that relationship is. You'd like to have that relationship with all your players. Now I'm not promoting people not going to practice. This is as unique a situation as I've ever been around. But that's all part of the inner workings of our business.

(How did you get to that point with him? During those shoulder and knee injuries he had?)

Absolutely. Just what he's played with, his reputation of playing with injury in the past. To play as quickly as he did I think with the broken leg the Super Bowl year, he has a history of it, and then he demonstrated that last year. When the medical staff looks at an injury, and they tell you they don't think the guy should play for a period of time, and then he steps up and says I'm going to play, and then he plays the first time and plays well. It's something that's earned, it's something that you go through. But he's done it time and time again. I couldn't tell you how many weeks he's done it.

(Assuming Bigby doesn't play, who would start with Collins at safety?)

Collins and Aaron Rouse would be the two safeties.

(Rouse moved around all right?)

Yeah. I thought he had a good week of practice. Charlie Peprah is ready, too, and like I've talked about I think in here on Wednesday, Jarrett Bush also had his snaps back there. So we feel good with those four guys.

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