(With Bulaga, how do you balance trying to train him at multiple positions without throwing too much at him?)
We're keeping him on the left side, which certainly is not that big a thing. Obviously, it's an effort to see if he has the versatility to do a little bit of both. It creates some more competition at other spots. And ultimately, you know how this goes, you get into the season and you have seven that suit up, sometimes maybe eight, but you'd like to have some flexibility along the line. So I think that's the whole point. He's doing a good job so far.
(When you drafted him, did you have that in mind, that he could play both guard and tackle?)
It seems like all the people that we draft in the offensive line are all left tackles, and they all can't play there, so we have to move them around. Obviously, we're looking at him long-term as a tackle, but at the same time we want to try to make sure we get him trained for some other things.
(Why is that, that most college teams put the best offensive linemen at left tackle?)
I kid about it. It's just the way it's worked out. It is kind of true. I think yeah, most colleges, especially the way they throw the ball around put their best players at left tackle.
(You kind of gambled standing pat at corner, and Underwood and Lee look like they're working out. Do you feel as good about the outside linebackers, where you took the same approach?)
Yeah, I think it's going to be a pretty good group when it's all said and done.
(You feel you've got enough pass rush out of those guys?)
(Can you talk about the progress of Aaron Rodgers his first two years as a starter, and is there anything about him that's surprised you at all?)
No. I've said this before here, I do think the old way of becoming a quarterback in the NFL, which is to come into the league and be behind a really good player and watch that player play, I think that's beneficial. I think it was for Aaron. I'm sure it was frustrating for him, from time to time. I'm sure in terms of the yardage and the statistics and stuff, McCarthy would take credit for that, for his offense. But I think Aaron has done a good job, and he's got a long way to go. We hope.
(What's the one thing right now that might be separating him from the top-tier quarterbacks like Manning, Brady, Brees?)
He hasn't played as long as they have. There are things you go through as a quarterback and things that you see, even though he's played two full years, he hasn't seen it all yet.
(With Clay not out there, and I know it was the first preseason game and you're keeping things vanilla, but it didn't look like there was a lot of pass rush. Where does your confidence in those guys come from?)
I like those guys. I have faith in them. They've been good players for us in the past, and I think we'll be fine.
(Where did you find Tom Crabtree? His stats don't jump out at you, but he's obviously a good player.)
They had two senior tight ends at Miami of Ohio his senior season. I don't think Tom was the actual starter. He played quite a bit, but another fellow, I forget his name, but he's at Kansas City. But we liked a lot of the things about him. He's a good blocker. He's very competitive. Solid on special teams. Catches the ball well. And you could see that in college. Where we found him, I think he signed with someone else last year and then at some point during the season we put him on our practice squad.
(Would it be possible to have five tight ends?)
Yeah, that's possible. Sure. Again, it sort of messes up your equation at other spots, but it depends how it works out.
(Is Crabtree kind of an old-school guy? With his hand injury, he has the attitude that unless they're amputating it, he's going to practice?)
He's very much into trying to make this team. He has been since he came here on our practice squad. He works very hard. He is a no-nonsense guy. As far as old-school, I don't know. He's got the big tattoos and stuff. I don't know if that eliminates him from old-school or puts him in there.
(How did Quinn Porter come on your radar and what did you like about him?)
We liked the way he ran the ball in college. Watched quite a bit of tape. We sent one of our guys to watch him work out in the spring. He had a good workout. As you've seen out there, he can do a little bit of everything. Catches the ball pretty good. Very competitive, and he's going out there every day, which is helpful.
(How do you feel about the depth in your secondary right now?)
OK. At this time of the year, it happens without fail at almost every position, because we've got two or three different guys dinged up, you wonder how you're going to make it through preseason games and stuff like that. But I think our depth is pretty strong in the secondary.
(What has Mike Neal shown you so far in camp?)
He is very competitive, extraordinarily strong. He is still learning how to play, but he does some good things. He made a nice play the other night on a screen where a lot of rookies wouldn't have recognized that. We think he is going to be a nice fit for our rotation guys.
(Is it nice when you see a guy like Pickett taking him under his wing?)
Yeah, I didn't know he was but I'm sure he does. Ryan is a really good guy, and that's a good group, that defensive line group.
(The move of Pickett to end, is that about strengthening the run defense?)
Yeah, Dom likes them big up front. We had a big defensive line last year. We think it is a good fit for Ryan. He has that kind of versatility. We have said that all along. He is a big man but he has some athletic skills that are pretty impressive.
(You are down to two healthy halfbacks; do you need to bring somebody else in?)
I don't know about that, but yeah, that is what I was talking about at a number of positions. We wish we had some more guys that could go. This 80-man roster limit is a pain in the tail at this time of the year. We wish we could have an increased roster so that we wouldn't put so much stress because it is sort of a thing that it kind of continues. It is sort of a circle going round and round and it keeps going because you lose one guy and then you put more stress on the four guys. Then you lose another guy and you put even more stress on the three guys. Now we are down to the two guys and it's putting more stress on them, but we'll work through it.
(Will you wait it out and let the guys get healthy or is there an urgency to bring someone in?)
It's kind of an equation. First of all it has to be someone that you think you would like to add to the group, that is worthy rather than just a guy to take up a spot, and is there availability in that regard, what the talent level is. So you just kind of look at it. But we have some versatility there with John Kuhn too.
(You signed Simpkins last week from basically across the street with the Blizzard. During your time in the league, have you seen a case like him where you end up unearthing a talent?)
Sure. In fact we worked him out twice. He had really good workouts on two different occasions. There were some other people we brought in and he looked so much better than those other guys. We really got a little thin at linebacker so we wanted to add a guy and we had the ability, but we didn't add him just to add him. We added him because he had a good workout and he played well in the situations he was in before and he's doing a good job now.
(You added Dillon from an arena league as well. Is that an OK resource for you guys?)
Sure, yeah, we look everywhere. Our pro guys do a good job of that too. There are guys that haven't even played at all, that played in college and nothing happened for a year or so and somehow they make it. It's kind of being in the right place at the right time.
(Is that how you found Dillon or did you know about him before?)
Yeah, we knew about him before but then we did some arena tape and liked what we saw. We brought him in for a workout and signed him to a future thing.
(What do you think of the punters so far?)
I like them so far.
(Do you think whoever loses the competition could still end up in the NFL somewhere?)
I think they both are talented. I think they both are doing a pretty good job so far. We are most anxious about finding one for us. If the one that doesn't make it for us makes it somewhere else, that's OK too, but we're sort of focused on me, me, me right now.
(Does the one that you do keep have the potential to be the best punter you have had since you have been here?)
We'll see. We just want to get a really good punter and see how that works out.
(There were some defensive breakdowns the other night. Are you convinced that they are going to make strides?)
I think we are going to have a good defense, if that's what you mean. I do.
(No need for alarm after what you saw?)
(Do you think Dom doesn't need to show as much since the defense is in the second year of the 3-4?)
Yeah, I don't get into strategy with Dom. But I am not overly concerned about the defense, no. We're trying to get everybody to the starting gate and trying to get everybody back and healthy and get our rotations down and all that sort of thing. That comes during the course of the preseason and certainly from the offseason workouts and things like that. But you are just anxious to get your guys to the starting gate.