Mike McCarthy Q&A

Packers coach addresses media Friday afternoon at NFL Combine in Indianapolis

Packers coach Mike McCarthy addressed reporters at the NFL Combine on Friday. Here are his responses to questions:

Q: How is Aaron Rodgers coming along in his recovery? When did you last talk to him?
Mike McCarthy:
I've talked to Aaron a few times - I talked to him on the day of the announcement. I actually just talked to him yesterday. His rehab's going well – we don't see any setbacks, he'll be part of the quarterback school … the off-season activities this March 19th.

Q: Do you think he'll be able to do everything?
We anticipate that he'll be able to do everything.

Q: You had such an impact from your rookie class last year – do you think, to take that next step, you need an influx of free agents?
My concentration is on the people we have. I know player acquisition is very important through the draft and free agency, but the biggest improvement we have to see in or football team will have to come over the next four months. March, April, May and June, and with the people we have there. That's really my primary focus. I'm looking forward to kicking off our off-season program and taking advantage of all those young guys getting a year better.

Q: To what would you attribute the improvement in your offensive line last season?
Number one, the players did a heck of a job. We just looked through the cut-ups, which every team goes through right now – scheme evaluation – you get to see the progress that particularly the inside players, had throughout the year. We're particularly pleased with that. The other thing that comes into play is the continuity of the whole line. We were conservative in some of our approaches – schematically, we helped the development and let the maturity take the time that it needed. I thought the coaching staff - James Campen and Jerry Fontenot – did a phenomenal job. I was really happy with the direction that room's going in. It's a very important room. I've stated over and over how important the offensive and defensive lines are, and I'm very happy overall with the development of the offensive line.

Q: What pressing needs does your team have offensively?
Pressing needs? Improvement. I'm really focused on the individuals we have here. I know everyone wants to talk about who's out there, but I'm more focused on who's going to be there March 19th (start of team's off-season workout program). On the offensive line, we need to get stronger. Receivers need to get faster off the ball, and I foresee that improvement happening. More production in the pass perimeter with the tight ends, and we're working on that this off-season. Quarterback play needs to improve. The fullback position – very good as the year went on – getting better in the new scheme. We have a bunch of young halfbacks and hopefully Ahman (Green), we'll get that worked out. I feel good about our offensive group, and the direction we're going.

Q: What do you need to do to improve in the red zone?
Score more touchdowns (laughs). That is obviously the focus. We need to improve on the production approach. Production needs to increase on first down, and that's really shown up in the red zone area. Fundamentals – catching the football, better routes. There's no real glaring statistic, outside of on first down.

Q: Are there personnel needs involved there?
Once again, it's the people we have in place – it's the job of myself and the coaches to get the players in the right place, regardless of the situation. Football, like many other sports, is about situations and fundamentals. With red zone being the situation, we just need to improve in the fundamentals.

Q: Mike, do you have any interest in Aaron Brooks?
We really haven't talked about him. I've obviously coached Aaron in the past. As I view our quarterback group right now, with Brett and the experience you have there, and the development of young quarterbacks is something I've always believed in and focused on. As far as Aaron and how he'd fit in, it's something I really haven't given any thought to. He's obviously played in the system and could add some value to a program.

Q: When was the last time you talked to Brett?
Within the week.

Q: Do you have an idea what the time frame is for his recovery and when he will begin workouts?
We've talked about the targets. Hopefully, he'll get the surgery done in the next couple of weeks. From there, start his rehab and go into his workout program, and a similar amount of participation through the minicamps and the OTAs that we had from him last year.

Q: Has a workout program been designed for him specifically?
What Dr. McKenzie, everybody, is really involved in is helping the ankle.

Q: How long will his recovery be?
I'm told 8-10 weeks.

Q: What is your take on the Randy Moss to Green Bay rumors?
Once again, you're talking about players that are under contract with other teams. I know that's the standard answer, but that's the correct answer. If you have the opportunity to obtain players to your program, it's though the draft or free agency, and he's not a part of free agency, so that's really where I stand on it.

Q: You've mentioned a desire to change things about how you run training camp. How will that happen?
I haven't finalized it yet. When you go through your first year, you obviously have to be critical of yourself. The one thing I felt in training camp last year, particularly in the third week, we probably did a better job with the recovery aspect of the players. So, I'm looking to cut back, just being smart about time management, not having them six or seven straight days on their legs and things like that. Those are some of the things we're looking to adjust.

Q: Did you like the nighttime practices?
Absolutely, as far as the number of practices, that's something we're still looking at.

Q: What is your focus/your needs coming into the draft?
Best player available. That may seem like a vague answer, but we're looking for football players - good football players – who fit your program. That's really what our focus is. We have a way of how we go about things on the offensive and defensive line, we play a certain way on the perimeter, and we're looking for the type of athlete with the character to help the Green Bay Packers.

Q: What are you looking to see from Robert Ferguson?
I've already seen enough out of Ferguson to know that he can play on our football team. He has to compete just like everyone else. The thing about Robert – everybody wants to talk about starting position. The starting position – whether it's two receivers, three receivers, that's not my focus. He needs to be a contributing starter, both on offense and special teams. He's a special teams player, and has played very well in the past. We're looking for more of a contribution from him there.

Q: Do you have to get faster on offense?
You always want to get faster as a team, but we're not trying to win a 40-yard race. Always looking to improve our team speed.

Q: Obviously, you can't talk about the Koren Robinson situation, but are you hoping he'll be back in the mix?
I can't even get into that, as far as his situation with the National Football League. Obviously, we hope that he's able to get through this process. We'll just hold judgment on that. He's had a very positive experience in his time there, and we hope he's able to get through this process.

Q: Do you need a player in the first round who can start right away?
Well, you'd always like for your first-round pick to be an impact player – that's obviously why you take him in the first round. Early indication is that we'll be able to get a very good football player, and it's our job as a coaching staff to put him in a position to contribute.

Q: How much stock do you put into the player interviews?
They're important – that's why we do it, that's why we spend extra time as a staff preparing for those interviews. You only have a certain time allotment and you want to get as you can in that timeframe. For me, it's the first time I'm able to put a name with a face, watch a young man communicate and get a sense of his personality. I think it's important, but the bottom line is what he does on the football field.

Q: With what your friend Marty Schottenheimer went through in San Diego, how important is it for a coach and GM to have a strong working relationship?
We've talked a lot through this first year about structure, and about atmosphere. To have a healthy atmosphere, the two people at the top of the food chain need to have a healthy working relationship. When I took this job, Ted Thompson specifically talked about having a partnership, and it's something that's a primary target of mine on a daily basis.
As far as disagreeing, to quote Marty Schottenheimer when I was on his staff, ‘It's your responsibility to disagree, but once the decision has been made, not to be disagreeable.' I think that's something, for any working relationship, that's good advice.

Q: After seeing Ahman Green last year, what do you think he still has, and what sort of workload do you think he can take?
I think he still has a lot left in his tank. We probably pushed the envelope with him too much early in the season – he was around 20 to 22 carries a game, and he was very productive, I still think he's a very productive football player.

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