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Mike McCarthy's Monday Press Conference

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The players don't report back until Tuesday morning, so not much news about the Green Bay Packers on Monday. It's nice that the team has an 11 day break between the Lions and Ravens games, following a tough 3 game stretch that began against the Cowboys (11/15) and ending on Thanksgiving (11/26).

Some players, like LB Nick Barnett, used the time off to spend Sunday in Middleton, WI. (Really?) While RB Ryan Grant retweeted Ravens RB Ray Rice.

Meanwhile, Mike McCarthy had a press conference. The following is some excerpts from it:

(Do you anticipate anybody else missing practice time this week?) 

I think Chad [Clifton] is really my only concern. I think Jordy Nelson is going to be OK. Allen BarbreAhman Green and Brandon Underwood all worked out, so I think they definitely have a chance. These decisions will be made tomorrow, but those are the five guys that have a chance to possibly miss practice. 

Clifton, Nelson, and Underwood were the only players hurt on Thanksgiving that did not return to the game. Barbre and Green have missed the past 2 games. No surprises on the injury front.

Keep reading after the jump.

(Did you watch the game [Steelers at Ravens] last night with two teams you play in the next few weeks?) 
I watched it last night. I watched it into the fourth quarter, and then I was actually watching Pittsburgh's offense versus Baltimore's defense before I came in here today. 

(Did anything stand out to you watching them?) 
It's always interesting to watch teams in the same division. It's something that you have to put a lot of credence in as far as game-planning, because both those teams know each other very well. They played each other three times last year, and this was obviously a big game in their division last night. There's definitely a lot you can take away from the game. 

Good point.

(Has Jones showed enough to stay in that role?) 
Yes. I thought Brad did a nice job. I thought he played well. But I also liked the fact that Brady and Jeremy were able to get 10-15 reps in there also. I really like the mix we had there at the outside linebacker position, because obviously that's a big void with Aaron Kampman out. 

The 3 player rotation, led by rookie LB Brad Jones, is still in effect to replace Kampman.

(The special teams coverage units rank near the bottom. Why so many struggles and can that get turned around?) 
The coverage units are something that have played at a very high level, and it's the one or two that break out a game, and that obviously shows up in the statistics. If you look at the last three games, and that's kind of where it gives your team a truer sense of where you are, I thought the Dallas game we played extremely well. I thought San Francisco we played very well, except for the one that came out. Then we did some things in the Detroit game that you cannot do. We'll correct that, but we have the people here to do it. I'm very confident in our scheme and how we approach it, and our special teams will be a big factor going down the stretch here. 

It's not exactly a grilling, but it's the most he's said about coverage in a while. The game against the Cowboys was the best special teams game of the season, but that was a low bar to clear. "Very well" against the 49ers? The 49ers haven't gotten anything from their return game this season, but WR Josh Morgan had a 76 yard return against them in the 4th quarter, which was a big part of their comeback. The special teams was a festival of penalties in the 1st quarter against the Lions. Playing at a "very high level" except for the 1 or 2 per game that kill you? McCarthy may be confident in their scheme, but I won't say anything good about their kick coverage until they play well in consecutive games.

(These next four games you could call the winter part of the schedule. Is there anything that tells you how effective you might be in the conditions?) 
Well, running the football and stopping the run, practicing outside definitely helps. This is Green Bay Packer football. It's playing in December. We feel we're talented on the perimeter but it starts up front. This is the time of the year where people have to run the football and stop the run and be productive with all of the aspects of the game that come off of stopping the run and running the football, so that will be our focus. 

He might slip after a poor game against the awful Lions run defense, but RB Ryan Grant had moved up to No. 4 overall according to Football Outsiders, behind only RB Steven Jackson, RB Chris Johnson, and RB DeAngelo Williams. With the exception of week 2, when RB Cedric Benson had a very good game against them, the run defense has fantastic. The running game, on both side of the ball, should be a big advantage for them down the stretch.