Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy spoke with the media Monday afternoon as his team prepares this week for a key NFC Divisional showdown against the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday.
Below are some highlights of what he had to say about the Cowboys' defense, running back DeMarco Murray and the latest on his quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Regarding the status of Rodgers:
"Aaron Rodgers is progressing, had a hip in his hop today. He'll have an evaluation Wednesday morning by Dr. (Pat) McKenzie and we'll set a plan for the week. He's getting better.
"It's a big challenge for Aaron (playing without enough practice reps). I think Aaron was brought up the right way, he likes to practice, he enjoys the competition of practice. Brett was the same way, and as a head coach, your quarterback has a responsibility in practice. It makes the whole environment of practice better. He doesn't miss practice, but we need to be smart and make an educated decision.
"He's a quick healer, I think he'll be in pretty good shape come Sunday."
On Dallas' defense this year compared to last year:
"I think they're clearly playing better this year than they were last year. I think it's more time in the system. Very detailed, very disciplined with what they're doing on each and every snap. I think what jumps off the video at you is their pursuit, the way they run to the ball. This will be a big test for us."
McCarthy was asked if he and his staff started to prepare right after last night's game:
"We went right at it last night. We came in as a staff at 3 o'clock. Watched the game and then started the game plan immediately after. I had the players in here today and just wanted to make sure that we gave them something, so we started to do the installation process today. We wanted to get a jump on the Cowboys.
"When the game concluded, we were ready for Dallas and Carolina."
What made him confident in saying the defense was going to play a lot better this season, and why he said it:
"I think we've clearly reached that target the last eight weeks of the season. What gave me the confidence to say it back then was the players, the path. We felt we had the right plan for using our players. Playing with more personel packages. The way you practice in April, May, June, and then the way you practice in training camp, if you're still showing the same things in second half of the season, that's a good plan. I think that's what you're seeing with our defense."
The challenge that Murray presents for his defense:
"The Dallas Cowboys run game is excellent. Murray is a big-time back, he's definitely a different-maker. Anytime you see a player for the first time live, they leave an impression on you. I was very impressed with him last year in Dallas, he'll definitely be a focal point for us."
On Dallas going 8-0 on the road during the regular season:
"I think the thing that's pretty evident in the Detroit game is they keep battling. They had a lot of big plays go against them, they have that mental toughness to just keep going. You don't win eight games on the road without that, that's for sure. This will be big challenge, and that's something that definitely jumps off on the stat sheet."
Regarding Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo:
"I've always felt Tony is an excellent player. He's ability to get in and out of plays, command the whole offensive line of scrimmage, and their run/pass balance, it helps any quarterback. He still has that unique ability to extend plays. He sees the field very well, he's very extinctive, has excellent awareness, he's a dangerous player."