Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy stopped by the media room on Monday prior to the day's training camp practice to discuss the team's health issues and various other items concerning the team. McCarthy has been holding his press conferences prior to practice over the past week or so, a trend which allows for little injury information about the day's practice participants to be discussed.
In his presser, McCarthy addressed the absences from Saturday's session and previewed a little bit of what to expect in the coming days.
First up was some general discussion about injuries, followed by a discussion of left tackle David Bakhtiari's knee issue.
As far as the number of players that missed practice on Saturday, that'll probably go down a little bit today, but that doesn't put stress on our practice ... no, we're gonna have another full practice, just hitting the targets we feel we need to hit as a staff.
David Bakhtiari, he's going through a treatment program, next couple days. he'll probably be out a few more days ... knee's been bothering him.
With Bakhtiari out, Don Barclay got some reps at left tackle on Saturday, a position he has not played in game action before. However, McCarthy's comments about another offensive tackle might shed a little light on what would happen if Bakhtiari were indeed forced to miss any significant time:
It's good for Donny, any time you can get reps there, we have other options but I think you really have to look at where we are. We're in our second week of training camp, you have to provide opportunities for guys to increase their value ... I know Bryan Bulaga can play left tackle, that's something we practice all the time.
Jared Abbrederis has unfortunately been sidelined throughout all but one camp practice with a concussion, and it was clear that McCarthy is disappointed by this. He had some high praise for Abbrederis' skills:
Jared's a very good football player. He's one of those players, it comes easy to him. It's natural, he's instinctive, his route-running ... injuries are unfortunate, they're part of the game, and it's an injury that's obviously keeping him off the field.
Moving on from injury talk, McCarthy took a question about how the team will use the passing game in the red zone, and specifically whether he thinks Richard Rodgers can be an impact player close to the goal line:
I've always been a big believer not only in the red zone but in general when you're attacking in the passing game, having big people attacking the middle of the field ... we start a lot of ways with the vertical passing game, and Richard's definitely one of those guys ... being a big body, big target, big catching radius type of individual, (the red zone is) somewhere where he'll have an opportunity to excel.
Mike Pennel was then brought up after his impressive game on Thursday. McCarthy implied that the team might be throwing too many different things at him at this point in an effort to see where he can make an impact:
Mike Pennel? He's in the middle of making that jump. Just look at that body ... did some really good things in New England, I think Mike like a lot of young players, who he is compared to how we play him, we probably could be a little more defined. He's trying to play three different positions.
As for the roster construction of the team, don't expect the team to carry only two running backs on the roster. McCarthy was emphatic about the importance of having a third person who can play tailback:
I think your third halfback, your third runner is critical. You look at games in the past when that individual isn't available, that changes your whole game plan ... yeah, the third running back is critical to your roster, and his ability to play special teams is critical too ... you look at Kansas City in 2011, we were down to one ... it affected the game, they were coming off the edges like no other. Ryan (Grant) played hurt throughout the game, we were down to John Kuhn.
Even though Kuhn is still around and could probably play tailback in a pinch, we think that's a clear sign that the Packers will absolutely keep at least three traditional tailbacks on the roster at the end of camp.
Finally, McCarthy addressed the play of the young inside linebackers, as well as the rotation there and how each player is approaching a heavy workload:
All those reps are valuable. It's unfortunate Clay's going through what he's going through, but it's valuable reps for those young players ... Inside linebackers, tight ends, fullbacks, those guys, you look at the amount of work that's done in practice, their responsibility on special teams along with offense or defense, it's a lot of work .. .that's why that body type is so important ... they know the vehicle to get on the team is through special teams, but they're getting (earlier) reps with the first or second team.
Stay tuned for practice, which is scheduled to start at 12:15 PM Central time.