Before his team took the field for their scheduled practice on Tuesday, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy met with the media for his first press conference since Sunday's preseason loss in Pittsburgh. Of course, the main topic of discussion coming out of that game is the season-ending knee injury that Jordy Nelson suffered, and the folks in attendance were understandably interested to know how the team will adjust to his absence.
McCarthy opened up by discussing Nelson's injury at length:
Moving on without Jordy Nelson, first off you have to recognize the fact that Jordy is what you look for as far as a Green Bay Packer. When you have an opportunity to build a program, a championship program, you talk about what you want your players to look like, to act like, he's a prime example of that. He's a great husband, great teammate, obviously he's a great football player. These things happen. You don't know why, but it's part of the game ... I just think back to Feb, March, April, when nobody's here, and he's here every day.
As he continued talking, however, McCarthy emphasized that the team's attitude and identity will remain the same, saying "It's a tough blow to our football team, but nothing's changed. As we said in our team meeting, our goal hasn't changed."
The head coach then turned to the results of Sunday's game, and he clearly was not particularly happy with the results. He said that the team "had way too many mental errors, things that just don't belong (as) part of what we're trying to do." He also mentioned that the young wide receivers "need to pick it up", implying that it was the case even if Nelson were still healthy. Still, he recognizes that the veteran's absence will lead to them getting more snaps, saying "it's an opportunity that they need to take advantage of" but also saying that they "understood the opportunity that was in front of them (even) before Sunday's game."
As for other injuries suffered on Sunday, McCarthy was his usual vague self. He noted that both T.J. Lang and Scott Tolzien are "going through the concussion protocol" and said the same when asked about Jared Abbrederis. McCarthy did note that when Abbrederis fell on the first day of practice, he knew it was a serious injury, and even said he "was hoping it was his back." Thankfully, the coach did confirm that Morgan Burnett will be back at practice today, having returned from a personal matter in his hometown of Atlanta.
In relation to Aaron Rodgers, who was icing his wrist throughout much of Sunday's game after being sacked, McCarthy said "he's doing okay" and that the coach expects his quarterback to practice Tuesday. He did note that after the injury, "I thought it was time" to take Rodgers and a few of the veterans out on offense, and that it was a good opportunity for Scott Tolzien to get some reps with some starters.
One other concerning injury is to left tackle David Bakhtiari. McCarthy said that he had spoken to the third-year tackle just before the presser and said that "he's improving." However, Wednesday's practice "will be important" for Bakhtiari, as McCarthy "wouldn't be comfortable playing him (on Saturday) without practice." Until then, Don Barclay will likely still get a large number of reps as the starting left tackle.
Finally, McCarthy expressed some frustration when asked if he would change his philosophy about playing his starters in preseason games. He even blurted out "What would you have me do?" in response to the question. "The injury occurred on the first series of the game. It's unfortunate...it's just one of those things." Still, McCarthy firmly believes that preseason action is important for all players, saying "there's still nothing like the game. Games are different."
Stay tuned for our updates from practice, coming up this afternoon.