On Friday morning, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy met with the media to preview the Packers' 2014 season and training camp and to give his thoughts on a number of topics relating to the team and its players. Here are a number of the interesting points from his press conference.
One of the first questions McCarthy received was regarding Clay Matthews and whether he would be able to begin practicing right away in the first session on Saturday:
I haven't seen Clay personally yet. players were scheduled for physicals this morning, we have conditioning tests going on right now, and we have staff meetings at 4:30.
McCarthy was asked if he had any specific items he was going to address immediately when he meets with the team this afternoon:
When you walk away from the offseason program, my thought is I look at the big picture. Our roster of men, they're ready structurally and schematically, and that's what you're able to teach...I have a couple points of emphasis I'll hit with the team at 5:30 and we'll take it from there.
The coach also addressed the fact that the team did not specify whether or not practices would be in pads:
Going through postseason evaluations and notes, the way we do it is we have an overview after each practice, there's notes that are done after last year...you look at the things that were different and frankly talking to the training staff, strength and conditioning, we're going to a different schedule in the second half of our camp, we've got a different schedule for in the season. Your goal is to be in pads every day, that's the thought...looking back at our last two camps, the things that have gone on, where injuries occur, we haven't started where we wanted to the last two years...it's a philosophical change.
McCarthy was then asked about the defense, and gave a little hint about his initial feelings on the Packers' top draft pick:
I think it's important for us to take a hard look by position, by player. Do we have enough personnel groups, do we have enough players? ... I thought Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) coming in, you can tell right away that he belongs.
He then addressed how the team addresses player evaluation and analysis:
Preseason games have been a challenge; we've been focused on personnel evaluation, not as much on winning the game...there's always points in training camp, it usually comes up around that second week...you usually have a pretty good indication (of what you have), but until they get under the lights in Tennessee, you won't really know what you have until then.
One of his longest responses came to a question about whether the Packers would be willing to keep three quarterbacks on the roster in 2014:
The opportunity for three quarterbacks really comes down to how the third potential quarterback performs and what goes on with the rest of your football team. We never go in thinking we need to have two quarterbacks...we've been blessed. We all understand what happened last year, you could overreact to that...last year (2013) and my last year in SF (2005) were my toughest jobs from a quarterback coaching standpoint in terms of playing four quarterbacks in a year. We've had Matt (Flynn) and Scott (Tolzien) here from day 1, so we'll see what happens. We're not opposed to keeping three quarterbacks but it also depends on what happens at other positions.
From the quarterbacks, McCarthy moved to the offensive line, a group which he is clearly excited about:
This offensive line in my opinion, in my time here, has a chance to be the best offensive line we've had...I like our experience level, I like our core with the two guards. I like (JC) Tretter, (Corey) Linsley did some good things...their ability and production in terms of players has a chance to be very good...David (Bakhtiari) is bigger, stronger, he played every game last year...it's great to have Bryan (Bulaga) back, Derek Sherrod looks good and we can't wait to get him through a full training camp...we've got a bunch of guys who're going to battle.
Finally, McCarthy finished off his comments about the team by discussing how the team will address live tackling and conditioning work in practices:
I give our strength and conditioning staff a ton of credit. I think Mark Lovat is unique, he's always on the front edge of what's out there. I take a lot of pride that we don't have to run a gasser here, we don't have to do conditioning work...if you practice your team the right way, the conditioning is part of the practice structure. That's always been my philosophy...our tackling drills we've adjusted. What will look different to you is the timing of different periods compared to previous years...the errors in tackling isn't really the contact and the ability to finish and go to the ground...the most important part whether it's tackling, catching, is your footwork.
Get ready, folks. 24 hours from now, the Packers' first practice will be finished. Football season is really, truly here.