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Coach McAdoo praises Aaron Rodgers; keeps focus on game prep

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Head Coach McAdoo is focused on Sunday's matchup with the Packers:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Ben McAdoo is not interested in discussing old friendships this week.


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Before coming to the Giants as offensive coordinator in 2014, the now first-year head coach spent eight seasons as an assistant with the Green Bay Packers. The Green Bay coach then and now is Mike McCarthy, whom McAdoo acknowledges as one of his most important mentors. McAdoo was the Packers' quarterbacks coach in his final two seasons in Green Bay. He worked daily with one of the NFL's very best at the position, two-time Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers.

On Sunday, McAdoo will participate in his first postseason game as a head coach. The opponent will be the Packers in what promises to be a frigid Lambeau Field. The Giants lost in Green Bay, 23-16, on Oct. 9. As was the case three months ago, McAdoo has no interest in nostalgia. That was evident when McAdoo was asked today about the impact McCarthy has had on his career.

"We're excited for the opportunity," McAdoo said. "To be able to play a 17th game in the league is not a given. We're excited for the opportunity. We earned the opportunity, and now we have to go out there and prepare for a big ballgame. Mike has been a tremendous influence on me, but this isn't the time or place for that."

The Giants' 11 regular-season victories were one more than Green Bay finished with, but that likely had little to do with McCarthy's somewhat more loquacious response when asked about McAdoo.

"Well, I think it is obvious that he has done a great job," McCarthy said on a conference call. "Your first year is - I don't care how well you prepare or how well you think you are, there are always things that come up that there is really nothing to point to. Situations arise and it's not like there is a handbook sitting on your desk where you just look it up in Chapter Six. So I think he has done a great job navigating the challenges of the first year as a head coach.

"Personally, yeah, I am very proud of him and what he has done. You want to see your friends be successful and so forth. But you have to realize what this is all about, it is about the Packers and the Giants in the playoffs. But yeah, I think he has done a great job, especially for it being his first year, and it is no surprise to any of us or anybody who has known Ben over the years. He has prepared himself for everything."

Rodgers threw 40 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions this season. In the last seven games, it was 18 scores and zero picks. And when the Packers lost their fourth consecutive game to fall to 4-6, Rodgers expressed his belief that Green Bay could win its remaining six games and win the NFC North. And that's exactly what happened.

Was McAdoo surprised at the turn of events?

"No. As a football team, I've been there," McAdoo said. "They do a good job of staying steady and not reacting to what's going on outside of the building like a lot of good organizations. Aaron is playing at a high level and the team feeds off of him."

On his own conference call, Rodgers said "a little bit" when asked if he keeps in touch with McAdoo.

"We have sent a couple text messages back and forth," Rodgers said. "I love Ben, man. I enjoyed working with him. He is a fun guy to be around and one of my favorite things is when you watch him on the TV copy and they show the kids in the crowd. Last week, especially, when they showed the kid (in Washington) wearing the Ben outfit with the mustache. I absolutely loved that. Ben is a character, man."

Rodgers said it is a challenge to face a coach who knows him so well. But he pointed out that McAdoo hasn't been in the Packers' meeting rooms recently.

"Ben has not been here in a few years," Rodgers said. "Things change. Every single year you are adjusting, you are adapting, trying to evolve as a player, and obviously your offense evolves along with it based on your personnel. Obviously, you have to be aware of self-scout, regardless of who the opponent is. But Ben was a great coach here, and I got to work with him a couple years directly and had a lot of fun with him. We will definitely make sure that our self-scout is in order."

Since McAdoo didn't want to talk much about McCarthy or Rodgers, perhaps McAdoo would discuss why he believes Green Bay is a great play to live. He did, briefly – while reminding everyone the game is the thing.

"Green Bay is not like a lot of other organizations," he said. "It's a great place, great family-type place. A lot of similarities to the Giants and the way that they are run. Different ownership structures, obviously. But that doesn't have anything to do with the ballgame."

*Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) was the only Giants player who did not practice today. Five players were limited: cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins (back) and Coty Sensabaugh (ankle), defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (hamstring), tight end Jerell Adams (shoulder) and safety Nat Berhe (concussion). Tackle Bobby Hart (forearm) practiced fully.

Photos from memorable Wild Card Games for the New York Giants

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