Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy
Q: How much did Aaron Rodgers do in practice today and do you have any concerns about his health going forward?
A: I have zero concern about Aaron Rodgers as far as his health and he took all of his normal reps that he would take on a normal Wednesday of practice.
Q: If your team lost the way the Giants lost last week, what would you say that Monday and that Wednesday?
A: Any time you lose a ball game in this league, you have to move on to the next one. That's always our approach. We have a phrase that we call the "midnight roll" – at midnight on Sunday you have to move on to the next week, especially when you're dealing with December football because we all understand how important that is.
Q: Aaron is a guy who scrambles a lot. Do you talk to Aaron about reining that in this week?
A: No. I don't see myself having a conversation to try to change Aaron Rodgers' style of play. It's important for Aaron to command the offense, run the offense the way he always has and then play his style of football, so if we didn't feel that he was capable or confident to do that, we would not put him in that position, so Aaron is going to line up and play like he always does.
Q: So we're clear, he has cleared all of the hurdles?
A: Absolutely. 100 percent.
Q: How was Will Blackmon when he played for you and why didn't that work out?
A: Will is a fine young man. I'm very, very happy for him with his opportunity there in New York. Will just ran into an injury situation here going through training camp, but he's a young man that we drafted out of Boston College and I wish him nothing but the best.
Q: Do you approach this like a playoff game?
A: Well, it's clearly a playoff game for us. That has been our approach since we started our preparation. Everybody understands the importance of this win. We feel very confident since we are here at home. The Giants are a very good football team, but I think that, just stating the obvious, we need this win. We have to get to nine wins and it needs to happen this week.
Q: What kind of progress do you see under Dom Capers and that defense in his second year versus what you had last year?
A: Well, it's the challenge that every coordinator goes through and Dom and the defensive staff have done an excellent job in the second year where the communication is a lot smoother, the adjustments are a lot smoother and I think it has been very, very evident because of the number of players that we've had to play through the injuries that Dom and his staff have really put those guys in position seamlessly and we've still been very effective, so it's just a lot smoother operation and a lot of credit goes out to Dom, his staff, and the players.
Q: What does it say about a coach when you can go through so many injuries and still be able to maintain that level?
A: I think it says a lot about the system and that's important in any system for any phase of a team – you have to have the flexibility and diversity to a) play a 16-game season, but also deal with the injuries that may occur and we've obviously been on the high end this year and it's been a real challenge, but they've done a great job adjusting every week.
Q: Do you allow yourself to reflect on the NFC Championship game at all this week?
A: Well, I won't this week. I've done enough in the past.
Q: When you look back at that game, how frustrating was it?
A: It was a tough loss. There's no doubt about that. It was a hard-fought football game and the Giants made one more big play than we did and that's sort of what it came down to. There were big play opportunities in that football game and I think that will be something that we pay close attention to this week as we prepare for the Giants.
Q: Do you keep that game in the back of your mind at all?
A: No. I think that three years is a long time in this business. We're a different football team than we were in '07 and they've definitely changed also. They probably have more starters than we do – I've never really counted – but I think it's two totally different football teams and it's clearly a different season.
Q: How have you seen your run game evolve this season?
A: Well, it's something that we've tried some different things as far as how we've utilized our running backs and how we've attacked different defenses and how we've used our people up front, but I thought we did a good job this past week.
Q: You've lost a lot of close games. What's been the problem there?
A: Well, when you look at this year, it's all about opportunities. Losing close games is hard. I'm of the opinion that it's better than losing by a bunch of points. I think it speaks to your standard of play, your level of play, your consistency of performance and we've got to do a better job in certain areas. We address them each week. Pro football is very much a situational game and there are some situations that we can definitely improve on.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Q: How do you feel and when did you start to feel better last week?
A: I'm feeling really good. I've been cleared to play and it's nice to get back on the practice field with the guys today. It's definitely tough to miss a game this late in the season, but it's almost just as tough just not to be able to be around the guys and be in the huddle and those are the things that I missed last week and I'm glad that I'm feeling better and I'm back out there.
Q: You're wearing a different kind of helmet this week. Is that your choice or was it recommended to you?
A: It's just another piece of the puzzle here as I'm feeling better. It's something I decided to try out and I've had a lot of fun and a lot of success in my old helmet and hopefully I'll be able to have some of the same kind of success in this helmet.
Q: Do you have any concerns about your style of play now? I know you like to scramble a lot – do you think you have to rein that in a little?
A: Yeah, I think it needs to continue to be a reactionary sport for me and I trust my instincts when I'm on the field and I trust my ability to react to the things I see and obviously I'm a guy who has made some plays outside the pocket, I've been a guy who slides 95% of the time and I'm going to continue to be a guy who slides 95% of the time.
Q: What is your level of concern about getting hit in the head again?
A: Very low. I've gone through the proper channels in this recovery and been cleared and been told that I'm good to go, so I'm not worried about those things. They happen, it's part of the game, but it's not something that I can think about on a daily basis.
Q: What are your memories of being on the sideline during the NFC Championship game?
A: I remember I was about as miserable as far as the cold as I've ever been. It was definitely a game that when you're not playing it was probably that much more cold on the sidelines. I remember the excitement of being right in the game, of being one quarter away from the Super Bowl and going into overtime and unfortunately not coming up with the victory there. One thing I do remember though is that the first person I saw as I went on the field was Jeff Feagles. I had known Jeff for a couple of years and he was crying. I think it was his 20th year at that point and going to the Super Bowl for the first time or second time maybe. I remember the joy on his face and thinking about how badly I wished we had been the ones to come up with a victory that day.
Q: How does the Giants' ability to pressure quarterbacks force you to question or change your approach?
A: I think that any time we're looking at a game plan it starts with our protection regardless of who we're playing and when you look at the Giants' front four, they're as good as any front four in the league. They play at a very high level, the two ends are having great seasons – Tuck and Umenyiora are very talented guys, they get a lot of push up the gut – they're able to bring in guys in their sub-package on third down who can rush as well. They're very talented, so with us it starts with the protection and trying to find ways to slow those guys down a little bit.
Q: Do you give much thought to the fact that they've knocked six quarterbacks out of the game this year?
A: I don't.
Q: Do you treat this like a playoff game?
A: I think it's going to have a playoff-type atmosphere. I know our fans are going to come out and be supporting us and I know that the impact that this game can have on both teams. Obviously the Giants are coming off of a disappointing loss last week and we're coming off of the same kind of deal – a loss late in the game when we had a chance to win. So, it's two teams that are fighting for the same goal – to get in the playoffs – and it's an important game for both of us.
Q: Do you think that the way the Giants' defense collapsed last week will affect their confidence and their level of play?
A: I don't. They're very well coached. I know Coach Coughlin will get those guys re-focused. I had an opportunity to get to know a few of those guys at the Pro Bowl last year and I know that they have a lot of pride about the way that they play and very good leadership as well, so I'm sure that that leadership will surface. They've been a very good road team in the past and won a lot of games on the road as was evidenced by their Super Bowl run back in 2007 and I know that they'll be focused and ready for a big game on Sunday.
Q: This new helmet, is that one of the special concussion helmets?A: Well, I think that all of the helmets that the NFL tests in order for guys to wear them have to have some level of concussion-proofing and it's just a different style of helmet and one that I'm going to go with the rest of the season.