McCarthy: 'We'll be ready to go' regardless of opponent
Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media after practice Saturday. Here are some of the highlights from his news conference:
On self-scout for upcoming opponents:
Definitely. Every area we hit on our self-scout, our practices the last two days reflected that as far as what we were emphasizing. Just as we left the field as a total team, whatever happens here in the next two days is totally irrelevant. This is about us. It's about what we've put into this. It doesn't matter who comes out of the south end-zone tunnel come noon on the 11th. We'll be ready to go.
On how practice went:
Really good practice. We had a number of things in self-scout that we wanted to focus on, so we had really a bunch of extended periods for competitive red zone. That's an area both offense and defense we can improve on. I thought that work was excellent. I thought the team work was great. The third-down pressure period was really good. It was all competitive. It was the tempo you're looking for. Our young guys got a lot of work. It was a very beneficial practice. Had the half-line drills so we got some inside-run, hardball-run plays ran – good for the run defense, good for the offense. Very pleased with the work today.
On ball security:
Ball security is a team fundamental that we work on exclusively every practice. It's about turnover ratio. Winning the turnover ratio obviously increases your opportunity to be successful greatly. That's the way we've always gone about it and I think starting tonight with the games that'll be played, the teams that take care of the football usually win.
On the rushing offense:
Just really our players are playing very well. I think the timing of the combination blocks in the run-blocking unit tied up with the course with our backs has definitely improved from Weeks 1 through 8 vs. Weeks 9 through 16. That's very evident to us as we have gone back and looked at the first-down runs, which our production's 44 percent and the goal's 48, so we're a little low there, so we went back and looked at those things. Explosive gains in the run game have really jumped up the last eight weeks. Once again, a big part is just our players' execution.
On the pass protection:
The pass protection's been good, just like the run game. We've really relied on our pass protection. We've gone a lot more five-man protection than we have in the past. It's really a tribute to those five guys up front. I just think the continuity that we have on the offensive line is the best that we've ever had in my time here. I go back to the spring, I felt this group had the chance to be the best offensive line and that's clearly held true in the regular season, but we want to be the best football team here in the playoffs.
On Richard Rodgers:
Well, Richard's important, just like everybody's important. We need everybody for playoff success. I know sometimes people talk about your big-time players have to play in big games, but everybody has to play in these games. That's what it's all about. It's the most competitive time of the year. Richard has continued to improve throughout the year, and that's what you look for in your younger players. I think he's improved in every aspect of his game. I think his in-line blocking has gotten much better. I think he's a lot more comfortable now in all the things that we've asked him to do. He's on the same page with the quarterback and that's a big step for any young receiver.
On if he'll watch the NFC wild-card games:
I'm a fan. I'm a fan of the game of football. Yes, definitely, I'll watch the NFC games with obviously an interest, and really the AFC games, too. But Jack and George have some big-time basketball being played today so that's where I'll be this afternoon. Yeah, that's what they've got TiVo and all those other things for. Yeah, you can get a lot from the TV copies. It's something that I watch a lot more now than I used to in the past.
The Packers have signed former West Virginia center Joe Madsen to their practice squad. Madsen (6-3, 305) is a former linemate of Green Bay swing tackle Don Barclay. He was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a non-drafted free agent in 2013.
Most recenlty, Madsen played for the Los Angeles KISS during the 2014 Arena Football League season, appearing in 16 games. He will wear No. 74 for the Packers.