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With his team preparing to host the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC divisional round Sunday, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke with media Monday. Here are highlights from his 12 minutes with reporters.

On Aaron Rodgers' calf injury:

Aaron Rodgers is progressing. He was off today. We'll have an evaluation Wednesday morning and start preparing for the week. He's getting better.

Difference with Cowboys defense this season:

I think they're clearly playing better this year than last year. More time in the system. They're very detailed on what they're doing every snap. The thing that jumps out on video at you is how they rally the ball. This will be a big test for us.

On past Sunday's schedule:

We went right at it last night. We came in as a staff at 3 p.m., watched the game, and went to work right after.

On what made him confident his defense would improve this season:

I think we clearly reached that target the last eight weeks of the season. What gave me confidence to say it back then was the players, the path. We thought we had the right plan to use our players, being more creative, playing more personnel packages, using more than 12 or 13 players. I think that's what you're seeing with the defense.

On Cowboys tailback DeMarco Murray:

Excellent. The Dallas Cowboys running game is excellent. Murray is obviously a big-time back. He's a great player. Any time you see a player for the first time live, they leave an impression on you. He's very impressive.

On Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo:

I've always felt Tony was an excellent player. I thought Tony, his command at the line of scrimmage, he has a unique ability to extend plays. He's a dangerous player.

On where he was when Ice Bowl was played:
I'm sure I was in Pittsburgh, 4 years old. I'm not sure what I was doing.

On the Ice Bowl rematch

It's kind of a joke in our team meeting room. Any time something has happened that nobody was born, we say, 'Well, what about (defensive coordinator) Dom (Capers).'

On Micah Hyde's impact on special teams:

Micah just needs opportunities. When Micah gets opportunities, he makes plays. That's always been my impression of him. Fact of the matter is, it's winter football. The return game is always important up here.

On Aaron Rodgers playing with limited reps:

It's a big challenge for Aaron. I think Aaron was brought up the right way. He likes to practice, he likes to compete at practice. Brett (Favre) was the same way. When you have your star quarterback out there competing at a very high level every single day, it makes the whole practice environment better. With that, that's what he's used to. He doesn't miss practice. He wants to practice.

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