McCarthy: 'I definitely believe' Peppers will return
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media on Thursday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Here are some highlights from his news conference:
On not calling plays:
I think anytime you have job responsibility and change, I'm a systematic individual. I'm already thinking about what my call sheet or what I'm going to take onto the field. Those type of things. That's why they call it a process. You work through it. As we define all the responsibilities with the changes to our staff, we'll continue to do that. The offensive coordinator in the past has called the fourth preseason game. I have an idea of what it looks like.
On wide receiver Davante Adams:
I thought Davante had an excellent rookie season. We don't ever classify players on how much they play if they're a rookie or not a rookie. We're a 25.6-age football team for nine years now. When a young guy steps up, you try to create more opportunities for him. I'm very pleased with the way Davante played throughout the season.
On right tackle Bryan Bulaga being a free agent:
Well, Bryan Bulaga, I definitely want him back and I know Bryan wants to be back. We're now in that business phase of our game. That happens each and every year. Continuity on the offensive line, history will tell you that if you have five guys who play together week in and week out, you're going to have a pretty good offensive line. Best line we've had in Green Bay in my time here. The continuity they've created has been awesome. Production is the best we've had.
On any lingering concern from the loss to Seattle in the NFC championship game:
I don't think so. Every year is different. This is kind of a little bit of kickoff. You shift gears when you come down to Indianapolis. Every year is a new year. Foolish not to look at it that way even if you walk off with the Lombardi Trophy. I've seen it happen in the past. I've been part of those situations. You have to take each and every year and start over.
On the right tackle position:
I like the way our board looks right now. It would be nice to get our own free agents back. Not just the starting five, but this is clearly the best group we've had here.
On whether he thinks linebacker Julius Peppers will be back (he's scheduled to make $9.5 million in 2015 with a $12 million cap number):
Yes, I do. I must be the only one who doesn't understand why that question keeps coming up. Yeah, I definitely believe Julius Peppers is going to be here. He was very comfortable. He had a great year. He made an impact both on the field and in the locker room. It was unique to get to know Julius Peppers through the process of once he signed as a free agent. I think he looks great in green and gold.
On the combine:
It's an important part of the process. You see things here you can't see at the individual workout. I think you have to take it all in. The video is the most important. It's a long process.
On running back Eddie Lacy:
I don't see Eddie as a slow starter. Based on the things I read, the play-caller just needs to give him the damn ball in September. His first year, he made a huge impact for our football team. The number of tackles he broke was the highlight of his rookie season. Year 2, the ability to play first, second and third down was impactful for us. The focus was to get him the ball more in the passing game. Very smart, instinctive player. The understanding he has of our protection schemes. I think Eddie made the big step you look for.
On Lacy's touches in 2015:
I have no idea how many times he's going to touch it in the run game.
On the backup quarterback situation, and would he like to draft one?
Scott (Tolzien) and Matt (Flynn), it's really two different questions. Scott and Matt fit in our room and do a very good job. Scott is an ascending player. He has growth in front of him. You don't ever pass on a quarterback. It's the most important position in the game. If you are comfortable with a guy, I think you pick him.
On the no-huddle offense:
I think it's great training. There was a time when people felt the shotgun and wide-open play in college would hinder a quarterback in the NFL because you have to work them under center. I think these college programs have done a tremendous job of playing wide-open and asking their quarterbacks to play at that level. The transition for college quarterbacks coming in has been smoother in my opinion.
On tight end Richard Rodgers:
I think Richard Rodgers definitely improved throughout the season. You give him and Davante Adams opportunities, they improve. I think the second half of the season he was really comfortable to do everything we want our tight ends to do. Our tight ends are asked to do a lot. Richard is comfortable with that now.
On solidifying the safety position:
It turned out really well for us. It's a young, competitive. It gives you not only stability, but also flexibility and creativity. I think you'll see that going forward.
On Adams again:
The biggest thing for receivers is getting on the same page with the quarterback. (Quarterback) Aaron (Rodgers) does a phenomenal job of talking to those young guys. That's the difference. I think a lot of young receivers, they're used to creating separation in college football and get opinion. In our league, the quarterback throws you open. It's a different game.
On inside linebacker:
Definitely, I think the inside linebacker position could be compared to where we were last year at the safety position. Obviously we had a number of moving parts there. We'll see how it goes with player acquisition. I like the step Sam Barrington made. He made a huge jump.
On new play-caller Tom Clements' relationship with Rodgers:
Frankly, it's the whole room. You have to go beyond Tom and Aaron. (New quarterbacks/wide receivers coach) Alex Van Pelt has a great relationship with Aaron. We spend a lot of time with quarterbacks and receivers already. Tom and Aaron, this will be their 10th year working together and (new offensive coordinator) Edgar Bennett. It's a collection effort with those four guys. (Line coach) James Campen deserves a lot of credit for progress we've made offensively. Fit with Aaron and the coaching staff has made this decision easy.