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Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media after the team's sixth practice of training camp on Thursday. Here are some highlights:

On cornerback Sam Shields, who missed the start of practice:

Sam had an appointment he needed to keep. Dental appointment kind of flared up and made it back for practice.

On linebacker Nick Perry's absence from practice:

He has a groin (injury). We had a couple guys with some soreness.

On linebacker Julius Peppers' reps:

I think our practice schedule takes care of that. We've had three practices and day off. This is our toughest stretch of practice with three padded practices in a row.

On linebacker Mike Neal's return from an abdominal injury:

He's close.

On running back Eddie Lacy, who left Tuesday's practice with a sore foot:

Eddie took full reps.

On undrafted rookie cornerback LaDarius Gunter:

I think he's done some good things. He's aggressive, but he has something to learn, particularly on special teams.

On today's practice:

I wasn't happy with the tempo of practice. It wasn't where it needed to be. We have to get the consistency up. That usually comes after you come out of the install phase of training camp. We took a step back today.

On linebacker Clay Matthews, out for a third day with a sore knee:

Don't have a timeline for any injured players. He has soreness. Being smart with him.

On Matthews missing practice:

I think Clay's learning started April 15. The opportunity to go through a whole offseason primarily in the inside linebacker room was beneficial. I'm not concerned about that.

On having few rookies on No. 1 kickoff team:

In reality, you keep working all these combinations. This stuff about picking the team in the second week is ridiculous. Who's on the first-team kickoff team? That's up to the players. Special teams is different than offense and defense. Everyone has to be able to play multiple positions.

On quarterback Aaron Rodgers' five interceptions so far:

I think the good news is you're paying attention. I think like anything, there's no excuse for interceptions but they're graded different than they are in the game. Is it a decision? A throw? A receiver? I'd say at least three or four of them were competitive balls. He's going to do things in training camp is he's going to do in games.

On the punting competition between Tim Masthay and Cody Mandell:

I think it's OK. They're both consistent. We're going about it differently. Both are doing a good job.

On the battle at running back:

You need to be consistent. Have to establish them as three-down backs and on special teams. Preseason games are important particularly when it comes to running the ball. The basic fundamentals. That's the ultimate test. We'll have our first opportunity in New England.

On Family Night drills:

It's different with a practice, no doubt. Scrimmage was a different atmosphere. This is the way we needed to go. It allows us to complete our installations. That's really the rest for the change. The drill work, the practice is very similar to what we do on Nitschke. Helps on special teams. You'll see more full unit work on special teams. Practice structure is different. There's nothing like it. 70,000-plus fans and a lot of children. It's the best working environment I've been a part of.

On meeting with NFL referees:

That happens on Saturday. They'll work today, tomorrow and Saturday. I've always asked for the full allotted time with the refs. The last couple years has been outstanding. They spend a lot of time with players in meetings. We encourage conversations. If they throw a flag, they have time to talk with player.

On training through next week's game:

In the past, I haven't put too much into the first game. You're trying to get everything taught. With Family Night as the last install, we'll have a small preparation of Monday, Tuesday and fly on Wednesday.

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