McCarthy: Padded practice will help Bulaga

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga, left, helps quarterback Aaron Rodgers to his feet after being knocked down by the Atlanta Falcons last December.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media on Thursday morning before the team practiced for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams. Here are some highlights:

On injured right tackle Bryan Bulaga:

Bryan Bulaga went through practice smoothly. Today, we’ll be in a padded practice, so this will be good work for Bryan.

On playing without injured safety Morgan Burnett:

Communication has been very good. I think the communication has been one of the strengths for our defense this year. The network that’s been adjusted on the sideline has carried over on the field.

On Rams running back Todd Gurley:

I think the biggest thing with ball carriers or quarterbacks, you have an idea of their style. He’s going to be a big challenge particularly with the commitment they have to the outside zone. He’ll be a big challenge for us.

On Burnett’s recovery from a calf injury:

Every injury is different. The progression of his rehab is definitely increasing more and more. Until he gets to the point where the training staff puts him on the field for a full practice. I know the plan for today is to increase what they did yesterday.

On playing guys with limited practice:

A lot of that is based on experience and relationship. Definitely history factors into that. Morgan’s history has been we’ve given him opportunities in the past and he’s played earlier than he probably should have.

On the Packers' 13-0 start in 2011:

Every season is different. Every game is different. To get off to a fast start was obviously the focus. I think more importantly is how we’ve played in games and the adversity we’ve overcome to win games early in the year.

On third-and-long plays:

The percentages play to the defense regardless of who’s on the field. You get to play downhill to the offense. We like our matchups there, too.

On defensive tackle B.J. Raji:

B.J., just being healthy. He’s in the best shape of his career. He’s always been a smart, instinctive football player. His yoga has really helped. I always get a kick out of them stretching during timeouts. It doesn’t look right. B.J. is a hell of a football player.

On quarterback Aaron Rodgers improving over the years:

I think it’s the case of a great player raising to a level. Great players make players around them better. I think it’s a huge, huge compliment to Aaron. The time he spends with other players and the things that go into doing things the right way. Aaron has never been fined to being to a weight-room workout. He just does all the little things right. In a program, your best players have to be your best people. He embodies that.

On Rodgers letting his guard down:

That’s probably more of a question for the locker room. Frankly, him and I used to spend a lot of time together, but life changes. Our Thursday meetings could go for a very long time. That’s probably based on the relationships he has in the locker room.

On Rams coach Jeff Fisher:

You talk about building a program. He emulates that to the highest. I had an opportunity to interview with Jeff in 1999. I marveled at the job he did there. Gregg Williams was there, too. We spent the whole day in trailers because they were building the stadium. Jeff picked me up at the airport and I was just really impressed with him. I can remember telling my father when I got back. He said, ‘How did it go?’ I said, 'You talk about trusting your gut.’ He told me I have to go to Green Bay to coach Brett Favre if I had a chance. I end up in Green Bay and you all know what happened that season and Tennessee played in the Super Bowl.

On the gunners, the players who target punt or kickoff returners:

Our gunners are doing a great job. Jeff Janis and Quinten Rollins are doing a great job. Hopefully get (Demetri) Goodson back. Our coverage units … that’s what speaks to the identity of your football team. If you want to know how a football team plays the game, their personality, those four units speak to that.

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