(Given the time that Ryan Grant missed in training camp, how confident are you that the running game can hit the ground running?)
He is a big part of it, Ryan Grant, so I just focus on trying to get him ready. He hasn't had a lot of work. That's a legitimate concern. He didn't practice today. He just had some soreness and we were just being cautious with him. Brandon Jackson and Kregg Lumpkin, they are on our football team for a reason and will also contribute to the run game.
(With the shuffling on the offensive line, does the run game as a whole concern you?)
It's a big part of any offense. It's a concern with the whole offensive scheme and what you are trying to do, but we've trained for this particular situation. I didn't think we would be experiencing it in Week 1, but that's part of the game. I'm not really concerned about it. I'm just planning and working through it.
(So it was just soreness and not a setback with Ryan?)
Correct. I'll be surprised if he doesn't practice Thursday.
(What about Scott Wells?)
Scott Wells had a setback with his low back/trunk injury, so we're gathering more information on Scott.
(That's kind of what you were hoping wouldn't happen, wasn't it?)
Definitely. I think it was 16 days that he has been going through the rehab, and this is unfortunate. I know Scott is frustrated, but he had a setback at yesterday's practice.
(So with him out would you line up like you did against Tennessee?)
(How big of a challenge given Minnesota's defensive tackles?)
Very good defensive line, probably the best defensive tackle tandem that we will play. That's why we have practiced the way we have been practicing with our offensive line. They give us flexibility, the ability to go into a game with seven offensive linemen. We're playing accordingly and going to prepare for it.
(You have talked about running more. Does this make that tougher?)
Running more to me is not a weekly focus. It's at the end of the day, the end of the season. That's a long-term projection of what the overall offense looks like. Now, are we going to go out and throw it 60 times this week? Probably not. It's just part of evolving in your offense and having the ability to run more when you want to run more. Throw it more when you want to throw it more. That's really what the goal is in all three phases.
(Your identity last year was built around the spread passing game. Do you know what the identity is this year with a new quarterback?)
I would disagree that the identity of our offense was the spread passing game. I think it was a secondary contribution to our offense. Maybe it wasn't done here before. We did it at a high level because of the production of our receivers, but the starting point of our offense is a two-back, 'Zebra', three wides, tight end, one tight end in, and one back, and that's really what it has always been and that's what the numbers reflect. Are we going to spread them out still? To me that's part of our offense. I would never classify the Green Bay Packers offense as a spread offense. That's not what we're looking for. It definitely has places in a game, has places obviously during the season that you feel you can do those things. The first thing we talk about week in and week out is not the spread offense. Everything we do starts with two backs and then it goes to one back
(What do you think the identity is?)
We're a multiple personnel offense that has base concepts like most people and has the ability to get into the variation of those concepts, both in the run protection and pass game. I think I would classify us as a pro offense, a multiple offense. We have the ability to play in two backs. We have the ability to play with one back. We have the ability to play with no backs, but the starting point is not no backs. The numbers show that and the way we install and the way we game plan reflects that.
(After two practices, is it realistic to plug Ryan Pickett in and think he will be the guy he has always been?)
Ryan Pickett I think is definitely ready to play. His feedback after yesterday's practice was very positive, so he'll definitely be in there on first and second down, and we'll see how much more he can handle. I think Robert (Nunn) and Carl (Hairston) do a great job with the numbers during the course of the game and we do have the flexibility with that group to rotate guys in. Moving the defensive ends inside in certain situations definitely helped us, so it's just how we rotate them in. How many snaps they get, that will be to be determined.
(There were some times where you gave up big runs in preseason. Does he shore that up significantly?)
That's convenient. Ryan Pickett is a very good football player, and I'm glad he is on our football team. He's an important member of our football team in the locker room. When those types of individuals play, it obviously improves your chances to be productive, but the run game, both offense and defense, it's about attitude and fundamentals. So when things did go right, those were in place. When they didn't go right, it was not in place.
(What kind of season do you think Johnny Jolly will have coming off of the shoulder injury and some of the personal distraction?)
I think Johnny has grown up a lot. He has been through a number of things here in the past year from a personal standpoint. Professionally, the shoulder hasn't been an issue for him during training camp. He has had a little bit of a groin. Very good, very instinctive football player, a tough, physical football player. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. I think Johnny, just because of what he went through last year from being injured, if he stays healthy I look for Johnny to have a very, very productive season.
(You made some offseason moves this year that could be seen as somewhat risky, starting with the quarterback position. Did you feel like you took a lot of risks with the roster this year?)
I don't think we took a lot of risk. It's about acquiring any players that you feel you can build a team from, and from that you pick the 53 the way you think the season is going to go and how guys are going to play. That was clearly reflected in how we went from 75 to 53. This was clearly, by far, it wasn't even close, the toughest weekend that I have had as a head coach as far as individuals that I had to talk to as they left our facility. I think we have done a very good job of training young players. I think we have done a very good job of acquiring players. I think our overall roster has improved in a number of areas. The quarterback position doesn't have the experience that everyone wants to continue talking about it. I'm not going to change it here today talking about it. I've been talking about it since it happened. We need time. It's going to take time. It takes time to develop quarterbacks. We've had the privilege and the luxury of having one quarterback for 16 years. That's very unusual and the numbers speak for itself because it is extremely productive when you have that type of consistency at that position. Hopefully we are building the same type of situation as move into the future now with these three guys.
(Is there any benefit for Aaron Rodgers to start off against a division opponent that he has prepared for twice a year in the past?)
I think Aaron's preparation for the Vikings or even if it was a non-division game would be very similar, but I do agree with your point that you're making. There's a lot of carryover, and that happens really for all the players, and it is his first start, so hopefully he will benefit from that.
(Are you optimistic you will have James Jones for the game?)
That's something the end of the week we'll have more information. All those guys that we think are going to be close, we pretty much didn't practice them yesterday and today, or just practiced them very little.
(If you don't have him for the game, how much would that change things with only four wideouts up?)
We won't be in five wideouts, so I guess that's one thing that will happen. Our identity won't be in tact with the spread offense. Jordy Nelson has done a very good job for a young guy, as far as learning all three positions. So I don't feel, just going through the installation we have in so far, there hasn't been any conversation we've had that said now we can't do that this week because we don't have James. That's a credit to both Ruvell and Jordy Nelson, so I don't think we're holding back anything. But on the other side of it, it will be good when James is ready to go. Because I think he's clearly, clearly improved from last year. I thought he was having an excellent training camp.
(Is life different for Aaron as far as preparation now that he is the starter?)
Life's different. Anytime you move from the 2 chair to the 1 chair, I think you're kidding yourself if you say it's not. It's you now. I thought he did a very good job in the No. 2 chair of supporting the starter, as far as in the game-planning, the conversations in the room. Obviously when it was with Brett, he was in the lead chair, and now that he's in the first chair, I think he does a very good job of talking with the other guys, making sure. Because what happens in Week 1, and I'm sure a lot of you felt the same way, you go down to practice and you go from this big team stretch to these individual stretch, it looks like no one's there. My point is everything's different. Everything's different in the first in-season practice, the first in-season schedule, so he's done a very good job of saying OK, this is how we do this, and this is how we do that, because we've really entered a whole another phase, as I talk about it, from training camp to in-season. So he's done a very good job of just telling those guys this is how we do this and this is how we do that. But as far as the preparation part of it, definitely. Everything is heightened. He's on top of his checks, his run checks. He came in early on Monday just to make sure he had it before everybody else. And he needs to continue to do that. You need to continue to put in extra work. That's part of being the starter, and every starter I've been around has done the same. It would be nothing to walk down here later in the week and see him in there watching film by himself. He needs to do those types of things.
(Any encouraging news on A.J. Hawk? Will he try to practice on Thursday?)
A.J. has done exactly what we all thought he would do. He's way ahead of schedule, and that's the problem that you have when you have to make these types of decisions. The doctor has a criteria of what he thinks the time frame may be, and then you have the individual, who has no history of being injured, and just attacked it. James Jones and Sitton are in that same category. It's going to come down to when the doctor makes the final call. But if you asked A.J., he'd say he could play yesterday.
(Does it seem like a weird injury?)
No, I don't think so. It's a muscle strain in his chest. That's the way he described it to me.
(Do you see a difference in Tarvaris Jackson this year?)
I think he plays with a lot more urgency. Looks like a young man that's more comfortable in his offense. I've always liked the way he moves with his feet, he's able to make plays out of the pocket and so forth. I think he's throwing the ball more on time, looks like he has a better relationship with his receivers, as far as timing and so forth. He definitely looks like he's matured a lot more in the offense.
(Are these extra two days this week beneficial?)
That's a really good question, because on paper, you think it's the best thing that ever happened to you, when you're preparing for a game like this. But frankly, with the number of people that we have hurt and the number of people that didn't practice, when you see Joey Haynos over there playing linebacker and things like that, there's some ugly spots in today's practice. It didn't look very good. There will be a lot of things to correct and learn from, and that's tough. Once again, that's part of going from 75 players to 53 and practice squad and people playing dual roles and everything, so it wasn't the prettiest practice today, but hopefully it'll count by the end of the week.
(The Vikings seemed to talk a lot during the offseason, while this team does very little of that. What would you do if that sort of stuff came out of your locker room?)
I think that would be classified as a loaded question. You'll have to call Brad on that one. I don't spend a lot of time on it, to answer your question. We talk about the media topics that Jeff presents to me at the beginning of the week, and I inform our players of that. But I've never seen anything to gain from that, and that's really the only message that I've ever given our players. To answer your question, it speaks volumes about the way they go about their business.
(Playing a divisional rival, against a team that should be good, does this game take on more importance?)
It's very important. You can't deny the fact that you're playing a rivalry that will be very physical, will be very spirited for a lot of different reasons. It's Monday Night Football. It's the one you point to during your offseason, and every team goes through it. There's definitely a lot more added to the punch, as you could say. But I'm more focused on today's practice right now. That's a product of coming in here right after that piece of work we had today. We'll be ready to go Monday night, I can promise you that.
Covers many topics and concerns?