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Coach Munchak's Wednesday Practice Report

Posted Dec 19, 2012

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on the weather in Green Bay)

It sounds like it’s going to be in the 20s, sunny in the 20s is probably a great day that time of year. I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere. I know the players should be excited about going to Lambeau, all that tradition, playing the Packers, a playoff football team. They’re trying to get a bye, so the game is important to them. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to see where we’re at.

(on the specialness of Lambeau Field)

It just adds to it. If you appreciate the NFL and the history of the NFL, then it does mean a little bit more than going somewhere else, going to a newer ballpark where maybe all that history isn’t there. I know when I played, I used to love going to Cleveland for the same reason. Jim Brown played there, and the old stadium, and coming out through the dugout, and hanging your clothes on a hook instead of a locker. It’s kind of interesting knowing that teams have been doing that since football started. It adds an element of fun, of excitement. A lot of these guys, obviously, have never played here, so I think it adds a little more. This time of year when you’re 5-9, those are the kind of extra motivators that kind of help make this game a little more special.

(on if the weather hinders the game plan)

Not any more so than we do when it’s windy out. We’ve played other games this year when the wind was a factor. We had to consider those things up in Buffalo or our game the other night, those type of things. If it’s not raining, if it’s dry, like it seems like it’s going to be, and you don’t have conditions like that, then it’s just a cool day. You just go out there and play, it shouldn’t affect the game at all.

(on the play of Aaron Rodgers despite the injuries on the Packers’ offensive line)

Yeah, I think he’s a special quarterback. Obviously, he has a Super Bowl ring for a reason. He’s very accurate at what he does, he’s smart, he doesn’t make many mistakes. He takes a lot of sacks because he’s avoiding making a mistake. He moves around the pocket better than people think and avoids sacks. He does all the things you want him to do, and he finds windows to deliver the ball. I think he makes up for the running game. That’s probably the area where you see when you have injuries that’s harder to accomplish. Over the years, their running game hasn’t been as strong as probably, they’d like. But again, they can still run it. You still have to prove that they can’t do it, you have to stop that, to keep him one-dimensional and make him have to throw it. We all know the challenge that’s going to be. I think it’s a great opportunity for our defense that has played a lot better the last six or seven weeks to see really where we’re at against a very good offense.

(on if the Packers struggles in the run game has affected their play-action game)

I think it does a little bit. There’s no doubt, if you’re not ramming it as much as other teams do. Maybe Houston, for example, that runs the ball more, you’re going to honor that fake a little bit more and maybe suck in a guy or two an extra step that helps. You still have to honor things that you see, just out of reflex. It’s hard for a linebacker or a safety not to maybe bite a little bit. You still have an element of that. Again, they’re scoring points and they’re playing well. Obviously, at home they don’t lose very often.

(on game-planning against Clay Matthews)

We played against Clay (Matthews) all those years at Cleveland when he was there and then I played. I coached against him when he was playing. We played against Clay Jr. his rookie year when we used to play them in the preseason. I knew that guy was going to be special. He’s got that great work ethic, great speed, a lot like his dad. It’s kind of exciting for Bruce (Matthews) to watch the film knowing that he’s got to prevent him from having a good day. Hopefully, he’ll reach out to him during the week and tell him we have all types of plans for him to kind of discourage him a little bit, maybe slow him down. It’s a great challenge. He’ll be on left side most of the time, so Mike Roos will have an opportunity to have a great matchup all day long against a player that’s going to give him everything he’s got.

(on why Clay Matthews is so hard to defend on stunts)

Just because of his speed, I think his athleticism. I think he makes plays you don’t think he can make. When you play a team like this, the 3-4 concept, they have better athletes on the field. I think he’s got a knack for getting a good jump on the ball, especially at home when you have the crowd noise. He just keeps playing. You could block him 15 times in a row, and all of a sudden, he’s going to make a play and the ball is knocked out. He doesn’t leave the field, he plays every down. When you have guys like that, they’re hard to find, that can play that hard every down. They use him in a lot of interesting ways as far as rushing the passer, have him on the edge, stunt him like you said, have him drop in coverage. He does a little bit of everything. He’s making plays that you wouldn’t think he’d make, even in the run game. He’s fitting that system very nicely for them.

(on if Clay Matthews’ speed will force Jake Locker to be more decisive)

I think the thing with someone like him, or like when we played Indianapolis with (Dwight) Freeney or (Robert) Mathis, you have a guy that can run you down. You have a guy that you know is always chasing you, a guy that you need to be careful when you are booting out, maybe away from him, that there is a good chance that if you stop, you’re going to get hit or the ball is going to be stripped. I think when you have guys that can run like he can, you have to be more aware that once you start moving, you better keep moving. We have to be aware of where he’s at. That’s up to us to as a staff, how you game plan stuff and how you formation things to maybe take away some of their strengths, which he is one of them, so that he’s not a problem, especially in an atmosphere that is going to be very loud. We don’t want to make things easy for him. That’s going to be a challenge for us, not just the players.

(on what is happening when Jake Locker holds onto the ball too long)

Really, it’s no one is open. The problem is that you’re hoping to get guys come free. Like we were talking about (Aaron) Rodgers, he’s been sacked 45 times, not because of the offensive line all the time but because he’s doing the same thing. He’s trying to wait for something to happen, with sacks they’re the second-most in the league. That’s the same thing, he’s looking to buy time. Same thing with Jake (Locker), a couple last week, that was the thing. The one down by the goal, he was waving and waving, either the guy is covered or he’s not open, and all of a sudden, you’re trying to find an escape lane. Teams are going to do a good job against running quarterbacks to stay in their lanes now. A couple times, he did get out and made first downs, but they stayed in their lanes well in those things, so there was really nowhere for him to run, so he took the sack rather than something bad happening with an interception. That’s what Rodgers does a good job of. He does a good job of not throwing the bad pass that can change the game. I thought that’s what Jake did a great job of last week, of not allowing that to happen, not turning the ball over. You want more points, but the bottom line is, we didn’t have any bad plays that hurt us. I think that’s what Rodgers does a great job of. Hopefully, Jake will continue to turn some of those plays into bigger plays.

(on if he still likes the speed of Jake Locker’s decision making)

The decision making is not a problem. It’s just sometimes it might not be the perfect delivery when it’s his fault. Sometimes, the route isn’t being run right or someone isn’t open or he thought the receiver was going to do something that he didn’t do. So you have some of that, that’s all built in. Sometimes there is pressure, the first pass he threw in the game last week, his arm got hit when he was trying to throw that ball to Kenny (Britt), we got pressure. It’s those combinations, that’s why, when you look at stats, you can’t be like, ‘Hey, what happened within the game?’ Not just with whatever his stats were in the game. The biggest stat was that he didn’t turn the ball over, and we won. We just have to continue from there.

(on spying a quarterback that can convert on third down)

I think most teams do a good job of that now. Teams do that to us. A lot of teams drop a lineman out sometimes for that reason, a linebacker tied to it. It’s real similar to when we played (Peyton) Manning. Peyton, you did the same thing, you had a plan for him, just for that reason or to add. Like last week, we did a nice job when they had nothing, the linebacker add got a sack. There are a lot of ways to do that, but for a guy like him, like you said, you have to be careful in how you rush, you have to be disciplined in your lanes. If you get out of one, he can hurt you. That is something that Jerry Gray is very aware of. You have to change it up because he’s too smart. If you do the same thing more than once, he’s going to take advantage of that. We’ll do different things so he can’t get a beat on what we’re trying to do.

(on what Michael Preston has brought to the table)

I think just a great story. I think it’s an example of a guy that works hard, and it paid off. It took him two years of working hard in practice every single day, and he runs every route full speed. He’s done that since he’s been here. In preseason, he does a great job on special teams. The numbers weren’t right for him to make the team, but he kept working, but injuries allowed him to. He gave us the confidence, it wasn’t just us thinking, it was the players. I knew that the quarterbacks are very confident in him, just working him out here in practice. It was exciting to watch him that way. He caught two balls the other day. He’s playing on special teams. He had a big block on Jake (Locker’s) touchdown run. He’s a physical guy that can go in and block, he can play special teams. It will be nice to see how he develops these next two weeks.

(on if Michael Preston could make a 53-man roster in the future)

I think so, just because he’s physical. He’s a big, physical player that loves to compete. Those guys are hard to find at his size. The fact that I mentioned already, if he’s not starting, he can block, he can play on special teams. So all of a sudden, you have a receiver that we haven’t had in a while around here, a receiver that can do a lot more than just catch footballs. He’ll go make the tough catch in practice. I’m looking forward to seeing him have an opportunity to get a jump ball in a game because he’s good at it in practice. I’d like to see how that goes. He’ll be fun, he’s a guy you’d like to see continue to develop and learn.

(on the status of Kendall Wright)

He’s sore. He’d have to come a long way to be able to play on Sunday, I think. Those are injuries that are very painful. When he tried to run out there to play again in the game, I don’t think he realized what he had. He ran out about five yards on the field and turned around immediately, realizing, no this isn’t going to work, I can’t play like this. He’s a great kid. If he’s not ready to go, you realize it is something that is very painful. We’ll have to see. It’s not something that will be more than one week, but we’ll have to see where he is by Friday.

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