Coach Mike McCarthy
What can you tell us about your quarterback situation?
Aaron [Rodgers] practiced today in a limited fashion. As far as the pattern of work we’re going to do this week, it’s similar to what we had laid out for him last week.
Are you telling us Matt Flynn is playing?
No. I’m not telling you who’s playing.
Is it as simple as him getting medical clearance to play?
It’s probably more than that. This is a big decision. We want to do the right thing. Everybody understands the stakes, just as far as what we have in front of us as a football team, the opportunity Sunday having to beat Pittsburgh and how important this game is. In the same breath, we have protocol and a system that we go through with every player, and we especially want to stay true to that with Aaron.
One of the topics in the locker room here this week is the Super Bowl. Do you guys think much about that when the Steelers come up on the schedule?
You really answer those kinds of questions this week and really last week. It’s kind of unique to play Dallas in Dallas in the building that you won the Super Bowl in, and then to play the Steelers following week. It really didn’t hit me until this week because it was different driving into Cowboys Stadium because it was the first time we’ve been back there since the Super Bowl game. When I see Pittsburgh on the schedule, I just know what kind of game it’s going to be. I knew it was going to be a game of importance and it’s exactly that. Both teams need this game.
When that hit you this week, how did it hit you?
It felt good. It felt good to drive back into the stadium, no doubt about it.
Was there ice on the roads again?
The weather wasn’t great. It was bad for Dallas, but it was nothing like when we were all down there. That’s for sure. But it’s like that up here, so get ready.
So many teams that have the success the Steelers had in that brief era, they lose so many starters after the last Super Bowl and go into a spiral. The Steelers seemed to have caught themselves and have righted the ship. Do you see it that way?
Definitely. You have to really like their young players. I was just asked a question earlier about the difference between this year’s team and playing in the Super Bowl. It’s clearly the roster, but they have a lot of excellent young players on their roster, and you can see a team that’s probably playing its best football at the end of the year.
Could you talk about what attracted you to Eddie Lacy and his development?
Eddie has obviously been an excellent player for us. When you go through the draft process, we felt very fortunate to be able select Eddie where we were able to select him. He’s come in here and has really developed into a three-down player, which was important to us, specifically when we started the season with the no-huddle offense – the ability to have a running back stay on the field the whole time where we weren’t substituting back and forth. I thought that said a lot about him as a football player to be able to deserve that. You have to love his running style. He breaks a ton of tackles, he’s always leaning forward and he has excellent balance. He’s one of those football players where the game comes very natural to him.
Has he surprised you in any one area of his development? How is he in protection?
The protection part of it and the physical part of it, he’s handled it. It’s the mental challenge, and it’ll definitely be evident this week against the Steelers because of the amount and different types of pressure that they bring. That’s something that I feel any young back goes through. When we watched him for the draft, we liked his hands but he actually has better hands than I thought he did.
Had the Steelers taken Lacy, would you have taken a running back in the second round?
I can’t really answer that. It depends on who’s on the board. You know how that goes.
Were you surprised that Lacy was still available when your pick came up?
Absolutely. Like I said, we felt very fortunate that day when he was there to be able to pick him.
Running Back Eddie Lacy
Did you know Le’Veon Bell during the draft process and did you get to know him even better during the draft process?
I met him during the combine, well a couple of times before that in Los Angeles for some rookie things. I got to know him pretty good.
Does it motivate you that he and some others were drafted ahead of you?
You can use it for motivation, but I just go out and play the way I know I’m capable of playing. I don’t really use too much external factors to motivate me.
That first play of the second half against the Cowboys, I don’t know what you call it, the bone or the diamond formation, can you talk about that play and how it’s been a big part of your game plan this year?
It was honestly a perfectly blocked play. We had the right play called at that time. I didn’t get touched until I was run out of bounds, what was it, 60 yards later or something like that? It was just great execution up front.
Do you like that formation?
Yeah, I don’t have a problem with it.
Did you ever run out of it before this year?
I don’t believe so. It was more I-formation in college.
What has been your toughest challenge as a rookie running back?
At first it was picking up the speed of the game and trying to realize that every play is not going to be a big play. Sometimes it’s going to be one or two yards, and sometimes it’s going to be a tackle for loss. It’s not going to be a home run every time.
What did it mean to you to get 1,000 yards rushing?
It means a lot. For me to be able to come in as a rookie and just help contribute to this point as good as I’ve been able to contribute, it means a lot for me and that I could just help my teammates out.
Mike Tomlin talked yesterday about Le’Veon Bell being such a good pass catcher and that he fit this offense, and that’s why he preferred him. At draft time there was talk about you having an ankle or a toe issue. Could you go through that a little bit?
During that time, I had a lot of injuries coming out of college. That’s pretty much it. A lot of teams didn’t pick me because of my injury history.
There was nothing at the time that was bothering you?
At that time, no.
What about Tomlin’s comment? Did you see that he’s glad he got Bell? What kind of
reaction do you have to that?
I don’t have any reaction to it. Le’Veon is a great back. They picked who they wanted, and I landed in a great place. I’m happy where I am. It is what it is.
Would you have allowed Auburn to beat you this year?
[Laughs] Oh man, that’s a funny question. I think we would’ve pulled it off.
Is there any such thing as the rookie wall? I know you’re playing deep into December now. Do you feel physically run down compared to a college season?
No. Actually I feel pretty good, outside of the nagging ankle that I have. Just body-wise and being able to go out there and run the ball like I do week-in and week-out, I feel pretty good.
You guys haven’t had Aaron Rodgers for so long. Are you expecting him to play Sunday?
I have no idea, but I’m just going into this week like I went into every other week. Whoever is the quarterback, we know they’re going to come out and play to the best of their ability and give us everything they have.
If Rodgers is the quarterback, what is the difference between him and the guys that they’ve been running out there the last six or seven weeks?
It’s just a different presence. He knows the offense backwards and forwards. He knows how to manipulate the defense and gets us into pretty much all the right calls and can make the right audibles and things like that. He just always puts the offense in the best situation.
What were some of the injuries you were dealing with going through the draft process?
I had surgery on my left hand. I had the toe fusion and the torn pectoral, and a hamstring that I did training for the combine.
Now that you’ve been in the NFL for a little while, how good was your Alabama team last year?
We were outstanding last year. We had a great team going all the way back to 2009.
Give me quick one-liners on these three Alabama players: the left tackle, I can’t even pronounce his name, C.J. Mosley and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Are you talking about Kouandjio? He’s a great left tackle. He protects well, he moves his feet well and he has great hand placement. C.J. is going to find the ball. He’s going to make the tackle. There aren’t too many plays that he can’t make and won’t make. Ha Ha is just a ball-hawking safety. He can hit and defend the pass.