McCarthy's Camp-Opening Press Conference

McCarthy (Brian Spurlock - USA Today Sports)

Packers coach Mike McCarthy hit on a wide-ranging list of topics on Thursday morning, the eve of training camp. While physicals and testing were ongoing, McCarthy discussed the return to morning practices, keeping a fresh message entering his eighth season and much more.

Coach Mike McCarthy kicks off training camp on Thursday with his opening press conference. We will have the highlights here.

The first practice of camp begins at 8:20 a.m. on Friday.

- Physicals this morning, testing later today. Administrative stuff, goals, expectations later. NFL security meeting, too. Football meetings begin tonight preparing for first practice in morning.

- New approach to camp: Didn't think had right rhythm and timing last year compared to last years. Every year, a position "stressed" by injuries. "I have all the confidence that we will do a better job of being healthier." Certain "stress points" in camp with consecutive practices, etc. "Six or seven adjustments" will discuss with team tonight. "Confident it will help us be a healthier team."

- Theme to training camp will be discussed with team tonight. Goal is always the same.

- Going back to morning practices: "Get them up early, get your heavy lifting done in the morning." That's what they do in-season. Went to night schedule for "other reasons" a couple years ago. Morning schedule "will help us as a football team" in battling fatigue injuries.

- Healthier: "Availability and accountability ... and have not hit the target on availability two of the last three years." Most of it is "the way it goes." Sometimes good years, sometimes "not-so-good years."

- Keeping it fresh entering McCarthy's eighth season: "If it's never fresh for me, then I probably need to step aside. Every season is so unique. Every challenge is easy to get up for." A lot of thought goes into start of camp. Each team is different, starting point is always different. "I'm excited to talk to them today."

- Leadership is an "ongoing challenge" for creating opportunities for growth. Challenged players to take on more leadership. Not about giving speeches but about "how you act and behave and, ultimately, produce." ... "You don't have to weight to be a seven-year veteran to say, 'I'm a leader.'"

- Rodgers as a leader: "I think Aaron Rodgers' leadership has continued to grow." Puts a lot of time and energy into it, which is reflected in the "little things that nobody sees." ... He's an "outstanding role model" of going about it. Everybody grows and hits some twists and turns along the way" but in tune with team. "Proud" of how he has taken the responsibility."

- Reaction to Jennings' comments: "When you put on that purple, something happens. Greg was a great player ... he was fun to coach."

- San Francisco in Week 1: "Definitely be excited" about opening against 49ers. "We need to take another step as a defense."

- Had better offseason program than the prior year. That's "clear and evident" to everybody. It's "back to the way it needs to be. ... We understand it's about winning the world championship in Green Bay."

- Low picks/UDFA and opportunities: Showed "all the rookies" that we're a "draft and undraft and develop program, and the makeup of our roster reflects that." Young players have had opportunities due to injuries in past years, which was part of McCarthy's message.

- Running game improvement: "Hey, we need to run the ball better. We're about winning and quality of play. Have to be honest and look at everything that goes on in that game. Most things, we're very good at but the things that we need to improve on, the guys are very much in tune with."

- Need to be better second-level run team.

- Same goals and challenges but with fewer and fewer practices: "It's a totally different era of training your football team. There's clearly a lot less information in today's camps" then when McCarthy broke in with KC back in 1993. Had all the information needed to make decision. "We continue to go the other way here." Fewer team reps in 2013 than ever. Finding "newer, safer ways to train your football team." CBA limits how you can train team.

- Performance-enhancing drugs: Will be talked about today. HGH testing falls under "player safety."

- Three QBs is a "product of Matt (Brown's) injury. Wanted to go with four but there are limited reps in practice. "Tough" to be a fourth quarterback because not enough reps. Want one for individual training and growth and development. He'd have five if it were possible. For now, staying with three quarterbacks.

- Relationship with Ted Thompson, who thanked God for having McCarthy at shareholders: Thompson is "awesome" ... "I'm very thankful for the opportunity he's given me and the program we've been able to build." A lot of confidence in each other. No micromanaging, which would be a "short-term successful formula." This team is built for the long-term.

That's all from Lambeau Field. Practice at 8:20 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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