Seventeen years ago, Mike McCarthy was a graduate assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in quarterbacks, when he became a dad for the first time.
On Wednesday, McCarthy became a dad again when his wife, Jessica, gave birth to a girl, Gabrielle Kathleen.
“Just the birth of a child, it’s unbelievable,” McCarthy said on Monday before the Packers’ first post-bye practice. “I can’t say enough about the experience. It’s been a long time since the birth of my daughter Alex, and just to go through it again, you talk about toughness of your football team, there’s nothing that compares to what Jessica and what women go through to have a child. It was just a remarkable miracle and I enjoyed every second of it.”
McCarthy said he’s sleeping “periodically,” and joked that it might be good to be grumpy around his team on occasion. But, McCarthy said his new duties at home wouldn’t impact his performance at work.
“We have an excellent support group, Jessica and I, that’s in place,” McCarthy said. “We’ve prepared for this. The challenge at home, it doesn’t affect me at all professionally. I would say it’s a lot easier now than it was 17 years ago. I’m capable of doing more things in a different place in my particular life. But there’s nothing like adding to your family.”
Asked what keeps him awake more at night, football games or babies, the coach said: “It’s totally different. Bad calls keep you up for the wrong reasons. Babies keep you up for the right reasons.”
Between changing diapers and watching his new bundle of joy, McCarthy headed to the office to scout his players and the coaches’ play-calling tendencies. His assistants did the same, trying to pick up on tendencies that opponents might notice on tape.
“I thought we got some quality work out of it,” McCarthy said. “It’s always good to go through and clean your house in a sense a little more thoroughly than you do on a weekly basis, so that’s really what we’ll apply to (Monday’s) practice. It’s like anything. It’s staying in tune with the identity of your football team. Smart, tough, fundamentally sound, and we’ll focus more on the fundamentals (Monday) in pads.”
Head coach Mike McCarthy
Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images
Beyond the X’s and O’s, McCarthy, the coaches and the training staff self-scouted in hopes of finding a common thread among the hamstring injuries that have plagued the team since training camp.
For instance, defensive tackle Ryan Pickett missed all of training camp and safety Charlie Peprah most of camp with a hamstring injury, running back Ryan Grant missed most of camp and finally is back to full speed, left tackle Chad Clifton has been plagued by a hamstring for the last couple of games, starting safety Atari Bigby has been out since Week 2, special-teams ace Jason Hunter has been out since Week 4, rookie running back Kregg Lumpkin is on injured reserve and rookie linebacker Danny Lansanah strained a hamstring against the Colts.
There are no easy or obvious answers, McCarthy said.
“We can only control what we can control from a structure standpoint,” McCarthy said. “We’ve extended our stretch from 6 to 10 minutes. We’re going to do a more extensive warm-up with the players. It’s continuing education really, just to make sure that we’re getting our core temperature up, keeping it up, staying stretched.
“Our problems really aren’t at practice. All of our injuries have come in games. Different players playing different reps, different segments of the game, special teams responsibilities increasing, decreasing, all those types of things. There’s so many different things that factored into that, it was not just one thing we could say, hey, we need to fix that.”
The players have Tuesday off. ... McCarthy said starting defensive tackle Johnny Jolly was excused from Monday’s practice. According to a Packer Report source in Texas, Jolly will appear in a Harris County (Texas) courtoom on Tuesday because of his July 8 arrest and recent indictment for possession of at least 200 grams of codeine. ... Aaron Rodgers threw only a couple of short passes at practice. McCarthy hopes Rodgers will throw twice this week.