Mike McCarthy on Flynn, Peppers and a whole lot more


Mike McCarthy

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Mike McCarthy met with the media this afternoon at the NFL Annual Meeting and talked about all sorts of players and issues … most notably quarterback Matt Flynn and newly-acquired defensive end Julius Peppers.

McCarthy said that Flynn’s knowledge of his system and comfort level with the team are deciding factors in the team’s desire in re-signing the backup quarterback. However, McCarthy also indicated that he wants to have three quarterbacks on the the active roster each week along with another on the practice squad. That might indicate that the Packers are still high on the potential that Scott Tolzien brings and might also be a sign that the Packers will draft a quarterback at some point in the process.

Defensive end Julius Peppers will play as a linebacker with the Green Bay Packers. Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports photograph

As for Peppers, McCarthy indicated that the newly-signed Packer would be used as an outside linebacker within their defensive packages that will most likely be designed to take advantage of his athleticism. That sounds like a good plan. The Packers had success with the move of Mike Neal to the linebacker package and could work with Peppers in a similar fashion. The question is how the 34-year-old defensive lineman will take to the two-point stance as opposed to having a hand in the dirt.

McCarthy seemed intrigued by the possibilities and surely Peppers has been apprised of the Packers  plans for him – otherwise he would have signed elsewhere.

As reported here earlier, the Packers will also move offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga back to the right side and leave David Bakhtiari at left tackle.

But McCarthy also talked about John Kuhn (the team wants to re-sign him); B.J. Raji, who signed a single-year deal after he was told he would be moved back to the middle of the line; Micah Hyde will be used in just about every defensive package the team employs – just to keep him on the field; Ryan Pickett isn’t out of the picture, though McCarthy said the team would take a look and see approach – however, he did say they wanted to re-sign Johnny Jolly.

On the status of other players, McCarthy said Jermichael Finley is in great shape, but whether the team even makes an attempt at re-signing him is still in question – though highly unlikely. Finley did visit the Seattle Seahawks, but didn’t pass their physical. All reports indicate he has a handshake agreement with the Seahawks, but that could change at any point.

Defensive end Datone Jones

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

McCarthy also said that he thinks Evan Dietrich-Smith will do well in Tampa Bay,  but that his departure leaves his team with the challenge of its fourth center in as many seasons. The names of J.C. Tretter, Don Barclay, T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton were all given as a possible replacement, but that won’t be a decision that’s made for months.

In addition, McCarthy said he is expecting a big jump in production from last year’s first round draft selection Datone Jones. Apparently the ankle injury he suffered in the first preseason game was more significant than at first realized.

So, as the Packers work their way through the free agency period and look toward the draft, McCarthy seems pretty confident and pleased with where his team sits at this time.

Clearly, this is a team that isn’t finished with the development of its roster. Things could and will change dramatically in the coming months before the team heads into the preseason and regular season.

Stay tuned …