Packers receiver Donald Driver had 10 catches for 148 yards in 2004 in his only previous game against his hometown Texans.
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and wide receiver Donald Driver, a Houston native, spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday afternoon.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy
(on how long it took to get used to the weather in Green Bay) "Well, it didn't take me long. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., so I'm accustomed to the snow and winter storms and so forth. Hey, we've got an indoor parking lot. We really don't get outside much – drive from one garage to the other. So it's kind of nice."
(on if there is a difference between being a Packers fan and a Steelers fan because they are considered the best fans) "I think there's a lot of similarities. Very passionate fan base regardless of where you play around the country. They're there for you week in and week out regardless of the weather. Actually, I think they're even better in cold weather. So, definitely a lot of similarities between Pittsburgh and Green Bay."
(on FB Vonta Leach) "I'm very happy for Vonta Leach. I spent a short time with Vonta here. This is a young, tough football player. He's done a great job down there fitting in. I'm very happy for his success. I have to say once again he is one tough football player. (RB) Ahman (Green), we had a very positive experience with him my first year here. He's rushed for a lot of yards as a Green Bay Packer, still has a home here in Green Bay and we wish him nothing but the best also."
(on if he prefers to play in extra cold and snow) "I don't mind it. It's part of playing football up here, and I think it's important to identify it as of when you build your football game. Thirty-five below may be a little too cold, like the (2008 NFC) Championship game, but hey, it's kind of nice to play in that, when it snows. We had a game here last week where the temperature was just about right. We talk about November and December football, and our players and our fans really get into it."
(on if he sees any differences in QB Matt Schaub and QB Sage Rosenfels) "There's a lot of similarities, and I don't think they really change schematically what they do with either quarterback. That's the thing that you always look for when you're breaking them down. You see them running the same thing with Matt and Sage. I think that's a credit to Sage because of his experience and ability to run all of those different concepts in their offense. But we'll be ready for both quarterbacks."
(on what he thinks about the Texans' defense) "They definitely have some very good young players. Everybody wants to talk about (DE) Mario (Williams). He's a special player. I think he really jumped on the scene last year. He's off to another good year. I like the way they fly around. I really like (LB) DeMeco Ryans, their middle linebacker. He's a good, young, very instinctive player. The biggest thing for us is the Houston Texans, an uncommon opponent, and we've challenged our players the last two days to spend the extra (time) on film study because there is a number of guys that we haven't played against. So that's really our focus now."
(on if he has had a conference call where he hasn't been asked about QB Aaron Rodgers) "I tell you what—I haven't kept track. Actually, I'd probably say no, to answer your question (laughs)."
(on what WR Donald Driver means to the team) "Donald is a great conditioned athlete. He's a true pro. He's an unbelievable example for any young player coming into the league. He never misses practice. You have to fight with him to get him to take time off at practice. He's gone through a bunch of bumps and bruises this year that he's playing with. The thing that just jumps off of the charts about Donald is his consistency. He shows up and plays with tremendous energy and passion, week in and week out, and is exciting with the ball in his hands. And he's definitely one of our key, core players."
Packers WR Donald Driver
(on how much an of an adjustment it was to play in Green Bay after growing up in Houston) "My first two years, I was kind of bundled up every game, kind of had long sleeves on, skull cap, just trying to stay warm. You know, my first few years, I played a little bit here and there but more on special teams than anything else, and that sideline was cold. Now that I've been up here going on 11 years, it's just one of those things that now, you just get used to it. Now, I barely wear any clothes. It's one of those things that you've just got to block out."
(on if he feels the cold is an advantage for them this time of year) "Well, I think it's an advantage but, you know, we have a young team as well. The thing about our young team is those guys haven't played in this kind of weather, either. But it's always been an advantage for us when a team has to come up here being from the South, because they don't get this kind of weather at all. But we have always felt that when a team from the South comes up here, then we do have an advantage on them. But you still have to play the game."
(on the last time he played against the Texans and had 10 catches for 148 yards) "Well, you know, that was my first time coming back home since I got in the National Football League, so it was just one of those things to go back home and in front of my home crowd, my family, just have a good game. So it's exciting. It's exciting to be home. As a kid, always growing up watching the Houston Oilers and the Houston Texans when they were there, you always said if you ever get a chance to come back and play here, then you have to play well at home. I just happened to play well that day."
(on how it has been for him to stay focused on football with everything else going on around him) "It's been easy. I kind of separate my personal life from my professional. I know that I have a job to do and I have to come in week in and week out and do my job, so I think it's pretty easy for me to do that."
(on how QB Aaron Rodgers has adjusted to following Brett Favre) "Well, I think it's hard for anyone. I think it was very hard for him because Brett is a legend here. He's a Hall of Famer, soon-to-be, and trying to replace those shoes, that would never happen. Aaron Rodgers has to be Aaron Rodgers. He can't try to be Brett. He has to be himself. I think if you look around the National Football League, people say that there will never be another John Elway and there will never be another Dan Marino. So I don't care what guys do with those teams, it will never be. So, here, there will never be another Brett Favre. But there will be Aaron Rodgers."
(on how QB Aaron Rodgers has handled the situation) "Oh, yeah. He handled it well. I take my hat off to him. He's a better man than most guys, because some of us couldn't handle it the way he handled it. But he knew that he had an opportunity to prove to the world that he can play, and he's done that."
(on RB Ahman Green and FB Vonta Leach) "I guess I could say I thought when Ahman left here, at that time, I thought it was going to work out. I thought he was going to change and go to a new team and maybe it would be different for him. You know, sometimes when you're facing an injury, it's hard to recover from, and that's the thing that hurt Ahman. Ahman is a great running back, and we know that. He was a great running back when he was here. So, I mean, injuries will hurt you. But on the other hand, Vonta, you have to take your hat off to him. That guy came here, he was just hungry. He wanted to play. So when you get the opportunity to make plays and play the game, you're going to be able to do that. I think the Houston Texans got a great player in Vonta."
(on if FB Vonta Leach being stuck behind former Packers FB William Henderson was the reason the Packers let go of him) "Oh, yeah. You have a veteran guy that's been playing the position for so long and he still plays well and solid, then, you know—and Vonta had all the talent in the world, but the thing is, he could just never beat him out. So Vonta saw that was the best opportunity for him to be released, and the Houston Texans picked up a great player."
(on what he thinks about the Texans' defense playing more man coverage the past few weeks) "Well, I think they have a great defense. We watched them on film, and they do play well and do play well together. But we take the challenge. I mean, that's one thing that we have always taken the challenge of playing somebody playing us man-to-man. Because we know that we have a group of receivers that are great with yards after the catch. So once we get the ball in our hands, we know how dangerous we are. So we take that as a challenge, as well as I know those guys take that as a challenge to come in and stop us."
(on if playing against Houston is special since he is from here) "Oh, yeah. It's still special to me. I always said it's great when you play those teams around your hometown. So, every time you get to play the Texans, the Dallas Cowboys, you have to step your game up a little bit more. I think it just gets more and more exciting."
(on if he envisioned playing in the NFL in Houston when he was little) "Oh, yeah. It's everyone's dream to play back in their hometown, so it's always been a dream for me to play with the Oilers. I'm a big Warren Moon and Earl Campbell fan, Haywood Jeffires. I was always saying that if I ever got a chance to play there, it would be great."
(on rookie and first-year starters hitting walls and if he thinks QB Aaron Rodgers will hit it) "Oh, no. I think he'll make it through pretty good. He knows what he has to do. He knows that he has an opportunity now to be the leader of this team, not just the offense, but the leader of this team. He's coming week in and week out and he's proving that. And that's why I take my hat off to him because with some guys, it would be hard to step in other guys' shoes. But he stepped in his shoes and took care of business the way he's supposed to take care of business. Me in my rookie year, I was behind a lot of great receivers and I had the opportunity to sit back and learn from those guys. He had the opportunity to learn from (QB) Brett (Favre). So he fit in pretty well. When I got my opportunity, I made the best of it and it took me to great limitations. And I think that's the thing with him; he just keeps climbing that ladder."