GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Nine games into the season, the Green Bay Packers have been penalized a league-worst 655 yards.
That's a dubious distinction often associated with undisciplined league laughingstocks, and the sort of thing that would cause most head coaches to pull out their hair in handfuls.
But that isn't necessarily the case for Green Bay's Mike McCarthy, who says he can live with some penalties that go hand-in-hand with the Packers' aggressive style of play.
``Well, they're all bad because they affect your team,'' McCarthy said. ``But I'm not going to stand here and say we're never going to be penalized. I think that's ridiculous.''
Sure, McCarthy gets as flustered as any other coach about false starts, illegal formations and other penalties that happen before the ball is snapped - the avoidable mental mistakes.
When a player commits a pre-snap penalty during a Packers practice, he's pulled out of the drill as punishment.
aid. ``It's built into the way we practice and so forth. We need to continue to eliminate those.''
But McCarthy takes a somewhat unique approach to what he calls ``combative'' penalties, publicly shrugging off some personal fouls, pass interference penalties and holding calls as being the unpleasant - but not entirely avoidable - side effects of aggressive play.
``When you want a style of play, there are going to be combative penalties, and there are going to be penalties you don't agree with,'' McCarthy said. ``I'm not going to talk about those. There's nothing positive that comes out of it. It's a waste of time, and I don't want to waste my money either. It's part of the game.''
It's a subtle departure from conventional coaching wisdom that compels most coaches to stand at the interview podium and insist that all penalties are bad. McCarthy says his philosophy on penalties probably developed from some of the coaches he worked under as an assistant.
``It's not necessarily the way other coaches address it,'' Packers assistant head coach Winston Moss said. ``Mike has done an outstanding job of understanding exactly what he wants, especially from his defense. If we're going to ask those guys to play certain techniques that (are) going to require them to be physical, we can not come off and say, 'Well, you've got to be able to back off the penalties,' if you want that style.''
lineman Aaron Kampman said players don't have free reign to commit as many penalties as they want without consequence, and offensive tackle Mark Tauscher said coaches don't excuse penalties but might understand them if a player is being aggressive.
``I wouldn't say they're excused,'' Tauscher said. ``You're obviously judged by your performance, and when you have penalties it's a negative on the team. I think if you're really aggressive and you're being very physical with yourself and you're playing at that level, I think that's maybe a little more understandable than a penalty pre-snap.''
Kampman said McCarthy's nuanced view on penalties is another example of his real-world approach to coaching.
``I've always said this: One of the greatest things about coach McCarthy is, I think Mike does a great job of dealing with reality,'' Kampman said. ``He does a great job of saying when it's good, it's good, and when it's bad, it's bad, and telling it like it is.''
Despite their distinction between pre-snap and combative penalties, Packers coaches certainly would like to see fewer flags.
Told the Packers lead the league in penalty yards, Kampman tried to look at the bright side.
``That's quite a distinction,'' Kampman joked. ``Yeah, I don't know what to say about it. It is what it is. We're also, I think, leading the NFC in (turnover margin). So do they cancel each other out? Maybe. I don't know.''

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