Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan
CB Johnathan Joseph
QB Deshaun Watson
DE J.J. Watt
Conference Call with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick (Transcribed by Patriots PR)
Conference Call with Patriots QB Tom Brady (Transcribed by Patriots PR)
Head Coach Bill O’Brien Conference Call with New England Media
QB Deshaun Watson Conference Call with New England Media
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Will WR Will Fuller be available on Sunday?
“No, he won’t be available Sunday, but he’s getting better. He’ll be available soon, but not for Sunday.”
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick praised the heck out of you this morning, as he always does. What do you think about that?
“I don’t know. I don’t pay attention. I always appreciate working for Bill (Belichick). I think you guys know how I feel about Bill. He’s a great coach, probably the best coach of all-time, but we’re just trying to get our teams ready and trying to string together a few good days of practice.”
Can you talk about the decision to cut WR Jaelen Strong?
“Every time you make a decision like that, it’s tough, especially with a guy you drafted and things like that. But you just try to make decisions in the best interest of the team.”
Will WR Bruce Ellington be back for Sunday’s game?
“Ellington should be back, yes.”
What will it mean to have WR Bruce Ellington and WR Will Fuller V, two of the fastest receivers, together when he comes back?
“You always want your full complement of players, but that’s the NFL. So, again, we’re happy with what we have right now. Our guys practiced good today. I feel like we have a good plan in all three phases, but we have to keep plugging here. I mean, we have third down tomorrow (and) we have a lot of things – two-minute – we got to get worked on. If you don’t practice good in situational football in preparation for the Patriots, you’re in trouble. They scored at the end of the half again for about the millionth time last week against the Saints. So, we have a lot of things that we’re working on. The players that are available to us, we’re coaching the heck out of them and those guys are doing a good job.”
What do you see from how the Patriots have attacked rookies and what do you expect them to try to do?
“Yeah, that’s one thing I have read, but I would tell you that it’s hard for any quarterback. How many times have they lost at Gillette Stadium, to any quarterback? Look up their record at Gillette Stadium over the last 16 years or at least since, or at least since, let’s just say since 2003, what’s their record at home? It’s probably pretty good, so that would include not just rookie quarterbacks, but any quarterback. And relative to that, I think that we’re preparing Deshaun (Watson). He’s working very, very hard. I think, with our team, relative to that, I think it’s just important to go up there and go one play at a time. Put a great deal of focus on that play and then move on to the next play, what’s the next situation, and really focus on what your job is on each and every play. That’s what you have to do. You can’t worry about Gillette Stadium, Schick Stadium, Schaefer Stadium (or) Sullivan Stadium. It’s about what’s going on during that game.”
When did you realize that QB Deshaun Watson has the confidence that he has?
“You watch him on tape in college (and) you see what he did in college. I think that when we met him he carried himself very well. When you come into a meeting at the combine with the general manager and the head coach and various other people in the meeting room, it’s a small hotel room (and) the prospect sits right in the middle of everybody. It’s a tough environment and I thought he handled himself real well. So, that was the first time I really met him, and he handled himself well.”
Has that confidence grown during QB Deshaun Watson’s time here?
“I don’t think that confidence for him needs to grow, if that makes sense. That’s what he is. He’s very confident in his own ability, his own work ethic. Obviously, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’ll learn, he’ll see things for the first time every time he’s out there – different coverages, different blitzes, different skillsets of different players – and he’ll learn. He’s a very smart guy. He learns very quickly. He’ll do a good job of that.”
Will CB Johnathan Joseph play on Sunday?
“Yeah, J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph) will play on Sunday.”
Has QB Deshaun Watson shown calmness in the big moments he’s had here so far?
“I’ve never seen a change in his personality, if that makes sense. He’s the same guy every day. He’s calm. He’s got a really good demeanor about him. He’s very friendly to all of his teammates. (To the) coaches, very respectful. A very coachable guy. But, he never changes. He’s flat line, he’s not up and down. What you see every single day is what you see out on the field.”
Given the injury situation, is it a tough balance right now to give QB Deshaun Watson the pieces he needs?
“Like I said, we look at the roster every week. Everybody in the league’s dealing with injuries. Maybe we’re dealing with a few more than some other teams, but I thought the way that we went out last game and the way that we used seven linemen at times, obviously, we threw the ball. I think everyone in the league knows we’re going to throw the ball to (DeAndre) Hopkins. So, he’s going to get his share of targets. I think Braxton (Miller) did some decent things in the game. He was hurt for a while, so he’s just getting back. Bruce Ellington is now back. He was out for the last game. It’s good to have him back. At the end of the day, you look at your roster (and) you say, ‘These are the guys available to us and how do you manufacture a game plan with tight ends, backs and receivers with what you have, including offensive linemen,’ and that’s what we try to do every week.”
Are you hoping to eventually progress QB Deshaun Watson’s yards per attempt over time?
“Absolutely. We do not want to average under five yards per pass attempt. There’s no doubt about it. We want to eventually try to get the ball down the field, but I think a lot of that is dictated by what we see and we try to, at times, take what the defense gives us and things like that. But, obviously, as we move on and he gets more experience, meaning Deshaun (Watson), I think that we’ll see more of that.”
How do you utilize the extra time you have when you go from a Thursday game to a Sunday game?
“It’s good to have the extra time, I will say that, especially from a – well, not especially – I would say, first of all, from a coaching standpoint, you’re able to go back and look at yourself, first of all, all the way back through from training camp all the way through the first two weeks. You’re able to go look at the Patriots, whatever you want to look at. You have a lot of time to do that. I think it gives the players a chance to take a breath early in the season. It’s like a mini-bye, where they can get extra treatment, get healthy – we have a number of guys back at practice today, which was good. A guy like Alfred Blue was back out there today, which was good to see. It looked like he was running pretty well. So, I think it helps in that regard, too.
What did you learn about ILB Zach Cunningham’s cover abilities and what do you expect from him in that area?
“I think Zach has improved. I just talked to him before practice today. I think his goal is just to continue to get better, is to not take a step back. I think every game he’s gone out there, whether it’s special teams or defense, he’s gotten better. He made a play on third down on a back, I think it was on a back, against Cincinnati, tackled him short of the sticks and then he went out there and made plays on the punt team. He’s getting better every week and I think for him, relative to the Patriots, look, I don’t know many linebackers that have a lot of success covering James White and (Rex) Burkhead and Dion Lewis and the guys that they have. I think the big thing to do is it’s got to be combined with a pass rush. You have to get a rush and you can’t let Tom (Brady) stand back there forever and let him throw down the field to backs or receivers or tight ends. You’ve got to do a good job of combining both the coverage and the rush.”
What does it say about your defense to only give up one 300-yard passers in the last three seasons?
“I think, it’s kind of like I was just saying, what I talk to the team a lot about in squad meetings when it relates to the defense is showing them examples of the rush and the coverage working together. If we can stay in tight coverage, whether it’s man or zone, if we can be where we’re supposed to be and give the rush an extra half a second to get home, those things all work together. And I think it goes the other way. If you can maybe hit a guy at the line of scrimmage, maybe that gives your rush time to get home a little bit, too. So, I think it all goes together and I think that our defense, when they’re playing well in both areas, stopping the run and against the pass, I think that’s what you see, is a combination of coverage and rush.”
Will RB Alfred Blue be ready to go on Sunday?
“I don’t know yet, but he looked decent today. I think he looked decent. We’ll make a decision on that probably after Friday.”
What did you think about Patriots QB Tom Brady giving $100,000 to Texans DE J.J. Watt and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, $50,000?
“They are great guys. I mean, Tom’s a great guy, he’s a caring guy. He understands what’s going on, not just in football but around the country and I know he knows J.J. and that’s a good thing. And then obviously Bill’s the same way. Bill’s a good guy and that was nice of them to do that.”
You guys have the league’s best percentage of winning games that you’re leading at halftime. Is part of that being able to stick with what’s working and sticking to your strengths in that game?
“Yeah, probably. I think it’s a combination of the players really understanding at halftime how we want to attack it in the second half, and the coaches doing a good job of sticking with what got us to that point in the first half or, like, ‘Look, we need to change here. This is not good. This is something that has to change. We either have to do it out of this personnel or we need to shelf it.’ And I think when we’ve won, when we’ve been successful after halftime, that’s really something that’s taken shape in the second half. We’ve been able to decide that, stick with it and it’s been a good decision.”
Can you assess the offensive line play and what C Greg Mancz means to you?
“I thought the line improved. I think it’s – like I always say to you guys, it’s a progress league. I think they have to keep getting better. We have to keep helping them relative to coaching and scheme and all those things and I think they really improved against Cincinnati. I thought Greg played a good game. I thought he played good at the point of attack, he pulled well, he was decent in the passing game pass-protection wise. I thought he played well right there next to Nick (Martin).”
How do you get RB Alfred Blue re-acclimated to the running game and how nice is it to get TE Ryan Griffin back?
“Look, I think the rotation – Alfred’s really, number one, going to help us on special teams when he does get back, whether it’s this week or in the future. As far as the rotation at running back, the main guys right now are Lamar (Miller) and D’Onta (Foreman) and then we mix Tyler Ervin in there sometimes. Blue will work his way back into that rotation, but I’d say his main role will be special teams when he comes back. The question about Ryan Griffin, it’s good to have Griff back. Griff’s made a lot of plays for us over the years here and its’ good to have him back in the lineup.”
Last season, when did you find out you’d lose DE J.J. Watt for the season and what was your initial feeling?
“It was after the game and look, that’s a tough thing. Any time you lose a player like that, that’s not easy, but I think, like I’ve said about injuries, I can’t emphasize this enough, it happens. And you have to be able to move forward. You have to care about the players injured, you have to be one-on-one with that player and help him understand how he’s going to get through it, especially the trainers and medical people. But as a coach, you have to move on. And as a player, the next guy needs to step up and I think that was the key last year, that when we lost, like what I’ve said before, the best defensive player in the league, a lot of guys stepped up to fill that void.”
What did DE J.J. Watt mean to the team even when he couldn’t play?
“He means a lot to this team, to this organization, to this city. When he’s out there, obviously, playing, it’s huge and then last year when he wasn’t able to play and he was on the sideline, I could remember the look in (Jadeveon) Clowney’s eyes and the look in Whitney’s (Mercilus) eyes just having him out there. He’s helping coach up those guys because he knows what he’s looking at and then obviously his energy helped everybody. But again, having him back in there is a whole lot better than having him standing on the sideline.”
QUARTERBACKS COACH SEAN RYAN
What are some things you’re expecting from the Patriots to try to confuse a young quarterback?
“I think any time you’re going against a young quarterback or you’re coaching up a young quarterback, what you really have to emphasize with him is they’re going to hold looks for as long as they can, and at the snap of the ball is really when you have to identify what’s going on, what you’re seeing. So, it’s all about talking to him about, ‘Look, what they’re showing you pre-snap doesn’t actually mean what’s going to happen after the ball’s snapped.’ You have to be locked in to that. It comes from film study and then it comes from within the game, seeing what the plan is as you go through the game and getting them up to speed on that in between series. Really, the snap of the ball identification is huge.”
Do you see him learning things like that play to play or quarter to quarter?
“Yeah, I think so. What was really good, I thought, in Cincinnati was his communication in between series. A lot of it was he was doing a good job of explaining what he was seeing and why he was making the decisions he was making. I think as long as we continue to have that communication, those open lines going between series, I’ll know what he’s thinking and we can kind of help him along as we get through the games. I thought he did a really good job with that.”
Is it an immediate goal for you guys to find a secondary receiver to take some coverage away from WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“I think all the time you’re looking to have a situation where the quarterback can distribute the ball around and spread it out. I think that’s always the goal of an offense. We go through our progressions, we go through our reads, we take the ball where the read takes us. We try to stay true to that as much as we can, within also understanding matchups. I think that’s a weekly deal. Whoever we have out there is who and what we’re going to make work.”
Do you have an example of when you’ve seen QB Deshaun Watson’s calmness in big moments?
“Personally, it was, I think, pregame when you’re talking to him. It could’ve been a conversation with him about scheme or just in general. Like I said, he’s able to really just communicate with you just what he’s thinking, what he expects from a defense based on what we’ve told him going into it, how he feels he would react to certain plays. There’s a lot of calm communication coming from the guy. It was both pregame, and like I said, more importantly and more, probably, impressive, was in between series as the game’s going on. Whether it was a good series or not, he was able to come over, explain what he saw, what happened, and be able to look at the pictures and kind of get it right and come up with solutions when there were problems moving forward. So, I thought those were some examples of him just being calm all the way through.”
Is that something you usually see from a rookie?
“I think every rookie has his own personality. I would say this, based on how he’s acted since he showed up here after the draft until now, it didn’t shock me. He’s been on huge stages, as we know. He’s been in the biggest situations that you could be in as a college player, which obviously has prepared him. It didn’t shock me but it’s been impressive to me since the time he got here.”
Is it going to take time for QB Deshaun Watson to be able to open up the passing game a little more?
“Yeah, I think so. I think you help a young quarterback at times by getting the ball out of his hand quickly with different schemes. You do some of that, so that’s part of it. Then, I think also having that confidence and, like we talked about, him being calm and being able to stand in there and see the field, see the coverage and let it play out and push the ball down the field, I think that happens with time. It’ll continue to grow and get better as we keep going.”
How does the extra time between a Thursday game and a Sunday game help your preparation?
“I think, for us as coaches, it’s invaluable. I would say if you just took the one aspect of it and talked about film study and the extra time you have to really watch the film and pore over it with the extra day before these guys get in here, it allows you to look at your plan, kind of go back, re-watch the film again, look at the plan again, apply it to your players. Which you do on a weekly basis anyway, but to have the extra time to do it really allows you to have a hammered out plan when a guy walks in here every day that you feel good about, you feel confident about, and present it to him. I think that shows up and those guys understand that.”
Does it allow you to watch extra tape that you wouldn’t ordinarily have time for?
“Absolutely. Some of it, with the time constraints, you present those tapes or you prepare those tapes, but you ask those guys to do some of that on their own because you’re just not going to have the ability to meet with them every second. When you get that time, now you’re going to be able to really see as much as you can or all of it, all of the tape, whereas before, you have to pick and choose your points of emphasis at times because of the time constraints. It gives you more time you’re able to spend more time with the players, which, like I said, it’s great for us.”
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
How challenging is it to play against Patriots QB Tom Brady?
“It’s always difficult. Any time he has weapons on the offensive side, multiple formations he’s going to show you, obviously he’s as good as they come in this league and one of the all-time greats, if not the greatest. Always gives you a difficult job from play recognition to play count to snapping the ball fast, especially if you’re not lined up. So, he throws everything at you, we have to do a good job of studying all week.”
What’s you record against Patriots QB Tom Brady up there?
“I’ve never beat him up there. Any time I’ve been up there, I’ve come out on the bad end of the stick, losing end of it. But it’s always tough all game and obviously every game is different, so you just have to block the outside noise out and just go up there and play your game.”
What do you see the Patriots’ receivers?
“The same thing that you expect every year from their receivers. Guys that are going to go out and do it right, going to go into the blocking game and help out, going to make contested catches, going to make long runs after the catch. Actually do pretty much everything, be a complete receiver for you.”
What do you expect the Patriots to throw at QB Deshaun Watson and how quick do you think he is to deal with that?
“They’ll stick to the same game plan, obviously. You’ve got to prepare for his legs. I think everybody in the league, obviously, sees that now. I think they’ll stick to their game plan. Other than that, just put a spy or something on him. That’s what I would do if I was a D-coordinator. Other than that, stick to the game plan.”
What do the veterans see of rookie QB Deshaun Watson as a leader?
“He comes in each and every day, one of the first guys in the building, stays late after practice. Does extra, works hard in the weight room, communicates, enjoys being a Houston Texan. He’s a fun guy in the locker room, on the field he works hard. Can’t ask for more than that from a teammate. He’s a natural leader, obviously, playing at the quarterback (position) at a high level in college and throughout his career. We look for him to do the same thing here.”
How much confidence does the defense have going into this game after performing well against the Patriots last postseason?
“It definitely gives you some confidence knowing you can go in there and compete with those guys and make plays. But like I said earlier, every year is different, so what we did last year in the playoffs has nothing to do with what we want to do up there on Sunday and try to get accomplished. I think obviously the guys in the locker room – we played them, probably, the last three or four years a couple times a year sometimes. I think just having that familiarity with those guys and being able to see the same guys, being able to practice against Gronk (Rob Gronkowski), (Brandin) Cooks, (Chris) Hogan and all those guys gives you a better feel going into the game.”
QB DESHAUN WATSON
Patriots QB Tom Brady spoke very highly of you and your future. What does it mean to hear that from a guy like Brady?
“It means a lot. It gives me confidence in myself and what I can do at this level of play. Coming from a guy that’s done and accomplished what the majority, if not all the quarterbacks want to do, it’s a big compliment. I appreciate that from him and I thank him a lot. I look up to him.”
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said you can make all the throws and when you run, you don’t run to slide. What does that mean to you?
“That’s the plan. If I see some opening and then I can make some extra yards, I always try to do that. But I always want to protect myself first, slide when I need to, get out of bounds and live to play another down.”
What does it mean to hear that from a guy like Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick?
“That’s another guy who’s done a lot, that has a lot of respect at this level, and I respect him. Heck of a coach. It’s just another great compliment.”
What do you expect from the Patriots as an inexperienced quarterback?
“(To) throw all types of things at me. Different coverages, different schemes, different looks and not try to stay in a base look where we can kind of know what they’re doing. That’s every team, not just the Patriots, that I play against because I’m young, I’m new to the league, I’m a rookie. There’s a lot that I have to see and a lot that I have to experience. I’ll take it one snap at a time and take the opportunity as it comes and experience it.”
How excited are you to go into Gillette Stadium against the defending Super Bowl champions?
“It’s big. It’s a great opportunity for not just me, but the whole team and this organization. For us to go up there and try to get a win, it’s going to be tough but it’s going to be a great challenge for us and we’re up for it.”
What does it take to beat elite teams, like you’ve done in Clemson against Alabama?
“Honestly, just kind of do my job. Everyone do their job and be on the same page. The coaches are going to prepare you to get the job done and win the game. So, for me right now, every team I play against is a giant because it’s new to me. Everyone’s good. I’m still learning as I go through the days and the snaps. Just do your job, be on the same page and play hard.”
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick’s defenses have historically struggled against mobile quarterbacks at times. Does it give you confidence that a part of your game can give them challenges?
“Not just because of their experience with that, as a team, but just in general, it gives the defense another look and another thing they have to worry about, not just sitting in the pocket taking sacks. I can make things happen with my feet and my arm if I make smart decisions and make it at smart times. Honestly, I just kind of focus on me and what I need to do to help this team out, what’s best for this team, do my job and make the smart decisions and just continue to do that. Hopefully that’s a success on Sunday.”
It seems like you have a lot of confidence on and off the field. How does that help you when you step on the field?
“Confidence is big. Not just for me, but for every player. If you have confidence, then you go out there knowing what you’re doing and you can do it at a fast level and at a high tempo. If you continue to do that and build that confidence, then your potential is very, very high. There’s a lot that you can do if you have the skillset and the mindset for it.”
Where does your confidence come from?
“I’ve just always been that type of person. I guess my mom, the people I grew up around, the things that I’ve experienced growing up. That’s pretty much it.”
Is that why you didn’t get nervous when you stepped out on the field for your rookie debut?
“No. I usually don’t get nervous because, I mean, football is football. Everyone loves it. This is what I love to do. I mean, it’s no different than playing little league. All it is is more people watching, and of course, guys are bigger and faster, smarter, but at the same time, it’s still football.”
You’ve been targeting Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins quite a bit. What do you want to distribute the ball to other targets?
“That’s tough to say just because of the personnel we had last week. No tight ends, two running backs, basically two receivers, so I could see why that’s the way, but I just try to find the open guy. Depending on what the defense is going to give me, take what they give me, take the profit and continue to go that way. I don’t look for just one guy and stare down a receiver. I try to look for all my guys and see who gets open.”
Can you talk about how much you’ve seen yourself grow and where you’ve seen improvement?
“Just overall, being a professional quarterback. Coming in in the spring, my head was all over the place. Didn’t know what was going on. But each day I just tried to strive and get one percent better. I’ve always had that mentality, regardless of the success and all the adversity I’ve been through, I’ve always tried to get one percent better in my game. Whether it’s my fundamentals, whether it’s mental, on and off the field. Each day I just try to find something I can work on to try to perfect my craft.”
What is your mindset now that you’re the starting quarterback?
“Just continue to have the same mindset and come in and just do my job, be a leader when I can, have success on the field, have success off the field, make sure I’m taking responsibility for offense and for this team and everyone else around me. If we’re on the same page and we’re doing that, then that’s really my mindset.”
How much is this longer week helping you prepare?
“A lot, really. It’s more time for me to perfect my craft on and off the field, mentally, physically, and get adapted to the role that I am. Of course, being a backup quarterback, you always want to prepare like you’re the starter, but you’re not the starter. But once you become the starter, that’s a whole different mindset and a whole different responsibility. It gives me time to kind of relax and learn from all the veteran guys and prepare well and make sure that I’m doing the things Coach OB (Bill O’Brien) and all the other coaches ask me to do.”
Is it ever hard to keep your eyes down field and try to make plays in the passing game when you’re scrambling?
“Not at all. I’ve always been the type of guy that tries to make plays with my feet, but at the same time, tells my receivers to run with me. You never know when the ball is going to come out of my hand. I’m always looking to pass the ball, looking for the open guy down the field to get the ball to the playmakers’ hands and let them do work. It depends on the down and distance and the situation of the game, where I can get the easy five (yards) and keep the chains moving.”
DE J.J. WATT
Did QB Tom Brady and Bill Belichick give you $100,000 and $50,000, respectively, for your fundraiser?
What do you think about that?
“It’s incredibly kind gestures. Just goes to show what kind of people they are, even despite everything – playing a game against each other, having practice against each other and being in the same (conference) and things like that. For them to step up in a time like that and just help their fellow human is pretty special and I think it speaks volumes to their characters. So, (I am) very appreciative of that, obviously, and I think that the way both of them went about it as well, just kind of quietly behind the scenes – I don’t think they even meant for it to get out. So, just good people. Much appreciated, for sure.”
Do you feel you were cheated out of getting to play against QB Tom Brady last year and how motivated does playing him make you?
“He’s obviously probably the best quarterback of all-time. He’s an unbelievable player. They have an unbelievable coach. They have a great team. We love a challenge like that. We love going out there and competing. As a competitor, you want to play against the best. We always look forward to it. (I) have an immense amount of respect for what they’ve been able to accomplish, what Tom’s been able to accomplish in his time in this league. I mean, five Super Bowls, that’s a pretty sweet looking hand.
What does Patriots QB Tom Brady do to keep from getting hit very often?
“I think he does a good job of getting the ball out of his hands. They’ve been working together for a long time in that offensive scheme, so he knows who’s going to be open, when they’re going to be open (and) where they’re going to be open. Offensive line does a good job. So, that’s our job as defensive players, is to find a way, especially us up front, to find a way to get up in that pocket and hopefully cause some disruption.”
What did your finger look like after last week’s game and how is it now?
“It’s there. It’s still there. It’s good. It’s not going to bother me too much. It’s broken, but not bad. It’s just a finger. If it was anything else, it would be a problem.”
Is this the kind of thing that will only get healthy with time?
“I don’t know. Who knows if it’ll be healthy, but it’s an injury that actually doesn’t bother me a whole lot because I hadn’t had use of that finger for a long time because I tore a tendon a few years back on it, so it wasn’t very useful anyways. I don’t really need it that much. So, it doesn’t bother me at all.”
Where are you in the process of getting back to where you want to be and was there anything you could do in the second game that you couldn’t in the first?
“I think it’s just getting back into the flow of things – a full game, game weeks (and) things like that. I think Sunday to Thursday was a good test because that’s a very quick turnaround there, but I really liked being able to correct some of the things so quickly from the first game to the second game and get back into the flow. The quickness and the eyes and everything, it’s starting to come back really well and I think that as each game goes on, it’s going to come back even more and more. But, I feel really good. I felt really good last Thursday. Obviously, there’s a couple plays I would like to finish a little bit better, but I think that overall I’m really starting to feel good out there and enjoying it.”
Was your finger hurting you during the game last Thursday?
“No, I was in pain in probably for the last two plays of the last game with my finger, but no. It handles the contact really well. It’s really a non-issue. At practice Monday it was no problem. It won’t be a problem today. It’s just a finger.”
Can you take us through the process of your injury surrounding the game at New England last season?
“I’ll take you through the process of this weekend. I’m looking forward to playing this game. I don’t want to go back. I’m very excited about this year.”
Have you thought at all about that game?
“No, not really. Honestly, I haven’t.”
What’s it going to feel like going into the stadium where you played your last game last year?
“I honestly don’t – until you guys just brought it up, I honestly hadn’t thought about it. It doesn’t really mean anything to me. I missed a whole season, so I could say walking into any stadium would bring anything back, but it doesn’t. I’m so far beyond all that stuff and I’m so far beyond the injury and the comeback and everything. I’m just playing football now. I’m just enjoying it and loving it and having fun. I just enjoy being an athlete again and not having to worry about any of that.”
What are your thoughts about ILB Brian Peters?
“He does a great job. I think that Brian (Peters) is a guy who knows his role on the team and executes his role extremely well. He’s a phenomenal special teams player. He’s had an incredible journey to get here. He does such a good job out there of doing what he’s supposed to do, doing it extremely well, helping to lead that special teams group. He’s a really good player.”
Do you think it helps at all that you and your teammates have prepared for and played against the Patriots and QB Tom Brady so many times recently?
“I think it’s – you can say it’s an advantage, but then they’ve played us the same amount of times as well. We had practices up at The Greenbrier, we had preseason games, so they’ve got the same amount of film on us as we’ve got on them. So, now it’s a matter of who goes out there and executes and plays well. We’re really looking forward to it. Obviously, it’s a great matchup – a very, very good football team in their place. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to compete.”
How eager are you to get your first sack of the season?
“I’m more excited just to be – it’s more important for me to feel like myself than the stats. As long as we win, I don’t really care. Especially the last game on Thursday night, I felt like myself. So, as long as I play like that and go out there, the sacks will come. Numbers are numbers, that is what it is, but as long as we win and I’m helping the team in any way that I can.”
Did anything in particular in the Cincinnati game make you feel more like yourself?
“No, I think I just settled in more. Like I said about that first game, I think there were a lot of emotions of trying to do so much, trying to win the game on every single play instead of just settling down and doing my job and executing the way I know how to execute. So, I think that’s what it was, more just ‘OK, take a deep breath, you know how to play this game, just play.’ I think that’s what I did and I think that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
Are offenses trying anything new on you or is it the things you just expect?
“I’m used to anything. I’m used to it all. So, it’s really the same old, same old. Maybe since I don’t have any sacks, maybe they’ll let me go this time. I’d like that.”
What did you think of the last play of the Cincinnati game last week?
“I was very tired. I missed the first tackle, so I had to make up for it. I wasn’t just going to end it on that, but then, obviously – everyone wants to talk about the big hit and everything, but that guy, that’s an offensive lineman. He held on to the ball. I mean, that was incredible. I give that guy so much credit – A, to catch it. – that’s not a guarantee – and B, to hold onto it through the hit. I give (Russell) Bodine a lot of credit. He deserves some credit for that.”
What’s the secret of controlling a situation like that?
“End the game. Just go home. That’s what I want to do. We’re winning, I just want to end the game and go home. I was tired. I wanted to sleep.”
Have you gotten to the point where you can just play instinctively?
“Yeah, I feel really good.”
With how quick QB Tom Brady gets the ball out, is that frustrating for you?
“That’s part of what makes him great, is when he does get the ball out quick like you said, you could have an awesome pass rush move, but it doesn’t matter if the ball’s out in a second and a half. So, that’s part of the key, is not getting frustrated. It’s not getting frustrated as a pass rusher, just doing what you’re doing every single play, knowing that you may throw your best move in the world and it doesn’t matter because the ball’s gone. So, you just have to throw it again in the next play and you just have to keep doing what you do (and) don’t get frustrated.”
What would you like to be able to do better right now than you were able to do in the first two games?
“I would like to finish plays better, myself. There were a couple TFLs in the last game that I would like to finish a little bit better. Obviously, you want to get some sacks, but it’s just fine-tuning my game. But, I would say finishing plays and making sure I finish them. Getting in the backfield is good (but) I want to finish those tackles and really punctuate the play.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK (Transcribed by Patriots PR)
What have you seen from Deshaun Watson? When you play a young quarterback, what do you attempt to do defensively?
“Well, I think what you try to do is defend the players that you’re playing against. They all have different skills, but we certainly could see his poise and he’s been in a lot of big games, does a good job at the line of scrimmage. I thought Cincinnati gave him some tough looks and he handled those well. [He is] very athletic, ran for a touchdown against us in the preseason game – of course, he had a great run against Cincinnati – throws the ball well, accurate, can make all the throws, so we have to do a good job of defending the passing game. We also have to do a good job of containing him and do a good job of tackling him because he’s a tough guy to get down when he runs. He’s not running to slide. He’s running to gain yardage, so that will be a big challenge for us.”
What did you see in your time with Bill O’Brien regarding his ability to develop quarterbacks and direct a proficient offense?
“I think Bill does a great job. He’s a very good fundamental coach. He does an excellent job of teaching the quarterbacks fundamentals. He’s an excellent play caller and game planner, game-plan coach, does an excellent job of attacking weaknesses, but he also brings a physicality and a toughness element to the offense and the team that I think is important. So, I mean, look, I would say he took over a 2-14 team, a team that wasn’t very good that had a lot of problems. He’s had three-straight winning seasons, won the division twice, won a playoff game last year. I think he’s done a pretty good job in that organization with what he’s had to work with, and I think he’s one of the best coaches in the league. So, that’s my opinion.”
What did O’Brien bring to the table as your offensive coordinator?
“I mean, I just told you. I think he’s a really good coach. I mean, I don’t really see any point in going back over stuff that happened five, six, eight years ago. I don’t think that has any relevance to this game. I think he’s a great coach. He does a great job with his players. He does a great job managing the staff. He’s brought a winning team to Houston, which, I imagine, is what people want. They’re not interested in putting points and stats up on the board. It’s about finding a way to coach your team to win, and that’s what he did a great job of for us. It wasn’t about stats and things like that. It was about making the right plays, doing the right things necessary based on game situations and what the circumstances were in any particular week or game or end of the game situation that required doing the right thing to win the game. That’s what we’re here for. If it’s all about stats, then that’s probably not the conversation that he wants to be in or I would want to be in. If it’s about winning, then that’s a whole other conversation, which is what I think it should be about. But, I know it isn’t for everybody.”
Over the years, you’ve often added veteran players to the wide receiver group. What are the challenges to evaluating college wide receivers in particular?
“Well, the passing game is a lot different in college than it is in pro football. That’s everything, so it’s offensive line, receivers, quarterbacks, pass rush, defensive backs. I mean, it’s a totally different game. But, look, we’re all watching the same film. We all have the same opportunity to evaluate those things. It is what it is. It’s not really anything we can control.”
What have you seen from Benardrick McKinney in his time in the league?
“Yeah, I mean, McKinney – he’s an outstanding football player. We did a lot of work on him coming out of Mississippi State and I think he’s got a lot of skills. He’s big, he can run, he’s smart, he can run the defense, he can play inside linebacker, outside linebacker, probably wherever you need him, he can rush the passer, he can cover, he pursues well, he’s a very strong tackler, does a good job of wrapping up runners. You don’t get a lot of yards after contact with him. He’s long, makes plays in pass defense, like he did against us in the playoff game where he tipped the pass that went for an easy interception to [Andre] Hal, so he does an excellent job of everything. Again, [he is] a very smart player, he’s instinctive, he reads plays – play action, bootlegs, misdirection, plays like that – well. I mean, I was very impressed with him coming out of college. I thought he was a great draft pick, and he’s done a great job in their defense. He’s obviously well-coached, and he’s a smart, instinctive player. He’s a hard guy to deal with. There’s not a lot of linebackers like him in this league, so he’s unique and the versatility that he brings – he has a lot of production in both the running game and the passing game.”
What have you seen from J.J. Watt since missing a season due to injury?
“Yeah, tremendous player. I mean, really everything with him is kind of at the top of the chart – powerful, strong, very instinctive, he’s a smart football player, he’s got great quickness for his size, a lot of people miss him trying to block him, he wins with his quickness in the pass rush, he’s long, he’s hard to throw over, he’s hard to block in the running game because of his length and his strength and his technique. But, with all that being said, probably the most important, impressive thing is his motor – plays hard every snap. There’s never a play off with him. He makes plays in pursuit, down the field, screen passes, ball thrown to receivers – he’s hustling making plays 15, 20 yards down field. You just don’t see those plays from hardly anybody, but especially guys that are his size and that play as much as he does. He plays everywhere across the board – plays outside, plays inside. He’s effective everywhere. He’s a tough matchup on everybody – the tackles, the guards, obviously the tight ends – but even when the centers slide to him in pass protections or end up blocking him in the running plays on different blocking schemes, really everybody pretty much gets a shot at him somewhere along the line in the game. He handles everybody from center to tight end, all the guys in between. Just a tremendous player. There’s a reason why he’s been the player of the year in this league multiple times and very deserving of it. He’s a force out there. He’s one of the best players in the league, one of the best players I’ve ever coached against.”
What do you remember about Mike Vrabel as a player and how has he grown as a coach in this league?
“Well, Mike was a great player for us – very smart, tough, instinctive player, one of the toughest players I’ve ever coached, mentally and physically. He had great instincts and awareness in the game. We used him a lot of different situations. He played a lot for us defensively at end, outside linebacker, inside linebacker at times, was on all the special teams units, excellent player in the kicking game and as a tight end. [He] caught 10 touchdowns as a short-yardage and goal line tight end. His versatility – he’s got a lot of positives as a football player athletically – but mentally his toughness, his technique, his dependability and reliability on a daily basis was at the very top. Yeah, when Mike went to Ohio State and began his coaching career there, I spoke with him there. And then, obviously, with the Texans, I think he does a tremendous job with his players, with his unit. I was able to observe his on-the-field coaching down there in West Virginia. He’s a very active and high-energy coach that certainly commands a lot of respect from his players, as he should based on his accomplishments and his preparation and knowledge of the game. I know he’s worked with Romeo [Crennel], who has been a tremendous coach in this league for decades. I’m sure that Mike’s learned a lot from Romeo and they’ve worked together well. That defense is very impressive.”
Even though they played different positions, what specific traits does Watt share with Lawrence Taylor that made him great?
“Yeah, similar – motor, effort, strength, quickness, instincts, the ability to make game-changing plays at critical times in the game, knowing when the big play – critical third-down or fourth-quarter play or red-area play – knowing those critical plays in the game. As good as Taylor would play all game, that was the time when he would play at his best. Really, I think Romeo could probably comment on that better than I could because he’s coached both players extensively. You know, I really only coached one. I mean, I’ve observed Watt and I have a lot of respect for him, but it’s not like being with the guy every day. But, there’s a lot of similarities there.”
One of the things that sets you apart is your ability to build a coaching staff. What are some of the characteristics you’re looking for when hiring coaches and coordinators?
“Well, the people you’re talking about – Matt Patricia, Brian Flores, Joe Judge, Josh Boyer, Chad O’Shea, guys like that – they all are smart, work hard, football is important to them and they learn well and learn quickly and they can handle a lot of different things at the same time. I think definitely a part of coaching is being able to handle multiple assignments, personnels, scheme, working on one opponent while you’re getting ready for another opponent. What your team can do versus what your opponents are doing and how you want to try to scheme against them. So, there’s a lot of different things you have to manage, and I think those guys do a great job of, if you want to call it multitasking or being versatile to deal with different problems, and I’d say being able to think and act quickly. There’s not really a lot of time as a play caller between the time the ball is snapped and the amount of time you have to get the call in to give the team time to communicate it, get out of the huddle and run the play. You have a very short amount of time to make a quick and a critical decision on the play that’s going to be called or the formation you’re going to run or the personnel group you’re going to put in there. Being able to think fast and react quickly and be decisive – those are all things that you need to be able to do, certainly as a play caller.”
What do you think are some of the causes for poor offensive line play across the league?
“Well, I just think in general, fundamentally it’s difficult to play on the offensive and defensive line. You’re playing a contact position with pads, and you’re practicing it without pads the majority of the time. That usually develops a lot of bad habits, and a lot of the techniques that a player would have the chance to work on and improve with pads, that opportunity just isn’t there without pads. So, it’s hard to improve at those positions when, a lot of times, you’re practicing techniques that are really not the ideal technique or, in some cases, incorrect, and it just develops bad habits, especially on the offensive line. I think that the way, without being able to practice, favors the defensive players a little more, whereas the offensive unit has to work together and be able to block things at more of a game tempo with pads and penetration and combination blocks and things like that. It’s just hard to simulate those and hard to get the timing of those when you’re just standing up watching each other without pads on a lot. So, I mean, look, we’re all coaching under the same rules, but I think it’s harder, especially at that position, to improve when you really can’t practice your skill. It’s like, you go out to the driving range and hit drives and hit balls, but you can’t go on the putting green. And then, to think that your putting is going to be at the same level as your driving when you can’t really practice it, it’s not really realistic. But, again, all teams are operating under the same set of rules, so it is what it is. But, it’s hard. It’s hard at that position. It’s hard to tell a guy, ‘This is what you should do,’ but he really can’t go out and practice it.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH PATRIOTS QB TOM BRADY (Transcribed by Patriots PR)
Could you tell us about your donation to J.J. Watt’s hurricane relief fund?
“You know, I think there’s obviously a lot of people in need. It was a terrible tragedy, and I’m just happy to help. I thought it was a great thing that he was doing, along with a lot of other people. I just wanted to contribute in some way.”
What are your impressions of Deshaun Watson so far?
“Yeah, he was super talented, obviously, in college, and watching him up close at the Greenbrier was a lot of fun for me to see young, kind of aspiring players that really want to work hard and play the quarterback position at a high level. He looks like he has all the talent. The first year in the NFL is certainly an adjustment for everybody, but they have so much confidence in him and confidence in what he’s doing, and that’s why he’s playing. It’s a big test for our defense. You know, there’s not a lot of film to study on him, but just knowing the kind of attributes that he has as a quarterback is a big test for our guys on the defensive side of the ball.”
Did Bill O’Brien make you a better quarterback during his time in New England?
“Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, he was just a great coach. I had just a great experience being with him. He was kind of the quality control coach in 2007 – did a lot of the kind of heavy lifting in terms of a lot of the work that is kind of unheralded. 2008, he was more of the receiver coach, and then 2009, when I came back from injury, he was the quarterback coach as well as the coordinator. Josh [McDaniels] had left for Denver, and Billy and I developed really a great rapport. We had a lot of great conversation. He was a lot of fun to play for. He puts a lot into it. He cares. He cares about his players. He’s got great leadership ability, and I think what he’s done, both at Penn State and Houston, is very, very admirable. I really think they’ve got a great team. He’s put together a great staff. It’s a big challenge to go against those guys. I know they’ll be ready to play. They’re well-coached, they have a ton of talent, they make a ton of plays and they have one of the best teams in the AFC.”
What’s it like working for a demanding quarterback coach like O’Brien? Do you have any advice for Watson?
“Well, yeah, Billy’s certainly that. I mean, Josh is that for me. I don’t think Josh is like the easiest quarterback coach to play for either. Coach [Bill] Belichick, I wouldn’t say, is the easiest coach to play for. They’re all demanding. That’s what makes them great coaches. They have a sense of urgency every day. They care very deeply about how the team is performing. They want every player on the roster to perform at a very high level every day, and that’s a lot of pressure for players. I think putting pressure on players is critical to getting the best out of them because players need to be pushed. There needs to be high demand placed on what we’re doing, and typically players that don’t like that are probably the ones that don’t last very long, in my experience in the NFL. So, you’ve got to be able to take the coaching and do what’s in the best interest of the team, try to listen to the coaches, do it the best you can, go out there and play hard, play tough, play competitive, play as a team, and I think that’s what makes great coaches, great teams – certainly all the ones I’ve been a part of.”
What’s the key to utilizing all of your offensive weapons, especially when you have injuries at wide receiver?
“Well, I said earlier today, it’s always challenging when guys are in and out developing rhythms, but that’s part of the season. That’s part of every team, every offense, every defense, special teams unit. There’s constant adjustments. It’s such a week-to-week league in the NFL. You can’t take anything for granted. Whoever is in there – based on the week, based on injuries or situations or matchups – you have to build confidence in, so you go out and try to play as aggressively and as effectively as possible. Every team faces it at different times. I mean, we’ve had years where we’ve been relatively clean health wise and then something happens, you get a rash of injuries and it’s tough. Sometimes it happens early and you’ve got to deal with it that way. Whether it’s the receiver position, O-line, continuity is obviously the key to everything. Part of that is staying injury free so that you can develop confidence in the guys that you’re playing with on a consistent basis over the course of many, many weeks of practice and of playing together.”
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN CONFERENCE CALL WITH NEW ENGLAND MEDIA
How did everything go for you, your staff and your players with Hurricane Harvey? Is everyone OK?
“Yeah, it seems like everybody’s doing a lot better. It’s going to take a lot of time for this city to recover from it. Just right here at the NRG Center, there’s a shelter still filled with people here. But, I think as far as our team goes, we did have some players and some staff members that were directly affected and I think everybody’s managing and making it and everybody’s focused on football.”
Has that had any impact adversely on your football operations?
“I would say that back when we had played New Orleans in the preseason and then we were headed home, we had to veer off to Dallas because we couldn’t make it back home. I think for those few days there, (it) definitely affected the operations (and) the football part of things here. But, after we got back, it was all focus on football. I think our players – we didn’t play well in the first game, (I) give credit to Jacksonville there – but I think our players have been very focused on trying to do what they have to do to help us win.”
Do you recall the first time you starting seeing edge rushers move inside in certain packages? It might have even been that first year you were here, but does that stand out to you as something that’s recent or that’s been around forever?
“I think that it’s probably something that’s been going on for a long time. I would tell you that it probably happens in cycles, meaning I think what has an effect on it is how the offense approaches it. Back when I was in New England and the Colts had (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis, there was a lot of chipping going on and things like that and they usually played on the edge of the defense. But, then there were other teams that moved edge rushers inside, so I think it’s been going on for a while. I think with us, we have some versatile players up front that can play inside, they can play outside, they can play off the line of scrimmage, they can play at the second level. So, for us, it’s a matter of trying to get our best people on the field and use their versatility to the best of their ability and also something that helps our scheme.”
When you flip that and look at it from the offensive perspective, those interior linemen that might sometimes be matched up against someone like OLB Whitney Mercilus or OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney, how do what they present to interior offensive linemen challenge those interior offensive linemen versus what they might see traditionally?
“I think that first it comes down to their ability to even go in there, their want-to. Some guys, they don’t really want to go inside. They want to rush from the edge of the defense. We don’t have guys like that. We have guys that, whatever we ask them to do, they try to do what’s best for the team. Then it comes down to athleticism. I think even when we go against our defense, it’s hard. Our guards, our centers trying to match up against guys like Whitney and JD when they’re inside. That’s a difficult challenge. To do it with one guy is a very difficult challenge and sometimes that’s what you have to do based on how they line up. So, I just think the athleticism, the length of those guys on the inside is hard to deal with.”
What did you see from QB Tom Brady in Week 1? What stood out to you in that game as far as his performance?
“I think that I’m looking at the whole team and when I look at their offense, obviously they didn’t win the game, they didn’t start off the way they wanted to, but there were several things that they did in the game that were very good. They’re a very dangerous team on offense. They play fast. They play with great efficiency. They have a different game plan every week, different personnel that they’re using and so, it’s difficult. You don’t really know what to expect. The combination of Tom and Josh (McDaniels), the brains behind that offense, it’s hard. It’s hard to deal with that and we’re just going to have to see what it is when the game starts and do the best we can to keep up with what they’re trying to do and go from there.”
How do you balance the challenge of still trying to figure out what you have in the first five weeks of the season, but knowing that if you fall too far behind, it’s not going to matter what happens in December?
“That is the ultimate challenge, I think. In the beginning of the season, you’re trying to see what the identity of your team is. You think you have a pretty good idea of what it is and sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way. I think defensively, we know what we are. I think offensively, we’re evolving. We made a change at quarterback in the best interest of the team and we have a different guy in there, obviously. Deshaun (Watson) brings a whole different skillset to the position than what Tom (Savage) does. I think we’re putting together a good plan, but we have to go up there and execute it. Like you said, we have to do the best we can to go into a tough environment, start out well, we can’t fall behind early like we have in the past up there because if we do, we’ll be in trouble. We have to start fast, get off to a good beginning there of the game and go from there.”
What have you seen from QB Deshaun Watson in terms of showing signs of being a productive player down the road?
“I’ve seen a lot. I know, No. 1, he’s a very hard worker. He’s got a really good personality, demeanor. He’s a calm guy, doesn’t get rattled. He learns. He’s a quick learner. He really doesn’t make the same mistake twice. That’s what I like. I think he has a good memory. He can remember things that have happened in previous practices, previous games or whatever it is, and, ‘Hey, this is what I did that time. I need to either do the same thing or change it based on how that worked out. I think he’s a very diligent guy and that’s what you need. You can’t just have talent. You have to have the work ethic and the demeanor behind it to be able to go out and play in this league, and I think he has that.”
What have you seen from Patriots CBs Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore through two games?
“Look, both those guys are two of the better corners that we’ll go against this year. They both have different skillsets. Stephon has got some length. You have to run really good routes on him. He’s a big guy. You have to try to get some separation from him because if you don’t, he’s going to punch the ball out with his length. Malcolm’s a very strong player, he plays the ball really well. Very difficult guy to get off of coverage. He’s a guy that brings a lot of playing strength to that position. Last week they played (Eric) Rowe a little bit more than Butler so we’ll have to see what that ends up being. I know Rowe was injured but we’ll have to see what that ends up being on Sunday, but we expect it to be Butler and Gilmore.”
What is it like for you to come back here and does it still mean a lot to you to come play a game so close to where you grew up?
“It does in some ways, but I think the first time, personally, when I came back there, that was exciting. But I think as time wears on, we play them every year, we play them quite a bit. It’s kind of like Cincinnati. It’s in the division. They’re not in the division but we play them so much and we’re so familiar with them – we just practiced against them at The Greenbrier. We have great respect for them. It’s really more about the game. The ticket requests and things like that, I don’t really deal with that stuff. It’s really more about just trying to do the best job you can for your team, to put your team in the best position to try to win a game.”
What do you remember about your first couple of years coaching at Brown University and how much influence did that have on where you are now?
“It had a lot of influence. Especially my second year there. I worked for Mark Whipple, who’s the head coach at UMass (University of Massachusetts) now, as you guys know. I worked for a guy named Joe Worth, who was the defensive coordinator – actually just passed away, I think, about a month ago. Whip and Joe Worth had a great influence on me. Joe, I was on defense then and he taught me a lot about film breakdown, he taught me a lot about coaching and instincts and about player evaluation, things like that. Then, working for Whip was just fantastic. He was all about competition and playing the best guys, the guys that practiced the best, and having some fun with the offense and the defense, things like that. So, I learned a lot, especially that second year at Brown. We kind of turned it around. Brown had been terrible and then I think we went like 7-3 that year, which the first winning record in a long time. It was because of those guys, and now Phil (Estes). What Phil has done there is unbelievable.”
QB DESHAUN WATSON CONFERENCE CALL WITH NEW ENGLAND MEDIA
What have you seen from the Patriots defense through the first two weeks of the regular season?
‘”Tough, physical, disciplined, well-coached team. They play all four quarters and make you make mistakes. It’s a tough opponent.”
How different does the team look now than it did in training camp?
“The team is always getting better. I feel like each day we’re getting better and trying to improve. We have that mentality where we can try to get one percent better each and every day, it can be a good thing and this team can go as far as we want to go. There’s been a lot of improvement throughout since preseason.”
How different do the Patriots look now as opposed to training camp?
“I mean, they’re the same way. It’s hard to judge a team in the preseason because there’s so much going on, so many missing bits and pieces and different things you’re trying to figure out. It’s kind of hard to decide from the preseason until now, but from the past two games that I’ve seen, they’ve been improving each week.”
What Patriots player or players stand out to you on film?
“All the guys, really. Coach OB (Bill O’Brien) came from coaching the Patriots and one thing he always says is it’s tough to be able to be a starter at the Patriots because you have to do so much and be the best player. Each player on that defense is real good and you can’t really pick out one or two. You’ve got to be aware of all the guys.”
What makes Patriots CBs Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore such effective cornerbacks?
“Both of those guys are very physical, very talented, very smart. They have experienced a lot of football. Butler’s real physical, quick, plays the ball very well (and) he’s very active. Same with Gilmore. He’s a taller built guy but at the same time is very quick, smart, speed, redirects well and he plays the ball well. You really got to be on your A-game when you play against those guys.”
How much do you watch Patriots QB Tom Brady as you try to grow as a quarterback?
“As much as I can, really. There’s no like certain time. Each week is different depending on how much film I need to watch on the other opponent. I try to take care of my responsibilities and my job first before I can go look at someone else, but at the same time, I’ve been watching Brady since I was a little kid and being able to be in the vicinity of him and see him play live is going to be awesome. Each chance I get, not just Brady but all the quarterbacks in the NFL, I always try to watch.”
What’s it like working with Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien?
“It’s fun. It’s been good. We’ve been enjoying it and building a relationship each and every day.”
Patriots QB Tom Brady gave you a lot of compliments in training camp. What was your reaction to that and what do those words mean to you?
“The words meant a lot. It builds a person’s confidence and coming from a guy like him, who’s seen a lot of football and done a lot at this level, it’s special. Words can’t really describe it, so just having an opportunity to talk to him and get to meet him and hear those words is awesome.”
Has it been tough to have injuries to some of your receivers?
“No, we always have that mentality of next man up. As long as I do my job and get the ball to the playmakers, then I’m fine with that. We try to, of course, stay as healthy as we can but you only can control what you can control and you have to deal with the cards that you’re dealt with.”