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Sat., Apr. 18, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM EDT
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Pepper Johnson Press Conference Transcript
Q: Do you have all the names and faces straightened out now?
PJ: Yes. I didn't really have any problems with the defensive guys, but a few of the offensive guys are still a little misty to me right now. There are a lot of faces coming in and out.
Q: How excited are you about all of the new faces that have been brought in, especially the veterans?
PJ: I'm just excited about the season period. I know that we still got started [somewhat] at the same time [as last year] but it's just a big difference going the whole offseason without the players, so to have the guys in camp and being able to coach and get out there live — I'm excited about it all. Getting that first game up under our belt — that just really set things on pace now.
Q: Speaking of that first game, how impressed were you with Dane Fletcher?
PJ: With all honesty, I thought our guys did a good job. We started slow, we started very slow, but our guys did a great job on the sideline being coachable. We made some adjustments and we were kind of skeptical about how guys were going to handle the sideline. There was no panic on the sideline and it showed out there on the field. The communication was decent; it was good for our first game, but he took charge in some certain situations and we were impressed.
Q: What are your impressions of Mark Anderson this far?
PJ: He's a true professional. He was called on late to come out into the ballgame and I'm quite sure he wanted to play earlier in the ballgame, but preseason is what it is. The first time he gets out there on the field, he makes a difference. He looked really good.
Q: Are you doing more or less experimenting just because of the nature of the preseason now or are you working on formations that you typically see in the regular season just because you want to get those down?
PJ: Experimenting - that word scared me when you started off with experimenting. But we're always going to throw out different formations at the defensive group just to have the communication [and] guys getting adjusted, and from our standpoint, different blocking schemes that we might see from Kansas City — teams that [we play] later on in the season that show stuff early in the year. That's just a part of preparation. If we have that opportunity then [there are] a few more runs, a few more formations, shifts in motion that we might throw out there just to get the guys prepared, and that's what we're doing; that's what training camp is for.
Q: How much of a difference-maker can Albert Haynesworth be if he's motivated?
PJ: I think he is excited about being here; I think he's excited about playing football. Of course, he's one of the best defensive lineman in the league, so I'm quite sure he's going to make a big difference when we get out on the field.
Q: What have been some of your first impressions of Albert from being around him the past few weeks?
PJ: He's very unlike what a lot of you read about. I was thinking, ‘What am I really going to have to deal with?' but, hey, I'm coaching whatever player that comes in here, it doesn't matter to me. Albert is a great guy. It's kind of hard to see some of the things that you hear that are negative about him coming from that person. I've seen in other aspects and from other people in general...I don't know if it's me, but some of the stuff is just not...you need to know both sides of the story. I think Albert is a great person. He's been trying to work his way out on the field, and he's been tremendous in the classroom [to] date. I'm expecting a lot from him.
Q: How much does it help to have Vince Wilfork on the line with him?
PJ: Vince helps everybody. Him and Jerod Mayo — those guys, they're remarkable with everybody. Vince has helped guys back there in the secondary - that's his knowledge of football - so for anther defensive lineman, that's nothing to him. He gets along with a lot of people. It's not like he's difficult to deal with, but he's going to ask a lot from anybody that comes up in the room. Our group — I've been blessed with a good group of guys ever since I moved over to the defensive line. I've had a great group of guys. I don't want to lie and say the wrong things up here, but since I've been coaching the defensive line, I've always had a good group and Vince Wilfork is one of those guys that really puts you at ease when you come into the classroom and start your day off because a lot of things he has probably already talked to [the group] about — some of their expectations, what they're expecting. He makes it easy.
Q: What's the most challenging aspect for you having all of these new players coming in?
PJ: Bill Belichick.
Q: I'm sorry?
PJ: Bill Belichick.
Q: That's the most challenging aspect?
PJ: Yeah. It doesn't matter what player comes out here, he wants this done, so it doesn't matter who comes out here. You could come in and line up at defensive line ...
Q: I don't know if you'd want that...
PJ: Yeah, because you might get me fired...no, but I'm going to get the best out of you. That's what Coach [Belichick] expects and that's what, that's the reason why I'm here. I like to believe he had a lot of confidence in me as a player. That's why I'm on his coaching staff. So, whichever player he puts in front of me, it doesn't matter; I'm going to coach him the way Coach Belichick wants him coached.
Q: Did you know Albert at all beforehand?
PJ: I met him briefly. He doesn't remember it, but I met him briefly.
Q: Did you basically try to ignore what had been said and written about him and try to deal with him with a clean slate? How do you approach that as a former player?
PJ: Well, as some of you may already know, I'm not much on reading the newspapers, so I don't know that much about him. You hear rumors, of course. But before he came into the door, that's when a lot of people were telling me, ‘Hey, he must be some guy that's hard to deal with.' But I'm born and raised in Detroit, so, I don't know if there are too many people that would be hard for me to deal with. I'm not a person who sits up and judges. The Albert Haynesworth that came through the door and shook my hand and started talking to me, that's the person I'm dealing with. His past is his past.
Q: You were pretty close with former Patriots player and coach Corwin Brown. How difficult has it been the last 24 hours with everything that's happened there?
PJ: Very tough, because ... my son called me. He remembers playing chess with Corwin. Corwin was the only person in that locker room that didn't try to cheat him. He was a 10-year-old and there were a few players that tried to cheat him...but I don't really know exactly what's going on. That kind of bothers you in a sense, but again, I have something to do here with the New England Patriots. After football is over, the two hours that we get to spend at night, then I try to read something on it and see where he's at, but my blessing goes out to him and his family.
Q: When something like that happens how much of a shock is it?
PJ: It really hasn't hit me yet. I mean, it was a stunner just getting the news. Right now, there's just too much other stuff going on. It's kind of hard to grasp it right now.
Q: Eric Moore came really late in the season last year. How has he grown into and picked up the system? Has he made big strides now that he's been here a little longer?
PJ: Yeah, unfortunately for Eric, he really didn't get the offseason with us that could have helped him a lot more. Like you said, he got here at the end of the season and it was on-the-job training, and we would have liked for guys such as him and Landon Cohen to have the opportunity of an offseason. They didn't have it. He's a good football player. He's a veteran football player, so he's adjusting. But now he's definitely making strides. The more that camp goes on and guys get their legs up under them, he's starting to improve. He's improving.
Q: Bill Belichick has spoken about the major changes he's made along the defensive line this year. How much did you guys talk about that during the lockout? How big a change is it for you in your job?
PJ: Again, they don't tell me much around here. Whoever they put in front of me, I'm going to coach. We didn't talk about...I don't even know if some of the changes we knew - you know, free agents - were going to be out there. I don't know. During the offseason, we mainly just tried to prepare for, if the lockout were to end at this point in time, what we were going to do; if it ended later, what we were going to do. We were just trying to stay organized in that aspect. As far as players, we didn't think much of it or talk much at all. Just our current players and kept our fingers crossed that these guys were staying in shape.
Q: Is there any change in teaching techniques to the guys?
PJ: What do you mean?
Q: The fact that you now put four guys down a lot of times rather than three. Those kinds of things...
PJ: Oh. maybe news to me, but I just coach the same guys. No, like I said, Coach Belichick wants techniques taught, he wants the defense learned, and he wants to know who can learn it to the ability that they're, that they don't need a babysitter, they don't need someone to hold their hand while they're out there on the football field. That's my job - to find out what guys can handle all the information and how do you teach them. Some guys, you can just hand them a piece of paper and they can read about techniques and that's good with them. Some guys need diagrams; some guys need on-field training. I find out which is which, how do they learn best, and take them to the drills.