Q: Going back to when you were scouting
NC: With any running back or wide receiver or tight end, ball security and how they are with the ball in their hands is always something that you look at. He handled the ball quite a bit and it wasn't something that was a concern. I think turnovers are a part of the game, they happen and we try to minimize them as best you can. We spend a lot of time on ball security around here, everybody that handles the ball understands the importance of it and at times you have to tip your hat to the defense. [Haloti] Ngata made a play last week against [Arian] Foster where he just tomahawked-chopped the ball out. We're talking about a 360 pound guy that's got a lot of force and a lot of pressure to get the ball out. I would say Foster's probably one of the best running backs in the league. A lot of that too is the defense doing their job and it's our job offensively to make sure we do everything that we can to take care of the football.
Q: How do you judge whether its circumstance or whether it's a problem when a player fumbles the football?
NC: I think there are always a lot of factors that go into it. You can have a guy that didn't have one fumble in college and he comes in the NFL and he puts the ball on the ground. I don't think there's any correlation. I think the most important thing is you just try to coach and work on the technique to ensure that ball security is improving, it's important. Everybody around here knows that if they have the ball in their hands they really have the lifeline of the team in their hands, so I think everybody takes a lot of pride in that and I think it's something that you learn from and you move on.
Q: Torrey Smith said the Patriots took a look at him through the pre-draft process. Can you talk about your thoughts about him at that stage and about his work as a prospect and what he's been able to do this year?
NC: Torrey's done a really nice job for the Ravens. He's probably their top vertical threat. He was an explosive down field player at Maryland; a real productive player. He's got good size, great kid, [and] great makeup. He's come in and has done a nice job and he's given their offense a different dimension. They really have players that really can attack all three levels of the field. I would say he's probably their best down field threat; they will throw the ball down field to [Anquan] Boldin as well. Smith is maybe a little faster than Boldin, but Boldin's ball skills are very, very good, so even if you have him covered they still might throw it up to because the quarterback has quite a bit of confidence in that Anquan is going to go up and make a play. Torrey's come in and he's done a nice job and provided some good things for their offense this year.
Q: When you look at the Ravens as a franchise what stands out to you about how they've built this team and their consistency over the years?
NC: We have a lot of respect for what the Ravens have done on a yearly basis. The bottom line is they have good football players. That's really what it comes down to in this league. They've done a nice job through the years of blending veteran players like Ray [Lewis] who has been playing for 16 years and Ed Reed whose been playing for 10 years and guys like [Haloti] Ngata, [and] Ray Rice. They find good football players, they bring them in, [and] they develop them. A lot of that is a credit to the coaching staff as well. Coach [John] Harbaugh and his staff do as good a job as anybody in the league. Their front office, Ozzie [Newsome] and Eric DeCosta, those guys have a system in place that works and in the end they bring good football players into their program which is why they have been successful.
Q: When you guys were looking at
NC: I think really with Rob it was just a matter of opportunity. He was a pretty productive player at Purdue which I would say if you look at the history of guys that have come through there whether it's Rosie [Rosevelt] Colvin, Cliff Avril, Ninkovich, Ray Edwards, all those guys kind of played on line of scrimmage and Rob was just as productive as any of them. The biggest thing was him getting an opportunity and he came here and he took advantage of his opportunities and I think he's improved on a daily basis. Rob takes a lot of pride in what he does and he's got ability. It's not like the kid doesn't have ability. He works at his craft and he's athletic, he's strong, he runs well, he has pretty good instincts, he works at it and he's a pretty versatile guy, not only defensively, but in the kicking game as well. In the end, it was just a matter of opportunity which basically every player that comes in here gets the same opportunity and Rob took advantage of it and he's made himself into a pretty good player.
Q: A lot of people compare him to Mike Vrabel. Is that a fair comparison?
NC: I think it's hard when you start comparing players. You're talking about one guy that's been in the league five or six years or whatever Rob's been and you're talking about another guy that was in the league for 14 years or whatever it was. Other than the position that they play, I would say there are probably some similarities there, but I just think it's hard when you start comparing players because every player is different, every team is different. I don't think you really want to get into that.
Q: The Patriots have played a lot of guys at a number of different positions. Is that a testament to their versatility or what goes into the discussions when you think about trying a player at a new position?
NC: Until you actually put that player in that position you're not quite sure how it's going to turn out, but I think the most important thing is we kind of talk about it ad nauseam around here really the more you can do, the more you can do. The reality of it is you're either a starter on defense or on offense or a starter in the kicking game and those are really the 46 guys that end up going into the game. Now, if a guy can do one or two or three different things that's certainly going to enhance his ability on game days to make a contribution to the team. Until you actually put that player in that position, some players can handle more relative to others, but I think it's a credit to the players and I think it's a credit to the coaches for investing the time and giving the player the opportunity and seeing what they can handle. The in the end they have to go out there and be able to perform whatever task that may be in a high enough level that you feel comfortable that if you put them in a different position that they're normal accustomed to not playing, that they're going to go out there and perform at a competitive enough level.
Q: Any transactions for us today?
NC: If you guys don't ask me you'll find a way to get it through Stacey [James], so maybe Stacey can give you some insight on that. I don't really have anything for you here today, but it's early and we have a few more hours until we practice, so we'll see what happens.