Q: Looking at the Patriots defense, what you saw in the preseason and Monday night, what challenges are you anticipating?
PR: I think anytime you play this defense, you've got to always be ready for the unexpected. One thing you know going in is that they're going to play disciplined football. Obviously we've played them a handful of times, as recent as last year, and they make us earn everything. Some of the drives we were able to put together late in the game, it took us awhile to get down the field, they made us earn every yard and that's what we're going to expect this Sunday.
Q: What do you notice the Patriots doing against some of the elite tight ends they face? Obviously you have one in Antonio Gates. They disguise a lot of things to defend Gates. What are the tactics you have seen them use?
PR: The main thing is try not to let him get off the line. Like you said, whether it's a defensive end hitting him, whether it's a [line]backer hitting him, whether it's another guy waiting, a guy that's covering the running backs is going to hit Gates anytime he has a chance to. Anything to disrupt the timing and make it take him longer to get out into his route they've used in the past.
Q: Is that typical?
PR: Yeah, oh yeah. We've seen, Kansas City last year, they treated him like a gunner on the punt team. There were only two guys vicing him there. What they do as far hit Gates and jamming Gates and trying to disrupt him, we've seen that against other teams as well.
Q: Do you like it being a gunslinger's league?
PR: It kind of goes in cycles. You've seen this league, it's week-to-week and it's year-to-year in the seven years I've been in. There's a lot of running the ball to set up the pass and it seems like most recently, obviously the statistics don't lie from last Sunday's games. I guess there were more 300 yard passing games than usual…
PR: Yeah, I still think it's a week-to-week deal. You never know. That doesn't mean that's what it's going to be the next week. We threw it more times than we normally do. I don't necessarily anticipate putting it in the air 40 times again this week. We kind of go as the game goes. We have everything ready and we'll do whatever it takes to try to win the game.
Q: Bill Belichick was impressed with you after working with you at the Pro Bowl, with both your work ethic and passion for the game. Can you explain what it was like to work with him and recount some of the things you did spending time with him?
PR: That was the first time I've actually gotten to go to the Pro Bowl and experience that whole week. More than the vacation, I was excited about the football part of it even though it's not a super high intensity level, the enjoyment of [being] around different staffs and also the players. Any time you're around Coach Belichick and that group, and obviously all they've done in his career and all they've done there in New England, it's fun to be around and learn from and get to know a little bit. As far as recounting anything specific, I don't know that I have anything for you. I know I really enjoyed the week and enjoyed, to a certain extent, getting an idea of how they operate. Obviously, I know it wasn't anything close to the level, but you still get somewhat of an idea.
Q: As a quarterback, can you appreciate what
PR: Yeah, I mean shoot, any time you throw for that kind of yards… As another quarterback watching, it wasn't so much the yards, obviously the yards were unbelievable; it was just a lot of really tight throws in tight areas. Just to me, again, this position is about command and leading your group and he was in full control obviously, like he is many games, on Monday night and it was fun to watch.
Q: When you saw Tom Brady's 99-yard throw on TV transpire are you recognizing it kind of like Brady does?
PR: I don't know that that play – it could have gone a lot of different ways. Obviously it took a great throw first of all. And then from there, who knows? If the safety takes a different angle, it might be a 20-yard gain. Or if the guy makes a great play diving to tackle Wes [Welker], it's a 30-yard gain. But obviously Wes finished it off. But that opportunity probably doesn't present itself too often, to hit a 99-yarder and it was unreal.
PR: They always, one thing with the Patriots defense, as long as I've been playing them, their front has always been exceptional and it's different this year. The two guys you mentioned, obviously add to the group they already had. All the way across the board, they're super stout and certainly make it challenging.
Q: What do you remember about being in training camp with
PR: I like Wes a lot and obviously I played against Wes when he was at Texas Tech, I think he ran a punt back against us. He played there just like he does now. He made all the great plays and was just the every down receiver that he is. He ran a punt back that preseason or a kickoff and we hoped he was going to be here for a long time. It didn't happen. We kind of talked about that at the Pro Bowl as well. Wes has had a great career and continues to have a great career.
Q: Is there something about knowing that it's going to be you on one side and Tom Brady on the other, especially with the kind of passing we've seen in the league this year?
PR: I have to worry about that defense and doing all I can to help us score points. But certainly, not so much as a quarterback battle by any means but it's always fun to play against a team led by arguably one of the best in game if not the best in the game. Certainly that makes it even more exciting. Obviously, it's exciting enough to go on the road and play a team like the Patriots in their home opener with all the history and success they've had. We haven't fared too well there in the past; obviously the one that stands out is the AFC Championship game. I know we're excited to come play there and that certainly would fall further down the last as a little sidebar that makes it more fun, playing a team led by a guy that is as good as it gets.
Q: I think I saw a quote from the Pro Bowl where you told
PR: I wish I hadn't thrown it, I do remember that. But he's one of the guys that stands out, just his speed and ability to attack the football and great instincts. It's always fun getting to know guys over there that you otherwise wouldn't know. He seems like a great guy and obviously a great player.
Q: I know discipline on the Chargers end was a problem last season. What have you guys done to get over that hurdle?
PR: I don't know that discipline was a problem. Certainly we turned the football over offensively. That's really all I can speak for is from the offensive side as far as what we did to hurt our chances of winning enough games to get into the postseason. We turned the football over too many times, the Patriots game being a great example, I think it was four straight possessions we turned it over. We've emphasized it, just as we have every year and the focus has been great all camp. We turned it over two times last week but we were able to overcome it. We gave up a kick return as well, but we were able to overcome it. We still have a ways to go just after Week 1. But certainly the challenge doesn't get much greater than this one.