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Rob Ninkovich Press Conference Transcript

Posted Jan 16, 2012

Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on Monday, January 16, 2012

Q: How much of the game did you watch yesterday and what were your impressions?

RN: I did watch the game. You have to give credit to the Houston Texans; they're a good team. That was a good game to watch and I think both teams are very talented. We just have to have a great week of preparation and have a good week.

Q: Anything you see surprise you from the Ravens?

RN: No, I think the Ravens are pretty much - they always play great defense and they have great playmakers on offense with Ray Rice. As a running back, he's always making good plays as a running back. You have to always respect him.

Q: What's the mindset of the team coming back to work today?

RN: One-game season. You can't dwell on the Broncos, it's over with. We have to move on. We have a good team coming in here so we have to prepare for them.

Q: How much has your role changed over the course of the year?

RN: Playing a defensive end role for me is pretty simple. I've always been a defensive end. The linebacker spot, yeah there's a lot of learning involved in that. Every year, there's going to be something different that you have to learn and get better at as the season progresses. The 4-3 linebacker move really was a good move for the team because obviously we could do different things on the field and change things up. I'm open to anything they ask me to do.

Q: What are your memories of the last playoff game against the Ravens in 2009?

RN: 2009, yeah it was unfortunate. We didn't start that game off the way we wanted to on defense. A team that potent and tough, you can't give up a big run for a touchdown to start the game off like that. Obviously, that's something that we really need to focus on, is not letting up any big plays like that, especially to start the game off. The momentum they gained from that obviously just snowballed for the rest of the game [and] they were able to go out there and play well. Obviously, no big plays like that.

Q: What was your role on the team at that time?

RN: 2009, just special teams. They also have a good special teams unit, so that's another phase we have to be really solid in this week as well.

Q: You guys have trended upwards defensively. Do you guys take any motivation from what's said about the number of yards you've been giving up?

RN: You really can't listen to anything outside of the locker room. We're a tight-knit unit. The defense has kind of had their ups and downs this year, but in the big picture of things, I think that we've done really well in the turnover ratio. Especially with the way our team is made up, our offense is so potent, that if you can get them the ball obviously they're going to do something with it. Really, the more times you can get Tom [Brady] the ball and let him do what he does best - and that's the throw the ball around and make big plays. Obviously, we've let up some big plays that you don't want to do as a defense and yardage that you don't want to have. But when you look back on the season, we're still 13-3 and the points, we didn't let up a lot of points which obviously, if you're letting up a lot of points, you're not going to win. Turnovers and points I think we did pretty good at.

Q: You guys were flying around on Saturday. Do you feel an extra dose of confidence as you continue to get better each week?

RN: Yeah, I mean we were really excited. We know that it's a one-game season and if you don't win, you're going home and your season is over. You think back on all the work you've put in for the whole season. We were at the same spot last year, same point with the playoff game that we lost and that was a bad, bad feeling. A lot of work goes in to getting back to where you were and you don't want to have that same feeling. Obviously, we had the bye week which was really great to get your body back.

Q: Were you with the Saints when they went to the NFC Championship game in 2006?

RN: Yeah, I was on IR though.

Q: So this is relatively uncharted territory for you?

RN: Yeah, this will be a new step for me, but I'm excited for it.

Q: How would you compare the environment in the stadium for the Denver game compared to other games you've experienced here as a Patriot?

RN: You could feel the energy out there. There was a lot of energy. It was a great feeling to go out there and have a good performance for our fans. Hopefully we can duplicate that and have another good performance come Sunday.

Q: Do you feel like there's a difference in the locker room when the regular season ends and the playoffs start?

RN: Yeah, every game is big in the playoffs, but when you're out there, all you're thinking about is doing the most that you can for your team and just laying it all on the line because really there's nothing else out there. You have to win the game that you're playing because after that, you're going home; you're packing up your locker, so [it's] just a lot of motivation.

Q: Who are some comparables to Ray Rice?

RN: He's a little bit different because he's a smaller, compact guy - real strong. Kind of like a [Maurice] Jones-Drew guy: real strong at hitting the hole and is real fast, but also can catch the ball out of the backfield and make some plays in the passing game. He's a target for them that really makes a lot of plays for them so you have to make sure that you account for him on the field at all times.

Q: Compared to running backs that you've played, how unique is he?

RN: I think he's different because he's just very explosive. If you give him just a little bit, he can turn that into a real big play. You have to make sure you keep all the holes tight so he doesn't have something just to hit and go. He's a challenge for us.

Q: What kind of challenge is it with his center of gravity being lower to the ground?

RN: Yeah. Guys that are - just like Danny Woodhead - you look at Danny and he's a shorter guy, but he's very strong and powerful because he's got that natural leverage. Guys that are built like that, you really have to wrap up and gang tackle because they will break some arm tackles because of the power that they have in their legs.

Q: Is he hard to find?

RN: The linemen are big - obviously linemen are big linemen. When they're in the backfield doing all that dancing, it's a little hard to see him, but obviously that's what your job is, to get the separation and close down everything that he can get into.

Q: Bryant McKinnie is giant.

RN: He's a big boy, yes he is.

Q: You talked about how excited everyone was last week. Was that different from last year? Were you guys tight the year before going out there?

RN: Yeah, I think that if you look back to last year's game, which you don't want to dwell on anything in the past, but obviously we just didn't do the things that we needed to to win that game. This year it was just really focused on preparation and knowing what they're going to do before they do it. And just having great effort because having great effort can make up for a lot of things.

Q: What's your impression of Joe Flacco and some of his strengths? It seems like they like to push the ball down the field.

RN: Flacco - good quarterback, big in the pocket, he's got the length to see everything down the field. They also have a great receiver who you can just kind of throw the ball up to and make some big plays. Also, he has good accuracy to put the ball where it needs to be.