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Rob Ninkovich Press Conference Transcript

Posted Jan 16, 2014

New England Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich addresses the media during his press conference on Thursday, January 16, 2014.

Q: You’ve played in the AFC Championship Game before, what makes this one special?

RN: They are all pretty special. Just to get to the point of playing for an AFC Championship, it is not very easy to make it to this game. Again anytime that you are able to make it to this point, you are definitely proud that you’ve been able to accomplish the things that you have been able to throughout the year. This year I would just say that we’ve been through a lot of ups and downs and we’ve been very tough. It hasn’t been a surprise to us because we know how hard we work. We know how much we put in to it; as opposed to outside this building how surprised people are that we are here.

Q: With this being an AFC Championship Game there are obviously going to be more distractions, more commitments to media and other different things. How does the team, especially those younger players that are playing on defense, how are they focusing and how is that working right now?

RN: You really just have to understand the magnitude of the game, how big this game is and truly focus in on what the job at hand is and that is to win the game. You prepare like you’ve never prepared before. You put in all the work that you can. You hope that with all the preparation throughout the week and the things that you do help you go out there on Sunday [and] play hard and not think. That is the one thing about football, is if you can prepare and you are out there and you are 100 percent into everything you have done for the week then pretty much game time is just getting after it and playing fast. I think that again you just emphasize how big the game is and the things that you’ve done to get here and how hard it has been. So you just want to really make sure that you go out there and leave it all on the field.

Q: There has been a lot of talk obviously about ‘Omaha’ and the cadence of Peyton Manning this week but are there other things that he does to try and change the look either from game to game or series to series within a game? Are there things that he can do to give you a totally different look on defense?

RN: What the guy does, it is pretty amazing how he is able to command everything and change the play and try and pick the perfect play against your defense and the whole ‘Omaha’ thing. The ball is going to be snapped either way so whatever he is saying before, it really doesn’t matter you just try and go out there and execute. You try your best to really just stay focused and not jump offside. That’s huge, you can’t do that because that is just hurting your team. Really just focus on doing your job and that is what it all comes down to, everyone playing together and doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Q: Is it difficult to go back and look at the film of November 24th and think there might be a chance he does this or its more than likely he is going to change the look in a certain situation all together so the defense can’t prepare for that?

RN: I really think you just have to go out there and play. You can’t be worried about what they are going to do, what they are going to check to. Whatever play is in and whatever you are defending you go there and you do it to the best of your ability because obviously they are always checking. They are always moving. They are always doing something on you so the odds of you guessing perfect every single time aren’t going to be correct anyway. So you have to go out there and play hard, play fast. Defense is all about reacting. Read and react so whatever they show, whatever happens, you just play fast. You react to everything and you just make plays and everyone be around the ball and that is how things happen.

Q: Jamie Collins had a breakout game on Saturday. Did you know that was in his repertoire? Or was it just kind of waiting to breakout? Or were you surprised Saturday with the effort he had?

RN: No, I definitely wasn’t surprised at all. Jamie is an unbelievable talent. He is very talented as far as athletic ability. He is very smart. I think again, the sky is the limit for him. He is going to be a great football player for us and I am happy that he was out there making plays for us. That is what we need right now in the playoffs. Everyone needs to step up and make plays. I expect him to be out there flying around making plays. That is just the way it is in the playoffs, everyone has to step up. Certain guys have to step up. It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Go out there and make plays, and that is how you win.

Q: With all the stress that kind of comes throughout the season, especially when you get to this point this deep in the season, at what point can you kind of start to appreciate it and maybe enjoy the moment? Or is it wall to wall work?

RN: To be honest, it is not stressful for me. I am excited about the opportunity. Again, I think it is just knowing how hard you’ve worked and the time you’ve put in throughout the whole season. It doesn’t just start in the season. It starts in the offseason, preparing for the season. There is a lot of work that goes into it that a lot of people don’t see. You just remember moving forward that, ‘Hey, I’ve put in all this time and effort and I want a reward for it and that comes with winning.’ Around here we win a lot. Work, work, work, that’s great for me because we have the benefits of the work, and that’s winning. I’ll continue just doing my best and working hard to continue to win and that is just the mentality around here.

Q: Do you ever get jaded by it because you guys have come so close to winning it all that these kind of steps in between just seem like things to get through rather than to kind of, you know…

RN: You can’t get there unless you put in the work. You can’t ever expect anything, especially in the NFL. Every year is a new year and you don’t know how long you are going to play. One play and you could be done. Your career could be over. For me, every year is a new year. I put in just as much work every single season. I say, ‘Hey, this is my chance to go out here and play football and win a championship.’ That is on everyone’s mind when you’re a little kid, like, ‘Hey, this would be unbelievable to play in an AFC Championship Game.’ It is an amazing feeling. So for us we just have to make sure we go out there and do what we’ve always done and that’s work hard during the week, prepare well and go out there and play hard.

Q: Does the fact that you guys gave up 280 yards rushing in that last meeting bother you?

RN: It definitely bothers you, of course. Anybody on defense, you pride yourself on stopping the run and when they are able to run the ball on you it is not a good feeling. That is one part of playing defense that you can’t have. You can’t have games like that where you’re giving up that many yards on the ground. We’ve got a tough challenge for us. They are a good football team and they do a lot of great things in the run game. Again, it just comes down to watching the tape, seeing the things that they did against us and knowing that they will probably try and repeat some of those runs and then also some things that they haven’t shown to us.

Q: How much has Sealver Siliga helped shore that up?

RN: Oh yeah. Sealver has done a great job for us. He is a big guy, big body. It is hard to move that guy. So him coming in and stepping up and making plays, that’s awesome. Definitely happy that he has been able to step up for us and be key on the d-line.

Q: What are your thoughts on the fine line between wanting to get to Peyton Manning, wanting to get pressure on the passer and keeping your run responsibilities?

RN: Football first and foremost, when you’re a defensive lineman you need to stop the run. If you can’t stop the run, they are not going to want to throw the ball anyway. Again I think that you have to do a great job of understanding situations. Where they are at on the field, what’s the down and distance? That all plays into what they are going to do. So again, I think as a d-lineman you just have to make sure that you stop the run. If you don’t stop the run they are just going to keep pounding it on you and building momentum. It is not a good thing. D-line, it is on us to stop the run.

Q: Just a follow up on Sealver Siliga. How impressed, not just you but I guess everybody is with what he has been able to do coming in late in the year and being put into this position where he is able to make plays and has these opportunities?

RN: Well, I think I have said it before, everybody wants an opportunity to play and I think that he has bounced around a little bit. He has been to a couple of teams, was on the practice squad, and you just want a chance. So when you are given that opportunity you have to go out there and make the best of it and I think that he has made the best of his opportunities. Moving forward I think that he is definitely going to continue to capitalize on those opportunities. I’ve been in that same position where I was a practice squad guy and all you are doing is wanting a chance to show somebody that you can go play football. Sometimes it doesn’t happen the first or second year but you get a chance and you only have one shot so when you get that opportunity you can’t let it slip by.

Q: In the last two weeks we have had these conversations about players recently with the Patriots, Deion Branch last week going to the Colts, Marquice Cole going to the Broncos now. A guy like Sealver who had spent time in all these different organizations, is there any sort of insight a guy like that can give?

RN: That is the one thing about the NFL. There are always going to be guys that have played on [a] team with you and go to another team. It happens every single year so again I think you just focus in on who is here and who you are playing with as opposed to who is not here and who is on another team. Again you just go out there and whoever is out there with you, you all ride together.

Q: Was it nice seeing Tom Brady out there again today?

RN: Yeah, definitely. Happy that he is back and feeling better.