Q: Can you talk about what you've seen from the Patriots so far?
TH: I think that they've been one of the great teams of the last decade and a lot of that continues to just evolve and get better in a lot of different areas. Starting offensively, Tom [Brady] looks like he's playing at as high a level as I've seen him play. He's got a lot of good - some veterans, some young developing players that look like they all have a chance to be really, really good. What [Wes] Welker is doing to this point is phenomenal. Having coached receivers for a long time, I knew he was really, really good but what he's doing right now is just off the charts. Throw in the fact that [Rob] Gronkowski has 700-plus yards and you still have a guy named
TH: I think he's a really good player. He plays physical [and] tough. Like I've said, we've had our own share of injuries as New England has. Coach [Bill] Belichick is one of the greats for a reason and one of the key things to being a great coach in this league - at any level really - is to develop your players that aren't necessarily front line players, but then are ready to play when they need to. I don't have any doubt that Coach and his staff will have that done. To me, it's hard for me to look and say we have a huge advantage in any area really.
Q: How devastated is Matt Cassel that he won't be able to play in this game?
TH: He's a tough, tough guy and has played through a lot of aches and pains here since we've been together. I think he's most devastated that he's not going to be able to play period, for our team. He's such a big part of our team and the guys count on him and he's a prideful, prideful, competitive guy that wants to play every week and he's proven that it's been impossible to get him out of the lineup barring maybe an organ removal or a couple of those things. It's disappointing to him and I know we've got high goals and expectations for this year and he'll just have to be on the sidelines rooting his teammates on, which I know that he will.
Q: Does the offensive style change with a different quarterback?
TH: I don't know dramatically. We've got a lefty, so some things are going to change. Tyler's [Palko] a drop back quarterback much like Matt [Cassel], similar skill set, so I don't think we can dramatically make a whole bunch of adjustments, other than little tweaks here and there.
TH: Both these guys that are really playing well, [Aaron] Hernandez and Gronkowski, are players that I both personally really thought a lot of coming out and we spent time with both the guys at the combine. We spent a lot of time watching tape and [they're] players that [we] really, really thought had a chance to be good and they haven't disappointed. Gronkowski is just a physical presence that just - much like some receivers that I've coached in the past like a Keyshawn [Johnson] or somebody like that, that once the quarterback understands that you can throw it when he's covered, that's always a great trait, characteristic to have. If you're a guy catching the ball from the quarterback and the quarterback knows he can throw it when you're covered which obviously Tom [Brady] does a bunch. That's just a testament to Rob and how good he is able to position and use his body to make catches on top of having just great, great hands.