We've played against him quite a few times, when (Kamerion Wimbley) was in Cleveland and when he was in Oakland. I think we understand the kind of ability that he has as a pass rusher. He's been very disruptive in the preseason. He's someone that we have to account for on every play.
(on the chemistry of the offensive line with the recent changes that have been made)
Well I think it's been a very competitive position for us all of training camp. Certainly the guys that are in there have earned their spots through a lot of hard work, through a lot of practices. They're very well coached. I certainly have a lot of confidence in them as a group. I've got no concerns that they'll be prepared, and they'll give everything they've got this weekend. It's a tough challenge. I think the strength of the defense and the way they can disrupt the passer and get the ball out of the quarterback's hands as fast as they can, they've proven they're very good at that. That's a serious challenge for us this weekend.
(on if his familiarity with Jerry Gray at Buffalo will help him when facing the Titans' defense this Sunday)
He's a great coach, and we've played against his defense several times while he was at Buffalo, but that was a long time ago. We've changed; our identity is very different now than it was then. Watching the preseason and seeing what (the Titans) have done this year, they've got a lot of confidence in what they're doing and they're playing very well. They've got some very good players. They've got a lot of depth at the defensive line position, they really get after the quarterback. The linebacker group is as solid as any team in the league. There are a bunch of playmakers in the secondary. Michael Griffin is one of the best safeties in the league. They're good at every position, and there is depth. We have to be very sharp. We have to execute at a high level. We just can't go against a team like this and take anything for granted. Especially, it's the season opener, and I'm sure there will be a few things that we haven't prepared for. We have to be very disciplined in what we're doing as well.
(on if he expects other teams to mirror what they've done with tight ends
They've been two very productive players for us. But our receiver position is strong, and we've got quite a few running backs that have played in the preseason. Those guys are great players for us, but we try to spread the ball around. We're trying to make you cover all of us. It's not about one or two guys with our offense.
(on how center
He's been around for quite a while. He's been on the team for quite some time. He's played center, he's played guard. The center is a very important position on any team. Ryan (Wendall) really took advantage of the opportunity that he got. He's earned a spot, and he's a very hard-nosed, disciplined and tough kid. He wants to do the best he possibly can. He's been working hard for this opportunity, and everyone is excited for him.
(on his impressions of Jake Locker)
To tell you the truth, I've been focused on the defense. I really haven't had the chance to watch their offense at all.
(on if going against
I've watched a lot of film on Jason (McCourty) to try to see his strengths as a player. He's got a lot of them. He's fast, he's tough, he's physical, he's a very fluid athlete. He's got a lot of strengths. You have to be careful with the ball around him. He's a very tough player, and he really forces the receivers to run good routes and the quarterbacks to make good throws. He can capitalize when it is a bad throw by a quarterback. It's a very good secondary with McCourty and (Alterraun) Verner. With (Robert) Johnson and (Michael) Griffin at safety, and with (Tommie) Campbell coming in on third down, it's a great group. We've got our work cut out for us.
(on if there are certain short routes that he can find Wes Welker on that are almost unstoppable)
No, I think if they cover short, you have to throw it past them. If they're covering in the deep part of the field, you have to throw it short. You try to send guys to different areas. You just can't live on one particular part of the field. When they drop deep and Wes (Welker) is open short, you try to throw it to him. If they're covering short and Wes has a deep route and he's open, you throw it. I'm looking for the open guy. You've got to be very disciplined in terms of your discipline of the routes and your ability to get open in man coverage. But that's why they challenge you. The team forces the ball out quick, and they've got an incredibly athletic group of linebackers that cover a lot of space. (Colin) McCarthy has led the league in interceptions in the preseason. He's obviously a big playmaker for them. We have to be aware of all three of those guys, because it is a very athletic group of linebackers.
(on if he has a tempo he likes to run the offense at)
There are all kinds of tempos in every game. I don't think we're focused on that. We're focused on the execution of our plays and individually doing our job and relying and trusting the guys next to us that they're going to do their job. I think we're focused more on our discipline and our execution than on tempo.
(on what he remembers from the 59-0 win over the Titans in 2009)
We obviously made some big plays. It was a crazy game in terms of conditions. It was raining in pregame warm-ups and it turned into snow. It was the sixth game of the year, so that's never happened up here. Last year, it didn't snow at all, and that was mid-October and we had a huge snowfall. They're memorable games when the weather is as inclement as it was that particular day. I'm glad we executed well. It was a fun day to be on offense.
(on what goes through a guy's mind when he's making his first career start)
It was a while ago. I think everybody's excited. I was excited when I started. I'm excited for this weekend, our players are excited. You only get one season opener, and everything you've done for the last eight months is in preparation for this game—all the spring camps, all the summer practices, training camp, preseason games. I mean this is why you work hard and prepare—for opportunities like this. We all have them. It's exciting for every player that will take the field.
(on what challenges Alterraun Verner poses for Wes Welker)
He's a very good player. You can tell how smart he is. When you play that position, it requires a lot of skill, the quickness, the speed, the strength, when you play in the slot. He plays outside, so it's obvious the coach has a ton of confidence in him and what his abilities are, his ability to pick up the defense. He's a very instinctive player, he reads routes very well. He's an excellent player that once again, capitalizes on really bad plays. You make a bad play, he's going to make you pay. Wes (Welker) knows that. I'll be very much focused in on where he's at and what he's doing. Hopefully not give him too many opportunities.
(on if there's one play of Alterraun Verner he's seen on film that sticks out)
There have been a bunch in the preseason where he's had some pass breakups. He's always around the ball. I think he is smart, the way that he plays in terms of using his leverage and his technique, his ability to read the quarterback in zone coverage, his ability to play the quick receivers in the slot. He does everything very well.
(on what Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez do well)
I think the thing that is good about both of them is that they play in the pass game and they play in the run game. I think they're committed to both. It's not like they're just pass receivers. It's not like they're just run blockers. I think they're able to do both and they're a threat at both, which makes the defense really respect that. They're both very smart players and they love playing football, they want to do a good job. They're great teammates; they're fun to be around. It's a lot of fun playing with them.