TB: I think over the years I’ve actually learned to take care of myself a little bit better, so this is the best I’ve ever felt. I’ve never felt any better than I have at this point, so I’m excited. We’ve had three good days with the whole team together and I think we’ve seen some improvements, but we still have a long way to go.
Q: You realize you are the senior statesman on the team, I think only one other guy was born in the ‘70s actually, not to make you feel old.
TB: No, I don’t feel that way. Mentally I said I think I’m a mature 22-year old. It’s fun, you know you’re in an environment like this with so many young players and young teammates, so finding ways to interact with them is probably the most challenging experience. But I have so many great guys that I’ve been able to play with over the years, certainly a guy like Tedy [Bruschi] who’s being inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame tonight. We just had a good thing going and hopefully we can come out tonight and have a good practice. It’s always a fun practice for the team to be in front of our own, all the people of Foxborough. Hopefully it’s a good turnout, but it’s fun to be in the stadium.
Q: Do you feel like you’re getting a rhythm with some of these new receivers? I mean it’s just been three days.
TB: Yeah, well I think it’s been steady improvements since they got here. I think all the young players have been willing to work hard and do what the coaches have asked. I’m just willing to do whatever it takes, we’re here for one reason and that’s to try to go out and win as many games as we possibly can. You just can’t decide, ‘OK, September, this is when it’s really important.’ You have to start in May, work through June, and into July which we have now. August is important because it builds for September. I think all the guys have put a lot of time in over the course of the spring and summer and hopefully it pays off. That’s why we’re out here doing it.
Q: Do you treat the younger players like you were treated? Some of them may be nervous, I’m not sure if you were nervous, or do you just say ‘Look, you’ve got to get on board because the train doesn’t stop?’
TB: It doesn’t stop, you’re right, and I think it’s so critical for the younger players to be able to practice every day, and come out and make the improvements. Coach talks about that all the time and the only way to get better is to practice repetition, so if you come out and you miss a week of training camp, that’s a big deal. There’s a lot of installation, there’s a lot of learning that goes on, so I think it’s good to have practices where, you know, yesterday was a two hour and 45 minute practice and we ran 130 plays or something like that. That’s how you get better playing football is to actually be able to go out and do it. We’ve got to string a bunch of those together and hopefully, like I said, that pays off when things start here with our preseason games.
Q: You mentioned your receiver group and kind of being so much older than some of those guys.
TB: Well, we’re all here for the same reason, so I think there’s definitely the common goal we have is the same, and that’s to be the best that we can be for the team. I said the guys have really committed themselves to doing that and have been really willing to come in here and learn and take to the coaches and listen and take hard criticisms, so to speak. When you’re a young player and when you’re a veteran player, you don’t get it all right and that’s why you come out. Everyone needs the reps, everyone needs the work, so we need to get everybody out here and doing it. Then you see how it all comes together and you really use the skill set of the players that we have on the field.
Q: Is there a limit on the questions, whether it be in your quarterback room or with the wide receivers, where you’re like, ‘You know what, I’ve got stuff to do myself, I can’t keep answering all the questions you have?’
TB: Sure, yeah, mentally and physically we have to be ready to go, each of us individually. When you’re at that point individually, then collectively you can bring it together. Our coaches do a great job preparing us as players. I feel like we have the best coaches in the league. The whole offensive staff, it starts with Coach Belichick and then right to Josh [McDaniels], and throughout the whole offensive staff – Dante [Scarnecchia] has been around as long as anybody and is an incredible offensive line coach. Brian Daboll is back, Ivan [Fears], Chad [O’Shea], George [Godsey], I mean we’ve got a great group.
Q: How do you feel about the fact that you finally have your parking spot back?
TB: I gave it up for a few years, so I always joke with Harold [Nash] that I was in the offseason hall of fame, so I came back to re-claim it. It’s great. It’s good that there are a lot of guys that worked hard over the offseason. That’s where it starts.
Q: What are your thoughts on Tedy going into the Hall of Fame? A teammate that, you mentioned earlier, he was always doing his job so it was never a distraction for anything going on. You could do your job.
TB: Yeah, Tedy is a great player; he brought so much enthusiasm to our locker room, to our team. He had a very unique personality, a very highly motivated person that had a great work ethic and was a great leader, especially for the younger players. He was a great mentor to so many guys including myself. He’s one of my best friends; it’s really an exciting night for him. We’ve all had this circled on our calendar for a long time – since they announced it. It’s really a tribute to him, his family and his beautiful boys.
Q: Is it weird for you that you’re seeing him going into the Hall of Fame and you’re still playing? Is it one of those things where you’re like, ‘I’m still playing, what are you doing up there putting on the jacket?’
TB: Yeah, well he’s a little bit older than me, so he’s got a few years on me. Hopefully I’m doing this for a long time and seeing a lot more guys go into the Hall of Fame. I’ve had a bunch of teammates go in, so it’s pretty cool to see. You remember the contribution they made, and Coach Belichick always talks to the younger players [about] guys like Troy Brown and Tedy Bruschi, Rodney’s [Harrison] going to be here tonight. I was fortunate to be able to play with those guys and learn from those guys, so hopefully I can take on some of the things that they taught me and pass those on to the younger guys that I play with. The exposure that I had to those great players when I was a young player was huge in my development.
Q: How long does it take for you to develop a go-to chemistry, which has always been so important to you and your offensive rhythm? How long does that take for you to develop in training camp?
TB: It’s definitely a work in progress, so I don’t think there’s a definitive amount of time. I think it’s all about the number of reps that you get and how many times you have a chance to go over certain things. With the practices the way they are and one practice a day, you have to take advantage of the one opportunity you have on the field. We only have six practices until we practice against the Eagles a week from tomorrow, so it comes fast. The installation, we haven’t even talked about the red area yet and we play them in a week and a half. It’s going fast, and you can’t afford to miss a lot of time now. You’ve got to be able to go out and execute at a high level. We worked in the spring about how quickly this was going to happen and we carried that over from the end of the camps through the beginning of training camp. A lot of guys put the work in that time, so we’re prepared. We just have to go out and keep stringing good practices together.
Q: Are you a little more patient with the younger guys who have just come in, or do you still get on them if they’re not running the right route?
TB: I don’t want to be a grumpy old guy. I think I understand that there’s a learning curve and there’s a patience. I think you try to let them know though that there’s an urgency about it, so it’s not like you can afford mistakes. We all make them – I make them myself, I make more than anybody. You’re patient with certain things. Mental errors you don’t really want to tolerate and I think those things are always preventable, but they’re going to happen. The physical ones, when you drop a ball, that happens, that’s part of playing. I’m going to miss throws, I’m going to throw interceptions, but I never want to make a wrong read or call a wrong play or snap the ball into a bad look. I think those are the things that the harder you work, typically, the better you get at those things.
Q: Do you see the mental errors decreasing a little bit, even though, again, it’s only been three days?
TB: We have a pretty smart group of guys, so that’s been a real positive. I think hopefully we continue to play smart. We talk about being a smart football team and that’s a team that doesn’t go out and beat itself, a team that plays penalty-free, that takes care of the ball, that makes a smart play on a down-by-down basis. It’s hard to exist in this program if you’re not a smart player.
Q: Favorite Tedy Bruschi memory?
TB: There are a lot of them. When he used to bring the team up after the game, after a win, you know, ‘How do you feel about a victory?’, those were special, and I get chills thinking about it. Those are great times. He fortunately created a lot of memories for all of us – fans, players, guys that played with him, coaches that were a part of those. He’s been a great ambassador for this team and this community. He still does things in the community – what he’s done with his foundation and stroke awareness and raising all the money for the Boston Marathon. He’s a great person, a great guy, friend, father, dad, I mean he’s really someone I always look up to.
Q: How was it to have such a terrific playmaker? You’ve played with a lot of them, but it seemed like he always had a knack for making the big play in the biggest moment.
TB: He did. He was a playmaker in every sense of the word. I remember when he stripped Edgerrin James, or Dominic Rhodes, or whoever that was, on our sideline, or right there in the middle of the field, that was a magical moment in our team’s history; when he caught the interception against Miami. For me personally, the moments that we had together where he could talk. We’d sit on the bus ride together, spending Christmas at his house, all of those things are really special memories for me. They couldn’t award a better player than Tedy. There’s not a better player that’s ever come through this program than Tedy. It’s going to be great for all of us to see him be inducted tonight and have him around and hopefully he has some words of wisdom for this year’s team.
Q: Will you guys be able to get over there at all for this?
TB: I don’t know, we have meetings. Ask Coach Belichick about that, see what he says. We’re buried in meetings until we come out for practice. He doesn’t listen to me either, so we’re all in the same boat. It’ll be a cool night.
Q: What are you taking away from that helmet cam? What do you personally take away from that?
TB: I don’t know, I haven’t looked at it. It’s more for some of the other guys that have asked for it. I agreed to do it, but I feel like I have what I need to see. The last thing I need is me to overanalyze certain things.
Q: So they want to see what you’re seeing?
TB: I think so. I think it looks pretty cool at the end of the day, but I don’t think it ends up doing much.
Q: Which one of the other quarterbacks was asking for that?
TB: I don’t think it was the quarterbacks.
Q: Josh McDaniels did say it gave him a headache, so now you can go back and say ‘See.’
TB: I know, well think about it, I mean it’s a camera bopping up and down and moving all over the place. I could be looking at you, but the camera would be shooting over here.
Q: How does it finally feel to be back in full pads, full contact and getting ready for the season?
TB: It’s fun. This is real football, so what we did in the spring and the summer has prepared us for these days. Football is about pads and running, passing, goal line, short yardage situations, being in the red area, playing in tight coverages, separating the receiver from the ball, making plays in tight coverage. I think that’s what real football’s all about. You don’t get to experience that in the spring, but this time of year when you see guys really take on the role and being a smart, tough, physical football team is one that we want to be.
Q: How was Tedy to practice against? Was he fun to practice against because he was such a good teammate, or was he a jerk because he tried so hard?
TB: He always tried hard, but that brought the best out of us. He gave it everything he had both in practices and in the games. He was a relentless practice player and played on scout team. I remember when he was coming back from his stroke, I got to practice against him a lot. He’s just a great teammate and player and everything you look for.