San Francisco 49ers cornerback Nate Clements addresses the New England media during his conference call on Monday, October 1, 2008.
Q: You played against the Patriots and Tom Brady several times when you were with Buffalo. How different does the offense look without Tom Brady and with Matt Cassel at the controls?
NC: It looks different just based on appearances. Everybody is used to seeing him [Tom Brady] as the guy back there but I think that they still run the same offensive philosophy without him in there. The only thing that's different is the personnel.
Q: Without Tom [Brady] there have been some issues with getting Randy Moss the ball. As a cornerback can you ever relax when Randy Moss is on the field?
NC: When you have a player of that caliber you always want to be wary and aware of where he's at on the field because he can make a play at any time. You definitely want to always keep your eyes on that type of receiver.
Q: With your past history of playing in this division [AFC East] is this game a little extra special for you?
NC: I wouldn't say it's extra special. I just take the same approach with every game. This week is no different. I'm just going to continue to study my opponent, watch the film, work on my technique all week and get ready to apply it to the game.
Q: The personnel has changed a lot in New England since you were in Buffalo, but is there anything you can learn from those past games against New England, in terms of their system and what to expect?
NC: I guess I would be a little bit familiar with their offensive philosophy and some of the concepts that they have going on just from past history and playing against them a lot. It's going to be different because we run a different style of defense compared to Buffalo, so I'm just going to look at the film, scout, see what I can get off of these guys and try to use it on Sunday.
Q: How much does the experience that you guys have in the secondary help you?
NC: It helps a lot. We've experienced a lot playing back there - seeing a lot of routes, a lot of different types of receivers [and] different types of combinations. Seeing a lot we have a good feel for what's going on, a sense of how we're going to play particular routes or if a situation comes up we're kind of prepared for it.
Q: Early in the season you've faced some good receiving corps with [Anquan] Boldin and [Larry] Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams and now [Randy] Moss and [Wes] Welker. How do Moss and Welker stack up against those other two sets?
NC: I think they are right up there at the top. As you've seen Wes is doing an excellent job for them in the slot. Catching balls and actually where he's hurting you is the run after the catch. Randy, he's a threat. Like I said earlier you have to be aware of where he is on the field because he can catch a ball and take it [all] the way.
Q: Was the Saints game a step backwards for the pass defense?
NC: We've moved on. [We] watched the film and we've moved on from that game. We definitely said there are some plays that we want back but we have to look at the film, make the corrections and move on to New England this week.
Q: Do you have to be careful not to underestimate the Patriots' offense without [Tom] Brady and not underestimate [Matt] Cassel?
NC: I agree with that. Our mind set going into the game is that you never want to underestimate your opponent. Even though their record might not show how good of a team they really are. You never want to underestimate your opponent. You want to be fully prepared and be ready to run the things that you are capable of running.
Q: What are some of the differences that you see between [Matt] Cassel's style of quarterback and Tom Brady's style of quarterback?
NC: From experience alone and repetition with Tom Brady you can tell the difference because Tom has been getting all the reps. He knows the offense. He knows his personnel, not to say that [Matt] Cassel doesn't, but he definitely has a sense of how his receivers are going to run routes and what he wants them to do. [As for] Cassel, I think it's just a matter of getting reps and continuing to play, continuing to play with that group of guys.
Q: Your offense this year has shown the ability to put up points and put up points in a hurry with some of the big plays. Does that change anything on defense? Does that allow you to maybe take more risks knowing that your offense can get points in a hurry, or do you try to focus on doing your own job and not pay attention to what's going on the other side?
NC: Our mind set is we focus on our goals as a defense. We focus on our job and responsibilities as players and I think everything else will take care of itself. If we do the things that we're supposed to do defensively we'll create turnovers, we'll get three-and-outs and get our offense the ball. We'll put them in positions and [situations] so that they have a lot of opportunities to get the ball in the end zone.
Q: Does it help a defense knowing that you have an offense that can put up points in a hurry?
NC: It definitely helps when all three phases are really working. The battle [for] field position starts with special teams. We all know it's going to be a kick off or a kick off return at the beginning of the game, so I think if you get all three phases clicking it makes the game a lot easier.
Q: You've been really good in your career at forcing fumbles, which isn't a trait that a lot of defensive backs have. What's been the key for you?
NC: Patience really, I never give up on a play, I stay with it. Sometimes I think receivers or whoever I'm running up on, they don't really sense [that] I'm there. I just wait for the ball and just be patient.
Q: When you were a free agent did the Patriots show any interest in you? Were they one of the teams that contacted you?
Q: Did you have any interest in coming here if they had contacted you?
NC: At that time I was open to any offer. I wanted to weigh my options but I'm here and this is the best thing for me.