New England Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2008.
Q: Can you talk about the magnitude of this game, the game before the Super Bowl?
AT: Really, it is just the next game. You don't really look at it as the game before the Super Bowl or anything. It is a big game because of the implications that are on the game, but you just go about it the same way. Same thing that won in the regular season and last week; it will be the same thing this week, playing good defense and special teams and good offense.
Q: A lot of people think part of the reason you were brought in was because the Patriots didn't get the job done against the Colts last year in this game. What are you thoughts about this team? Is not getting the job done last year motivation?
AT: I only speak for myself. I know that is motivation. To be at the same point you were last year, I have never been in that situation or to lose an AFC Championship game. I know that it is heartbreaking; that is tough because you work so hard to get there. And so again, you are in the same position as last year, this being my first year. So you leave nothing unturned. You make sure you study and do all the things that you can do that are possible and you just go from there.
Q: You talked about this as "just the next game" and you guys have talked about that all year. Do you think treating each game the same is what separates this team from other teams?
AT: I really don't know how other teams approach it, but I know that is one thing that we do here. We put all of our focus and energy on the team that we are facing, regardless of who it is and regardless of what their record is. We never overlook anyone and we never disrespect anyone, so the fact that you go in and put all your focus on the task at hand and not worry about the next week or last week or anything like that -- I think that gives you the best chance to win.
Q: Sort of like you're approaching every game as a playoff game?
AT: Kind of. I guess you could say that because there is nothing that you can do about last week or next week. The only thing you can really do is go out and prepare and practice today and practice will worry about itself tomorrow, and I think that is just the way we go about things. We aren't in practice or in the game talking about next week. You cant really do that because your focus and energy are not channeled in the right direction. I think as a team effort, guys coaches and all are just really focusing on the task at hand because it is win or go home. So you if you are worrying about next week, next week will worry about itself. [We're] just really focusing on the Chargers and the challenges that they bring to us and they bring a lot of those.
Q: Is it a challenge to have the possibility of facing either Billy Volek or Phillip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson or Michael Turner?
AT: No, I don't think it is a challenge from the standpoint that they run their offense. It's not like it's a totally different offense if Volek comes in or Turner comes in. Both of those guys did a great job last week. [They] came in and didn't miss a beat, didn't miss a beat. They came in and Turner ran the ball well, Volek did the things that he needed to do to get them to win. [He] drove them down, got the winning score, scored a touch down. So that right there within itself shows that they have got a lot of confidence in those guys and they get the job done if they have to get in and get it done.
Q: Are there certain things you are fixing or fine-tuning on defense?
AT: We're always fine-tuning. That is one thing about it and I think that is kind of the humble pie thing that you talk about. You get all the praise from the media or your friends and family, but when you go to work, when you come to practice, you work on things that you really need to work on. If something wasn't done right you correct it, and I think that is any way that you go. You work on your weakness but you are only as good as your weakness, so I think that is one of the things that we do well.
Q: The Chargers have clearly played better in the last eight weeks. What have they done to get them to that point?
AT: First of all, it is new coaches, so that is totally different, and it was earlier in the year. A lot of teams probably wrote them off along with a lot of other teams that were probably written off, but in September you can't tell who is a good team or not because it is the beginning of the year, the timing is not down with quarterback and receivers, dealing with a new coaching staff, you may not have the logistics of the scheme. This team has done a lot of things; Rivers done a great job at quarterback, defense has got the concept of what Ted Cottrell is doing, so they present a lot of challenges and really have stepped up their game and improved these last couple of weeks, since Thanksgiving.
Q: I know you take it one week at a time, but do you at all allow yourself at any moment to just think this is why I am here, to play in a game like this?
AT: You definitely savor the moment. I won't sit here and lie to you and say you don't think about that. You savor the moment because you never know when you will get a chance to come back. I did that rookie year: [I] got to this point and haven't been back since, and so you definitely understand from me going there as a rookie and understanding it now because as a rookie, you are like, "is that all this is?" It's kind of like, "that little thing?" but now you understand that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get here, so you definitely want to do all you can to make the most of your moment.
Q: Can you talk about how the linebackers work together, especially the perception of Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau as being older linebackers?
AT: We work together; it's 'backerhood. We sweat with each other, we work hard, we do whatever we need to do to make each other better, communicate, whatever it may be. As far as perception, all the perception I really care about is at the end of the game the score. The perception that the media has or whatever somebody else has, it doesn't really bother us. We care about what each other thinks in the locker room, how we feel about each other, because those are the people that are on the bandwagon from day one, not jumping on and off. So that's the only perception we really care about. As long as we are winning, the perception doesn't really bother us.
Q: Have the dynamics of the linebacker group changed at all since Rosevelt Colvin got injured?
AT: The dynamics? I went to outside, other than that, I don't think the dynamics -- It's not like we do anything differently since the transition took place, so I don't' think the dynamic has changed.
Q: Did you watch Merriman and Phillips last week against the Colts and what can you lean from what they did?
AT: We're not playing the Colts.
Q: Just, when you look at them, what do you see from those two guys?
AT: They're two good outside linebackers. They play very well, get a lot of pressure on the quarterback ad make a lot of of big plays, so the offense will definitely have their hands full with those two guys.
Q: When you came here last year, playing in a game like this must have been a part of your thought process.
AT: I didn't have New England on my radar at this time last year. Again, if you watched the game, then you really don't know, but after you come here and visit and see the interest, yeah you do think about that, so that is one of the thoughts that you get.
Q: Usually in the playoffs great players come up big in big games. This is the biggest game LaDainian Tomlinson has ever played in, so even if he is injured, does that make him the most dangerous player on the field for San Diego?
AT: I don't think the game makes that, I think just his ability to break open a game [does]. He can take a screen pass and take it the distance and they have numerous guys who can do that, not just LT. So a lot of times they may use LT to get your attention and do it to [Darren] Sproles or someone else. LT is definitely a great back, so his injury, as far as that goes, I don't know how that goes, but I'm sure he'll play. Other than that, I think that he's going to come and play just like he does every Sunday, not just because it's the championship game.