New England Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 24, 2008.
Q: Can I ask you to reflect on your hometown of Equality, Ala. and how well you know Justin Tuck?
AT: Actually, it's funny you say that. [We] went to the same high school, our parents went to school together. [It's a] small town. Most of the neighbors are either your aunt or your uncle or your grandparents. His sister is in the class with my sister now - I think that's right. I know Justin very well. [We] grew up together. Again, he went to church down the street from where I went to school. I talked to him this week. They're calling it the Coosa County Bowl instead of the Super Bowl where we're from. It's so funny, though - two guys from the same area, which is a very rural part of Alabama to play in the Super Bowl, so one family will be happy and one family will be kind of sad.
Q: Richard Seymour talked about making picks with his buddies and he chose the Giants straight through, based on the fact that when he played them he thought they were a solid team. Do you think that?
AT: I really didn't know who would be here, because in the playoffs it's always some kind of twist or something like that, but I knew that they had a great chance because of their road record, first of all, and the way that they played at the end of the year. They were starting to play well at the right time. A lot of times teams hit their all cylinders at the wrong point and then have a lull at the wrong time of the year. In the playoffs, you can't have that, that lull at the wrong time of the year. They've done a great job of going on the road [and] playing games, winning on the road against very good teams, so they have the momentum right now. Eli's [Manning] playing great. Their defense is playing well. Special teams is playing great, kicking off and making a short field for them. We definitely have our challenge cut out for us.
Q: When you talked to Justin Tuck, can you give us a little bit of the flavor of it?
AT: First of all, we congratulated each other. I congratulated him on his new deal, whatever, and we said we would just talk later on in the week and get together. But, you know, it's not like we play against each other. Both of us are on defense, so I think it would be a little bit different if he was a running back or a wide receiver or something like that, but just hoping each other stay healthy. Other than that, [that's] pretty much it.
Q: You came in here and got basically immersed playing inside and then all of a sudden got shifted outside. Was there any impact?
AT: No, it helps you learn the defense as a whole when you're playing inside and then you go to outside. You understand now as you go through the calls what you may have to do at Mike as well as Sam or Will or Jack - whatever it may be. It just helps you understand the defense, which helps you as an overall player. I think that's the biggest thing that it does for me.
Q: Knowing that now, having played both, is it easier to shift outside or would it have been harder to go inside?
AT: I don't know. It really doesn't matter when you're dealing with a new system, because you have to learn both of them either way it goes, so being that I was the Mike I think it's easier now to go outside, because you do know a lot about the calls because when you're at Mike you deal with both sides, vs. when you're a Sam or a Jack you deal with just one side.
Q: The Patriots' Super Bowl wins were all by three points and the red zone becomes very important in the Super Bowl. Last week you had three red zone stops. Do you think that puts you right on schedule?
AT: It is. That's definitely a momentum shifter, especially when you can give up three points. You don't want to get them down there, first of all. You don't want to major in red zone defense, but if something goes down and they're down there - a long drive, a turnover or a kickoff or something that got them to that point, whatever it may be - you want to always be able to stand up and hold them to three points, and I think that is a big thing, vs. three points, you give up two scores, which is the same thing as one score - it's six points. So I think that definitely helps as far as that goes. They've been great in the red zone, and so one of them is going to have to give. Hopefully we can continue to bring focus to that point and continue to play strong to that point, because that will definitely help us on Sunday.
Q: When you were thinking about signing someplace when you were a free agent, was this in your mind why you signed here, the opportunity to be here and talk about the Patriots in the Super Bowl?
AT: I knew it gave me a great chance to be here. Did I think it would be the first year? I really didn't know, but I knew you had a great chance of being there. That's all you can really ask for in this game, is to have a chance to play - to get an opportunity to get to the playoffs and play for a championship and go on to the stage that we're on now. So that definitely was a big part of why I signed here.
Q: Their two running backs are different styles. What kind of challenge does that present?
AT: It represents a big challenge. Both of the guys run hard. [Brandon] Jacobs is a more downhill, big guy, run you over, but at the same time he has good speed. [Ahmad] Bradshaw is a cutback, cut - He can bounce outside. He's a very, very hard runner, always keeping his legs pumping, and so you just have to gang tackle both of them. That's the key. That's the only common thing that they do have, is you have to gang tackle both of them because they're very good backs.
Q: Were you surprised at all the coverage Tom Brady and his walking boot got the last few days?
AT: I didn't know anything about it until I think yesterday. It was what it was. Tom gets enough coverage. I don't know.
Q: Do you feel pretty confident you'll have him at 100 percent? Is this a non-issue for your team?
AT: I'll let Tom answer that. I don't know anything about a boot or a cup or a shoe. I don't know anything like that. I don't know anything - slippers, I don't know. His slippers cost more than my shoes, I don't know.
Q: Could you address the development of Eli Manning and what you've seen in him in the last month?
AT: He's just taking care of the ball. No turnovers in the playoffs. If you don't turn the ball over, you give yourself a greater chance to win. He's throwing the ball very well. Running the ball has been taking a lot of pressure off him as well, and Plaxico [Burress] has been running big, and when not throwing to Plaxico, the other guys have stepped up. [Amani] Toomer, [Steve] Smith and [Kevin] Boss. You really can't just focus on one guy because he really is going through his reads and delivering the ball where it's supposed to be delivered.
Q: Some people grow up in certain areas and wish they were from somewhere else. Are you grateful for where you came from?
AT: Of course. That's what made [me] who I am. I don't have any regrets. That's one thing you can't choose, is your parenthood and where they live. It's a great I think motivation or encouragement for the kids that are from rural areas that are small areas. Nobody really knows where I'm from and it goes back to the old cliché it's not where you're from, it's where you go. I think Justin and I are just two prime examples of guys that came from middle class families that worked hard. The one thing that both of us really had was great support from our parents, our mother and our father, his parents as well as my parents. I think that just goes to show a lot about the character that he has and I have as well.
Q: You were injured for a short time this season --
AT: What injury are you talking about?
Q: The ankle injury that showed up on the injury report.
AT: I think everybody could be on the injury report at some point, but I don't think it's really impacted - To a certain extent - I'm fine, as far as that goes. I didn't miss any games, [or] anything like that, so I don't think - It's a non-issue.
Q: You guys are pretty heavily favored in this game.
AT: That doesn't mean anything. It's not like - Favored? Just like I guess Green Bay was favored. That doesn't mean anything. The only thing that matters is when the ball is kicked off, when it's time to play, you make more plays and go out there and play good defense and good team ball and try to win the game. That's the only thing that matters. That favor doesn't do anything but motivate the other team.
Q: Has this season been more of a learning experience than you anticipated?
AT: I knew it was going to be a learning experience because, again, you come into a new system, new players, new environment, it's always a learning system, learning how things work on and off the field. It's been a learning experience and I'll continue to learn. Just learning from the guys, from Junior [Seau] and Tedy [Bruschi] and Vrabes [Mike Vrabel], those guys really showed me the way and so I continue to lean on those guys.
Q: But here where the system is so complicated to play?
AT: I don't think so. I don't think it's very complicated to play. I mean, I think it's a good system to play in.