QB TOM BRADY
Q: Why is it so difficult to play in Denver? Is it the elevation, the fans or is it just that they're a good team?
TB: I think it's all those things. The level of competition and the quality of their players and coaches is what makes it a great team and a great organization. They've been that way for a long time. So, they have a great tradition there and we've played a lot of good Bronco teams. [We've] beat them a couple times, but they've beat us most of the time, so I'd like to get to that No. 3 in the win column this weekend.
Q: Does your routine stay the same through every playoff year that you go through?
TB: I think it always changes over the course of every season. You learn different things, adjust your routine to different things in your life, change and so forth. Your days just get divided up differently and you try to become really efficient with what you're doing. I've tried to eliminate all of the things that I don't need to do during the season [and] just try to get to the most important stuff. Ultimately, I always want to be feeling good on game day and be really mentally [and] physically prepared. So, kind of everything else in my life gets put to the side when football season is like it is now.
Q: Can you usually make the correlation of a good week of preparation to you playing well, or does that not necessarily always translate?
TB: It doesn't always translate. Some weeks you have great weeks and then don't put it together, and then some weeks it's a little slow to start, or slow at the end, and then you just tear it up. You try to always have a great week of preparation. I think the better you do things over a long period of time, the more consistent you are over a long period of time, the more confidence you have in the game. Sometimes the practice may not show up that first week, but it may show up the second week and the third week once you start stringing all of those together. Depending on matchups and the team you're playing, and the conditions of the game, and kind of how it sets out - whether you've got to run it more or throw it more - all those things play into practice habits. Good fundamentals are a big part of what our practices are about. We talk about fundamentals, techniques, which leads to good execution. If you can do that consistently in practice, then it's really not a fluke when it happens in the game. You just don't want to practice poorly and think, 'Oh, just flip the switch, and then on game day everything will magically happen the way that it needs to.' It doesn't really happen like that.
Q: Julian Edelman seems to get a kick out of it every time you run the ball. He calls you the Clydesdale. What's your reaction to that, and on a serious note, the way you've extended plays - even if it's not running - how well do you feel you're doing that relative to maybe a different point earlier in your career?
TB: It's definitely something that I've worked a lot at the last couple of years, because there was a point where I felt like that was becoming a real problem for me as a player - not being able to extend anything. So, I think that's been a big point of emphasis the last two or three years, was how to buy everybody more time. I think we've done a better job of that the last couple years than I did maybe four or five years ago. So, if it's to move to throw, I think that's always a good thing, because we're probably gaining more yards than it would be if I start running. But if I have to run, I think that could be a pretty frustrating thing for a defense, too, because they're saying, 'How could I let this guy run? Of all the things, this guy?'
Q: And the Clydesdale?
TB: Yeah, I probably looked like a Clydesdale when I was running in that Combine video 16 years ago, too. So, at least I haven't slowed down. At least I've maintained it [and] hopefully I've improved it a little bit.
Q: When you're preparing to face a team that has Peyton Manning on the other sideline and you know what an excellent quarterback he is, does that bring out the best in you as you prepare for the week knowing that you're going to have to be on top of your game?
TB: Yeah, I think he's an incredible player and anytime you face that caliber of player - and there are a lot of great quarterbacks in the NFL [and] Peyton has been one of the best to ever play - you've got to be at your best. You can't play anything less than your best and expect to win, because he's going to play well and he's going to have that team playing well. Like I said, turnovers and short fields, that's stuff they live for in Denver and they've done a great job of that all season, but the turnovers and returns for touchdowns and so forth, but Peyton has been just incredible. You know it's going to take your best effort as an offense to match what they're doing on their offense, and hopefully our defense plays great. But we as an offense have to do our job regardless, and go out there and try to play our very best.
Q: In terms of turnovers, is ball security something that takes on even greater importance in the playoffs, considering last weekend just how close those final scores ended up being?
TB: Yeah, they do. Turnovers are a big part of every game. We talk about that as a strong correlation over the course of the entire season. You look at teams with the top turnover ratios and how many times a team, they win or lose depending on the amount of turnovers, usually. We have like a 95 percent winning percentage when we don't turn the ball over. So, I think one of our top goals every week is to not turn it over, because if we don't turn it over, we've got a great chance of winning. Now, you can't snap it and kneel down three times and then punt. There's no risk to any plays that you're taking, [but] I don't want to fire it into triple coverage for a four-yard gain, because the chance is it's going to get intercepted and lead to points and losses and so forth. I think as a quarterback, over the course of the game, if you're down 10 in the fourth quarter, you've got to switch in your mind, you've got to take more chances. I don't think you need to do that in the first quarter. That's something that I've learned that's part of my ball security. You know, tackles, they have their own version of ball security; they've got to keep the guys who they're blocking out of the middle of the pocket so they can't strip sack the quarterback, which is a big challenge when you face Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, [Shane] Ray and [Shaquil] Barrett. Receivers, they have their version, both catching it - they don't want to bat it up and get it intercepted, or they don't want to get stripped when they get it. Running backs, they have their version. Ball security is a team-wide thing. It's not just a quarterback interception thing, or a running back fumble thing. Everyone plays a part. So, when we do it well and it leads to wins, I think everyone on offense feels really good about it.
Q: Is it all silent count when you're in Denver, and does it give you an advantage at all to have been out there previously and see what you can or cannot do? What happens when you're on the road versus at home, where you're able to move guys all over the place at home?
TB: Yeah, it's definitely silent count there. And I think a big part of it is just the verbal cadence and how that relates to where the tackles and tight ends are. The center can hear you, I'd say, pretty much the entire game when you're under center. But everybody getting off on the same count is really important. At home it's easy because it's verbal and the communication is pretty easy. When you go on the road, you still want everyone on the offense to go on the right rhythm and really jump the count, but you can only do that on a silent count, because no one can obviously hear me verbally when we're on the road.
Q: What about moving guys? I mean, you move guys around a lot at home. Sometimes you just say, 'I'm not going to be able to do it.'?
TB: Yeah, absolutely. It's really easy to just spit out a word as opposed to signal something, or you'd have to come up with thousands of signals for all of the things that we do. It's really when the play clock becomes an issue, and I think the adjustments at home are easier. I think that's why you have a little more margin of error at home, just with your communication, because I can switch protections, or I can switch an identification, or I can change a route, or I can change a formation really quickly. Whereas on the road, I don't think you really have that luxury.
Q: Matthew Slater said yesterday that the obvious common theme with all of these Patriot teams is you, Coach [Bill] Belichick and Mr. [Robert] Kraft. I'm just wondering how Mr. Kraft's leadership or direction trickles down for you guys?
TB: It's obviously a huge impact on our team and our organization. His expectations for us and how he sets the tone for us, he sits in almost every squad meeting that we have [and] I think he's always got a pulse for how the team is doing, how the coaches feel about the particular week, how the players are feeling. He's always involved, so I would say he's very hands on. He used to come out to practice a lot more, but not as much lately. So, yeah, he really sets the tone for us.
Q: Two years ago in this same spot, you didn't have Rob Gronkowski. Everybody knows how important Gronk is to this offense, so what do you remember about that game not having him, and how much do you talk to him during the week about a game plan coming up?
TB: Yeah, a couple years ago that was a big challenge to go in there and beat them. They were on fire that year, and we just got off to a slow start that game. So, we just played from behind the entire game. [We] made a couple of plays at the end, but it really wasn't that close. We've got to get off to a much better start this week.
Q: And your relationship with Gronk and how much you guys talk during the week?
TB: All the time. We're in constant [communication]. Quarterback, receiver, tight end, we're always in constant communication. There are only so many skill guys you have, so you're always talking to the guys that you're throwing the ball to, and the kind of adjustments that I expect, and the new plays that are put in, and body language stuff that they need to do on certain routes so I can anticipate throws. It's all the time.
Q: There has been some discussion lately that in Boston sports figures, some have suggested that you are the figure of this generation when kids think of the Boston sports. So, when you're compared to Larry Bird or Bobby Orr, do you have a sense of that as a guy who's been in Boston long enough?
TB: I think I'm still in the middle of things and I still feel like I have a lot more football left. So, I don't think about those things too often.
Q: Is it an honor to be mentioned along with guys like Larry Bird?
TB: Absolutely. I think those guys are in a different category. I certainly looked up to a lot of heroes of mine being in California. And obviously, Larry Bird was so spectacular, so being here for a long time, absolutely, I feel like I'm a Bostonian.
Q: You don't feel like you're in that kind of figure though?
Q: How much does experience in this game, for this team at this time of year, how much of all of that matters?
TB: The only thing that's going to matter is those three hours on Sunday. Talking about what we're going to do, or thinking about what we're going to do, I think that's all part of your preparation, but it's going to come down to how well we execute on Sunday. You may not have any experience - Malcolm Butler didn't have any experience in a Super Bowl last year - and won the game for our team. So, whoever is called upon has to go out and make the play at that particular moment, and if you make great plays, you've got a great chance of advancing. If you don't, you'll be watching in two weeks.
S PATRICK CHUNG
Q: How much does experience matter in this type of game at this point in the season?
PC: It plays a little factor, but when it comes down to it, it just comes down to us playing good, executing when it comes down to it. There are going to be a lot of young guys that don't have a lot of experience that come in here and make big plays and there are going to be a lot of older guys that kind of make plays, so it really doesn't matter how many playoff games you've been in. [We're] just taking it play-by-play and trying to be consistent.
Q: Do you take pride in your overall versatility as a player?
PC: The more you can do the more valuable you are and really it just comes down to if Coach [Bill] Belichick gives you an assignment or a role for that game, just got to go out there and just do the best that you can, just working hard and you know it's worked out for me, but anything can change at any moment so I've just got to go into the game with the same mentality that we've been going into for the last 21 games, including preseason and just go out there and do what he asks pretty much.
Q: Yesterday Coach Belichick mentioned that he will never underestimate Peyton Manning.
PC: Yeah, don't do that.
Q: Will you ever underestimate Peyton Manning?
PC: No, Peyton is Peyton. They're in the playoffs. They have a good team. He's a veteran guy. He knows the game and he knows how to slow the game down for himself and he's Peyton Manning. When you hear about him everybody knows about who he is, so you can't really underestimate him, so I agree with Bill on that. He's a baller and he's playing good. He has good players around him so he's going to lead his team and we're going to try and do the same thing and just go out there and try to get this win.
Q: What is the key difference between dealing with Peyton Manning in the shotgun formation and Brock Osweiler under the center?
PC: Just reading your keys. Sometimes you might get a jump on certain things, but when it comes down to it just reading your keys. You can't be looking in the backfield when your guy is running past you, certain things like that. So just really focusing in and doing your job and just trust that everybody else is going to do their job and the guys that have to rush the passer rush the passer and the guys that have to cover just cover and just do it like that.
Q: As a player how do you view Robert Kraft's leadership and how does it trickle down to the team itself?
PC: Every morning we see him in the squad meetings just sitting right there in the back just paying attention and that's good to see as a player. Most owners aren't really doing that. He's in there just paying attention. He's always walking through the locker room, [I've] seen him working out and stuff. It's good to know that he's working just as hard as we are. We're on the field, he's off the field and it's good to know, good to know that your owner has your back and he's going to be there to make sure that he knows what's going on, also. We like Mr. Kraft. We call him Mean Mug. Mean Mug, that's our little thing that we've got so it's good. It's very good to see.
Q: Where did the nickname Mean Mug come from?
PC: There are a couple of jokes.
Q: What is the chemistry like amongst the players at the safety position?
PC: It's kind of like we're all brothers in there. We work hard. We are always competing to see who can make the best plays and stuff like that. On top of that, off the field we hang out so when you have a group that's close-knit like that then you're going to be able to just look at somebody and they know what you're thinking and just trust in that person. Sometimes you're going to make a bad play then you're going to get made fun of. That's what keeps us level. Have a good play - cool. Have a bad play then you're going to hear about it the next day or even on the sideline, so it's good to have guys around you like that keeps a competitive edge in you.
Q: Is there a leader of the defense or is it a collective effort.
PC: It's kind of a collective thing. There's not really a bunch of rah-rah guys, just guys out there doing their job and holding each other accountable for doing what they're supposed to do. It takes 11 guys to do their job on one play to stop the play. If 10 guys do their job and one person doesn't then it's a big play, so we just hold ourselves accountable and we let the play on the field be our leadership I guess.
Q: What have been your impressions of Justin Coleman as a cornerback this season?
PC: Coleman's a good, young player. He's been through a little adversity with his injuries and stuff, but he's a good player. He's young and I feel he's going to get better. It's his first year, so he's going to have some little rough spots, but he's good. He's learning. He's learning pretty fast and we're depending on him to make some plays.
Q: Do you recall another season where you have spent this much time up closer to the line of scrimmage and how has your role evolved over the years?
PC: Years change, defenses change, game-by-game game plans change, so it really just comes down to whatever the game plan is for that week. Sometimes I'm back deep more, sometimes I'm real up close, sometimes [I'm on] a receiver. It's just a matter of the game plan and what we have to do for that game.
Q: Has there always been a comfort level for you playing up close like that?
PC: I like to be in the action a little bit, so it's keeping me down there and just letting me play it, but it really just comes down to whatever Bill wants. If Bill wants a certain fit or a certain way we execute a play then that's just how we have to do it.
Q: What is the key to stopping tight ends that have a height and weight advantage over you?
PC: Technique, working out, making sure you're strong, making sure you're explosive. It's more just technique, just having the mindset that every play is different. You might cover someone this play, the next play he might get you and you're thinking about, 'Oh I did a good job that last play so I should be good this play,' but no, things happen. Everybody gets paid. There are good players in the NFL, so it just comes down to being a technician play-by-play. Every single down is a different down.
Q: Do you think you are faster at this point in your career than you were earlier?
PC: I don't know how to answer that. I'm just playing football. I don't really think about me being faster or slower. I'm just playing football. I'm just kind of slowing the game down for me mentally and it makes you play fast.
Q: What makes Owen Daniels an effective tight end?
PC: Owen is good. He's savvy. He's a savvy dude and he has good hands and he can block. He's like an all-around tight end. He's a very good tight end. Even Virgil [Green] is pretty good. They have a good tight end corps, good running back corps, receiver core. They're just a good team and Owen Daniels is a key part to their offense, so we have to find a way to kind of limit him a little bit.
K STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI
Q: We were talking about the unusual aspect that Robert Kraft is in team meetings every morning. As a player, when did you first notice that and how do you view that?
SG: Mr. Kraft has been around a lot ever since I've been here and it can be intimidating being around a guy who's got so much. But he comes off as a normal guy. He'll come up to you, he called my wife when she had a surgery, sent me a baby gift when I had a baby. He's just a great guy. They preach family around here and it starts with him. As crazy as it is in this business with people getting cut and traded, and year-in and year-out people going different places, they do a really good job of making us feel welcome while we're here because we're here a lot of the time and I think most of that credit should go to Mr. Kraft. I remember having a bad game and Mr. Kraft came up [and] consoled me. He wasn't coming around and [trying] to be a 'hardo' and telling me I need to do better. He's a human being and he's also the owner of this team and when there's a guy up there that you see around and is as invested as he is - not just monetarily, but emotionally - it's a lot easier to go out there and play for a guy like that. We love Mr. Kraft, he's always welcome around us in the locker room - I mean he owns the place, he can go wherever he wants. You know, he's very welcome in the inner circles of the locker room, camaraderie and it's cool to be a part of.
Q: On kickers in general, I'm curious if you follow that Morten Andersen has been a Hall of Fame finalist for four straight years. Your thoughts on that and your thoughts in general about kickers and the Hall of Fame? There's only one in the Hall of Fame.
SG: I'm sure I could have a lot to say, but I'd rather just focus on the game this weekend. The Hall of Fame, it is what it is. I'm sure there are plenty of guys on a lot of positions that are deserving who don't get in. It's just an accolade - it doesn't say anything about how good of a player he is. Both [Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson] were great kickers, and there are a lot of guys who are deserving for all the praise they get. To be recognized as a good kicker or punter you have to do it for a long period of time, consistently, and those guys have. And if that's not enough for people to put them in, then that's their prerogative. I don't think it's that big of a deal, but that's for the people - I don't even know who decides that stuff - so that's for them to debate about.
Q: What is it like kicking in Denver? Is your pregame routine any different given the altitude and all of that?
SG: I don't say my pregame is different. I just go into it with a different attitude. One of the best tips I've gotten was from Scott O'Brien, because he coached in Denver and he would see every other team come in there. I think the problem you can fall into is the idea that you can kick the ball off further, which will make you go out there and try to hit a home run every time. And you know what happens when a guy tries to hit a home run every time? They swing and miss a few times. So, knowing that the ball is going to go a little further, or it can go further, you still have to hit a good kick. They don't give you extra points if you make a 50-yarder that goes over the net. You still have to make a good kick, and you still have to keep it straight. I think it's more exciting, I guess, kicking off to maybe help yourself get touchbacks, but you still have to go out there and execute. Just because it's perceived to be easier doesn't necessarily make it true. There are some times where I go to a dome and I go into a dome game thinking, 'There's no way I can screw up in a dome.' But you still have to go out there and execute the kick and the play. So, I think I just go into that not trying to hit the home run ball every time I kick a field goal is the biggest thing that I concentrate playing in a warm weather place, a place where the ball carries a little better than Gillette Stadium, or Buffalo or some of the other places in the Northeast.
Q: You mentioned Scott [O'Brien]. How often have you heard from him during the course of the season? And [special teams coach] Joe Judge, what has been his impact this year?
SG: I haven't heard from Scott at all. I think Scott kind of just ran away into the distance ... He's at his ranch. He's probably watching the games, probably critiquing us from far beyond. And I think Joe has done a great job. I think the hardest thing about coaching special teams is it's everybody from all aspects of the team, and you've got to try to relay a lot of information to a lot of guys in a short amount of time. You don't get as many meeting hours, you don't get as many reps in practice, which you don't get as many plays in the game, but you only get one shot each time you're out there. It's kind of hard to build on a play when you're only out there once every few minutes in the game. Joe has done a great job of giving us the information, the guys, the team and relaying it, and it helps that coach [Bill] Belichick starts off almost every single meeting talking about special teams. You know it's a high priority for him, and if it's a high priority for him, all the other players are going to treat it as a high priority. And it is a third of the game, and you can win and lose games in any phase of the game. We take our jobs very seriously, all of the guys there; the core guys and the specialists, we all take a lot of pride in helping this team and helping them win.
Q: Are you aware that the refs left the game balls back at the hotel [before the divisional game], and did it affect your routine at all?
SG: I have no idea what you're talking about, truthfully.
Q: They left the [kicking] balls back at the hotel.
SG: What, for the last game? They ended up being good. They were good balls, so they must have done something right.
Q: You don't raise an eyebrow given the history of ball security, off the field?
SG: I don't think about that stuff, man. I just try to hit it [between] the two little yellow poles.
Q: Your left ankle is taped. Is that anything we should worry about?
SG: I've been doing that since I was a sophomore in high school.
Q: Is it a superstition-type of thing?
SG: That's just what I do.
Q: In a place like Denver, do you try to kick it through the goal posts on a kickoff?
SG: No, not necessarily. There's a direction that the coach will call that they want to kick. I don't try to sacrifice distance for direction. You try to think of the worst case scenario: If I don't hit a good kick and it doesn't go as far as I can kick it, it still means I have either good hang time or good direction to give our coverage the best chance that they can have. And you play in a place like New England where you can get winds coming from any direction, which can affect the way the ball goes 20- to 30-yards one way or the other, you can't sacrifice hang time and direction. I'm always trying to hit a good kick every time. They don't always look the same, because sometimes things don't always go the way you want to, but I'm always trying to hit a good direction and good hang time. And usually if I do, the ball still goes pretty far.
Q: Has that always been a focal point, something in your mind, or was there an experience that was kind of a learning lesson?
SG: No, that's always been something that they've wanted to do here, was kick directionally. I mean, there are times when they tell you to kick it down the middle, but obviously, if you cut off a side of the field on coverage, it limits the options they can go. If you kick it right down the middle, they can go left, right, and if you're kind of out of whack on the coverage, they can just hit it right up the middle. And with how good the returners are - and I know a lot of returners will bring kicks out 7 [or] 8 yards deep against us, and they hit it running full speed - if you don't slow them down, there's not a lot of guys who can tackle them, because they're all the fastest runners on the field. Any advantage we can get with cutting part of the field off, or I really work on trying to get really good hang time, that's been a focal point over my career is trying to do that. I know we have an outstanding kickoff coverage team. They do a great job and I know they appreciate some of the touchbacks and some of the hang time, and I appreciate the times I don't get those that they go and blow the guy up inside the 20-yard line. So, it can be a big momentum shifter if we make a big play after a score.
Q: Did you have any kicker heroes?
SG: I don't know, man. I'm trying to keep it towards the game. There are a lot of guys I've looked up to. There are a lot of guys that were really good that I've really appreciated. I don't want to start naming them off and leave one out and get hate mail or something like that. But there are a lot of guys ... I just admire the guys who have done it for a long time and who have succeeded in different situations. Obviously, playing in bad weather, I respect guys that have done it in bad conditions. So, that's just kind of what I think about it.
TE ROB GRONKOWSKI
RG: Wow, my first podium. I'm big time.
Q: Has this been a dream of yours.
RG: Oh it's been a dream, six years.
Q: Does experience in this type of game matter?
RG: When the game comes down to the line, it matters about how you play. Experience or not, it all comes down to how you play on Sundays, how you prepare, how you get yourself ready, and the way that you go out and perform.
Q: How do you go about protecting yourself from low hits on the field?
RG: It's part of the game. I've been seeing it all year. I've been seeing it my whole career. I've just got to get low, get my shoulder down, protect the ball, just protect myself in any way when I see a lot of guys coming or when I know there's not a chance to make that many yards, possibly just go down on that play, but if you can make a play then try and make a play, get more yards, but at the same time I've just got to watch it, get your pads down. It's football, so you've got to be ready for contact at all times.
Q: Is it hard to remind yourself to maybe slow down a bit when you are going full tilt on some plays?
RG: No, not really. I've been playing for a while now. I've seen a lot of defenses, a lot of players out there, been hit a lot. My mentality, my game speed, I just like to go full speed at all times. Whatever it is, it is. It's football. Everyone wants to see collisions, so I'm ready to give some.
Q: What aspect of playing in Denver makes it so difficult for opposing teams?
RG: It's a combination of a lot of things - road game, just playing on the road in the NFL is always a difficult task, but we're going on the road into Denver. Their fans are going to be loud. They're going to be ready and it's the Denver Broncos. [They're] a very solid team, very, very solid defense so we've just got to be ready mentally and physically when we head out there.
Q: When you were being carted off the field the last time in Denver did you ever imagine that you'd be back there playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl this season?
RG: No, I did not think about that at all. At that moment I was just thinking about what was just going on and how to get myself back on the playing field and ready for the next game, whenever that would have been. At that moment no, I was not thinking about that.
Q: Does it feel like Denver has been taunting you with some of the things they have been saying in the media?
RG: It's just part of the game. They're not doing anything illegal out there. It's just part of the game. I've just got to be aware of it. [I've] maybe just got to step up my game a little bit. Maybe throw a juke, I mean I don't know how many jukes I've got, but I've just got to be aware for it. It's football and it's just part of the game.
Q: Are you surprised your tweet from earlier in the week received so much attention?
RG: No, I was just having a little fun with it, hoping to get a little laughs, which I think it did. It's just all fun and games with that.
Q: Did you want to elaborate on it any more than Twitter's 140 characters allows you to?
RG: No, I'm good.
Q: How has your mindset changed at all after winning a Super Bowl as compared to coming up short in previous seasons?
RG: Well, every year is different. Every year it's just new motivation. It's a new team and last year was great, but it's on to a new year now. We've got the AFC Championship Game and just want to go out there and perform to my peak and go out there and do what I've got to do to help out this team and definitely whenever a new year turns around, a new season, as just a competitor you're just always hungry to keep on competing and keep on winning and go as far as possible every year as a competitor.
Q: Do you feel like you have elevated to become a new leader of this team?
RG: I feel like every time I step into the building, definitely there are younger guys, newer guys coming in I feel like definitely asking me stuff, looking up to me. I've just got to keep on doing what I've been doing - coming in preparing as hard as possible every single day for the opponent coming up that week, going out to practice, practicing hard, and just doing the right things throughout the week and hoping that people catch on, players catch on, and everyone's doing the same thing, the chemistry's flowing right and everyone just has this same goal and that's to go out this Sunday and get the win.
Q: Is it weird for you to now see yourself as a leader standing here at the podium compared to previous years?
RG: Definitely, life changes as it goes on a little bit, for sure. When I was first here as a rookie I would've never thought in six years I would be at the stage I am now, where I am now, but as a competitor, as a football player you just want to keep on getting better as a player. Whatever it takes every single week, every single year, so definitely it feels good to be where I'm at and I just want to keep on improving, keep on doing whatever I can to help the team, and help the team win on Sunday.
Q: How much do you and Tom Brady talk during the week and how much does that help on game day?
RG: We talk just about as much this week as we do any other week. Tom and I - I mean we always want to be on the same page. We always want the chemistry out there to be the same where I know where he throws the ball, where it's going to be and all that, where I'm going to be, where he knows where to put the ball. Throughout the week it just takes practice, going out to practice, just talking in meetings, going over plays, just doing little things all together so that when you go out there on Sunday as an offense, as a whole, everyone's just on the same page and we have the chemistry flowing where we can move the ball and make some plays.
Q: How much does that chemistry improve over the course of a season?
RG: I would say over the course of a season, chemistry - usually you want it to improve with your teammates, with your quarterback. I would definitely say throughout the season if everyone's coming in and preparing hard, trying to get better every single week, then you definitely improve throughout the year and you want to be at max peak of what the chemistry as an offense [can be] every time you hit the field on Sundays.
PATRIOTS LOCKER ROOM PARTIAL TRANSCRIPTS
WR DANNY AMENDOLA
(On how having experience in the AFC Championship factors into this game on Sunday)
"You'd like to have experience across the board playing in big games and in crucial situations. It comes down to playing good football and getting out there and in our room, in our position, to run around, get open, catch the ball, so that's what we're focused on.
(On if there is any benefit to having an extra day off since playing last Saturday)
"Yeah, absolutely. It's one more day to recover from a game and to get those bumps and bruises out and to prepare, so absolutely."
(On if there is extra confidence this week having everybody back and healthy)
"I mean, we're confident in our game plan, in our preparation, and whoever is out there is willing and able to make plays to move the ball, score points and try to get us in the best position to win the game."
(On what it was like to have everybody back last week)
"It was fun. It was fun. We love playing together. There are a lot of guys in this locker room, whether you've been here for a while or you're just getting here, that are ready to step up and make plays."
(On if it would be nice to get a road win to make it to the Super Bowl)
"Absolutely, it's tough playing on the road no matter where it is. You've got to be prepared for it. You've got to be prepared for the noise, for the atmosphere, and that's why we're here. We're getting ready for that."
(On how much he looks forward to playing against the top-ranked defense)
"Yeah, we look forward to that. Obviously they're great competitors and great athletes and well coached and all that and that amps up our preparation, our days leading up to game day and out on game day itself, too. So we're excited about the opportunity."
(On what Tom Brady and Peyton Manning's 17th meeting means historically)
"I'm sure it's a big deal. Both of them have been playing football for a long time at a very high level, so for Tom, I know that it's another game. It's an opportunity to win and to play well, and I know he's excited about it.
DL ALAN BRANCH
(On how the team's previous playoff experience will factor in on Sunday)
"I'm not sure how much experience will factor in. There are teams that won the Super Bowl with young teams out there as well. It really just comes down to whoever performs at the end of the game and that's it to me."
(On whether he notices the difference defensively when a quarterback can change the play effectively at the line)
"I just try to beat up on the guy in front of me. You are going into the coaches' stuff. You are going to have to ask them those questions."
(On what type of respect he has for Peyton Manning)
"I have a lot of respect for him. Just with everything he has done throughout his career and the way he's playing now, still, is impressive. We have to be ready and on our toes for him out there."
(On the challenge of beating Manning on Sunday)
"It's going to be a challenge regardless. They are a good team, if it's him [Manning], if it's [Brock] Osweiler, anybody. They are a great team and we just have to go out there and be able to do what we do on defense to try and stop them."
(On his first thought when he saw owner Robert Kraft around the facility and in a team meeting)
"I'll just say this, unlike any team I've ever been on, I've seen Mr. Kraft more in a half-year last year than I've seen any other owner for the rest of my eight years before meeting him."
(On seeing Kraft in a full team meeting)
"Not even that, he walks up and he knows everybody personally. Just working for a man like that is pretty nice."
(On what it means to him that Kraft knows his name and is around the facility all the time)
"It's just cool. It's a great atmosphere. It makes it an atmosphere where you're not nervous or worried when he comes around. Some teams when the owner comes around people get kind of jittery. I mean here it's an everyday occurrence so it's nothing new."
(On whether Kraft's involvement is why few players ever want to leave the organization)
"You got to ask them that. Everyone has their own personal reasons."
(On what makes C.J. Anderson so successful in the run game)
"He's successful just because he's a great back and they have a great scheme and he has all the skill sets that's needed to be successful in that scheme. He's got vision, he's got quickness and he's got power, so if you look at the history of Denver running backs, he fits the mold. We just got to make sure we stay on our P's and Q's and cross our T's and make sure we stop them on the front line."
DB LOGAN RYAN
(On the challenge of having to guard Demaryius Thomas last time they played Denver and how he sees it going this time around)
"Their whole receiving corps - there are no guarantees of who I'll be on or anything like that - but their whole receiving corps, as well as an experienced quarterback who's done it arguably as great as anybody has, you've just got to play smart. You've got to play a full 60 minutes, like I said, and you've just got to keep competing with these guys because those guys, that guy is going to make some plays. You've just got to keep your confidence and keep going at him."
(On how challenging it is to defend a guy like Demaryius Thomas - with size that moves well)
"I mean, that's why he's in the NFL. He's a blessed athlete for sure. So it's a challenge, but it's not going to ... I see a lot of good guys each and every week. I've got a lot of good guys on my team, and I've got great teammates around me and behind me and in front of me who make my job a little easier."
(On the differences between Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler)
"Definitely some differences. Peyton is always going to try to get themselves in a good play and he has experience for whatever that's worth, so we've just got to stay on our toes. We know everyone's going to be tested."
(On what it was like being on the outside and looking in on the Brady-Manning games)
"You see they're two great competitors, they're leaders of their teams. We like our guy, we like 12. "
(On if you ever stop to pause to watch Brady and Manning)
"If I do that, it's six over my head, so no, I'll do it afterward, but during the game, I'm kind of zoned in."
(On how practicing against Brady helps prepare for Manning)
"There's no one better [than Brady]. That's one of my toughest challenges every day. The guys is so accurate and so smart that he makes us better cornerbacks for sure."
(On the stress leading up to the game)
"We just try to prepare, going out there and do what we do for a living - just like you guys, so we just have fun with it. I think that's what you've got to do."
(On if the focus tightens during the playoffs)
"You just don't want to leave any stone unturned and you don't want to be the reason you let your team down. That's what I feel like, so you do a little extra to make sure you watch that extra game film or get that extra massage or whatever it may be, so that when it's all said and done, you have no regrets. It's the playoffs. Not everybody gets to go to them. You've got to take advantage of your opportunities."