BB: Just updating the injury report three of the four guys did quite a bit of work yesterday. Ted Johnson didn't do as much, but he is coming along making good progress so that's encouraging, but Ty [Law], [Mike] Compton and [Tedy] Bruschi all worked yesterday, so that's their status. Other than that we had an extra day on Cincinnati this week so we tried to break up the installation of the game plan and have four days to do it instead of three. We were working on regular down type things yesterday and moving onto third down today and goal line and red area and then polishing up on Friday. I think one of the big adjustments for our players and probably all of the players in the league this week is going to be the fact that I doubt that any player has played a full preseason game and there are going to be a lot of players that are going to play a full preseason regular game on Sunday. I think that conditioning and stamina, not so much conditioning from a running standpoint we have guys that can run around the track all day, but to able to push and hit, the physical part of the game that goes on in there and to be able to do that for 60 minutes when really nobody has done that I think is a big step for everybody. I've certainly talked to our players about it in terms of being ready to have either a long drive or a fourth quarter type of situation and that they haven't been in. We have tried the best that we can, we haven't played anybody in a full game, we have tried to address that and to do some extra things in practice to try to get some of those guys ready for it.
Q: What problems of the do Corey Dillon present for you?
BB: About as many as possible. He is the whole package. Corey is an instinctive runner. He has got real good vision, can hit the hole, he's very powerful, he's a strong guy, he's tough to bring down, he has an excellent stiff arm and he has enough speed to cut back. You can find a number of plays last year where he reversed his field and started one way and broke it all the way back to the other side of the field, that kind of thing. He has been able to get into the secondary and outrun some defensive backs, as well as run over them. He combines the whole package quickness, power, he's got some speed and he has got real good vision and he's been durable. Through his career he has shown that he is a guy that you can depend on to be there every Sunday. He shows up for work.
**Q: Yesterday you talked about Antowain Smith's ability to pickup the blitz against Washington, where is J.R. [Redmond] with that and how are the rest of the backs?BB I think J.R. [Redmond] and Marc [Edwards] are probably our two best. J.R has done a real good job on blitz pickup and Marc has too. Antowain I think part of it for him is just the adjustment in the system. That's a tough thing for any back is to understand all of his blitz pickup assignments based on the front and who blitzes and what happens when guys crisscross and things like that, how to sort it out and who's going to take to who. It takes a little time to get those things, to get used to doing them and get used to doing them with your teammates and how you can handle different situations like that. I think J.R. was a little bit ahead of Antowain in that area because he's had year of work with it. [Patrick] Pass has done a good job of that and Marc has picked it up pretty well too. So with Antowain's performance the last couple of weeks I feel pretty confident in all four of them. Not only being able to block the right guy, but then also actually get them blocked. That will be big challenge for us this week because they like to bring all three of their linebackers. [Steve] Foley comes a lot and they like to bring [Takeo] Spikes and [Brian] Simmons as well. Those guys are big, physical power blitzers. Foley plays end on third down so he has a lot of pass rush snaps in the game anyway in addition to his blitzing.
Q: How anxious are you to what you have this year and do you still get excited about the opener?
BB: I think the opener is something a little bit special. I think every player and coach has butterflies on the opener no matter how many you have been in. There is a long lead up to that game from the day the schedule comes out back in the spring all through the spring camps, training camp and the preseason games. Everybody is pointing toward that one opener and you do a lot of things to prepare and get ready for it and you have a lot of time to study your opponent. Probably the more you study them the more respect you gain for them and the more things that they can do at one point our another. How they've done well, how they can present problems. You get a real broad stroke over what things they could do to present problems for you. You're always a little nervous about well if I do this and they happen to be doing that or if they get this matchup or that matchup that could be a problem for us. Whereas I think that when you get in after the second or third regular-season game then I think everybody pretty much has to declare themselves at that point. You don't keep things under wraps, you go out there and do what you can do in the first few games to try to win them. I think there are a lot fewer surprises in that fourth, fifth, sixth regular-season game in terms of schemes and personnel match-ups and that kind of thing then what there are the first week or two of the regular season. But that makes it exciting and it's opportunity for both sides to take advantage of the potential or the different variables.
Q: In the grand scheme is the first one more important to get off to a good start?
BB: I'm not sure about that. I mean it's important to win a lot of games in a 16 game schedule. I don't know if winning them early or winning them late, it's really more of how many. When you talk to coaches and players in November and December it is important to win them late and have momentum going into the postseason and all of that. If you talk to players and coaches in the beginning of the season it is important to win them and get off to a good start. So it is always important, each game is important.
Q: With your time in the league have you seen players that get contracts have more burden put on them financially in the offseason have you ever seen a phenomenon where in the next season they a) either let up or b) put more pressure on themselves?
BB: There is an old saying in football you either get better or you get worse you never stay the same. There are a lot of different factors that can contribute to that, but I really think there is a lot of truth in that cliché. You either keep working harder and you get better or if you don't then there is a tendency not to be able to achieve the same performance. There are a lot of different things that can go into that. Money may be one of them, just expectations, how hard a player trains in the offseason in preparation for the season, how much work he has put into it. Sometimes it's circumstantial, sometimes things are beyond his control whether it be a physical situation or maybe somebody around him or that type of thing, but I really do think that's true and that's a point that we try to emphasize to our players. No matter what happened last week this is a new week, we are starting all over again. We fill up the gas tank and walk through our preparations on a regular basis just like we normally do step-by-step-by-step and be able to maximize our performance on Sunday. There is just no shortcut to doing it.
Q: The reason I ask is because Drew [Bledsoe] has been a focal point here for nine years there can't be any greater expectations on him then there have been the last nine years, how do you think this contract will effect him?
BB: I can't say that I've seen much change in Drew between this year and last year. You'd have to ask him how he feels about it, but I think what I've seen his approach to the game and the way he's practice and the way he has prepared for all of the things we've done in preseason have been I would say as good if not a little bit better than it was last year. So I haven't seen any big difference there.
Q: You have a lot of new guys this year, are you happy with the progression of the way the defense is coming together as a whole, do you think it is better than it was last year?
BB: I definitely think it is going to be better than it was last year, but ask me that 4:00 on Sunday, I'll tell you how I think it's coming along. I think there's been a lot of positive signs in preseason, but establishing your level of play in the regular season and establishing it in the preseason are two different things and we're about to enter into the second.
Q: What do you like better about this team then last year's team?
BB: I think there's a better chemistry on the team. I think there's more accountability and more dependability. I think that we all can count on each other a little bit more than we could last year. I think this team has worked harder. I think this team has worked hard. It has generally tried to do the things that been expected of it and they've done it with a good attitude and a smile on their face even though they're working hard. Knowing that they have a goal in mind they want to try to achieve it and we need the whole group to achieve it. That there's not any one person or two people that can make it happen. It is going to have be collective.
Q: How much do you think that they think about last season, improving on that?
BB: I think the focus is this year. I really do. As you said there are so many new guys I think that this team is about being its team. I think that '96 and '98 and 2000 they are all memories. I think that there is much more focus on this year and relatively little in the rearview mirror.
Q: Is there any thought about moving Mike Compton to center on regular snaps not just the shotgun?
BB: Right now our main focus is to try to get Mike ready to play guard. That's what our plans for him were. He's played there, he's comfortable playing there, [Damien] Woody has had the whole year at center. I am not going to say that that couldn't happen, I'm not going to rule it, but at this point I think we have our hands full in the timeframe that we have this week to get Mike ready to do everything at guard.
Q: You said that Bruschi, Law and Compton practiced would you list them as probable and Johnson as questionable?
BB: No we listed them all as questionable.
Q: Will you have to see how the week goes as to whether that will change?
BB: Right maybe it will, maybe we will re-list them. If things change we will change it. We're just trying to comply with the league mandate on the injury report, that's all.
Q: Did the team elect the captains yet?
BB: We did we elected them yesterday. Larry Izzo is the special teams captain, [Drew] Bledsoe and Troy Brown on offense and Lawyer Milloy and Bryan Cox on defense.
Q: Do you think that is rare for a guy like Cox to be elected? I know that he is special, but to come in the first year and be captain?
BB: It is a little bit unusual. Yes it is a little unusual. I think you could probably find a few other examples of it.
Q: Do you think that speaks to the guy?
BB: It speaks to the way the team feels about him. They voted and that's the way they felt.
Q: Knowing Bryan do you find that surprising, do you understand why they would vote for him?
BB: He's been here for awhile, he's been here for four weeks. I've seen the team interact with a lot of players and I think that he has a respect by his teammates. I think that was evident in the balloting as it was with the other players, as it was with Troy, Drew, Lawyer and Larry.
Q: Have you been able to get a good indication of how effective Drew can be with this supporting cast?
BB: Ask me at 4:00 on Sunday.
Q: Does Drew seem to be the same quarterback that he was a year ago at this time entering your first season as the head coach?
BB: I just think we are further along offensively. We've made some adjustments in our offensive package, forget about personnel for a minute, just in terms of our offensive system we have made some adjustments based on last year. We did that in the offseason well actually we made some during the year last year and then in the offseason we had a chance to spend more time and reevaluate the entire system. We kept some of the changes we made last year and with a fresh start we also altered a few things this year. I would say relatively minor, I don't know that the fans will pick them up, but internally as a system and the way it's taught and the way a quarterback operates it I think there are some significant things. I don't want to speak for Drew, but I think all of the quarterbacks feel more comfortable, certainly Tom and Drew feel more comfortable with it then they did last year. I think it gives us a little more flexibility and it is a little bit easier, it makes the operation go a little bit smoother. I think that the carry over between quarterbacks and receivers, although I don't think that we are there yet, I think that is progressing and we made steady improvement through training camp in through the preseason and into the regular season in terms of the quarterbacks and receivers being on the same page on routes and how they can run them and what the adjustments are and things like that. I think that's moving along. I don't think we are there yet.
Q: Are you nostalgic playing you last season at beautiful Foxboro Stadium?
BB: I don't know if that's really hit home, I mean it has because of the field going up next door and we see it every day of the way to practice which is quite a bit of work going on there, it is a magnificent structure. I think more of the focus is just on what we have to do. We won't be here for couple weeks we have a couple of road games and in the games that we have here I think our focus is really on our opponent. There certainly is some excitement about the new stadium and I don't want to minimize that in anyway, but at the same time we know that that's there and it's a little bit in the future and we have a lot of things to take care of in the meantime. I think that's where everybody wants to direct their energy.
Q: Do you like hitting the road for the first two?
BB: We play eight on the road and eight at home so whenever they schedule them we have to be there and play them There are advantages to both. You always like to open at home, but if you don't open at home you are going to get your home opener sometime and you are going to have to play eight on the road so I don't think anybody is too concerned about that. The main thing we need to do it know how we need to play on the road, how we need to play in Cincinnati and then be able to perform that way.
Q: Do you share the feeling that they are two very winnable road games the first two?
BB: I am not really worried about the second game or the third game or the fourth game that we play I am concerned about the opener. I think Cincinnati is a good football team. I think that some people have them severely underrated. They have the best offense in the league in preseason significantly and by a large margin the best rushing offense in the league in preseason and that was without Corey Dillon. I think they're very explosive on the offensive side of the ball with their receivers and their running game and I think that defensively they are a much improved team from where they were last year. Both because they are in another year of their system, but they have added Tony Williams, they got [Brian] Simmons back, Tom Carter. So I think that they've added good experience and good depth on the defensive side of the ball, [Peter] Warrick returning punts. I mean they are an explosive and dangerous team and I have a lot of respect for them and I think that we're going to have our hands full I really do. I think this is a good football team.
Q: Can you talk about Warrick he could really make it a long afternoon for you?
BB: Yes along with Darnay Scott who is their homerun hitter, which they did not have last year. Between Darnay's big play ability down the field, Warrick's elusiveness and quickness and ability to not only hit the homerun, but strike in a lot intermediate areas and Corey Dillon's running skills it really puts a problem on you defensively. If you try to load up on Dillon you are light on their receivers including Chad Johnson who has had a real good preseason and if you load up on the receiver you are light Dillon inside and that presents some problems too. Brandon Bennett is a guy that we had in Cleveland. He was a practice squad player that I had in Cleveland that like Keenan McCardell as the years have gone by has developed and gone on to have a real good career. He's had an excellent preseason and has run the ball very well. They have a well-balanced offense. They have a good attack, they have good players adding [Richmond] Webb at left tackle I think has given them a little bit more solidification in the pass protection on the left side of the line. I think it similar to the Minnesota problems that we had last year that everybody had last year with Minnesota where you have Chris Carter and Randy Moss outside and Robert Smith running the ball. That's the same type of thing with Corey Dillon and Darnay Scott and Peter Warrick. You've got problems on the perimeter and there are problems in the interior of the defense with Corey Dillon. They have an explosive group and they've done a lot of damage in preseason and in regular season last year like as an example in the Denver game where they rushed for 400 yards. So that's nothing to sneeze at. I can't think of too many other teams that have ever done that.
Q: Is it a pick your poison type of situation for a defense when you are facing them?
BB: I think that whatever you do you have to be ready for the alternative. If you load up on Dillon you have to be prepared for the passing game to the outside receivers and if you load up on the receivers somehow you better be strong enough to handle Dillon inside. Those are the elements that the offense attacks you with. [Bob] Bratkowski is a good offensive coordinator. He's got a lot of experience in the league. He had a well-balanced offense in Seattle. He is working with the same quarterback that he had out there now that Jon [Kitna] has been named the starting quarterback. I am sure that they have a lot of confidence in each other. I think this is a pretty good offensive football team.
Q: How difficult is it to get a legitimate read on an opponent week one based on what they did in the preseason?
BB: In this case I think it is a little bit harder because you have a new coordinator and a new quarterback on the new team. If you were looking at a team that had a lot of continuity on that same side of the ball with the same coach, the same coordinator, a lot of the same key players in place regardless of what they show in preseason you certainly take that into account, but I think you respect how they played last year during the regular season and if they had a good offensive team there's a pretty good chance that a lot of the same elements are going to return. When you look at something that has new players and a new coordinator in place, even though some of the players might be the same, how they're used and how they're going to attack you could be a little bit different from what you've seen in the past.
Q: Has Drew Bledsoe accomplished enough in his career or if he were to play poorly could Tom Brady come in…
BB: No Drew is our quarterback.
Q: Is [Willie] McGinest a guy that you expect to plat the full 60 minutes or will you monitor him more closely?
BB: I think we need to watch the guys that haven't had the full training camp guys like Compton and McGinest, Brandon Mitchell who have come back fairly recently. They may surprise they may be able to go the whole way I don't know, but I think that's something that we are going to have to keep an eye on. I think we are going to have to keep an eye out with the guys who have been out there depending on how many plays. For example in the first preseason game against the Giants we had 80 some plays on offense and 50 on defense so depending on which side of the play the player was on, had that been a regular season game, one guy would have been taxed a lot more than another. Sometimes in the kicking game that also comes into play too especially if you have kicks back-to-back. Like last year we had a situation in the Tampa opener where we returned a punt for a touchdown and then those guys are right back out on the field the next play covering a kickoff on a hot day at the end of the game not the first quarter. So those are the things you have to monitor. You have to keep an eye on the player's conditioning and you also have to keep an eye on how much action and how he is doing with that kind of intensity as the game goes along. Assistant coaches need to keep an eye on their particular players as well as our medical people and our strength coaches.
Q: As a defensive guy do you look at what other defensive coaches do and to that end a guy like Mark Duffner who is the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati do you get a chance to kind of look at how other guys run there system?
BB: I certainly look at that every week and particularly this year with the situation that we have on the offensive staff I will be a little more involved there then I was last year and that means knowing a little bit more of what's going on. Cincinnati, since [Dick] LeBeau has been there has been primarily a defensive system similar to what he did in Pittsburgh with a lot of blitz zoning, a lot of pressure, a combination of man pressure and zone pressure, but kind of a blitz zone is what LeBeau is famous for and rightfully so because he was certainly one of the innovator's with it and still is and had a number of different ways to attack the offense and put pressure on your pass protections and also overload the running game so that you end up running into some of those blitzes. You just don't have enough people to block them and that's one thing they do to change up their scheme. It looks to me like when LeBeau became the head coach Mark probably assumed some of his duties. I would say that the defense is similar to what it was last year in terms of scheme with a few variations and I am sure that we will get a couple of new looks Sunday that they haven't shown in preseason or maybe that they didn't show last year, I don't know, but I think that it is a well coordinated defense. They don't give up a lot of big plays, but at the same time they put a lot of pressure on the offense because of the high percentage of blitzes. When I say blitz it isn't always one linebacker a lot of times it is two linebackers. It is multiple blitzes that they run. They have a good scheme it is one that attacks the offense, but at the same time it doesn't give up a lot of big plays. So a lot of times even when they get hit on the blitzes it is five or eight yards or that kind of thing. Sooner or later they get you and then they get much more of a negative play out of it. **