Let's start with some of the roster movement that we had to complete our team here heading into the opener. With the release of Greg Spires yesterday that left a spot so we brought Marty Moore back. Procedurally there were a couple of things we had to get squared away with him. I don't expect, this isn't a Tony Gaiter situation, on one day off the next type of thing. We just need to get a couple of things straightened out. So that fills out our 53-man roster. After the waivers, after the results had come back in on that and the claiming and so forth, we re-signed Curtis Jackson, Matt Chatham, Drew Inzer and David Nugent to the practice squad and we added Tom Ashworth who is an offensive lineman who was with San Francisco earlier this year from Colorado. That fills out our practice squad, that fills out our 53-man roster. Not that there weren't some good players that were released or guys we're interested in because there are and there are a lot of names to process, but I feel like the people who've been with us and have the experience in our system and have been working for training camp, that we felt good enough about those people at this point time to keep them as opposed to going for the other names that were on the wire. That's our roster situation.
Cincinnati is a team that we spent quite a bit of work on from the offseason and a little bit in training camp. Offensively, I think this is a very explosive offense. They have a big time running back. The guy's as good as anybody we will face. I think their overall receiving group is one the best in the league. They're big, they have good speed, they catch the ball well, they run after the catch and there are a lot of them. They're good there. They have two great tight ends with (Tony) McGee and (Marco) Battaglia. They're both very good in the passing game. They catch the ball and get down the field. So I think that they are an explosive offensive team. Defensively they have a couple of new faces from last year Tony Williams on the line, (Brian) Simmons is back for them at middle linebacker who missed the year last year. Overall I think they are playing better in the secondary. It is a lot of the same people, but I think that another year of experience for some of the younger corners working together that it was pretty well coordinated. They have a pretty good defensive unit. They have some explosive players of course you know (Peter) Warrick in the kicking game. They have got a good, solid kicking game as well so I think that this is a big test for us on the road particularly offensively Cincinnati has got a pretty good club. So that's my update.
Q: Will everyone be out at practice today?
BB: The guys that I mentioned the other day that were day-to-day today is really the first day practicing to get a look at them out there. I expect everybody to go out there and we will see what they can do.
Q: Can you talk about David Patten and where he fits in?
BB: Dave had a real good preseason. He is a very explosive player meaning he gets going fast in a hurry. He has good speed, but he builds it very quickly. He also has good quickness. Dave is a tough kid. He has kind of come up the hard way. He has had a lot of playing time on special teams covering kicks, returning them, blocking and that kind of thing. Even though he is not a big player he is a physically tough player, he can run after the catch. He has been able to make some big plays in preseason and he has also has been open a couple of other times when we couldn't quite get him the ball. He has had a good camp and he has been pretty impressive.
Q: Will the number of defensive backs you have is that because you will be doing certain things differently, different packages than last year?
BB: No not necessarily. We are probably a little heavy at defensive back and we are probably a little light on the defensive line, a little light at receiver and tight end, we have a third specialist which some teams don't have they have a snapper that plays another position. So I think relative to the league that is sort of where it balances out. We felt like we have good depth in the secondary and didn't want to give that up. Those guys will be involved in the kicking game, as our linebackers will. It looks like most of our special teams players this year will come from the defensive side of the ball which is why we have a couple more defensive players than we had last year. Last year we had a lot of offensive players involved in the kicking game guys like Harold Shaw and Chris Floyd and guys like that that made up a lot of coverage teams. Now those spots have been taken by linebackers or safeties, a couple of defensive players. I think that is really where the swing on the roster is. Last year I think we carried six backs this early in the year. Again that is primarily a special teams consideration we had three fullbacks and three halfbacks if I remember correctly.
Q: How do you feel about the team going into the season as opposed to how you felt last year?
BB: There are some things that I like about the team and I think that this team has overall worked hard. I think they have come together as a team, much more so than we were at this point last year. I think we have improved our depth and our talent level overall, but until we put it out on the field Sunday afternoon that doesn't mean anything. That's really what it is about how we will perform Sunday after Sunday after Sunday this year. On paper I think there has been some progress made, but that still needs to translate into production and I think that there are some things that we could stand to improve in without a doubt. How that will all play out whether our strengths will overcome our weaknesses or vice versa we will all be tuned in Sunday to find out.
Q: Can you talk about left tackle, looking at the depth chart you have Matt Light and Adrian Klemm are you concerned about the lack of playing time there and why is Light ahead of Klemm?
BB: We have four players on the roster that have played left tackle the two that you mentioned and Kenyatta (Jones) and Grant Williams. So what we have to do going into the game is not only decide who our best left tackle is, but who are backup is and work that in with the other four positions on the offensive line as well. That is what we will try to do. I think we are going to work Matt as much at left tackle as we can. Adrian, even though he practiced and played in the game and can play in the game he is somewhat limited with the elbow and the brace that he has to wear. If that is still an obstacle for another week or two or however long that lasts then at the game where we can't have everybody with us then that left tackle position will also have to be played by somebody else whether it be Kenyatta or Grant. Grant is obviously the most experienced and if we need an experienced left tackle we can put him in there and he has played there. He played for us last year on the right side and on the left side earlier in camp. He's played there a lot this year. We have only had Light for one week so that is the only chance we have had with him and Kenyatta played the other three games there so that is what it is.
Q: What about Light where is he?
BB: I thought that Matt had a pretty decent game last week against Washington, not great I mean there were some things he could have done better, but I thought that overall he was aggressive on the run blocking and did a decent job of handling the games over there. There are some things that he needs to work on and we need to really give him a crash course and this week. There are some things that he needs a little polish on obviously, but I like the things that he's doing, I like the attitude he brings to the field and I like Kenyatta's aggressiveness too.
Q: With Marty Moore was it familiarity, what prompted you to bring him back?
BB: Marty's main priority and his main drive on this team will be on the kicking game. We feel like he is a starter on the four major teams: kickoff, kickoff returns, punt and punt returns. Those are the four major ones and he gives us some depth at inside linebacker position, which I feel like we may need a little bit right now. Based on the Washington game with two of our top three guys out of there. We are a little light there inside. Whether that will be the case this week or not we will just have to wait and see. But in terms of special teams Marty gives us a good presence in the kicking game both from an experience and performance standpoint, but also in terms of leadership, but also being able to help some of the younger guys perform on those teams as well. So with Marty, Larry [Izzo], Je'Rod Cherry and guys like that I feel like we not only have experienced players, but guys that can help some of the other ones along.
Q: On long those lines guys like T.J. Turner and Jace Sayler what did they show you to make you keep them?
BB: First of all with both of those players I thought they were very consistent. They were out there every day. They didn't miss any practices and they were able stay on the field and continue to get better every single day. T.J. played quite a bit he played in the outside linebacker rotation in camp, especially when before [Willie] McGinest started playing. He got a lot of reps and did pretty well in there. Again there are a number of things that he needs to work on, but I thought he did a pretty good job holding the point in the running game on the tight ends. He showed some athleticism in coverage and did okay in the kicking game. Jace is a strong guy. He's five years younger than Chad Eaton, but I think he has some similar qualities to Chad in that he is a big strong physical type player. I'm not trying to say that he's better than Chad Eaton at this point at all, I am just saying that as a style of play, he has that type of style of play. Again he has played end in the past. We haven't worked him too much at end because we wanted to let him compete at nose with a Garrett [Johnson] and Giradie [Mercer] and even Brandon [Mitchell] a little bit the other guys we had playing in there, but at some point down the line I think that he could go out and play at end if he had to because he did play some there in college.
Q: Speaking of nose tackle where do you stand with Richard Seymour and where does he stand on the defense?
BB: I think we want to try to get Richard in the game. He did some good things in preseason. I think there were times that he was disruptive. There were a couple of times he was disruptive to the defense, but there were other times when he was disruptive to the offense. I think that he can help us out at both end and nose if we need him. Through the course of camp he has gotten work playing over the tackle, over the guard and over the center. I think that there have been some positive signs at each of those spots, with a couple of negative ones to go with it. I think that if we can keep working and he can keep working he can get some of those things worked out, but I can see him playing anyone of those spots at a different point depending on the defense or depending on our personnel situation down the line.
Q: You used a lot of multiple tight ends in preseason, now that you have two tight ends any possibility of using a backup linemen in that role?
BB: That's a possibility. We're probably going to need to do that in some short yardage situations. We do have the two fullbacks and the fullback and tight end position, I wouldn't say that it is interchangeable, but a lot of times those players have similar type jobs. We are going to have to get into, from a depth of standpoint, we are going to have to get into an offensive lineman learning the tight end spot or like we did on the goal line a little bit in training camp have a linebacker play in the backfield so that [Marc] Edwards can play one of those type positions. That's how we are going to have to manage the bigger blocking guys because we are little short at that spot there.
Q: Antowain Smith did he show you what you expected to see in camp and was his play limited by the offensive line?
BB: I think Antowain had a pretty good training camp for us. He got off to a little bit of a slow start the first day or two, but in I think he had a pretty good camp and I thought he definitely showed us some good running skills, he showed he can run with power and he showed that he's got some speed. I thought that the Washington game was his best game in terms of blitz pickup which we need to see and we needed to see and he was able to make some good blocks there which enabled us to get the ball down the field and make some big plays. He really made the play on the touchdown to [David] Patten with the blitz pickups. There were times when there wasn't much running room and he either pushed the pile or didn't get much, but then I thought there were a number of times in camp where he did have some space and was able to run through some tackles and secondary guys came up to hit him. He did a good job of dropping his pads and running over them or running for four or five extra yards. He has got some power. I thought he made a nice run for the touchdown too on the goal line. It was about the four or five yard line whatever it was. [Sam] Shade had a shot at him and he kind of broke that tackle and pushed through a couple of guys right there at the goal line. At times I thought he had chance and did a good job.
Q: Do you have more of a feeling entering your second year that this is more your team now, you were so active in the free agent market does this team have more of a Belichick stamp on it?
BB: I don't really feel like it's my team. I feel like organizationally this team belongs to everyone. Everyone has put a lot of hard work into it the personnel people, the other coaches. Organizationally whether it be through signings or the draft choices, those people didn't all just parachute in here and land in Foxboro. I can't say that I personally went out and did a majority of the work on all of them either, but I thought that from top to bottom, from the top of the organization through the coaching staff, the scouting staff and all of the people in between that we had a philosophy of what we're looking for and what were trying to do and how were trying to do it. Whether it be a player's playing style, his strengths, his attitude or his character on and off the field, there are a number of things that that covers. We have a model of what we're looking for and we've tried build toward that model and I think that everybody has played a significant role in it. I think it is shaped a little bit differently than it was last year and we will see how that turns out.
Q: A couple of road game last year the team didn't show up, is there anything you can do to avoid those kinds of letdowns on the road? How do you avoid those pitfalls?
BB: I think there are number of things that are important when you play on the road. The one thing that we try to do as a coaching staff is to talk to the players early in the week starting Wednesday or Tuesday in this case about specifically what we need to do for this team to be successful on the road. What are some of the conditions we are going to face and the elements and how we need to prepare to take those into account as we get ready for the game. I think playing on the road definitely is an attitude because in this league there is very little support when you go on the road. It is pretty much just the people that are standing on the sideline and they are the ones that have to generate their own energy and enthusiasm and support and it is not going to come from anywhere else for the most part. I think that it is up to the coaches and the veteran players to make sure that everybody understands that and I think that everybody does. We had two experiences this year in the preseason on the road. One I thought we handled pretty well in Carolina in terms of our approach and our attitude toward the game and then one not so good in Tampa. Those games have been pretty well analyzed and presented to the players and also the coaching staff. We looked at it to see what preparation improvements we can make for the next time. Knowing that the next one will be Carolina in the second game of the year. We start off on the road two games, both non-division games on the road as you mentioned. I feel like it has been addressed, but it will be addressed on a daily basis this week. I think that is going to be the mark of a good team to be able to go on the road and win and do all of the things you need to do especially without any moral or verbal support from fans that sometimes can generate some enthusiasm or some energy. You are just not going to get that on the road it has got to come from within. It is also an attitude, regardless of what the media or the odds makers or anybody else says when you are on the road psychologically it is somewhat of an underdog role. Nobody is pulling for you, everybody wants you to do bad, they want to help you do bad by making communications difficult and all of those types of things. To be able to take an attitude of it's us against the world or the city or wherever it is you are playing you can use that as a motivator to bring them up rather than letting it get you down and impeding your performance.
Q: Back to Antowain Smith, have you made a decision on starting tailback?
BB: I feel like we have two starters, I feel like we have two starters with J.R. [Redmond] and Antowain [Smith]. I think that as I have said many times, they have different skills but bottom line in terms of total performance that they both can contribute for our team significantly this year and we expect them to do that. And I feel like we have two starters at that position, they'll both play. You know I think that is true of some other positions on defense where we've had people rotate through out there for more than one play or to play in some of those spots. The one position that I feel like we had to make a decision on in terms of moving forward to be able to be competitive in how we are going to practice and how we are going to play, was the quarterback spot. We are going to have [Tom] Brady as the backup quarterback. Damon [Huard] will be the third one. I'm not saying that that situation will be that way every week through the year, but based on preseason we feel that Tom right now is a little bit ahead of Damon in terms of handling the team. But I think that everyone has plenty of confidence in all three of our quarterbacks to be able to go out and win with. And that is a good feeling to have.
Q: You said earlier that you were reluctant to put anyone ahead of Damon because he had NFL experience what made you change your mind?
BB: Four preseason games. Yeah, I think that Tom has done a good job. I'm not…nobody is down or disappointed with Damon in any way, but I think Tom's had a real good preseason and he's played well in some opportunities that he has gotten against good competition. He played the first half against Carolina, you know, teams like that. It wasn't just all mop-up, fourth quarter type things. I feel like he's done a good job and…maybe it's because he has been here for a year and has a little bit better, little bit more knowledge of the system. But I just feel like right now he's the next best in terms of being able to handle the whole team. But like I said, I have plenty of confidence in Damon. I am glad he's here and that's not to say that this is the way it will be every week.
Q: How did Damon take the news? He obviously came in expecting to be the backup?
BB: I am sure that he is a little disappointed, which is what I would hope for. Players, particularly at the quarterback position need to have an attitude about feeling confident to go out to compete and feeling good about what they do. I would hope that all of our players have that same type of attitude in terms of not being happy with the position that they are in, but at the same time fighting harder to gain a higher spot.
Q: Does Brady's maturity and progression surprise you?
BB: Not really. Tom is pretty mature. I thought that, you know last year we had, I forget the number now, 23 or 24 rookie first year players in here last year by the end of the year. And I don't think there is any question in anybody's mind that Tom clearly took over the leadership of that entire group—offense, defense, everybody that was involved. And I think he was well respected because he had the most contact with those players. You know doing extra work on the practice field after practice and meetings and that kind of thing. Tom has a lot of natural leadership and so as he kind of took that situation over, not in a…I don't think he was overly assertive or confrontational in any way. I don't mean it in that way. I just think his natural leadership was something that all those players saw and looked up to and it was easy to see as a coach that it was a natural thing for him and he was very comfortable doing it without being obstinate or confrontational in any way. So I'm not really surprised. Tom continued to make steps in the offseason and then carried the hard work and improvement he'd made in the offseason onto the field in training camp and then in the preseason games. You know unfortunately, and this is always a tough situation for a coach, unfortunately there are some players who have worked as hard as anybody did in the offseason program and even in training camp, but unfortunately when they got an opportunity to play they just didn't or weren't able to produce the same or as many positive results as the effort they put in to the practice and preparation. You know you'd always like to see that go from the practice field to the game field or from the meeting room to the game field. And with some guys like Tom it did, and unfortunately with other guys who really worked hard, but it just for whatever reason weren't able to quite show that same leap in progress. You know, even though they put in just as much time and effort as anybody else did.