(On Monday practice at Rice University) "We felt right at home in the wind out there. It was good to be on the Rice campus. It took me back a little ways to the Cotton Bowl team. Looking at the names up there in the stadium – Frank Ryan, King Hill, two quarterbacks drafted from the same team in the same year. I don't know if that has happened in a while. It was good. We went through some situational stuff, cleaned up a few things we started on last week in New England and continued our preparations. Obviously we will take the day off tomorrow and hit it on Wednesday on kind of a regular season Wednesday type practice. We're getting settled. It's good to be down here. We've got a lot of work to do and we're chipping away at it. That's where we're at today."
(on Tedy Bruschi's status) "Good. Tedy's coming along well. He was out there, did some work today. So he's coming fine."
(on Bobby Hamilton's impact) "He's been very productive for us. Bobby was with us with the Jets and has come in and has really been one of our most durable and steady players. He's had another good year in terms of production and the type of guy you can always depend on. He's a real pro. He's well prepared. He understands the scheme and plays well within the scheme. He's a good team defensive player. He has a lot of experience and can help the younger kids. He plays his position well and has been very dependable and very productive. I think over the last three years he's been right at the top of the league in terms of total production for defensive linemen. His career, from a production standpoint, has increased significantly over the last three seasons."
(on balancing Super Bowl preparation with family and friends) "We talked to the whole team about that. We're down here for one reason – it's a business trip. We've got a big game, we've got a lot of work to take care of and that's what we're here for. I know there will be some time at certain points of the week to be able to catch up with friends and family – we can all do that. But that's not really why we're here. We're here for an important game against the Panthers who are an outstanding team. That's what our main focus is. Anything other than that – if it happens it happens – but we're here to play Carolina."
(on the Raiders not talking to New England assistants) "The way the rules are set up I don't think it really would have been possible. I don't really know what their (Raiders) situation is, what they're thinking, what they're doing. We're just doing what we're doing and trying to move forward on that."
(on NFL rules that don't allow Super Bowl assistants to interview until after the season) "It is what it is. We didn't make them. We just abide by them. From experience I was in a Super Bowl and ended up coaching the following year in Cleveland so sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. It's not really for me to determine. Whatever it is we'll certainly comply with it, but we don't make those decisions."
(on being the favorite instead of the underdog) "We don't really care about that. We think we've got a good team. We've got to prepare well in order to win. If we don't play well we won't beat anybody. Either we prepare well and are able to put our best performance out there on the field and be competitive against the Panthers or we don't. That's in our control and that's what we're trying to work on. Carolina has a great football team. They are well coached, they are strong in all three phases of the game, they've got a lot of big play players, they're physical and they're tough. We know this is going to be our toughest game of the year and that's what we're preparing for. If we don't play that way I'm sure we'll have plenty of problems."
(on what he thinks about this Super Bowl match up) "I think Carolina is the toughest team we've played this year. They're a very good football team. We represent the AFC and we're playing the best team in the NFC. We'll find out next Sunday. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Carolina Panthers, their organization, their players, their coaches and the way they play. They won six in a row, they've won a couple of playoff games on the road. They've met all comers and have come out on top. We're privledged to be able to compete against them."
(on how he kept the team together after losing 31-0 to Buffalo) "It's just week to week. After the Buffalo game we thought about Philadelphia because that was the next game. It was the only thing we could do anything about. It was the only thing we had any control over. That's where all of our focus was, to play better against Philadelphia. And after Philadelphia we went through the same process again with the Jets. Last week's game really didn't mean too much to us, the game two weeks ahead didn't really mean too much to us. It was only the game we were actually faced with because that was the one we could control, that's the one we could prepare for and that's where we put our energy. It's week to week."
(on keeping a veteran-youth balance on the roster) "You want to keep a balance on it. Last year we had the oldest team in the league and we tried to supplement that with some younger players. I think we have put some youth onto the team. You want to try to maintain a balance. I don't think you want a team that's full of all rookies, but you don't want everybody on your team that's over 35 either. When you make those decisions on your final roster you try to make them based on what you think is best for your football team, what gives you the best depth and best opportunity to be competitive in your division and against your opponents. I understand we have more (older players) than most, whether that will always be the case, I don't know. We felt like that was the best combination this year."
(on what he carries over from the experience in the Super Bowl two years ago) "Those of us who have been at this game before can take that experience and at least have a benchmark and have some idea of what to expect and anticipate. I don't think that's the bottom line. I think the bottom line is how the team prepares, how focused it is and how well it plays on Sunday. I truly believe that the team that plays better on Sunday is going to win and that's all we're focused on – to try to do everything we can to play as well as we possibly can and to coach as well as we possibly can on Sunday night against the Panthers. That's really all it's about with me."
(on how different he is as a coach now than when in Cleveland) "I hope I've learned a few things since then. I feel like I've learned in every game and in every season. I've coached a lot of different players and been through different situations. I've tried to observe those and learn from either the mistakes I have made – and there have been plenty – or the things that have gone well. I think that's an ongoing process."
(on coaching under Ted Marchibroda) "When I first started with Ted, originally it was going to be kind of a part time thing – just sort of show up and see how it goes. I was interested in a lot more than that. Ted's staff was small relative to the staff he had been used to with the Redskins under George Allen. I was maybe the eighth coach on the staff. The Redskins had 16, 17 coaches so I was doing things that maybe people who had been in the league 20 years were doing. Not that I was any good, it's just I was the next person on the totum pole that could do them. Those experiences were very valuable to me. I stayed in the motel with Ted, Whitey Dovell, who was the offensive line coach, George Boutselis, who was the special teams coach. We rode back and forth to work every day – left at 7 in the morning and usually got back around 11 or 12 at night. It was pretty much 17, 18 hours of football on a daily basis. From the time we got up in the hotel until the time we drove into the parking lot and went to bed it was solid football. That being my first year in the league it was an incredible learning experience. I worked on defense, I worked on special teams and I spent probably at least two hours a day with the head coach. It was awesome. Ted was a great person to work for, well organized, thorough and I learned a ton of football that year."
(on Tom Brady's development) "I think that Tom has made a tremendous improvement on the field in terms of his management of the game, his understanding of our offensive system and certainly his recognition and anticipation of defensive coverages and pressures and that type of thing. We have put a lot more responsibility on Tom in the last couple of year in terms of managing the game at the line and making those decisions so that he can see what is going on rather than us always trying to guess on the sideline. He's developed tremendously as an on the field quarterback. Off the field, Tom has got some natural leadership skills. He's been a captain. He's been one of the guys the team really looks up to, no question about that. He's handled the team, his position and all the things that come with being the quarterback very professionally and maturely."
(on Scott O'Brien) "It's a funny story. When I was in Cleveland I was looking to hire a special teams coach. I had been a special teams coach myself with the Giants. I had also worked with special teams in Detroit, Denver and Baltimore. When Scott came for the interview he came with I'd say 25-30 cans of film with all of his punt protections, all of his kickoff coverage, everything in the book. If there is a word to define Scott it would be preparation. He's a tremendous coach, one of the best I've ever worked with. Having coached special teams in the NFL I thought I knew pretty much about it. We had a great couple of days just talking about punt protection and techniques and kickoff returns and all of that. It was awesome. I knew right away this was the guy I was going to hire as the special teams coach. He is an outstanding coach. Schemes, evaluation of players, working with young players, development of guys, working with the specialists, I think he's outstanding. I would say the last four years with the Patriots working with Brad Seely I feel the exact same way about him. I think these – without a doubt – are absolutely two of the best special teams coaches that I've ever had the opportunity to not only work with but have an association with. They're both great coaches."
(on doing well despite injuries) "I think a big part of our team has been the depth that we have. A lot of credit for that goes to Scott Pioli and our personnel department in terms of putting a team together, not only the draft choices the other acquisitions on the team, your practice squads, your PUP players and some of the guys we've signed through the course of the year as we've had to replace guys. That's just been a great job by our personnel people and the depth of the team has been one of our strengths this year. As we've gotten into situations where guys are preparing to play but not getting the chance to play but then all of a sudden they're getting thrust into the role and getting the opportunity they're stepping up and making big plays. It's a credit to those players for being able to take advantage of the opportunity and certainly a credit to Scott and his staff for recognizing the players and getting them to the point where they can contribute on our football team.