TOM BRADY MEDIA AVAILABILITY 12/4**
Q:What's the week been like for you?
TB:It's been good. I think we've had a good couple days and got off to a good start yesterday. It's still kind of early in the preparation. Now it starts to feel like California weather, as opposed to yesterday. Hopefully we'll have another good day of practice. Guys have a lot of time to kind of be together and spend a lot of time that we don't typically get to spend so that's been a real plus.
Q:With you being from California, how has it been to be back in the home state?
TB:It's fun. I was born and raised out here. I didn't really spend too much time in San Diego, although my best friend went to this school so I had a few visits when I was at Michigan, coming down here. It's always been a fun place to be.
Q:You have a reputation of being clutch especially in December. How do you think your competitive nature might help in big moments?
TB:That's a good question. I always say it's really a game of emotion. You have to be at your best when the game is on the line. I think that our guys have always figured out a way to do that, especially at this time of year. December is when football season is, this is what it's all about. Regardless of what you've done to this point, everybody's season is decided at this point in the year. This is when you've got to be at your best. We got off to a really slow start last weekend; hopefully we can rebound this weekend and play much better.
Q:You and Philip Rivers both have good December records. How much pride do you take in that record?
TB:Like I said, this is the strength of our team, it's not my strength. I think that really speaks to the work ethic, the discipline of our guys, the mental toughness. It's not easy to get up every day, on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and grind through it like we do. I think that although it may not be really short-term, the positive feelings from some of those things in the end, that's when it pays off the most. I think you just have to grind through it. It's hard for everybody. It feels a little easier out here on days like this. But ultimately it comes down to your execution and how well you go out and play. Like I said, our team has always done a good job of that this time of year when it matters.
Q:How much have you focused on getting the ground game going this week?
TB:Yeah, that's important. I think to be balanced is really important. I thought we ran it really good last week. I think we've been running it good for a while. I think we just have to figure out how to run more plays so we can get more runs, get more passes, get more yards. I think that speaks to a lot of things – third down conversions. It's a very complementary game. We have to do enough things to stay on the field which enables us to continue to run the ball [and] stay balanced. Last week we were behind the whole game. That's not the way to play in the NFL. You don't really want to be behind too often.
Q:Two of arguably the best tight ends in the game will be on the field on Sunday in Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates. What are your thoughts on that?
TB:Well, they're both great players. I've been a big fan of Antonio Gates and his style of play. He's been doing it for a long time. He's at such a high level. Gronk's a phenomenal player. He's a great part of our team. They're two great players. It's really a tough matchup when you play guys like that. I think that particular position, especially for us and how important it is in our offense and I know it is in San Diego's offense because you watch them play. It's just a tough matchup. You've got a big guy who has a lot of movement skills, he's got size on the small guys and he's got speed on the slower guys. Unless you double him and it frees somebody else up, it's a very important position. Philip does a great job finding him. We were watching clips of them this morning against Seattle. You know, three touchdowns, drawing pass interference penalties – he can do it all. He's been doing it all for a long time. Hopefully we can really limit him. We're going to need to.
Q:Gates was saying Rob Gronkowski might want to take it a little easier on his body. You have played with him for a while. Does he know any other speed?
TB:You're right, he's a different style of player. I think Antonio, when you watch his style versus Rob's style, they're a little different style. Rob has had a couple tough injuries, but he's a tough guy. He plays the game just how he knows how to play it. He tries to run people over. He's a big, strong guy. He's got to use his body to his advantage and also play smart. I think that's, you have to be out there helping your team win [and] in order to do that you have to be healthy. That's a challenge for everybody. It's a physical game.
Q:What stands out to you about the Chargers defense?
TB:There's a lot. They've got a real good pass rush. I mean [Dwight] Freeney has been a pain in our butt for a long time. He continues to be. They have a good, athletic group of linebackers. They rotate a lot of guys. The secondary is really solid. Eric Weddle is one of the best safeties in the league. He's just free all the time, finds the ball. He's a really smart player. You can see how he really brings that whole defense together. They have a lot of good players. They're 8-4. They've had a great season. They went on the road in Baltimore and beat a really good team on the road, which is tough to do. That's what we're going to need to be able to do.
ROB GRONKOWSKI MEDIA AVAILABILITY 12/4**
Q:What has the week in San Diego been like for you?
RG:It's been good. Just been practicing – it's just like basically another full week of work, just in a new location. Everything is going smooth, everything is going well.
Q:Have there been any surprises or is it just like being away from home but together as a team?
RG:No surprises at all. It's basically just being together with the team, just being away from home. You said it right. Just everything is going the same, everything is going well. The preparation is going the same as any other week.
Q:Are you worried about the Justin Bieber curse?
RG:We're just on to San Diego. We're just worried about the Chargers, man.
Q:What are your thoughts on Antonio Gates?
RG:He's an unbelievable player. Ever since high school I've looked up to him. I love the way he runs routes and how he gets open and how he makes it stick at the top of the routes to get open. I've always watched him ever since growing up and I still watch him to do this day to learn from him.
Q:What kind of problems does the Chargers defense present to you guys?
RG:A lot of problems. They're fast and they're ready to play. They're mentally and physically tough. We have to go out there, we have to execute and we have to be ready to go out there and play.
Q:Gates said yesterday that you have to take it easier on your body if you want to last. Is that something that you've considered?
RG:That's always a consideration. There are times to take it easy and there are times to not take it easy. [I'm] just trying to play some football right now, that's all.
Q:Is his longevity in the league inspiring?
RG:Oh, definitely. Whenever you see a tight end of that caliber playing every single week – what is this, his 12th year – and going out there every week and making a huge impact and making huge plays and looking like he's in his early-20s still, it's unbelievable. Obviously he knows what he's doing. He's a player to look up to, no doubt about that. It'll be cool to talk to him and learn what he's done the whole time to keep playing and keep playing at that high level. He's a great player and I definitely look up to him.
Q:You and Antonio have a chance to become the first tight end to have four 10-touchdown catch seasons in your career. What does a milestone like that mean at this point in your career?
RG:I mean, as of right now, I'm not really worried about any of that. The thing I'm really focused on is getting a victory every week and going out and doing my job and everything else is going to take place on its own. So, [I] just go out, do my job and make plays when my number is called and help out the team.
NATE SOLDER CONFERENCE CALL 12/4**
Q:You guys had a streak of games without allowing a sack going into the Packers game, during which you struggled a bit with protection. What are the things you're working on to fix that for the remaining games?
NS:I think sacks are only a small factor of our protection. I think keeping the quarterback clean and avoiding pressure and giving him space, I think those are all the things that we always strive to do, and I think this week is no exception to that.
Q:You guys have used a tackle as an extra tight end on several occasions over the last few games. How does that change things for you and what do you have to be mindful of when you have another tackle next to you?
NS:I don't know that there's a huge difference, but I know a lot of times they're bigger guys so we'll get more movement and they're more accustomed to doing double teams and that sort of thing. They don't have to run the routes and everything, so they have more time to practice that. I guess that's the biggest difference.
Q:How much does it change your job?
NS:I wouldn't say it would change it. We have some great blocking tight ends, and I think if they're in there, they're labeled a tight end, or if it's a tackle in there, it's been pretty good, really. It hasn't changed between the two of them.
Q:How much of the offensive line's success would you attribute to having repetition and chemistry with the same five players?
NS:I think that the chemistry definitely helps, and we've gotten a little bit more solidified there. But you've got so many guys who can get plugged in, and no matter who's in there we've really been able to do it. And I think we're all bought in to a process of improvement, and I think that's been the key factor. It's not a pass-fail; it's a building process.
Q:Dan Connolly attributed some of the line's success to trusting Bryan Stork. What are your thoughts on that?
NS:Oh, yeah, I think we all have a lot of trust in each other, and he's certainly a part of that group. I think as we go forward, that just builds as you have success, and you gain some trust with the guys next to you.
Q:Does it get easier as the season goes on to get in a groove with your new offensive line coach this year, Dave DeGuglielmo?
NS:I would say yes, you get into a groove, but I would also say the games will only get harder. I wouldn't say that they get easier, simply because the competition gets stiffer and things become tighter and more important.
Q:What have you seen from Cameron Fleming this year? Being a rookie I assume is already a challenge, and with him being in and out of the lineup due to injury, how do you think he has responded to the adversity?
NS:I think Cam is a great guy. I think it hasn't really got him down visibly to me. It seems like he continues to do the best he can to get healthy and to learn and to be a part of the system.
Q:What do you remember about the learning process around this time of year when you were a rookie? Is there anything you can pass on to Cameron Fleming?
NS:It's a long, tough year, and I think that we all kind of go through that, no matter what year you're in, and I think that it's an adjustment. It's a matter of keeping your head above water sometimes as a rookie, and I think he's done a great job of that.
Q:What's it been like as an offensive line group this year, because typically you prefer to stay out of the spotlight? It seems like when you play well, people ask why, and when you don't play well, people ask why you're not playing well. Does it feel a little different this year because you've been in the spotlight so much?
NS:No, I think every year is about the same. We don't want any of the glory. We don't want any of that. We just continue to work, and I don't know what you exactly mean, but it's not important to us.
Q:Well, what I mean is you're not an anonymous line, which is probably what you'd prefer to be. No matter what you guys do, you've become much more publicly scrutinized.
NS:Well, I didn't realize that. I guess I haven't paid too close attention to that.
Q:Josh McDaniels talked the other day about the aggressiveness of the Chargers defense. Is there anything you can address about the style of defense you're expecting to face on Sunday?
NS:I'll say this, they put a lot of different guys in there, and they all play really hard. I would say they're aggressive. I don't exactly know what he was talking about. I didn't hear him say that. You might want to ask him for more details on that.
Q:Well, he had a lot of respect for the entire unit, but specifically he was referring to their front seven.
NS:Oh yeah, they're certainly aggressive, I would agree with that.
Q:Are there any keys you can talk about in layman's terms about what you are looking for as far as their tendencies?
NS:I think there is a lot of that and that's part of our preparation. That's what we've been working on. I don't know exactly what you're asking for on that.
Q:Their tendencies to pressure or send extra men on early downs or anything of that nature.
NS:I'm not going to talk about the specifics of it.
Q:What have you seen from Dwight Freeney this year? Is he the same type of guy he was in Indianapolis, and what have you seen in his tendencies that we should look out for on Sunday?
NS:Well, I think he's one of the guys that has that aggressive style, and I think every year he's played, he's played hard and he's really put a great effort out there. I think it's going to be a challenge, certainly, to go against him, as well as all the guys that they put out there.
TIM WRIGHT CONFERENCE CALL 12/4**
Q:What are some of the things that you see from San Diego's defense?
TW:They are a great team. They are playing well this year. They've got some great players on defense – guys that can run to the ball, basically fit their role pretty well. Basically just for our offense, we've just got to stick to what we've been doing. We did lose the game last week versus Green Bay, but that's not going to change anything that we are focused on trying to do. Just stick to our normal game plan, utilize the guys that we've got in our offensive room and defense alike and also special teams. Just go out there and execute -- that's the main thing.
Q:A lot of guys talked yesterday about showing a level of resilience and an ability to bounce back after the loss in Green Bay. How do you see it and what do you see in this team that leads you to believe that they have the sort of character and resilience needed to go on the road especially after a tough game like Green Bay and come out of San Diego with a victory?
TW:It all starts with preparation. That's what we pride ourselves on. Just looking at the challenge that we have ahead of us this week – going out there [in] San Diego, playing in the different climate, different personnel that we aren't used to usually facing. But like I said, preparation is going to put us in a great position to bounce back from the loss that we had and put us in the position to get back rolling again.
Q:They have a couple guys in that secondary in Brandon Flowers and Eric Weddle, both Pro Bowlers. What do you see from that secondary and specifically those two guys that have allowed them to have the level of success that they've had for an extended period of time?
TW:They are great leaders on their team. They play well together. They swarm to the ball; they run to the ball. [They're] high energy guys. I would think the same thing for them is their preparation and executing week-in and week-out is what multiplies those weeks, and multiplies weeks turning into months and years of experience and playing at a high level that they do.
Q:As someone who isn't out there every snap with an offense with so many weapons, do you feel like you have to be even more precise when you're given the opportunity?
TW:Yeah, you do. You've got to go out there with a high level of focus. You know, it doesn't just happen on Sunday, it happens during the week during practice. Even when we get the game plan it's just focusing on our role, especially for myself, focusing on the role that I'm asked, and when that number is called for me to go in and execute my job and just going out there and doing it.