New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, December 15, 2008.
Q:How much does a weeklong trip like that take out of you? Not just coming back late Sunday night, but being on the West Coast all week?
BM:I actually think it kept a lot more in us since we didn't make the flight back and forth [after the first game]. I kind of think that we as a team understood that back and forth, back and forth, probably would have taken more out of us. Me personally, I don't think that it took that much [out of us].
Q:What's your level of excitement, being in the thick of the playoff race where anything can happen?
BM:I'm very excited. I love the challenge. I love everything about the football game. As for me, I'm more excited than anything just to see how it's all going to play out and see how well the team is going to play in the last couple games.
Q:How much are you scoreboard watching and watching other games?
BM:I'm not. I'm not. That's something I would never do. I hate depending on other people to know if I'm going to make it to the playoffs or not. I'd rather take care of my own business and perform and make it on my own, so I'm really not concerning myself with other people just because that will stress you out and I'm trying not to be stressed at all.
Q:I know it's early in the week, but what do you know about the Cardinals passing attack?
BM:They're good. I think they're probably one of the best teams that we're going to play, as far as throwing the ball around. They've got Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart who they put at the helm. They've got great receivers and they've also got a good running game that compliments them well. As for everything else, that's pretty much self-explanatory. We've got to come to play.
Q:What's your comfort level at this point in the season compared to last year, your rookie year?
BM:My comfort level is pretty high right now. I'm having fun playing the game. Not just because I'm playing now—a lot more than I did last year—but I'm just enjoying being around my teammates and enjoying just having fun with them. Everything else is a bonus.
Q:Have your two West Coast road trips been bonding experiences?
BM:Yes and no. I kind of think our team was already tight. Like I said, we were already tight, so therefore all the other things that came with it, like I said, were just a bonus. We consider ourselves a tight-knit group; as for us getting any closer, I don't think that's possible.
Q:Is there a specific aspect of your game you can point to that you've improved in from last year?
BM:Yeah, catching the ball. I dropped what, 6 or 7 last year? I worked very hard on concentrating and looking the ball all the way in and trying to stay away from looking away too fast. That's one part of my game that I think improved a lot.
Q:Is that something you were able to pinpoint in the offseason?
BM:Yes. Yes that is. That's something I definitely, definitely focus and concentrate on. I'm happy I got a chance to help my team out with some takeaways.
Q:Can you talk a little about Ellis Hobbs' kickoff return and how it kept the momentum on your side?
BM:Actually, I was on the sidelines sitting down, listening to my coaches make adjustments, so I really didn't get to see it as I wanted to. But of course it was a big play. Any time you can answer a score with a score it takes a lot out of people.
Q:Have you done anything differently to condition yourself since Rodney Harrison's injury? Obviously, you're playing more since Rodney left and I'm curious if that has affected you at all physically.
BM:No, I haven't. I've always tried to be one of the best conditioned guys on the team, so even when I wasn't playing as much, I still liked to be one of the best conditioned guys on the team because you never know what's going to happened. When something like Hot Rod's [Rodney Harrison] injury happened, you never know when it's going to happen, so I always tried to continue to practice and focus and do everything as if I was a starter and I was going to play the whole game.
Q:How would you describe how things went with Lewis Sanders in at safety?
BM:Lewis is a very athletic person. We already knew that he could play the position and we thought he was going to do well at it, so everything else that he was going to need help with, I took it upon myself to help him.
Q:Did you guys have any communication issues?
BM:No, no, no. Like I said, our team is a very tight-knit group. All of our communication issues we have we solve during the week.
Q:As far as communication and making the calls in the secondary, is that something you could have done last year or did you need to mature as a player a little?
BM:I think that's something I needed to mature on. I could have done it last year but not to the extent that I am now.
BM:Just another year in the program, another year at making the calls. Anything you do for a year, you should do better the next year. I'm a year older and a year wiser.
Q:Is part of the closeness of the team a result of all the injuries you've had to overcome this year?
BM:Yes, that's part of it. Everybody has to lean on each other because we knew once Tom [Brady], Hot Rod's [Rodney Harrison] and all the other injuries happened, that everybody else was going to be against us and we had to pull together and carry each other.
Q:Have you given any thought to what might happen—even if you win out, you might not make the playoffs?
BM:No, I really haven't even thought about it. I'm still focusing on wining one game at a time. Whatever happens after that just happens.
Q:I've never heard anyone else call Rodney Harrison "Hot Rod". Is that your nickname for him?
BM:No, a lot of guys call him Hot Rod. I think I just kind of slipped and forgot I was talking to the media.
Q:With the Miami connection, do you keep in touch with Edgerrin James at all, even though you didn't overlap with him?
BM:Yes, I do. I keep in touch with everybody from The U [University of Miami] that still plays, so yeah, I do.
Q:Do you feel for him at all since he's had somewhat of a tough year? Have you talked to him about that at all?
BM:No, when I talk to Edgerrin it's about family and friends; it's trying to keep our job out of it. Whatever he's willing to tell me, I'm willing to listen because he's been in the league for a while. He's a veteran and I'm still a young guy in the league, so whenever I can lean on somebody with a lot more experience than me, I do.