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Patriots Unfiltered Tue Sep 29 | 11:55 AM - 02:00 PM

Drew Bledsoe Press Conf.

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            **Q: You're still listed on the injury report as questionable. How is your thumb?**  

D: It's still sore, but it's nice to have a little rest. Haven't done anything with it for a little while. Hopefully I can start making some progress to getting the thing healthy.

Q: How do you remain focused on the season?

D: Let me put it this way, when you're faced with a situation like this where the carrot that you were chasing to start the season is no longer there for you, where winning a championship and being in contention for the playoffs and so on when that's no longer there as your motivation, then you have to look elsewhere for motivation and one of the areas that we're looking to is toward building momentum going into next season. In '93, we finished strong, we won our last four games and we were able to carry that over into the next season where we were able to get into the playoffs. There are some parallels there. The make up of the team is different, we have more veteran players that have experience winning in the past and so on. But I think the motivation has to be the same. We have to go out and try to win as many of these last four games as we can and have something that we can carry into next year.

Q: Is this team in better shape at this point than the team last year at the same point?

D: Yeah, record-wise it's kind of a toss-up. As I've said in the past, and will continue to say, I think that there's a lot that's headed in the right direction. I think the players feel that. You talk to guys around the locker room and I think there is a general confidence that the things we're doing are the right things. We just have to make the plays at the key times and stop making the critical errors in games that have cost us so many of these games.

Q: What was the feeling like after the 1998 season, when you ended at Miami ending their playoff bid?

D: That was a great feeling, to end that season, after all that we'd been through and to knock Miami out of the playoffs, I think it was in overtime, in the last game of the season, it sent us into that off-season with a good feeling. This season being what it is for us now, that's obviously one of the things we can look to. We can look to playing the role as the spoiler against some of the teams we're playing down the stretch.

Q: There will be some turnover in personnel into next season, will that affect the carryover from this season?

D: Definitely. There will be some turnover. There has been a great deal of turnover already. That always happens when you don't win games. There will be a large percentage of this team that's back next year. There will be plenty of turnover I think, that's fairly obvious to everybody. But the guys that are here, like I said, you can start to build some of that momentum and build a positive feeling going into the off-season, it works as motivation during the off-season and as momentum for us next season.

Q: Will you be at your best at the end of the season?

D: I think that one of the things that you have to do as a player as you move through the season – these seasons are long now – you have to on a week to week basis take a realistic look at what you've done, where you stand, and what you need to improve on week to week. That's also something that happens from season to season. I've been fortunate enough to have had some good coaches that have helped me as far as keeping my eye on the ball, keeping my eye on what I'm trying to improve on for the next season.

Q: The last loss was on national television. This upcoming game is on national television. Is redemption a factor in this game?

D: That is a factor. To go out and play on Thanksgiving when everybody is watching football, is watching you, and to go out and play as poorly as we did, it's a little embarrassing. Now we have an opportunity this week to play on national television again and hopefully go out and prove that we're better than what we showed last Thursday.

Q: Have you been watching the Monday night games, there have been a lot of close games?

D: Yeah. I try to take advantage of whatever sleep I can get.

Q: They've been very entertaining.

D: There's been a bunch of close games. There have been a lot of them that certainly haven't been decided by the time I go to sleep on Monday nights. There have been a few of them that I have watched. It has been a remarkable season for Monday Night Football with the types of games that they've had.

Q: Is there a different type of frustration is having a losing season as a bunch of veterans?

D: There is a different feeling to a certain extent. You look at guys like myself, Chris Slade, Bruce Armstrong, Troy Brown, guys that have been around here for a long time and have experienced the winning seasons and the success that we've had in the past. It's very frustrating when you're young sometimes you just don't know any better. That doesn't change the fact that the parallels are still there. You want to win, coming down the stretch, in this season, in these last four games and we want to win all four so we can go into next season feeling like we're building on something. You look at what we've done to this point in the season where we've lost a ton of games that we were very close in. Where one play would have made the difference in the ball game. If we can come out and win these last four games, then we can say, 'Yeah, we lost a lot of games early that were close, one play could have gone here, one play could have gone there, but we're really not that bad.' That's what we're building for, that's where the motivation is going into these last four games.

Q: Do anticipate a situation where you'll be asked to restructure your contract to allow for more free agent acquisitions?

D: I think that as was mentioned earlier, there will be changes and turnover on this team during the off-season. Part of that will entail probably doing something with my contract. I anticipate that being done and I've said in the past and will continue to say, I anticipate being with this team for the duration of my career. I think that there's something that will be done this off-season.

Q: On teammate Chris Slade, a teammate since 1993.

D: One thing I didn't know until earlier this season is that Slade hasn't missed a game since we got here. So, he's one guy that I've always been able to count on every time I take the field that Chris is going to be there with me. He's a tough player who plays hard all the time. We do have a special bond in that we came in together. We came in, we were in the same draft class together, we came here and we helped turn it around when we made it to the Super Bowl. We were both part of that. He's one of the guys that as I mentioned, that this is very difficult for, as it is for me, because we've been around this team, we've seen the highs, and to experience the other side is not much fun.

Q: What is the status of that draft class?

D: I hope that Chris (Slade) will be here as long as I'm here. As I said, he's a great teammate. I hope I can play with him as long as possible. But to answer your question, our draft class, this season was cut down by two people. We lost (Todd) Rucci and (Vincent) Brisby. There were five of us that started the season with Troy Brown, Rucci, Brisby, Slade and myself. We took pride in the fact that we were together for seven-and-a-half years. That doesn't happen to five guys that come in one draft class, at the same age, so we took pride in that and to see a couple of those guys go it is a wake up call that times have changed.

Q: Is the recent scheduling weird for you? Play on Thursday, be off on Sunday, then be off the next Sunday and play on Monday.

D: Well, having the long week I think is good for us because there are various guys that are banged up a little bit that get a little extra time to heal and plus, and it is obvious that there are problems that we have to address that it gives us the extra time to focus on those.

Q: A

D: Let me say a few things. The guys that are the most important parts of this team, the guys that are leaders on this team all feel the same way, it's been like a nightmare that we can't shake out of. That being said, we do have some young players on this team that are trying to find their way in the league. When you're a young players and you come in, a lot of times your focus is simply on staying on the team, trying to get your job right all the time. In some cases, guys don't fully understand the way that, they don't fully understand the emotional investment some of the older players have in the team. Does that mean that they don't care? No. Does that mean that they're not competitive? No. It doesn't mean that. Sometimes guys can be so focused on just simply doing their job, staying on the team and staying alive in the league. Some of the other stuff may fade out and doesn't seem important to them.

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