WR JULIAN EDELMAN
Q: What are your thoughts on going up against Pittsburgh for the second time and how have they improved to go on this winning streak?
JE: Yeah, nine games in a row. It really looks like they've come into their own. They're playing as a unit pretty darn well; probably the best we've seen this year. They're fast, they're athletic, they're young, but they also have veterans in key spots to help them know the game a little more. So, it's definitely going to be a huge test and we definitely have to take advantage of these next few days to really hone down our skills for it.
Q: There is a guy on the other side who also wears a Kent State jersey in James Harrison. What are your thoughts on possibly seeing him when you break through, and what he brings to that defense?
JE: I mean, James Harrison, fellow Flash. He's an unbelievable stud. The guy has been doing it consistently for a long time. I've been a huge fan of him before I got in the league, and just to see and kind of have an idea where he came from, it's unbelievable to show how hard he's worked to get to where he's got. He's a large man that is fast, explosive, and if he's coming my way, it's going to be a 'get down.'
Q: Is that the same Kent State shirt for you every day at practice?
JE: Yep, I think this is year eight [or] year seven in this bad boy. I think the Dri-Fit just came out when they gave it to me.
Q: This being your sixth-straight AFC Championship game, do these ever get old? Do you take it for granted? Or do you cherish them?
JE: You've got to cherish them. It's an honor to get to play in a game like this. You're playing the best, the cream of the crop in your conference. I've been fortunate to play in a few of them, but you never take it for granted. There are a lot of guys that haven't gotten this opportunity once in their career. It's great and everything to think about, and it's a huge stage and everything, but you know, being in it a few times now, you kind of try to just keep it in perspective and try to handle it like every other week that got you here.
Q: What do you say to the younger guys like Malcolm Mitchell, who is jumping onto this stage for the first time, about distractions and staying focused?
JE: Same thing. You just tell them, 'Hey, go out and do what you've been doing. Put everything you have. Go a little extra this week, because you won't regret it. It's a fun game to play in, but don't think of it too big, because you've been playing this game for a while in your life. Just prepare and do everything you've done in the season.' And I have to remind myself that, and that's what I tell him and try to do.
Q: You know what it's like to win and lose in this game. Is there a different kind of pressure because this is the game before the Super Bowl?
JE: You don't even really think about the next game. It's a one game season, so you just focus all of your time and energy and put it into this week. This is the ultimate week. This is what you train for in the offseason. This is what you go through OTAs, training camp, to put yourself in position to compete in this game. That's just kind of how I take it.
Q: These teams are run by two strong ownership groups in the Rooneys and the Krafts. From a player's perspective, what are your thoughts on the Krafts and how they impact you as a player?
JE: Mr. Kraft and his family, they gave me an opportunity to come out and play in the NFL. And just to see the kind of role model Mr. Kraft is in the community; he's always around, he's here every day - darn near - he's very involved and he's just a good man. Nothing but respect, and it starts at the top. You can say the same thing with the Rooney family as well. It's unbelievable to hear that they've only had three coaches in like the last 30 years, or something like that. The type of trust and honor that owner has for their coaches, and the understanding [for] how crazy this league is. They have a lot of wins over there, so it's nothing but respect for the Steelers. I mean, I went to school in Steeler Country over at Kent State [and] half the school was in a Steelers jersey, so I've known about that whole faithful for a while now.
Q: Your production has trended up since the bye week - what can you attribute that to?
JE: I think that's just trying to improve each week. Just trying to do what I'm told, and when opportunities are coming your way, you've got to take advantage of it. So that's what I've been trying to do.
Q: Do you feel like cornerbacks kind of treat you the same, or do different cornerbacks have different styles for covering you?
JE: Well, there are different types of cornerbacks: You've got your longer guys that will try to get physical with you and use their length, and you've got your quick guys that will try to use their quickness, and then you've got your 'tweener' guys that will try to use both. So, it all depends on the corner.
Q: How about the Steelers' corners?
JE: They're longer guys. They're long guys, so we'll see what they do. Anytime you play in a game like this, there are always a lot of adjustments, just to go in and kind of see what's going on. Everything can change. Not everything is going to be what you've seen. So, you've got to be prepared for that.
Q: In addition to some of the characteristics of those guys, they've got a couple of rookies in the secondary whose roles have become more significant late in the year. What are your impressions of Artie Burns and Sean Davis in the secondary?
JE: Well, [Artie] Burns, he's an unbelievable athlete, a first-rounder out of Miami. The kid's got it all; he's got the athleticism, the speed, length. So, he's definitely been playing well. He's been playing more, and that's for a reason. [Sean] Davis, he's playing well, too. I'm more focused on cornerbacks, but you definitely have to take those guys into consideration as well. You know, coach [Mike] Tomlin, he's been there for a while, and if he's playing a guy a little more, you figure he knows what he's doing. You've got nothing but to prepare for both.
Q: When it comes to Tom Brady, how would you describe his demeanor this week?
JE: He's focused. You'd have to ask him more on it, but he's focused.
Q: I think you were in high school the last time these two teams played in the playoffs in 2004, with Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady both in that game. What does it say about the longevity of those two quarterbacks?
JE: Studs. 'Big Ben,' he's a MAC [Mid-American Conference] guy, so you've got nothing but respect for him too, and his journey. I mean, he's been doing it a long time. He's just a gritty, big old dude that just gets it done, and he's fun to watch. And 'TB' [Tom Brady] is 'TB.' It's one thing to be good in this league, but it's [another] thing to be very good for a long period of time, and that's what those guys have both done.
Q: You've said in the past that when you go on the road you like to play the villain for opposing crowds. How do you feed off the home crowd?
JE: At home? You know, it's home, so the louder they get, the more fired up you get. You live off the crowd. So, all the people out there in Foxborough, get ready - we need you. We need you.
Q: With your consistency over the second half of the season, I'm sure you're pleased with the fact that you've been able to string together some really good performances?
JE: I'm worried about the next performance. All the stuff in the past is in the past. I'm more worried about what I've got to do to help my team against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that's what I'll continue to think about. We can talk about that after the season.
Q: When Rob Gronkowski went down was right around the time that Dion Lewis was coming back. What is it about your offense that allows you to be so versatile in your attack and go with another option if you lose one?
JE: I think it's like what you said; we've got a lot of weapons here. Dion [Lewis], you've got James [Develin], you've got LeGarrette [Blount], you've got Malcolm Mitchell, who has stepped up and made a lot of plays for a young guy. You've got 'Big Mike' [Michael Floyd], who comes in out of nowhere and he's made a couple plays, he's helped the team. You've got [Chris] Hogan who has made plays. You've got Marty [Martellus Bennett] who is making plays. You've got Matt [Lengel], who came in and scored a touchdown, just guys coming in and trying to do their job. The more everyone tries to do their own job, that's when the team fires on all cylinders.
S PATRICK CHUNG
Q: Having played against Patriots WR Chris Hogan for a couple of years and now getting to see him every day in practice, is there anything that has surprised you since he has been playing here in New England?
PC: No. He is a hardworking guy, fast, strong, physical and works hard. I have seen that since he was at Buffalo. It is a pleasure to have him on our team.
Q: Is this as high-octane of an offense as you have seen when you see the weapons that they have and with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback?
PC: Yeah, they are a great team. They have a lot of great players and a lot of explosive players that can do some special things. We have to do our best to contain them, and we'll be fine. We are working hard, too, just like they are.
Q: Can you speak on Steelers WR Antonio Brown and the pressure he brings on a defense in particular?
PC: We are going to have to stop him. We have to stop him. It really doesn't matter how much pressure he puts on anybody. We have to do our best to stop him and contain him. He is going to have his plays, but we have to do our job.
Q: The Steelers haven't used RB Le'Veon Bell much as a receiver in the playoffs, but what did you see from him in the regular season at receiver?
PC: He is good. He is almost as dangerous as he is when he has the ball in his hands running when they give him the ball. He is definitely a dual-threat. He can make plays. He is one of their most explosive players. He is strong, he can break tackles, he has good routes, good hands and good vision. He is patient, and he is a good player. We have to bring our best for him.
Q: Obviously, communication is key in the secondary. How valuable is it that you have been playing next to Patriots DB Devin McCourty since 2010?
PC: I love it. I love playing next to Devin [McCourty]. Sometimes, I can just look at him, he looks at me and we know what we are talking about. It is like a brain-to-brain conversation. It is a pleasure playing next to him. That's my boy.
*Q: Playing in this AFC Championship Game year after year, how big of a difference is it home versus away? You lost the two at Denver, but you won two years ago here. How important is it to be in Foxborough? *
PC: We will take it. Our fans are here, but when it comes down to it, it is about winning the game. Whether you are away or home, it is not the fans playing. It is Pittsburgh versus us, and the better team is going to win. We will find out who that is.
Q: Can you talk about maybe the unique or different pressure of this game because it is the game to get to the Super Bowl? You and your teammates have had a lot of experience playing in this game.
PC: I feel you just have to prepare the same way like we have been preparing the last 20 games. Don't do anything too crazy and just prepare the same way. It is a very big game. You can't let all the nonsense around you, and all of the nonsense around you - let's keep it like that - distract you. You have to go out there, do your thing and play some ball and play it like it is your last game. It might not be the last game; it might be the last game, but you have to play it like it is.
Q: How about their tight ends? Steelers TE Jesse James had a handful of catches last week. Steelers TE Ladarius Green, when he has been on the field for them, has been an impactful player. Steelers TE Xavier Grimble is a guy who they haven't thrown it to too often but he has made some catches.
PC: They have a lot of good tight ends. They might not get the ball as much, but game plans change. You never know what it is so we have to be ready for everybody. They are good. They are all different, but they all have strengths. You have 'Big Ben' [Ben Roethlisberger] throwing them the ball, so that adds another factor. We have to be prepared for everybody. They are game-planning. We are game-planning. The best execution is going to win.
Q: Bill Belichick has talked about your versatility recently and how you might move around from covering one guy to the next. How do you balance that looking at all of those different players throughout the week?
PC: You just have to do it. You watch the film, and once the gameplan comes in, you can break down your certain plays you might be on. You just have to take it as a compliment, I guess. You just have to go out there and do the best you can. If Bill [Belichick] puts me or anyone else in a situation or a role, he trusts you to do that, and you have to go out there and perform. He is not putting you out there in that situation to mess it up. They are going to make plays. They are great players [and] they get paid, too. But the more you can do, the more plays you can make and it is fun.
Q: Have you ever played against a running back as patient as Le'Veon Bell? How do you defend a guy like that?
PC: You stop him. It is a team defense. He is going to have his plays. He is a great running back, but we are not worried about him. We have to go out here and play the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Q: Talk about all of the different things you do, not only on defense but on special teams. How much pride do you take in the fact that you are out there so much?
PC: I take a lot of pride [in it]. It is a compliment, but a compliment can only take you so far. You have to go out there and perform, whether it is returning the ball or whether it is blocking somebody 260 [pounds] running full speed at you or anything. If Bill [Belichick] puts you in a situation, you better make sure you are ready. I just make sure that I am ready, and I prepare and just get ready to go play some ball.
C DAVID ANDREWS
Q: Joe Thuney seems to have gone right over the notorious rookie wall - how has he been able to hold up for 17 games?
DA: Yeah, I guess it's different for everybody. He's done a good job of just coming in every week and going to work. I think that's just a good job by everyone, every week. We're fortunate enough, we've been lucky to not have any major, significant injuries. Some of that stuff you can avoid, some of it you can't. We've been fortunate in that sense.
Q: How does the week-to-week preparation change when you get to the playoffs?
DA: You just keep doing what you're doing. We've been having success, obviously it just heightens our sense of urgency. It just heightens a little bit, I know for me, personally. It's a one week season now. It's either win or go home. You don't do anything - or I'm not doing anything super crazy. You just stick to your routine. Your routine has helped you get to where you are so far, but it's just more of a sense of urgency. Like I said, it's win or go home.
Q: Do you spend more time around the facility in these weeks than you would in week four or five?
DA: I spend a lot of time in this facility. I spend as much time as I think is needed. I'm not sitting here watching the clock, waiting for it to strike five o'clock. Whatever I need to get done, that's when I'm going to go home. It just depends on when that time is. Like I said, you stick to your routine. You've got to get your rest at night too, so that's just what I try to do.
Q: What improvements have you seen from the Steelers defense in the second half of the season?
DA: They're playing some of their best football right now. They obviously got Bud Dupree back on the edge and they're able to work him around in their package. They've really just settled in, I think, and like everyone, they're playing their best football right now. They're a good front, they do what they do, and they do it well.
Q: What are the challenges the Steelers' front brings you in trying to protect Tom Brady?
DA: They're very confident in their system and what they do, and like I said, they do it well. They're good at running blitzes, their blitzes they run, they're good at it. The big thing for us is just everyone being on the same page, getting that coordinated and handling that, and not having anyone run free with some of their blitz packages.
Q: Do you feel like you've been able to learn from what went wrong in the Texans game throughout the course of this week?
DA: Well yeah, we're not playing the Texans this week now, so it's a whole different team. You just try to correct from it and move forward, what I could have done personally better and what we could have done better as a whole.
Q: What are your impressions of Stephon Tuitt as they've moved him around up front?
DA: Yeah, he's listed as a defensive end, but in that three-four scheme, they play defensive tackle. He's a good player. He's big, he's long, he's strong. He's definitely one of their best defensive linemen, I think. He does a good job of doing what he's asked from their system.
Q: Do you enjoy the diversity of running backs that you have on this team?
DA: They're all good at what they do, and they all do different things well. It's always good whenever you can look up and see one of the backs of their jerseys, four, five, 10, 15 yards in front of you. That's the goal every play. They do a good job of it and it's another tool that our coaches have to use. It doesn't change, who's in the game, it doesn't change how we block. We block and then they do their job. That's how football works. That's how, usually, good plays are run.
Q: How does head coach Bill Belichick keep the team focused in a week like this?
DA: Consistency is kind of the same thing that he's preached throughout the year. It's one game at a time - not looking over or past anything else. Not feeling the hype, not worrying about things that we can't control. We know that most of the things we can control are inside this building. I think everybody does a good job of taking advantage of that whether its coming in early, asking questions, or whatever it may be. We all know this is a one-game season and we're going to do our best. We don't want to go out after the game and wish we could have watched a little bit more film or done things a little bit different. I think everybody has the right attitude and we're attacking this thing the right way.
Q: What's it been like seeing guys like Nate Solder, who was recently named the Ed Block Courage Award recipient, and Marcus Cannon have the seasons they've had considering all they've been through personally as both have battled cancer?
DA: I wasn't here when they both went through their cancer treatments or whatever, but they're just guys that have done it for a long time in our room. Just watching them every day, you try to learn from them and learn what they do, and use that for yourself even if they're tackles. Maybe how they prepare or what they do to stay healthy or whatever. Nate [Solder] deserves [the award] and I'm happy for him.