Patriots Running Backs Coach Ivan Fears addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 2, 2010.
Q: What happened to UMass a couple of weeks ago at Gillette Stadium?
IF: [Laughs] I have no idea. I don't know. The guys I guess just weren't ready for the environment here - Gillette Stadium, playing in the big house. I don't know. They let a good one get away that day.
Q: Can you asses Danny Woodhead's blitz pickup ability to this point?
IF: Great, he's done a great job with it. The guy is a very smart guy. He sees the defense very well. He understands the rules and assignments. He's done an excellent job of picking up our schemes. And most importantly, he's been dog-gone very effective as a blocker. He's stood up against guys when he's had to and he's cut them down when he had the opportunity to.
Q: Do you still do the one-on-one blocking drill between the running back and linebacker or was that strictly a training camp drill?
IF: No, we'll still do that. We get it in every once in a while. It's kind of hard to get it in [now]. During training camp, you have more individual periods. During the season you have so much team work to do that it's kind of hard to get to, but sometimes we'll do it post practice.
Q: What was BenJarvus Green-Ellis doing well against the Minnesota defense in the fourth quarter?
IF: Well, it wasn't just Benny. It was everybody. The guys were in tune to what was going on. They'd done a great job of preparing for [the Vikings]. They had good idea of what was going to happen and what to expect. They got out there and went after it. But it wasn't just Benny. It was everybody up front. Those guys up front did a hell of a job now. They created some running lanes there that gave Benny a chance to make a play or two.
Q: Why the lack of touches for Sammy Morris this year?
IF: Well there is really no reason. We go into every week trying to utilize everybody. The game plan sort of plays out as it plays out from one week to the other. Last week at San Diego, Danny [Woodhead] was in the game for 39 plays to [BenJarvus Green-Ellis's] what, 18? You know what I mean? It varies from week to week as far as what's going to be successful for us to win. And we're going to do whatever it takes to win. The stuff that we had set for Sammy, the things that we're doing with him, just didn't dial up that game, or this game. Next week, who knows? Who really knows what's going to happen, what's going to be successful? All of our guys are scheduled to play and we try to use everybody during the course of the game.
Q: How difficult of a season has it been for you with the injuries to the running backs and the Laurence Maroney trade?
IF: Well, Kevin [Faulk] is special to me. He's a special dude. He's special with the team. Missing him, for his sake, is really different. It's been a while since he missed this much time. He's always been there and done a great job for us. As far as the rest of the guys, we knew everybody was a good player and we know we can win with those guys. That was a big deal for us. You play with who you got. The good news is that we're going to have guys back. The trade for Laurence was a good deal for Laurence and the team. Sometimes you have to pull the trigger on those kinds of decisions. As long as we have guys here that can win for us and get the job done, to me, that's what matters. That's what matters. We have to do what's best for the team whenever we make a decision like that. That's what we try to do.
Q: How frustrating of a year has it been for Fred Taylor?
IF: Boy, I can't speak for Fred on that one, I really can't. Nobody knows what goes through his mind, what goals he has set and the whole package. I don't think it was what he had hoped for, let's put it that way. It's kind of hard to say. That's something he needs to answer for you.
Q: What is it about Danny Woodhead that gives him the ability to continue to make the key plays?
IF: We call those guys 'playmakers'. Those guys have that. That's why they're on the field. If you go back to Kevin Faulk and think of the catches Kevin made throughout the years - one-handed grab in the end zone. Those guys have that ability. Randy Moss is one of the best deep threats in the history of the NFL. Danny has the little knack about him. He knows how to make things happen when he has the ball in his hands. That's what attracted us to the guy. He hasn't let us down. Boy, he hasn't let us down one bit. Those guys - that's something they have. They have the ability to make a play when given the opportunity and those are the types of guys you win with.
Q: Did you know what Woodhead was before he arrived in New England?
IF: Yeah, we had seen his films. We saw him play for the Jets. The guys evaluate everybody in this league now, let's be honest. There are not too many guys that don't get evaluated upstairs. So they had an idea about the guy and the opportunity came - one, when we lost Kevin [Faulk] and two, he became available. And it was kind of, 'Well, let's see if this really is true that this guy's as good as we think he is.' We lucked out there. We lucked out and got ourselves a nice find.
Q: Might we see Fred Taylor on the practice field this week?
IF: Oh, I don't know. Jim [Whalen] will let us know later, I'm sure. As I go into my staff meeting this afternoon and we start talking about tomorrow's practices, I'll be told whether Fred's going to be up or down. That's going to come from the doctors. He's been getting the treatments and doing the workouts as much as he can. If they think he's ready, they'll turn him loose. But, I'll wait to hear that in the staff meetings.
Q: Do you get excited thinking about heading deeper into the season with the cold weather and Taylor being available to run the ball more?
IF: Yes. You know that. You know that. We need every one of those guys we can get. You know how those guys get nicked up and we're going to need him sometime. We really are. Fred's a guy that has played in those key games at the end of the year and he's also played in pressure games. He's played in bad weather. You know it'd be exciting for me to have him back, no doubt about it. To have that experience and that ability back on the field, that playmaking ability back on the field, yes sir. I'd love to have him.
Q: What are your thoughts on Logan Mankins returning to the team?
IF: [Laughs] Are you kidding? The guys are jumping for joy. Having another playmaker like him coming back to play for us? Sure. Plus he's fresh. We're kind of excited about it, no doubt about it. We can't wait to see where he's at out on the practice field.
Q: Is Sammy Morris mentoring the young running backs even though his on-field opportunities have decreased this season?
IF: He runs the running back meetings when we have our little individual meeting sessions and they're watching film and going through the reads and blitz pickups and stuff. He runs it. Heck yeah, he's done a great job. Sammy's a great guy. You're talking about a guy that's not getting a lot of opportunities that's standing up strong for the team. He's a hell of a team player, no doubt about it. No doubt about it. He's one of the reasons that things function so smoothly around here with those guys. Any great player wants the ball. That's the nature of the game. When you're not getting a lot of opportunities and can still be able to stand in there and still be a team player? You have to appreciate that and we appreciate a guy like Sammy, no doubt about it.