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Replay: Best of Patriots Radio Thu Feb 02 - 02:00 PM | Tue Feb 07 - 11:55 AM

Mike Riley Pre-Game Press Conference

San Diego Chargers Head Coach Mike Riley talks to the media about their upcoming game against the Pats on Sunday.



Q: I am sure that things are going well for you with a 3-1 record and having a running back like you have and a quarterback that is running the show and Norv (Turner) is running a pretty good offense?

MR: We have been pleased with a lot of things. We are awfully disappointed because it is really important in this league to live in a one-week vacuum and we didn't succeed last week. So we are trying to get back on track, but we have had some good things happen to us as far as additions in the offseason and we are pleased with those guys.

Q: People always talk about turnarounds, it is possible in this league to turn around quickly, but 1-15 and then to play the way you guys have that is a pretty dramatic turnaround?

MR: There was a pretty good core here I will tell you that and we needed to be able to supplement that core with the right spots and the right people. Both of those things have to be in place. Of course the quarterback was one of our main issues, we wanted a couple of veteran corners and we wanted a defensive end and that has helped make us better. Now we have not by any means arrived at this thing. We have played some good football and I am really glad that we have won three games and I wish we would have won the fourth, but I know that you have to play well on Sunday otherwise the other team wins in the National Football League.

**Q: There was more than [Doug] Flutie coming there and you are fortunate that [LaDainian] Tomlinson is playing that way, with no training camp, but you had some other acquisitions that made a difference?BB: One of the kind of quiet positives out of the trade when we traded the first pick to be able to get LaDainian was the addition of Tim Dwight. Tim is not only a good player and has really helped us in the special teams area, he has got a real competitive nature about him that is a great addition on our team. He is helping us as an offensive player and a special teams player. I think just adding to our teams' competitiveness. That has been a good deal. Marcellus Wiley, a defensive end that we signed out of Buffalo has been a good addition. He has been hurt, but he has come back and played pretty well. Then the two corners I think have been good additions to our team. So there has been some stuff happening that I think has been very important to us having a chance to get better and we are trying to make the most of it.

Q: Your team speed seems to be enhanced from last year too?

MR: That is a great point. That was one of our number one goals and I think with Tim coming here and Curtis Conway being healthy and running full speed and Tomlinson is a pretty fast guy, I think overall we are a faster team than a year ago and that is showing up already.

**Q: It is so difficult to predict what a rookie running back will do even though they are good, but this guy is really good. Tell me a little bit about Tomlinson. He is a pure runner, you don't throw to him a lot?BB: That is another good point. He is going to be a very capable receiver, but that was probably one of the main things that he was set back in by missing training camp. He could be an everydown back, but we didn't have the time to get him ready to play all of the third down stuff and do all of that in catching the ball and protection and all of those different things. So you haven't seen that part of him yet. I think this is a very talented young man that is well grounded. I think that he will come to work every day and he won't get carried away with the status and the money and all of that stuff. I think he truly wants to be good and he is a good person.

**Q: I saw a story that he carried the ball five times in training camp and then he steps in and he is an instant sensation, although [Bill] Parcells would always get fussy if you give anybody that label?BB: I think we have been kind of slow to do that probably just because he hasn't been here that long, but he broke in with a bang the very first game against the Redskins. I think we gave him the ball 36 times and he handled it physically very well. He stayed in great shape. He had already learned a lot of our stuff from summer school and mini camps. I think we are fortunate. We were fortunate and he was fortunate as far as staying away from injuries and ball security is a big factor when all of a sudden you jump into the middle of things and people are going faster than you have ever seen them go before and they are trying to get the ball from you. I don't think he has hit his full stride yet and I think he is really got a lot of stuff ahead of him.

Q: It is also interesting to have a mix of a young player like him and then a 38 year old quarterback who has always had success to a certain degree, but has always had controversy because there has been somebody else trying to take the same job?

MR: I think one of the things that initially appealed to Doug the most about our situation was the fact that he was going to come in here and be the starting quarterback. We really had cleaned out the whole situation before he got here. He came in knowing that. He knew our general manager who came from Buffalo and I think there is a trust factor there. So it probably was as comfortable a situation as he could enter into where he could be the quarterback of a team and not be looking over his shoulder and feel good about that. He not only brings some credibility to the situation for the Chargers, he brings a great work ethic which I appreciate as much as anything. The quarterback that goes out there and does extra wind sprints and does extra weightlifting and work I think brings a special attitude to your team. I think that has been a real important issue with us.

**Q: You have seen the Patriots, you have seen the problems they have had stopping the run, you have the league's leading runner, but there are other factors. They also have a young quarterback who is having on the job training. How do you view this game?BB: You know what, I appreciate their defense. I have been watching the Indianapolis game a lot and I expect that we are going to see a fired up, tough team. They have got a lot of veterans on that defense that can play some good football. I really thought they handled Indianapolis in a great way. I have been really looking at that. I like that part of the team. I think they have a good secondary, a very physical team. Bryan Cox will knock you out. So I think we will get all of their best stuff and I think it will be very physical that way. Offensively, I have known Tom Brady since high school. I tried to recruit him when I was at USC. You have got a special young man there.

**Q: Why didn't you get him?BB: It is a long story. I think we had a real good shot at him, but we had two quarterbacks commit before the signing date and we had no scholarships left for a quarterback. I had to go to the Bay Area and tell Tom that we didn't have a scholarship for him after I had been recruiting him for the year. So he said, 'Okay I will go to Michigan.' He did and had a great career, but I really like him and his family. I knew he was going to be a good player and he is a special guy. I think that you are talking about a young man…I wish we could have got him a couple years ago in the draft. I was kind of holding our breath because we were going to pick a guy late and we did, but he was gone.

Q: But you had him earmarked if you could get him late?

MR: Yeah.

Q: Funny how things work out, you lost him twice?

MR: Lost him twice, lost him twice. He is a special guy. I think he can make the plays and he will do the things that they will want to do with him, I believe that.

Q: Can we touch on your defense, area that doesn't get as much notice, but certainly has been good defensively despite that you have had some growing pains?

MR: To me the all time great, great example and leader on defense is Junior Seau. Since I have been here and before I was here we had a good defense. We needed to supplement it. We had a few problems last year and like I said we brought in another pass rusher and we brought in some corners. I think we have a chance to have a better defense than we did a year ago. They have had some great moments. We would have liked to finish off the game last week better than we did. They made some plays against us, but I am confident in our defense. You have got to have a good defense if you want to be in games in this league and that is kind of a cornerstone for us.


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