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Mike Vrabel Conference Call - Transcript

Q: Why didn't you give the kid the ball the other day?

Vrabel: Was it a kid? I didn't even know it was a kid. It wasn't my kid so it doesn't matter.

Q: What did you do with it?

Vrabel: I don't even know if it made it back. I threw it to somebody on the next possession. I don't even know if it made it back.

Q: Are touchdowns becoming an old hat for you?

Vrabel: Well, not defensively. That was my first one defensively.

Q: How has it been since you left Pittsburgh?

Vrabel:It was a situation where you just had a crossroads in your career. You're going to be a backup special-teams guy in Pittsburgh. I had that role down pat and that's what Coach Cowher told me my role was going to be. I tried to branch out a little bit. It's really worked out pretty well. [New England] has a great group of guys and we've been successful. Also to have a little bit of personal success has been nice.

Q: Do you wear any of your Super Bowl rings?

Vrabel: No. I don't. We always joke that the people who say they want to wear them are the people who have never won one. It stands for something. It stands for a championship. Usually, we put that to rest and try to move on to the next season.

Q: How are you adjusting to losing the two middle linebackers?

Vrabel: It's still defense; it's still football. You still have to block. You have to take on the blocks with the right leverage. You still have to make tackles and make plays. Right now, I don't think anybody is doing enough of that well. It wouldn't matter who was in there right now. We just need to pick it up and play a little better.

Q: How different is the Steelers' running game with Willie Parker in there?

Vrabel: He has a lot more speed so he gives you a lot more to prepare for. The big guys inside and the running game they present inside; that power game gets a little added twist with a back like Willie that can get outside. He can really run away from people.

Q: Have you had more or less success against a smaller/quicker back?

Vrabel: No. You look at a guy like Priest Holmes. You would look and say that he's a smaller back but he can get you a lot of different ways. You don't want to just say that we've had success with guys like this or guys that are just going to run in-between the tackles. Guys are starting running backs in this league for a reason. They're going to do their job regardless of whether they like to bounce outside or run in-between the tackles.

Q: Does it help having a new coordinator being from the system?

Vrabel: I know that [defensive coordinator] Eric [Mangini] has done a great job. Eric has taken control of the defense. He tries to present us with good game plans each week and make good adjustments on the sidelines. I'm familiar with another coach coming from outside of a system. I had Jim Haslett and Tim Lewis, both guys that were in-house in Pittsburgh and Eric Mangini stepping in for Romeo Crennell. So I've never had the experience of another coach coming in from outside the system.

Q: Is it basically Bill Belichick's system and the defensive coordinator implements it?

Vrabel: Bill Belichick doesn't call the plays. He doesn't stand in front of us and do the game plan. I don't know how much input he has. He's the head coach, I'm sure he's got a lot of input on everything that we do as a team. I know that Eric does a good job of relaying the information to the players and trying to get things running and trying to make corrections. I'm sure Bill Belichick has something to do with that.

Q: Are things marginally different from last year?

Vrabel: Every time that you change coaches they're going to put their personal stamp on it. I think that both coaches and both coordinators, whether it be Romeo in years prior or Eric, are just going to try to put us in the best position to make plays and win games. They're not trying to reinvent the wheel. They're doing things for a purpose and that's to give us the best chance to win on Sunday.

Q: Since you're 1-1, do you feel like this is just an average team?

Vrabel: I think we've played very average. When you say that we're an average team, I don't think that's what our capabilities are. I think we certainly played average; that's a true assessment of where we are at this point in the season.

Q: If you had stayed in Pittsburgh would you have become the player that you've become or is it just New England's system?

Vrabel: No. If you ask Bill Cowher, I think I was pretty close when I left. I was pretty close to where I would have been able to step in. I did, I played. I think they knew the situation. It wasn't just some magic dust that Bill Belichick has. It's just the simple fact of getting an opportunity and that's what I got here. Just for those couple years when I was learning the position, I didn't really have that. I was close. After that fourth year I was close. I would have been able to compete in Pittsburgh.

Q: Is there any talk in New England about the new CBA?

Vrabel: I think we always talk about it. As a player rep we have to have meetings to keep our players informed of what's going on and let them know that we have to stay on the same page, we have to stay strong and we have to stay committed to what we're trying to do as a union. We have to let the union work for us so we can get the most benefits that we could get out of this system.

Q: Are you one of the player reps there?

Vrabel: Yeah.

Q: Are you looking to put up a tougher fight this time around?

Vrabel: We're trying to get a deal that is advantageous to everybody. We can't just sit here and say that we're going to ask for everything. But we're going to get what we think we deserve. Every time you do this you have to be prepared to hold out. That's what some players do in contract negotiations and some don't. We've all got to be prepared for that.

Q: Is the owner's gag order on themselves a sign that it could get difficult?

Vrabel: I don't know. They come from a lot of different angles. I think they're just trying to be careful amongst themselves. Some guys like to talk to the media, some don't. Some guys have one perspective, other guys feel another way. It's going to be important for them to make their decision amongst themselves and then make a decision with the players.

Q: Have you had a chance to watch the scarlet and black?

Vrabel: What did you say, scarlet and black?

Q:Yeah, Ohio State?

Vrabel: Oh Jesus, it's scarlet and grey.

Q: Scarlet and grey, I'm sorry. What are your thoughts and are things with you and Brady spirited being he's from Michigan?

Vrabel: It always heats up at the end of the year. I got back from the Texas game, a tough game to lose at the end there. They have good football players. I know a lot of those coaches. I follow them like everyone else, like a fan. I do enjoy watching them and hopefully they'll finish out the season strong.

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