Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call on Monday, January 04, 2010.
Q: Now that it appears that Julian Edelman will get a lot of playing time, can you talk about what you saw in him coming in and how you thought he might be able to make the transition to wide receiver? And what you did you see that may made you believe that?
NC: You're saying going back to the spring when we drafted him? Starting there?
NC: The thing about Julian [Edelman], when you saw him play at Kent State, he was really good with the ball in his hands. I guess you would call him the dual threat. He ran the ball, they threw the ball with him as well, but he ran the ball. He was good with the ball in his hands and he was good in space. He was a good runner, he had good quickness, and he was a strong runner. Really, you see that particular skill set during the spring as you go through your scouting process and drafting process. You just try to find out positionally where that type of player fits best and in some cases, it's not always going to be in receiver or running back; you're going to have to do your homework. We spent some time with him, we worked him out specifically as a receiver and we actually did some things with him in the return game to see if he could field some punts. There's a little bit of a projection element to it but in terms of his athleticism, in terms of his running ability, in terms of his quickness, in terms of his strength with the ball. He actually caught the ball well when we did work him out, so you're basing that information saying, 'OK, this is where we feel that he fits best for us.' There was a little bit of a leap of faith but we did our homework and we felt comfortable. So that is why we made the decision that we did to draft him, and play him at receiver.
Q: Can you talk about some of the things that he does similar and some of the things he does differently than Wes [Welker]?
NC: They are their own player. Wes has been a great player and has been in the league now for a number of years and Julian [Edelman], you're talking about a rookie who really it's his first year playing the position. But I think a way they may be similar is that they are both good with the ball in their hands. Julian's a little big bigger, bigger built, bigger body, and he has a little bit more strength to him. I would say that there are some attributes that may be similar, but they're two different types of players that got to have two different styles. But I think that it shows that both are equally effective in their own rights.
Q: How did his [Edelman's] experience as a college quarterback maybe help him with maybe getting on the same page as Tom Brady?
NC: It's probably hard to quantify that. I think as a quarterback you see the game from a particular perspective, but when you move over a few slots going from under center in the shotgun to the receiver position; whether it's the slot that encompasses a whole number of different things because the number of combination coverage's that are played in the NFL, specifically against a lot of different slot receivers, not just [Wes] Welker; it's a lot easier to use some of those combinations on an inside receiver, mainly just understanding some big picture things. But really he was starting from ground zero as far as the receiver position in general. And there are some nuances that you really can't learn or don't know until you're actually put in that position, and go through them in practice, and get the game reps. Whether it's when do I break the route? How do I break the route? What's the quarterback looking for here? There's a lot of things that go into it. So other than having a big-picture perspective, I would say it is probably hard to quantify just playing quarterback and saying you feel comfortable at receiver or see the things that a quarterback may see at receiver.
Q: What are some of the important things rookies need to know about how the game changes this time of year when it comes to post season football?
NC: You're playing against No. 1, the best teams and the best players. And I think in reality whether it's a rookie or even a veteran player - regardless - is the importance of each play. You have to play each play and realize that, that one particular play could be the difference in the game. When is that going to happen? Nobody really knows, but in the end it's going to come down to those six or seven critical plays in the game that really will swing the momentum of the entire game. On a play-to-play basis [it is] just playing each play, executing each play as best as you can; and then just moving on regardless of the circumstance; and realizing that the level of play is definitely a higher level because you are talking about the best teams in both the AFC and NFC. I would say that it is probably one of the biggest adjustments that any player has to make, whether he's been in the league and maybe haven't played in the playoffs or he's a rookie.
Q: Can you talk about how you thought Darius Butler played yesterday? Do you feel heading into the playoffs you have a sense of what he can and can't do well and what situations he's best to use in?
NC: By this point in the year, we have played - whatever it is - 20 games if you include the preseason. So there are a lot of players, Darius in particular, who has played a lot of plays. Darius had some good plays yesterday. He made a nice play for an interception. He had some plays that could have been better - like a lot of players - but when Darius has played he has been productive. He's made some plays. He has certainly learned some things along the way and he's playing against some good receivers out there on the perimeter. We are glad we have him and when he's on the field he is out there for a reason. We feel comfortable. Whether it's Darius or any particular player, the goal is that, that everybody is playing their best football because in the end that's what we are going to need to do in order win these games here moving forward.
Q: If Wes [Welker] is out, do you have any idea which direction you will go in to fill that spot? Would it be something where you would have Matthew Slater play at receiver or another receiver or would you call somebody up? Do you have any idea on that?
NC: Quite honestly, not yet. We're still trying to work through some things and when we get a little bit further into today and tomorrow we will have a better idea. It is hard for me to answer that right now quite honestly. We will deal with that when the time is right.