Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, October 19, 2009.
Q: With the trade deadline tomorrow, anything going on for you guys?
NC: I'd say at this point we've had different discussions at different points. Spoke with a few teams last week. Some teams have called us, so I would say for this time of the year the conversations have been somewhat normal. As we had mentioned last week, the talks are usually a little bit more intense during the training camp period when you get to the roster cut downs. I would say at this time of the year, really over the past week or so, they've been somewhat normal for this time of year.
Q: Obviously you're always looking to improve your team in any way possible. Would you anticipate striking a deal, or would you say it's probably unlikely?
NC: I think it depends. I think you have to find if there's a player on another club, you have to see if you can agree to some terms. There're a variety of moving parts and I think it depends on the situation and I think you sort of take it as it comes and if there's something that we feel makes sense, then we'll look to consider it - whether it's a trade deadline or whether it's signing players off the street who haven't been with a club. So there're a variety of different avenues that you can use to improve or look to upgrade your team at different points during the year.
Q: When something happens like Adalius Thomas being a healthy scratch yesterday, are you guys involved at all in a personnel standpoint as far as explaining it to him or working with the player and making him understand his place, or anything else other than what the coaches do?
NC: In the end, Bill [Belichick] handles those decisions when it comes to who's available and who's active for the game. There are ongoing discussions week to week, and in the end you just decide. There are only so many players that you can take to the game, so in the end we'll take the players that we feel can help us win the game that best give us the opportunity. You'd like to bring everybody that's on your team to the game, but you only have so many spots on the roster, so those decisions in the end, Bill will make those.
Q: When you guys signed Rob Ninkovich in training camp - and you signed a lot of players then and most of them aren't here now. Is it surprising to you that he not only stuck, but found his way into the defensive scheme?
NC: I think with Rob's situation, he had some experience in different clubs, and we had looked at him and saw a guy that had a good playing style and good toughness, so there were some things that we liked about him. In the end, it was his job to determine what his role was going to be, and Rob, like other players - even whether it's Terrence Nunn who's on the practice squad or [Julian] Edelman, or whomever it might be - they're given an opportunity and their role on the team is based on their performance. He came in, he worked hard, he created an opportunity for himself and he made the most of it. He's fairly versatile, he can do some things defensively, he can do some things in the kicking game. In the end, it's up to the players, based on their performance, to determine what their role is going to be.
Q: Getting back to Adalius Thomas and the concept of who plays and who doesn't - what does it say when a guy you're paying 35 million dollars can't make the lineup for a given week?
NC: Every week is its own entity. You go into the week and you look at the opponent and then you evaluate, 'OK, here's how we're going to play this team.' It's the meetings. It's the practice. There are a number of different factors that go into it, and then ultimately you have to make a decision when it comes to game day. Those decisions are never easy, but you have to take each week as its own entity and then you make your decisions and you put the 45 players out there who are going to play and you go and play the game. We'll come back this week and we'll prepare for Tampa and we'll see what the best way for us to play that club is, and then we'll make a decision about who's going to be active on Sunday.
Q: But would you say that you guys are disappointed in Adalius Thomas?
NC: I think every player that's on our club, we have them on our team and our expectation is that they're going to go out there and perform well, given their opportunities. I think AD [Thomas] has played well for us. He's had a number of games that he's helped us win. He's been a good player for us and we're happy he's on our club. We'll prepare this week for Tampa Bay and we'll see how it goes.
Q: Bill said there's a good possibility that Brandon Tate and Mark LeVoir could possibly begin practicing this week. Can you walk us through the process after they begin to practice?
NC: Week six, this is the first week that players that were placed on - whether it's Reserve/P.U.P. or Reserve/N.F.I., whatever the status might be - are eligible to practice. Once they start practicing, it's basically they have a 21-day window that they are allowed to practice. Now, at any given point during that 21-day period, you can activate them to your roster. But at the end of their 21-day practice period, you have to make a decision whether or not to put them on the active roster or if they're not going to go on the active roster, they'll be placed on the reserve list, similar to a player that's put on IR, if you will. So essentially, they're ineligible to play the rest of the season. So that 21-day window essentially begins week six and [goes until] I believe it's week 10 or week 11. That's the point in time where that player can actually start practicing, but once he starts practicing, his clock starts and there're 21 days that he's allowed to practice before you actually have to make a decision about what you're going to do with that player moving forward.
Q: Tom Brady talked on the radio today about the improvised touchdown with Randy Moss where he was kind of fading to the left and Moss was going the other way on the field in the end zone. Can you talk about what goes into something improvised like that? What rules does Moss have to follow when Brady's scrambling to the left or anything like that?
NC: We had designed the play and Randy had a post route on the play and there was an out cut on the inside of him, so as Tom had dropped back, he read the play out. The coverage was fairly good initially, so Tom just kind of moved in the pocket - it was very well protected - Tom moved in the pocket, so Randy ran the post to the near upright. He didn't have the ball at that point, so in that situation he just runs the back end line. So he went to the back end line, Tom moved to the left and he sort of had an idea where he was going to be. I think it's just a case of two players - two good players - making a good play and understanding the play and being able to have faith and trust in one another and in what they were doing.