Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, October 19, 2010.
Q: The trade deadline is today. What do you have cooking?
NC: I think we've taken care of that over the past few weeks, haven't we? I would say this time of the year it's status quo. I think the approach this year is no different than it is every other year. We've talked to teams throughout different points of the season. Training camp [and] through the year, etc. I'm sure if we have anything to report or update for you, then we'll bring that to you, but I would say that just moving forward getting ready for San Diego is where we are here today.
Q: When you draft a guy like Brandon Deaderick in the seventh round, is there a point when you think maybe he's a guy who can start and make an impact?
NC: I think really anytime you bring a player into your program, whatever route it is, whether it's [Brandon] Deaderick in the seventh round, or [Julian] Edelman, or you sign Danny Woodhead off the street. When you bring a player into the program, it's up to the player how they perform. Everybody has the same opportunities and the players determine who plays based on their performance, whether it's in practice, in meetings, etc. Our philosophy is when we bring a player into the program, there's a reason that he's with us, and then basically what they do moving forward a lot is contingent on how that player performs and takes the coaching. I think the most important thing, especially with a young player, in Deaderick's case for example, and I think the same applies to someone like Myron [Pryor] last year who we took in the sixth round or whatever it was. You're looking for a continual improvement over the course of the year. We've got a long way to go. We've only played a handful of games, but I think when we drafted Brandon and brought him in he had some experience playing in this defense and I think he showed some things from a skill-set perspective that we thought, at some point, might be able to be productive on the field. Brandon's worked hard, and he's made the most of his opportunities, and when he was out there Sunday he's performed, just like Myron did last year, just like Mike Wright had done when he was an undrafted free agent, [and what Ron Brace has done] when Ron's been out there. So I think a lot of it us up to the players as well, and they've put themselves in a position to play. That's how we approach it.
Q: Do you know for certain that you're going to have Brandon Meriweather on Sunday? Is there any concern that if the league comes down with a decision, it makes some of the things you're working on moot?
NC: I think we'll approach it [with] whatever players are available for the game. We'll go ahead and plan for the opponent, prepare for the opponent, and whatever players are available, and it's the same thing if a player is not healthy. For example, we don't start practice until tomorrow, whether or not the player is on the field. Whatever players are available for the game, then that's whom we have to play with. We'll plan accordingly and we'll try to go about our game plan, and put together a plan that we feel gives us the best chance to win on Sunday. And whoever those players are, whoever is available to us, then that's what we have and we move forward.
Q: How long had you been tracking Jarrad Page in Kansas City, and how long did ait take for all that come together?
NC: [Jarrad] Page is someone that we had obviously played against there in '08. We played Kansas City in the opener, so obviously preparing for the game we had a chance to see him. Jarrad's played a lot of football. He's started a lot of games. He's been a productive player since he's been in the league. I wouldn't say there's any one thing you can pinpoint and say, 'This is how something comes together.' There's always a lot of moving parts. You have dialogues, you have conversations, and it happened to work out that time, so we made the decision that we did and added to the club. We're happy to have him. He's been productive defensively; he's made some plays in the kicking game. Like I said, he's played a lot of football. He's been a productive defense player when he's been on the field. He's been a good addition to the club and we're happy to have him.
Q: What specific skills of his do you like?
NC: He's big. I wouldn't say he's the fastest guy, but he's a pretty instinctive player. He has good range in the deep part of the field. He plays the ball well. He's got good hand eye coordination as a former baseball player, which there's some of that that carries over into playing the ball, and tracking the ball, and those types of things, so he's been versatile. He can play in the deep part of the field. He can play close to the line of scrimmage. The fact that he's versatile, he's smart, he's an instinctive player, I think those are good qualities to have in any football player, and specifically at safety those certainly come in handy.
Q: What was your appraisal of Ryan Mathews during the draft process?
NC: He was a good back, really productive. I think he led the country in rushing last year, or he was up there. He's big and he's fast. He had good speed. He's a good perimeter runner, and when he got into the open field not a lot of people caught him. He had a few opportunities in the passing game. I'd say he's more of a runner, but it's not like he can't catch the ball. He was big, he was fast, and he was productive for Fresno [State] when he was on the field. And I would say that that has carried over so far this season. He's had some long runs; he's had some big runs. He's a good back, there's no question about it.
Q: Had he been available at your selection in the draft, would you have given him some consideration?
NC: We're beyond that point. It's hard to make that decision until you know exactly what you're dealing with. Where we picked, you just sort of wait to see what players are available and then you make a decision that you feel is best for the club. It's hard to say whether or not we would have drafted a player or not. What's happened has happened and I'm sure San Diego is happy to have him, and we're happy to have the players that we have on our club.
Q: Who deserves a tip of the cap for finding a guy like Dane Fletcher out of Montana State?
NC: I'd say there are probably a lot of people that are involved. Between the area scouts that scout the area. Jon Robinson obviously oversees the college department and there're a lot of other people that are involved in the spring, so I'd say multiple people had their hand in it. Dane was kind of a unique situation. He really was an edge player, and he's made a transition to playing on his feet, but I think some of the qualities and attributes that he possessed at Montana State, you see those start to manifest themselves a little bit here, whether it's defensively or in the kicking game. I think he's got a good size. He runs well for his size. He's tough, he's instinctive, so there was a little bit of a projection element to Dane because he had played defensive end, but he's worked hard and I think it's a credit to Dane that he's put himself in this position. We have a lot of confidence and a lot of faith in our scouting department, specifically on the college side, and there're a lot of people I'd say that are involved that deserve credit, there's no question about it.
Q: Have you made any moves to fill the open practice squad spot today?
NC: We're in the process of doing that. Nothing's been finalized. We'll probably have it situated here I'd say at the end of the day, or even before practice tomorrow, but we're in the process of filling that spot here as we speak.
Q: Maybe a few hints? A position?
NC: You guys are able to track that stuff down later in the day anyways, so I don't need to give you the help of the hint. I'll give you this: he's been with us during training camp. We'll leave it at that.