Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 2, 2010.
Q: Can you explain exactly what a roster exemption is and what that allows you to do and how long you get?
NC: As far as any sort of league dynamics and those are concerned, I'm not going to get into that. Every situation is different. Every player, every team, there's different circumstances. I don't really want to get into the logistics. It's a league matter, and we'll deal with it however we need to deal with it.
Q: Were you surprised when you learned Logan Mankins would show up and what are your thoughts on the fact that he has?
NC: He's in the building. It's good that he's here. He's really no different than any other player that's on the team or in the building. They'll start to prepare for the opponent, and then we'll make the decision about who plays based on how they practice, how the meetings go, who's healthy, etcetera. Logan's been a good player for us. He's been solid. He's been reliable. I think he has a lot of the traits and characteristics that we look for in players. It's good to have him around here in the building.
Q: Is there any sort of relief that this annoying several-month-long thing is over?
NC: I think we just take it one day at a time. Every day, there's always something that comes up that the team has to deal with. We'll just take it one day at a time. So Logan's here today, so we'll move forward with him and the rest of the club.
Q: Would you expect to work out something long-term with Logan Mankins?
NC: I think those discussions will remain between ourselves and the player and his representatives like they always do with every player.
Q: How much curiosity or interest are you going to have over the waiver wire when Randy Moss's name hits it either today or tomorrow?
NC: I think we'll do what we do every day with the waiver wire. We'll assess the names that come through, and whoever those players are, we'll evaluate the situation and make a determination about what we feel is best for the team. So we'll treat every situation, every player, every name that crosses the wire, no different than we do any other day, whoever those players are.
Q: Have you talked about the possibility of bringing Moss back given he's now available?
NC: I really don't think we talk about hypotheticals. Until anything is official from the league, we really don't proceed. And that's the league's perspective more than anything else. They encourage teams to do that and not make any sort of comment about any player until the transaction is official. So we'll comply with the rules and regulations as mandated by the NFL. And once the transaction does come across the wire, then we'll proceed accordingly whatever direction we're going to go.
Q: Going back to the idea of whether or not you have an exemption for Mankins, you really have no idea at this point how long you'll get an exemption for?
NC: Nothing's been determined at this point. We'll have contact with the league office. We'll have communication with them and then we'll proceed accordingly. I wouldn't say it's a pressing issue at this point. We'll take it as it comes and just make sure that we're in compliance with everything from the league's perspective and from a logistical perspective on our end. We'll do our due diligence and do what we feel is best. We'll be in the contact with the league, and then we'll get everything figured out I'm sure.
Q: How delicate is the balance when you have a player of Logan Mankins' caliber coming back and you have players that could be affected by that like a Dan Connolly? How delicate is that balance when the dynamics come together like they are?
NC: Anytime that you have players in the building, they've spent a lot of time together, they've worked together. Logan's been a good player for us, so that's something that players deal with and coaches will deal with. So we'll do whatever we feel is best for the club. All the players understand that; all the coaches understand that. And that's our modus operandi, so to speak. And that's what we'll do. We've had a lot of good players. We've had a lot of players that have played well for us to this point, but the more good players you have in your program, the more good players you can get on the field, I think that's certainly a positive for the team. And hopefully we can continue moving forward. This week it's Cleveland. And that's our goal to prepare and put the best players out there to give us a chance to win against Cleveland because we're certainly going to have our hands full this week, there's no question about it.
Q: Is there anything to report on that last practice squad spot?
NC: We're close. I think we're getting closer this afternoon because it didn't work out last week. There were just a couple of moving parts. But I think we're getting closer to a resolution here today. Hopefully, we'll have something by the end of the day, if not by the end of the day, then certainly before practice tomorrow. There are a couple of candidates here, but there are still a couple of things we're trying to get ironed out.
Q: There are some familiar faces on the Cleveland Browns. Do you see similarities with their team, the way it's constructed or fundamental-wise, personnel-wise or anything like that?
NC: I think the one thing they've done this season [is] they've played competitively and they've played with toughness. And I think that starts in the running game with [Peyton] Hillis. Since he's become the primary ball carrier, they've run the ball well. Hillis certainly brings a physical element to their offense. Defensively, those guys are good defensive coaches, no question about it. They do a lot of different things on defense. They give you a lot of different things you have to prepare for. They proved it a few weeks ago when they went down to New Orleans and gave a pretty good offense some problems. They're disciplined. They're a tough team. They don't make a lot of mistakes. And they've been really competitive. [It's] really been a one-score game in every game that they've lost, aside for one game – I want to say the Atlanta game, which came down to the wire there in the fourth quarter. They've played competitively against everyone they've lined up against this year. That's a credit to their coaching staff and the team they've put together. We understand the challenge in front of us. [Cleveland is coming off a bye so] we're behind in our preparation, so we need to catch up to them, and hopefully we'll be ready to go on Sunday.