Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 9, 2010.
Q: Could you explain the process of working out a kicker? Is it as simple as lining them up and watching them go?
NC: There are some different things that are involved. Every position there are certain things that you're going to do with the player. From our kicking standpoint, obviously you're going to watch them kick. There will be extra points, field goals, left hash, right hash, you move around a little bit, and then you're just evaluating different things. I'm not an expert in the kicking area, so typically the special teams coach will get involved and be part of that process because they're a little bit more intimately knowledgeable as far as it relates to the kickers on a week-to-week basis. They study those guys as much as anybody. I'm not saying we don't look at them, but that's their area of expertise. I certainly wouldn't put that in the category for myself. You do some different things with them and then you go from there.
Q: Does having to kick at Heinz Field enter into the decision to sign a specific kicker?
NC: I think really in the end you just do what you feel is best for the club. There are going to be conditions that we face every week whether it's here, Pittsburgh, whatever stadium that we play in. You go with the player that you feel is best for the club based on a number of different experiences: your experience with the player, if you've had any, coaches' experience with the player, how the player's performed, etc. In the end you try to do what's best for your football team regardless of the stadium you're playing in that particular week.
Q: Ideally would you like to get somebody in sooner in the week rather than later to get acclimated with the process?
NC: I think it's something in due time that we'll address and take care of. Anytime you can start working with a player quickly, that certainly helps, so we'll go about it. We're still working through some things here, and whatever resolution we come to, then we'll reach that at some point I'm sure.
Q: How you describe the crop of available kickers?
NC: I'd say there are varying levels, some with a little more experience than others, some which have kicked at high levels and been really productive players. At any level there's always a crop of players. You look at your emergency list or short list, if you will, and the pool of players that's actually available on the street is far more than you're actually going to have on your working list. You try to pare that down and narrow that down as much as possible, otherwise you're talking about a universe of hundreds, almost thousands of players. There are always a lot of players available at different positions, so you try to put together that list based on the research and information that our staff, our pro personnel staff [compiles]. There are a number of factors that go into it. You get a manageable number so then you can actually make an informed decision and you're not just spreading yourself so thin across so many different players, because that becomes counterproductive at some point.
Q: How do you feel the young players for the Patriots will be able to respond to the Steelers aggressive, "in your face" style?
NC: I think every week is a challenge. We're going to face good teams every week regardless of who we play. Whoever the opponent is that week they're going to be a good team. They're going to be competitive. It's going to be a competitive game, no question about it. Pittsburgh historically, they've been a tough, physical team and that's their history. That goes back to the '70s and '80s. The Pittsburgh Steelers are who they are. They've been a successful team, they've had a successful program, they're good on offense, and they're good on defense. It's a challenge for us this week and our players are going to have to respond to the challenge this week just like they do any other week.
Q: Could you talk about the decision to release Terrance Wheatley? What went into that decision? Are you comfortable with how the roster is set right now?
NC: There are always tough decisions that we have to make with the roster. We made that decision because we needed to create a roster spot for Logan Mankins to activate him for the game. That was the decision that we made and we move forward from there.
Q: What do you think of Maurkice Pouncey?
NC: He was a good player coming out of Florida. He's tough. He's physical. He's started since he showed up in Pittsburgh. He's played well. Obviously as a rookie he's playing a hard position, there are a lot of moving parts. He's tough, he's physical, and he's athletic. He's played well for them to this point. Going back to the draft, he's an interior player, but he was probably one of the better just offensive linemen that was in the draft last year, whether that was a tackle, a center, or a guard. He's played well and I think that was the case at Florida as well. He's done a nice job for them to this point. We'll certainly have our hands full with him on the inside whoever is across from him.