Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call, on Tuesday, December 21, 2010.
Q: Considering how crazy things have been with injuries for the Patriots this year, has your job become more difficult with keeping up with players in certain positions, moving guys around and bringing guys in? Has this been anymore more of a challenge this year than in years before?
NC: The logistics and the procedure haven't been any different. Our staff collectively as the personnel department, Jason [Licht], Bob [Quinn] and Patrick Stuart on the pro side have just tried to stay as prepared as we possibly can for the event that something does happen. You try to be as proactive as you possibly can and there are a number of players during even the course of the fall that we evaluate and we look at not knowing what the circumstances may be. If a situation does arise or come up you just try to make a decision that you feel is best with whatever player that is. I don't think it is any different than any other team. Green Bay has had to go through this they have had an inordinate amount of injuries. Buffalo has also had to go through it. I think it is just part of the process and part of the procedure. You just try to be prepared and have as much information at your disposal as possible, this way, if you do have to make a choice about a player, you make the right choice or the correct choice that makes the most sense for your team.
Q: Do you remember Steve Johnson coming out? Do you foresee any of the success that he's had?
NC: Yes, Steve was a junior college transfer. He had one year of production his senior year at Kentucky, really productive actually. He caught over 70 balls at over 1,000 yards receiving with, I want to say, 13 or 14 touchdown catches. He wasn't a real fast guy per say but he has got good size, good quickness and good hands. He's similar to Fred Jackson in that respect, the more opportunities that he's been given, he has made the most of those opportunities and he has sort of manifested himself this year in his performance and in his production. He has been up there in league leaders for not only receptions in total but yards as well. He's been effective for their [Buffalo Bills] offense this year and really he has kind of emerged as sort of a go-to guy of the year as he's progressed. Like I said, he had that one good, solid year as a senior against good people in the SEC. Those are probably as good of football players as you're going to face and he has made the most of his opportunities like David Nelson has who wasn't drafted. Those two players have both been good fits for their offense this season.
Q: I know you guys are searching for talent anywhere. Specific to the Canadian Football League I am curious to what your opinion is to scouting that and finding players there that may be able to help?
NC: That brings in a little bit of a different dynamic. There are certain logistics and rules that are mandated by the league that you have to make sure that you comply with. We will go through a process and a procedure. You try to mark x-amount of players or have some information on x-amount of players and do your homework on those players. You're right, wherever we can find players, whatever league [they] show up in it's our job and responsibility to investigate in that. In the end you just have to figure out if that player makes sense for your team or club and will have a roll. We scout the CFL, we look at the Arena League, and we look at the UFL. Obviously there are some different components that go into it. You don't have access to everything, but the information that you do have you try to make the most of. You just try to make as much information at your disposal as possible, and then make a decision one way or another, whatever that may be.
Q: To build off of that question, have you noticed any sort difference in scouting circles due to Cameron Wake's success with the Dolphins in terms of opening up more people to think, that you could find more people from say the CFL?
NC: Every situation is really different. I think your eyes are open to any avenue wherever those players may be. I think you just have to have an open mind. If you bring a player to your club and you give them every opportunity regardless of where they come from, they are given the same opportunity that another player that was drafted is given. In the end, the players are going to determine who is on the field and who plays. What they do with their opportunities is up to them. There is no question about Cameron. He has been a productive player for the Dolphins this season so in the end, wherever those players are, your job is to find them. Whatever that entails is the process that you go through.
Q: I'm curious what you thought on Eric Wood coming out last year?
NC: The Bills center from Louisville, right?
NC: Eric was a good player, there's no question about it. He had position versatility. He played center and he played guard. He is a smart player. He's athletic; he had good balance, good playing strength. He played on his feet and he had a good make-up. He was probably one of the veteran interior linemen that was in the draft that year. He's certainly somebody that we had evaluated and that we spent time with prior to the draft along with a number of other folks at that position. Eric was a good player in college and he's been a good player when he's been on the field. Unfortunately, he's had some injuries that have crept up at different points but when he's been on the field he makes a difference for their team. They have plugged him in at center now with [Geoff] Hangartner being out but he has played guard. He's played both spots, so he has been a good player for them the past two years when he has been on the field.
Q: Should we be on guard for some transactions today?
NC: There is always a possibility that could happen. There's a chance that it could happen but by the time that we walk out there for practice tomorrow you guys will be all over it and will have whatever we are doing uncovered if anything is going to happen. We will let you figure that out this afternoon.