Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, Septemer 7, 2010.
Q: How important is it to get the Tom Brady contract done before the season starts so the club can put it behind and move forward with the season?
NC: Right, I don't have anything to add on what's been reported or anything to report on our end. Like everything contract related, that remains between the players and the representatives in the club. From a player's perspective, the most important thing going into the opening game of the season is that the players focus on the game and on the opponent. So, that's where I think the players' focus is. That's where the coaches' focus is and collectively, as an organization, that's what we're focused on – starting the season, getting off on the right foot against a good team and start to move in the right direction. I think that's where we are right now.
Q: Can other players look at a long-term contract and use that to feel like they might be around for the long term?
NC: I think you'd have to ask the players. The most important thing from a team perspective is that everybody has the right mindset and everybody's focused on the same goal – which is to win, play well and prepare to play well. From my perspective, where we look at it, is how the players work together during the year, where their focus is, how they are during the week, and how they prepare. If everybody does their job, then hopefully we'll have a good chance to win some games, and that's what the mindset is.
Q: You were Randy Moss' position coach. Are you surprised he would say something like he did yesterday, based on your own experience with him?
NC: That's a good point, I coached Randy for the entire season, and my experience with Randy has been nothing but positive. From a football standpoint, he's a very smart football player. He's seen just about everything, every coverage in the book and he understands football. He understands what we're trying to do. He understands what other teams are trying to do. He's good with his teammates. He's very insightful. He was great to deal with on my end. So the most important thing is that they prepare themselves for the season. My experience with Randy was positive, just dealing with him in a one-on-one, day to day basis.
Q: Would you agree, even at the age of 33, if he were in the draft, that he would be a blue-chipper?
NC: He'd probably be one of the oldest rookies in the league. If you look at what he's done, he's been very productive since he's been here. He keeps himself in great shape. He's prepared. He's in condition and that manifests itself on the field when he's out there playing and practicing. It was pretty apparent during training camp that he's still performing at a high level. We're excited that he's a part of this team, there's no question about it. We expect him to help our team win games this year.
Q: Was Bengals rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham a guy you looked at that you thought you'd have a chance at, and what scouting report do you have on him?
NC: There were quite a few tight ends that we evaluated, along with many players at other positions. I think that the thing with Gresham, relative to Rob Gronkowski, is that neither one of them played football in 2009. They were both coming off some type of injury. In Gresham's case it was a knee. In Gronkowski... you know, whatever his situation was. So, you're talking about two players that didn't necessarily play in 2009. You have to do your homework. In Jermaine's junior year, he was very productive. He's a big target. He runs well. He catches the ball well. He was a good player, there's no question about it. I think he's shown in the preseason that he's been a good player. So obviously with Gresham or Gronkowski, or even [Aaron] Hernandez for that matter, it's a whole new ballgame now when you get into the regular season. When teams are preparing week to week, they are studying you a little bit more intently, looking for whatever their perceived strengths or weaknesses might be. All three players have had good pre-seasons, but the most important thing is how they perform once the regular season gets going against good people on a week to week basis.
Q: Considering everything you've experienced with Randy Moss, do you want to see him in a Patriots uniform beyond this season?
NC: We're glad he's here from the game on Sunday and that's what we're worried about. He's going to help our football team, I'm sure. That's what we're focused on right now.
Q: When you release a player or a draft pick, do you always realize that him getting picked up is always a possibility? What is your reaction and how do you view that when it happens?
NC: You understand the circumstances. Anytime you bring a player into the program, we bring him in for a reason, and our goal is to work with as many players and develop as many players as possible. Especially this time of year, when you release players, you understand what the circumstances may be. But the way we look at it – you're juggling the roster, you're trying to manage a bunch of different things. Every situation plays off one another. The way we look at it is that there are 61 players on our roster – 53 on the active roster and eight on the practice squad. Those players are no different. All 61 players are in the same boat. They are all eligible to play every week, and we don't look at it any differently. When we bring a player into our program, it's because we want to work with him, we want to develop him. And that certainly hasn't changed and won't change. Unfortunately a situation comes up where you lose a player- in Ted Larsen's instance, he ends up in Tampa Bay. It's unfortunate. We like Ted. We like working with him. But, that's the way the system works. We try to control and manage it the best we can, but our goal is to develop as many players as we can and there's a reason that they're here. So, that's the way it unfolds sometimes.
Q: Do you really enjoy a story about a guy like Darnell Jenkins who goes undrafted, you bring along and then they really pay off over the course of the season?
NC: Yeah, it's a tribute to those players, to their approach and work ethic. When they come in under that situation, the deck is stacked against them, so to speak. But, those players like Darnell, we brought him in towards the end of last season and he worked hard. He had a good offseason program. He improved and carried it over into training camp. It's encouraging when a player like that develops – and a lot of that too, is that the kid has ability and the right mindset. They understand what we're trying to accomplish. It's a tribute to them and the coaching staff for working with them and developing them. The goal is for them to continue to improve. It certainly does not stop here. You want to see that improvement continue. Those are some examples. I am sure there are other examples on our team and on other teams in the league where that happens.
Q: When do guys like Dane Fletcher and Kyle Love go from fringe guys to thinking that they could be on the roster?
NC: It's hard to pinpoint exactly when that is. What happens is, you get them in the program when they come in during May. You start working with them and you just see how they develop. They have the spring camps... their time table is relatively limited compared to a veteran player who has been in the offseason program for the duration of the spring. As soon they get here, you start working with them and see how they progress. Different players progress at different levels. It is all really contingent upon a player's performance and what he does with his opportunities. Everyone is given the same opportunities and what they do with their opportunities is up to them. They were able to take advantage of their opportunities and they are in the position that they're in as it stands today.