Q: What's your opinion of their first round pick from last year, Jared Odrick, coming out and how does he fit into what they're doing this year?
NC: I knew you wouldn't disappoint us, Mike [Reiss], with the draft questions, so we're off to a good start. Odrick only played the one game last year, so he was limited, so really you couldn't evaluate too much. He's played quite a bit here in the preseason. They've played a lot of people up front and he's done a nice job. He's a big guy, he's strong, he's fairly athletic for his size [and] he's been fairly disruptive rushing the passer. He might not have sacks from a statistical standpoint, but he's been disruptive when he's been in the game, so we would anticipate him playing Monday night. And I would anticipate that he would be a factor for them throughout the course of the season if he can stay healthy.
Q: Now that you guys have settled on a roster, until you make some changes, what do you think of two positions: having just two tight ends, how does that affect what you guys do on game day, and then on the opposite end of the spectrum, how does having 10 defensive linemen affect you guys on game day?
NC: I would say it really doesn't impact us one way or another. I think, as you said a little earlier, the roster as it currently stands today could be different tomorrow, it could be different next week. So we'll constantly look at it on a day-to-day and a week-to-week basis and whatever we feel is best for that particular week and that particular opponent based on the defensive scheme or the offensive scheme or however they play relative to how we're going to play, then we'll figure out who the best 45 are – 46 this year – for that game. And then we'll look at it on a week-to-week basis like we always do.
Q: How much did you guys use three tight ends on the field at the same time last year? Do you recall?
NC: I don't know. I don't know that off the top of my head.
Q: Obviously you drafted two running backs and integrated them in here this preseason. Do you think those guys are ready to help?
NC: The expectation is the same for each player at every position. We tell every player to be ready to play, including the players on the practice squad because there's a possibility that they can be elevated to play on Sunday or Monday – whenever the game is. So the expectation is the same for each player: that they prepare, they come in, they study the opponent, they know the personnel that they're playing against and they prepare themselves to play as if they're going to play the entire game. And however much they end up playing, that's dictated based on how the game sort of plays out. So the expectation for that position is no different than it is for any other position.
Q: Are they ready to meet that expectation?
NC: I think the reality is that we really don't know what to expect from anybody until we go out there Monday. I mean, we've had practice – we've had X amount of practices here during the preseason. There have been four games. Some players have played in each game; some players have played in a few games. The reality is, once we start playing – there's a difference, obviously, when you get to the regular season just in terms of the things that you're going to see from a schematic standpoint, personnel standpoint, so until we actually start playing those games to see what players can handle what situations. Some players maybe they handle more volume relative to others, so until you're actually put in that position, it's sort of hard to analyze and evaluate how they're going to be. Your hope is that the players are prepared so that when they're called upon they can go in there and take advantage of their opportunities.
Q: What did you all know or expect out of Josh Barrett to take that chance and pick him up off of waivers, being injured at the time. What were some of your thoughts on him and how do you foresee using him in the future?
NC: Josh was a player coming out of Arizona State. He was a productive player, both defensively and on special teams, and then when Josh played when he was in Denver, he actually played quite a bit defensively in addition to playing in the kicking game. He's big, he's fast. He showed up in a couple different capacities, so we felt he was a good football player. We felt it was an opportunity for us to improve our team and that's why we went and made the decision that we did.
Q: Obviously he couldn't do anything last year due to injury and was injured for much of this season, so are you basing your evaluations of what you think of him on how he played in the Giants game? Or did you see enough on what he did in Denver to feel comfortable putting him out there?
NC: I think with really any player, you're taking sort of a composite of the information that you have accessible. For example, Coach [Scott] O'Brien had Josh in Denver, so there's some information that Scott was able to provide for us. So, you take all the information that you have, whether it's from the coaches, from the player's performance on the practice field, from the meeting rooms, etc., and you try to put all the information together, and in the end, you try to make the best determination of that player and move forward with what you feel is best for the team. I'd say that's what goes into that decision or for that matter any other decision on any player. We try to take as much information as we can from a variety of different capacities and avenues, put it all together and then make a decision and then we move forward.
Q: What did you guys seen from Jeff Tarpinian in the preseason when he was healthy to make you guys give him a spot on the 53-man roster?
NC: We liked what we saw from Jeff in college and we liked what we saw from him when he was on the practice field. We felt this was a player that we wanted to continue to work with. And really, the reality is any player that's in our program, whether they're on the roster or whether they're on the practice squad – they're in the program because we feel that's a player we want to work with. So that's why Jeff is here and that's why a lot of other players are here as well.
Q: If I heard Bill Belichick right, he said this might be another day of roster tweaking. Are you guys making any moves today or is there anything imminent?
NC: I don't want to speak for Bill, but I think he was just talking generally about the process. This time of the year, there are roster changes and tinkering that goes on even from Saturday to Sunday and then even yesterday – we released Steve [Maneri] and then he was claimed by Kansas City. So I think what Bill was referring to is just more the general sort of day-to-day what goes on this time of year, especially around the cut line or for that first week of the season.
Q: Just to follow up on Jeff Tarpinian, what are some of his positive attributes as a player?
NC: [He's a] smart guy, tough, instinctive, runs well. He was around the football quite a bit in college, so I think there are some attributes that are positive. You certainly would have liked to have seen him stay on the field a little bit more, but I would say those are some of the things that we liked.
Q: Since 2004, I think, you guys have had an undrafted free agent make the team out of camp, which is a lot. What do you think of that streak and why do you think that is?
NC: Really, you could probably speak to…there are a lot of players that are in that situation even on other teams that are not drafted. But in the end, regardless of where they come from – drafted, undrafted – every player is given the same chance and the same opportunity. What that player does is completely up to them. They're evaluated just like everybody else on a day-to-day performance and there are multiple examples like you had mentioned, whether it's Benny [Green-Ellis], [Wes] Welker, [Kyle] Arrington, [Brian] Hoyer – Leigh Bodden wasn't drafted. So there are a lot players that, for whatever reason, they're not drafted. Is there a reason behind that? I can't tell you what that is. But in the end, all the players come in, everybody is given the same chance, and sometimes there are players that make the most of their opportunities and sometimes maybe others don't. I would just say that it's not only applicable to the Patriots, but you could look at a lot of other teams throughout the league and there are a number of other players – even look at the Packers, the team that won the Super Bowl and Frank Zombo, starting outside linebacker, wasn't drafted. It happens all around the league and it's a tribute to the players and their performance and it's a credit to the coaches for getting the player prepared and giving them the opportunity and then the player goes out and performs. So I can't give you a direct, definitive answer, but I'd say there are certain qualities that those players possess that enable them to be successful and be productive.
Q: What are your thoughts on what you've seen from the Dolphins' center Mike Pouncey?
NC: He's a good football player. He's big. He's strong. He's athletic. He's tough. I would anticipate that we're going to have to face him for a number of years. He's a good football player and it looks like he's added some positive qualities to that offensive front which is really, collectively, they're all big, they're all strong, so we'll certainly have our work cut out for us here this week.
Q: Is he like his brother, Maurkice? How are they different?
NC: They're similar in some respects. For heaven's sake, they're twins, so they look the same and I think their measurable are about the same. They're both good football players. Maurkice proved to be a good player last year. They're both good football players and we'd expect that we'd have to play well against those guys here throughout the course of the year.